Make the most of squash season with an ode to the Autumn months; made up of heavily spiced pumpkin and brown butter layers, smooth bourbon-laced caramel cream cheese icing and a slightly salty crunch of pecan brittle, this cake is absolutely delicious and marries together some of my favourite flavours.
Ingredients (serves 10-12)
For the bourbon caramel
200g caster sugar
100ml double cream
1-2tbsp bourbon ( spiced rum would also work, or feel free to omit the alcohol)
pinch sea salt
For the cake
250g butter, cubed
200g caster sugar
50g soft light brown sugar
225g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp baking powder
large pinch salt
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cardamom
1tsp mixed spice
450g grated pumpkin (alternatively, you could use carrot or squash)
zest 1 lemon
100g pecans, roughly chopped
For the icing
250g full fat cream cheese
the bourbon caramel
For decoration (optional)
pecan praline (to make this melt 100g caster sugar in a pan until golden, then add 75g pecans, stir to coat and set on a piece of baking paper- once set, crush up)
Start off by making the caramel. To do this place the water and sugar in a saucepan set over a gentle heat; do not stir, but swirl the pan occasionally to encourage the sugar to dissolve. Once the sugar has dissolved and you have a clear syrup, increase the heat and boil until it turns golden brown. At this stage add the double cream and stir, then pour in the bourbon and stir again. Continue to stir on the heat for another couple of minutes, then set aside and add the salt to taste. Leave to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins with baking paper. Place the butter in a saucepan and leave to melt and bubble until it starts to brown and smell nutty. Set aside to cool.
Once the butter has cooled put it in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) along with the sugars and egg and mix until pale and thick (about 5 minutes). Beat in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, baking powder and spices and stir until just combined. Stir through the pumpkin, sultanas, lemon zest and pecans. Split the batter between the cake tins and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Leave the cakes to cool completely in the tins. Meanwhile, make the icing by simply whisking together the mascarpone, cream cheese and caramel until smooth. Pile into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle.
Once the cakes are completely cool, remove from the tins and slice in half horizontally (leaving you with 4 layers). Pipe the icing in little mounds over the whole surface area of the first layer, then stack up the remaining layers, repeating the piping as you go. Decorate the top with pecan praline and thyme.
This chocolate cake is my absolute favourite; it’s moist, rich and filled with both ganache and buttercream (completely necessary in my opinion!). Make it for a celebration or get together and you will be very popular!
Ingredients (for a 3 layer 9 inch wide cake- half the recipe for a 6 inch cake):
For the cake:
340g plain flour
525g caster sugar
2 1/2tsp baking powder
2 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
185ml vegetable oil
3tsp espresso coffee
375ml boiling water
For the frosting:
600g icing sugar
few drops milk
For the ganache:
250g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
pinch sea salt
For the toppers (optional):
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
any sprinkles, nuts or metallic sprays/glitter you fancy
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
For the cake, place the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl. Stir together with a whisk or wooden spoon.
In a jug, mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, milk and espresso. Pour into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Now add the boiling water in batches, gently stirring between each addition (it’s supposed to be runny so don’t worry if the consistency seems a bit odd!).
Split the mixture between the three cake tins and bake for 35-45 minutes until well risen and cooked through. To test whether they are ready, insert a skewer- if it comes out clean it is ready to come out of the oven.
Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a wire rack. Leave to drop to room temperature while you make the fillings.
Firstly, make the ganache. To do this simply chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a jug, then heat the cream until almost simmering and pour straight over it. Leave the chocolate to melt for a couple of minutes then stir to form your ganache. Set aside in the fridge to thicken and cool before you use it.
Now make your buttercream. Whisk the butter until light and fluffy then gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa, whilst beating to combine. Add the vanilla and double cream and give it a final whisk- stop when you have a light, smooth frosting.
If you’d like to make your own toppers, simply melt the chocolate (melt separately for some contrasting shards) then spread a thin layer onto greaseproof paper. Set in the fridge while you assemble the cake then break into pieces and use as you wish.
Now you are ready to assemble the cake. Level off the tops of the sponges with a cake cutter or large bread knife to make sure you have even layers. Take your first sponge and spread over a layer of ganache followed by a layer of buttercream. Top with the next sponge and repeat until you have a stack of three. Cover the whole cake in buttercream and smooth the sides with a palette knife or cake scraper. Decorate with the shards or any other decorations you fancy.