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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Salted Caramel Vanilla Cake

It has been a while since my last post.  However this one is a showstopper so hopefully makes up for it.  I have slightly adapted this cake by Anna Olson to include salt, thus making it a salted caramel vanilla cake, instead of the basic caramel Anna created.  Those that don't know Anna Olson should watch her shows on ' FOOD NETWORK' (in the uk).  She has a number of shows but my favourite has to be 'Bake, with Anna Olson'.  The format is simple, each week she demonstrates a key ingredient, starting with the basics and building in complexity.  This cake is considered the most complex in the show and it comes from the 'Pastry Cream' episode.  Starting with how to create a perfect pastry cream, Anna then demonstrates strawberry tarts and finally this show cake.  

I won't pretent and say that this cake is quick and easy to isn't!  You have to make the pastry cream, then make a caramel, then bake the cakes, make the frosting and finally put it all together.  The good part however, you can make each element at a time and over a few days therefore this cake is actually quite easy to make.  I say easy lightly however, the first time I made this cake I noticed the pastry cream was too thin and when I spread it in the middle of the cake and sandwiched it together I had to constantly stop it leaking out from around the sides while I attempted to cover it in frosting.  My second attempt was much better (and why you will see the cake board change form round to square half way through my photos) however it still did not look the same as Anna's on the TV show.  When she sliced in to her you could see each layer well.  Both cakes I made tasted great and everyone loved it, but I wished it would have looked more stable like Annas. is how I did it...

Salted Caramel Vanilla Cake
Serves about 12

Recipe 'slightly adapted' by Anna Olson

For the all important pastry cream
3 large egg yolks
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp room temp butter (about 60g)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup whole milk
3 tbsp sugar

For the salted caramel sauce
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp corn syrup (I used golden)
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sea salt flakes

For the vanilla cake
3/4 cup unsalted room temp butter (170g)
1 1/3 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract (or paste if you like)
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting
3/4 cup butter (170g)
5 to 6 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

To make the pastry cream, place the egg yolks and cornflour in a bowl.  Add the sugar but make sure it does not come in contact with the eggs as it can start to form a skin on the eggs and making whisking a pain.  In another bowl put in the butter and place a strainer over.


Heat the milk with the vanilla until just about to simmer - do not like it simmer!!  Whisk the hot milk over the egg mixture.  Then return to the pan and cooking over a medium heat, whisk until thick and cream, about 3 minutes.  Really important to make sure it is thick!



Pour in to the strainer and work though over the butter.  Mix butter in to the cream and cover with cling film.  Leave to cool and then place in the fridge.  Done!

To make the vanilla cake, Preheat oven to 175C.  Grease and line two 8-inch cake tins.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light, about 5 minutes.  


Add eggs, one at a time, until fully mixed.  Add vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour with the baking powder, bicarb and salt.

With the mixer on very low, start with the flour, add 1/3.  Then 1/3 buttermilk.  Then flour, then buttermilk, then flour and finally buttermilk (you get the idea).  DO NOT over mix.  Turn off mixer and you should have a pale vanilla infused cream mixture.  


Divide between cake tins and bake for 30 minutes.  Check at 30 to see if done, if required add an extra 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in tins for 20 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely - leave the lining paper on the cakes until you are ready to frost later, it will keep them moist.

To make the salted caramel.  In a heavy based pan, add the sugar, water and syrup.  Bring to a boil over a high heat.  DO NOT mix, if anything, shake the pan to mix.  If you used golden syrup like me your caramel will already have a golden colour, it is really important that you continue cooking until you get a dark caramel colour.  It could take up to five minutes, however watch it carefully as it could turn and burn at any moment.  



Have the cream ready, and a long whisk.  When dark enough, remove from heat.  Now, very carefully, pour in the cream in one go, lots of bubbles and steam...  then go in with the whisk.  Beat until smooth.  Don't stress if you get lots of sugar around the whisk, it will melt back in and if really necessary put the whole lot over the heat again and whisk until this happens.  

Add the salt and set a side until ready to use.

When ready to assembly the cake you need to make a simple vanilla frosting.  To do this put the butter in a mixer, add in 2 cups of icing sugar mix slowly.  Add the milk and vanilla.  Then you need to judge this yourself...add the the rest of the icing sugar, cup by cup, until you have a thick frosting.  If you over do it you can always add in some more milk.

Place about 1/4 of the frosting in a piping bag, fitted with plain tip.  Put one cake on a board and pipe a ring around the edge (this stops the pastry cream escaping).

Mix 1/3 cup of the caramel sauce with the pastry cream and pour about half of it on top of the cake.  Smooth out as necessary.


Place the other cake on top.  Using the frosting in the bowl, spread a thin layer around the cake sides and top.  This is the crumb layer and is designed to give you a neat look later.  Place the cake in the fridge to chill and set, about 30 minutes or longer)


Remove from the fridge and use the reaming frosting to cover the cake again, this time focus on the sides rather than the top as it will be cover in caramel later.  

Use the left over frosting in the piping bag to pip a design on top of the cake, make sure you have a complete seal otherwise the caramel will leak down the sides.

Add the remaining caramel sauce to the left over pastry cream and pour it over the top.

Allow to chill completely for a good few hours before serving.