Tea and toast. Cheese and crackers. Coffee and cake. Some pairings are just meant to be. But caramel makes everything better right?
If I’m not keeping it simple with an americano, my Starbucks order is always a caramel macchiato. The strong coffee mixed with vanilla and caramel just works so well. And why not turn the things you love into cake?!
I think coffee cake is really underrated. Usually paired with walnuts and a sickly sweet buttercream, it just doesn’t do it justice. This cake though is paired with the dreamiest silkiest buttercream you ever did taste. Its a classic swiss meringue buttercream with 175ml of glorious caramel. AHH. I could just eat the buttercream from the bowl. It was my first time using my KMix to make buttercream and oh god the difference. It just made it so light, and even easier to spread on the finished cake.
But, back to the cake! The sponge has instant coffee, a full cup of freshly brewed coffee AND a coffee soak to add when baked. So you could say I like coffee… though the caramel SMB cuts through it all to balance the bitterness out. Now I couldn’t call it a caramel macchiato cake without the signature caramel topping could I? I popped some caramel into a piping bag and went to TOWN. I promise you though, the cake really isn’t as sweet as it sounds with all that caramel flying around. I think thats why I love swiss meringue buttercream so much. It may be richer than regular buttercream with the additional butter, but its so much less sweet! No teeth-grinding icing sugar round here thank you very much.
The whole cake was actually surprisingly quick to make, I made it in an afternoon last weekend and I was enjoying a slice after dinner. I also didn’t make my own caramel for once, as it was a spontaneous bake and that sped the process up! I used a jar of Bonne Maman’s caramel and its really delicious if you fancy being lazy too. If not, my recipe for salted caramel here would work really well, just remember to omit the salt. Although salted caramel buttercream with coffee would be delicious too!
Let me know if you try it, it’s the perfect Sunday afternoon treat with, you guessed it, a cup of coffee!
Firstly, preheat the oven to 175C/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line three 8-inch cake tins.
In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and espresso powder and set aside.
Then using an electric mixer, beat the butter for a few minutes until smooth. Add both the sugars and increase the speed to medium-high. Keep mixing until the butter and sugars are creamed together and the mixture is light and fluffy.
With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla extract followed by the eggs one at a time making sure they are each fully incorporated.
Then in alternating batches, add in half of the dry ingredients, the whole milk and the remaining dry ingredients mixing on low in between. Only mix until the batter is just combined. Then with the mixer on low, stream in the hot coffee and mix until smooth.
Evenly distribute the batter between the three pans, and bake for 24-26 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the tins for 10 minutes on a wire rack, before removing the cakes from the tins.
For the coffee soak, pour all the ingredients into a saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a slight boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool until ready to use.
For the swiss meringue buttercream, place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and gently whisk by hand to combine. Then place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisking occasionally heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160F (70C) on a candy thermometer. Once you've reached the right temperature, take the bowl off the heat and fit onto a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the bowl should have reached room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap the whisk attachment out for the paddle.
Then with the mixer on low, add in the butter a few cubes at a time, then the vanilla and finally the caramel. Once all incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 3-5 minutes until the buttercream is silky smooth.
To assemble the cake, place one of the sponges onto your serving plate, brush liberally with the coffee soak and spread on 1/4 of the buttercream. Repeat with the next sponge, and then place the final sponge on top brushing with the remaining coffee soak. Cover the entire cake with the remaining buttercream, smoothing or swirling as desired. Finally place the remaining caramel into a piping bag and drizzle over back and forth.