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.
I am obsessed with watching Instagram videos of cakes. Specifically cakes being lavishly smothered in buttercream, covered in intricately piped buttercream flowers or ganache dripped round the edges. Its taking over my life.
Craig is so sick of watching them over my shoulder, but its my absolute guilty pleasure! Its super satisfying and so therapeutic.
So when it came to making my sisters birthday cake, Instagram was my first source for inspiration. Buttercream flower wreath cakes are all over Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube…you name it! So I thought I’d give it a try. I actually practised the roses on some cupcakes a few weeks back (blog post to come!) and let me tell you it is notttt as easy as people make it look! But practise makes perfect and all that!
I used swiss meringue buttercream for the flowers, the light texture is perfect for this kind of piping. Although in the August weather you do need to work quickly so it doesn’t get too warm, it makes it impossible to pipe the delicate petals then!
I made about 25 buttercream flowers in total, though I only used 19 in the end. I made roses, ranunculus, chrysanthemums, blossoms and topped them all off with leaves! The leaves were piped direct onto the cake though – thats the fun final touch!
To make the flowers you absolutely need a flower nail. They’re usually included in most piping sets, so you might already have one! If not, you can buy them easily on Amazon. You also need to cut a load of squares out of baking paper, I promise its not as labour intensive as it sounds. Once you have both those things and an array of piping tips you’re all set up!
I watched a lot of YouTube videos by Cake Style for amazing tutorials on loads of different buttercream flower types. Once you have the plain roses down you can make quite a few pretty variations, but its the chrysanthemums I struggled with. The tutorials make them look so easy but its definitely not my strong suit, which is annoying because they can look so pretty!
I was pretty pleased with the flowers I created in the end though, and its definitely evoked a passion in me to create more flowery creations! Piping tips wise theres a few you need to have in your repertoire, but if you’re going to get any the Wilton 104 is the one to get. The 104 is what I used to create all the roses, ranunculus and blossoms. You’ll need Wilton tip 81 for the chrysanthemum’s and for the leaves Wilton tip 70.
Honestly though, I was sooo pleased with how it turned out! You know how usually you have the idea for a cake, and then when you come to make it its nothing like the vision? This actually was my vision!! I made it the day before I presented it to my sister though and I had nightmares all night of ridiculous things happening to it. Like the candles causing the whole cake to go up in flames – could that even happen!?
I think i’ve waffled on long enough about the flowers now, you probably want to hear about the actual cake!? It was a white chocolate sponge, with the nicest crumb texture! The recipe I was adapting called for cake flour, which isn’t something I’ve seen in the UK. After a bit of googling it turns out that you can substitute cake flour by the following: for every one cup of plain flour, take two tbsp’s out and replace it with two tbsp’s of corn flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than regular plain flour, which gives cakes a softer, lighter texture whilst still retaining structure. I think i’m converted.
For the buttercream I decided to pair a classic flavour combination with the sponge; raspberry! I also figured a raspberry swiss meringue buttercream would keep the cake light and not cloying. Especially with all those buttercream flowers on top! Also, if I’m honest the smooth and silky buttercream is just a million times easier to spread on a layer cake.
I followed my swiss meringue buttercream recipe as normal, and then for the last step added fresh raspberry puree that I’d strained. This gives a really fresh flavour, and means the buttercream is food colouring free! I also added freeze-dried raspberries in the layers for an extra raspberry kick – well I say that, thats what I intended to do! But I forgot to do it on the first layer – doh! – so lets all just pretend I did it on both!
Two final notes!
The raspberry SMB recipe errs on the side of caution so you’ll definitely have some left – I had a full tupperware box! But you can pop it in the freezer for up to 6 months – hooray! Just make sure its defrosted and back to room temp before using it.
And finally, I decided to live my Instagram dream and film the assembling of the cake. So if you want to see it all come together, watch below! (Apologies in advance for the slight out of focus :(!)
345g cake flour (or if you can't find that; 345g plain flour, minus 6tbsp plain flour, plus 6tbsp corn flour)
1tbsp & 1tsp baking powder
6oz white chocolate
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (for flowers)
120ml large egg whites
200g caster sugar
340g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
240 egg whites
400g caster sugar
675g unsalted butter, room temperature
345g frozen raspberries, defrosted
1tsp caster sugar (or more to taste)
1/2tsp lemon juice
6g freeze-dried raspberries (one tube from the supermarket)
For the Cake:
Firstly preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4/180C and grease and line three 8" baking tins.
Using a bain-marie, melt the white chocolate over a low heat and then set aside to cool.
Sift together all the dry ingredients and set aside. Then, place the butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on a high speed until creamy and light in colour. Add the sugar and continue to mix until fluffy.
On a medium speed add the egg yolks, vanilla and melted white chocolate. Then with the mixer on low, alternate adding in the dry ingredients and milk in three batches, ending and starting with the dry ingredients.
Mix until just combined, then pour into the prepared tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden.
Leave to cool a little in the tins, and then put them on a cooling rack to completely cool.
For the Buttercream Flowers:
Whisk together the sugar and egg whites in heat-safe bowl until combined. Then using a bain-marie, heat the mixture, stirring occasionally until it reaches 155-160F on a candy thermometer. The mixture will be very hot and the sugar will have dissolved.
Once the mixture has reached the right temperature, take the bowl off the heat and using an electric mixer whisk the mixture on high speed for about 10 minutes until you reach medium-stiff peaks and the mixture has returned to room temperature.
With the mixer on low, add in the butter a tablespoon at a time ensuring each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. The butter must be at room temperature for it to be properly incorporated.
Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract and mix again for a few minutes until the buttercream is silky smooth and light.
Separate the buttercream into different bowls, mix in required food colouring and place into piping bags, making sure to set aside the leaf green buttercream to use later.
Then using a flower nail and piping tips create an array of flowers, on squares of baking paper. Place the squares onto baking trays and place in the freezer while you make the rest.
For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Follow the swiss meringue buttercream recipe for the flowers, up to and including adding the butter in. Strain the raspberries through a sieve into a bowl, so you are left with the puree without the seeds.Mix in the sugar and lemon juice, and then pour the mixture into the buttercream.
Mix this on low at first, and then gradually increase the speed. It may take a few minutes for the puree to combine with the buttercream, so keep mixing until its fully combined.
Place one sponge onto the cake board and spread with a layer of raspberry buttercream and half of the freeze-dried raspberries. Then repeat with the second sponge layer. Then place the final sponge layer on top.
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of the raspberry buttercream and then place in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.
Then cover the cake with a thick layer of raspberry buttercream and using a bench scraper, scrape off the excess to leave a smooth exterior.
Place some of the raspberry buttercream into a piping bag and pipe a ring on top of the cake for the flowers to sit on. This gives the flowers some height, rather than all lying flat on top of the cake.
Remove the buttercream flowers from the freezer, and peeling off the baking paper squares arrange them on the cake.
Finally, pipe leaves wherever needed on the cake for the finishing touch.
Excess frosting can be frozen for up to 6 months, and then defrosted fully before use.
Easter is my absolute favourite time of year for tasty treats. And Mini Eggs are the cream of the crop. Am I right?
So when I saw a few cakes on Pinterest embodying the speckled mini egg charm I knew I had to make my own version!
This speckled egg layer cake looks so festive and would be the perfect centrepiece on an Easter Sunday table. The speckled outer layer is ridiculously easy to create too, meaning you look like a professional without spending hours in the kitchen!
Both the cake and frosting are flavoured just with vanilla. Vanilla is such a wonderful punchy flavour – but only if you use a quality vanilla extract! Please steer clear of wishy washy vanilla essence – it really lacks the pizazz needed for this cake. You can always make your own vanilla extract if you like; just pop a couple of vanilla pods in with a small bottle of vodka (yes vodka!) and leave in a cool place for 2/3 months. My mind was blown when I realised this was how vanilla extract was made, especially considering how easy and cheap it is to do!
The cake can be baked in advance, just wrap the cooled sponges tightly in clingfilm and then assemble the next day with the frosting. The frosting is super simple to make, and can be made as thick or thin as you like! I wanted a fairly smooth edge to my cake, so I kept it pretty thick so it would hold in place well. To adjust the texture, simply add more cream to thin it or more icing sugar to thicken.
As I was going for the speckled mini egg look, I tinted my frosting a pale green. You could go for any ‘typical’ mini egg colour that you’d like though. Lilac, dusty pink or even a stark white! To create the speckled look, I simply mixed 1tsp of cocoa powder with a couple of teaspoons of water until I created a paste. Using a pastry brush I then flicked the brush to create specks all over the frosting. You can coat it as much as you like at this point to create your desired effect.
So there we have it! My speckled egg layer cake! I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, and any excuse to eat more mini eggs works in my eyes! 😉
green gel food colouring (or colour of your choice)
1tsp cocoa powder
mini eggs to decorate
Firstly, pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 4/350F/180C and grease and lightly flour three 8-inch cake tins.
In a large bowl, briefly whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Then set aside. Next, using an electric mixer beat the butter on a high speed until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Then add the sugar and beat on a high speed for 5 full minutes until creamed together well. On a medium-high speed, add one whole egg at a time, beating well after each addition until all 4 whole eggs are mixed in. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Using a low speed on the electric mixer add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Ensure you only mix until everything is just incorporated, over mixing will result in a close-textured greasy sponge. The batter will be quite thick! Finally, whisk the 2 egg whites until thick, foamy and soft peaks form - about 3 minutes by hand. Then gently fold into the batter.
Spoon the batter evenly into each cake tin, then bake for around 25 minutes or until the sponges are baked through. Test by inserting a toothpick into the centre of the cake - if it comes our clean, the sponges are done. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack.
For the frosting, beat the butter on a medium speed until creamy in a large bowl. Add the icing sugar, cream, vanilla extract and salt - mixing on a low speed initially. Increase to a high speed and beat for 3 full minutes once the mixture has begun to incorporate. Add more icing sugar if the frosting is too thin, or more cream if the frosting is too thick. Also, add a pinch of salt if the frosting is too sweet. Finally, gradually add the food colouring until you get to your desired colour. Add a little at a time, as the colour can change surprisingly quickly!
To assemble, place one cake on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with frosting. Place the second sponge on top, and again evenly cover with frosting. Finally, place the third sponge on top and spread a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake to create a crumb coat. Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.
Then place 3/4 of the remaining frosting into a piping bag, cut of the end and pipe a ring on the top of the cake and one large ring around the centre of the side. Spread this out with a palette knife, to create an even layer on both the top and sides. Then using a side scraper, run it around the edge of the cake at a sharp angle until the desired smoothness is achieved. This may take a little while to achieve.
Next, put the remaining frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe stars evenly around the top edge of the cake.
Finally, mix the cocoa powder with water in a small bowl to create a paste. You may need to add more water/cocoa powder to achieve the desired paste. Then using a pastry brush flick specks all over the cake. I achieved this by dipping the brush into the paste, and then running my finger down the bristles. You may want to practise this a few times in the sink first! Then, top each piped star with a mini egg.
Now forgive me for being vain, but this is honestly the best cake I’ve ever made. I mean, I like carrot cake…but this is the Ultimate Carrot Cake. It’s SO moist, light and the cream cheese frosting is just the perfect accompaniment.
I’ve made it a few times now, and every time it goes within minutes with second helpings all round! Today being Mothers Day I thought it was the perfect time to bake it for the family and it didn’t disappoint. The recipe is absolutely fool-proof, every single time its as delicious as I remember!
This ultimate carrot cake uses sunflower oil rather than butter, helping it to keep super moist even a week later! The recipe also uses pine nuts rather than the more traditional walnuts and I won’t lie I wasn’t sure how it would work. But after considerable taste testing (for research purposes obviously….) I actually prefer it, it adds a really nice texture and flavour to the cake.
Cream cheese icing is one of my absolute favourites, especially if theres a red velvet cupcake beneath it. It just works so well, and this recipe in particular has the perfect ratio of icing sugar to cream cheese making sure its not too sweet. Theres also just enough, so you don’t end up sparingly smearing it between the layers or having to lick the bowl clean of the excess – guilty!!
The only problem with this cake is that its too light and moreish! You can have a load of slices without feeling guilty!! Oops..! Anyway, I hope I’ve tempted you enough to make this now. I promise it won’t disappoint!
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line and butter three 8" baking tins.
Put the eggs, oil, sugar and maple syrup in a bowl and whisk with a hand-held electric whisk for 4-5 minutes until the mixture becomes creamy.
Sift together the cinnamon, flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, then fold carefully into the mixture. Finally, gently fold the pine nuts and carrot in.
Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing, beat the cream cheese and double cream together until smooth, then beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Once the cakes are completely cool, place one layer onto a cake stand or plate. Then using a piping bag, pipe dots of the icing around the outer rim of the cake layer and then a larger one in the middle. Using a palette knife smear all the dots inwards, and level out all the icing making sure to keep the rounded edges intact.
Lay the next layer of cake on top, and repeat the icing process. Finally, top the cake with the final layer and again pipe dots of icing around the outer rim of the cake. This time however, don't level out all of the icing, instead keep the 'smears' intact to create a flower-style on top of the cake. Use the remainder of the icing, to pipe a little in the middle of the flower and add pine nuts for decoration.