This is a cake for people who don’t think they’re into cake.
I’m sure you all have one of those friends (or colleagues … or bosses). Well. This cake will turn them. To me, this is what cake is all about. There’s no fuss or fondant, and every element celebrates the others in a beautifully simple way. I made it up on a lazy Sunday afternoon in which the salted caramel set a precedent for me to be unusually productive.
Maybe it’s because I know my winter will be broken up by one month of glorious, European summer, but I am so enjoying the crisp autumn days lately, the wearing of sleeves and the changes in produce that the seasons bring. Now that I’m comfortable enough to essentially throw together a recipe of my own accord, it is so much easier to base what I make around what looks best at the farmer’s market. I’m reading that sentence now and realising I sound like an utter food wanker. But basically, the pears were cheap and fresh and this cake is delicious. You need to make it and experience it for yourself.
For the cake:
- 190g butter, softened to room temperature
- 100g brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 120g golden syrup
- 320g self-raising flour (could easily substitute a gluten free baking mix with raising agent here)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup full cream milk
- 1/2 cup yoghurt (alternatively use 1 cup buttermilk)
- 2 pears, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line three 8in/20cm cake tins.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, along with the cinnamon, ginger and vanilla with the last egg. Beat well after each addition. Mix the golden syrup through. Add the flour and baking soda and mix until combined. Finally, loosen the batter with the milk and yoghurt. Fold through the pears.
- Pour the batter into each tin, dividing evenly into three and spreading the batter out in the tins evenly with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake is just cooked through. Remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes before removing from tins to cool to room temperature. Transfer to the freezer wrapped in cling wrap for easy assembly.
- 200g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 90g softened butter
- 1/2 cup (120ml) cream
- Generous pinch of salt to taste
- While the cakes are cooking or cooling, prep the salted caramel. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the caster sugar and water. Stir to dissolve and then STOP. Leave the sugar syrup be, bring to the boil and don’t touch it until it’s starting to turn a caramel colour. This takes around 5-8 minutes.
- As soon as the caramel has a dark tan, remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Pour the cream in slowly and mix in further. Continue to stir until the sauce is smooth and combined. Cool, add salt to taste and store in a sterilised jar for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Caramel cream cheese frosting:
- 500g cream cheese, softened
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g icing sugar
- 1/2 cup caramel
- Beat the cream cheese, butter and icing on high speed until fluffy. Pour in the caramel and beat further.
- Place the first cake layer on your serving dish and spread some of the caramel cream cheese frosting atop, spreading evenly out to the edges in a thin layer. I sprinkled some crushed roasted almonds on top in the layers also, but this is entirely optional.
- Pop the next cake layer on top and repeat the process of frosting, followed by the final top layer.
- I left the sides of the cake naked, and so basically did a crumb coat of the cake on the top and the sides. I then used up the remainder of the icing for the top of the cake, spreading out to be smooth and even.
- Chill the cake for 30 minutes before pouring the remainder of the prepared salted caramel onto the centre of the top of the cake. It will drizzle out to the sides and create beautiful cake drips, drowning the cake.
- Decorate the cake or leave nearly naked – I roasted a slice of pear with some lemon juice and used some meringues, hazelnut praline and lavender I had on hand.