layer cake

Pumpkin and Pecan Brown Butter Cake with Bourbon Caramel Icing

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
  • 50ml water
  • 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
  • 4 eggs
  • 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 cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 450g grated pumpkin (alternatively, you could use carrot or squash)
  • 75g sultanas
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 100g pecans, roughly chopped

For the icing

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 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)
  • thyme sprigs

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Sesame Layer Cake

Chocolate, tahini, sesame seeds (and more chocolate). What’s not to like? With four layers of dark chocolate sponge sandwiched together with creamy milk chocolate ganache smothered in sesame-studded tahini buttercream, this little twist on a classic chocolate fudge cake makes for a great celebration centrepiece which boasts a delicious balance of  sweet, nutty and rich cocoa flavours.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 375g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 325ml milk
  • 175ml vegetable oil
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 325ml just boiled water
  • 2tsp instant coffee granules

For the milk chocolate ganache

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 175ml double cream
  • pinch salt

For the icing

  • 100g tahini
  • 200g soft butter
  • 600g icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3-4tbsp black sesame seeds

For decoration (optional)

  • extra black sesame seeds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins with baking paper.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate, either in a heatproof bowl in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl stir together the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a jug, lightly whisk the eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the contents of the jug into it. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until well combined then add the melted chocolate and stir again (I just use a balloon whisk for this- nothing electric is required as you don’t need to incorporate much air).
  4. Pour your just boiled water over the instant coffee granules and once they’ve dissolved, gradually add to the chocolate batter, stirring gently with your whisk as you go. The final cake batter will be very thin but don’t worry, it bakes beautifully.
  5. Split the mix evenly between the prepared tins and bake for 40-50 minutes ( or until a skewer comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached). Once baked leave to cool completely in the tins.
  6. For the chocolate ganache, place the milk chocolate,salt and cream in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently melt together (ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the bowl) and once smooth and creamy, set aside to cool completely.
  7. For the buttercream, beat together the butter, tahini, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer (or using electric beaters) until light and fluffy. Now add the icing sugar in batches, beating well on a slow speed between each addition. Once it’s all in increase the speed and beat for about 5-10 minutes until very light, smooth and creamy. Add in the sesame seeds and briefly mix again to distribute them evenly through the buttercream.
  8. To assemble the cake, slice the cooled sponges horizontally into two even layers (leaving you with four layers). Sandwich them on top of each other with a generous helping of ganache in between, then cover the whole cake with a thick coating of tahini buttercream using a palette knife (this buttercream is a little more textured than the regular kind due to the addition of tahini, so dampen the palette knife before spreading to achieve a smooth surface).
  9. To decorate, spinkle with extra sesame seeds for an understated look, or go to town which chocolate shards and sesame brittle.

Enjoy!

My Favourite Chocolate Cake

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
  • 125g cocoa
  • 2 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 375ml milk
  • 185ml vegetable oil
  • 3tsp espresso coffee
  • 375ml boiling water

For the frosting:

  • 250g butter
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 100g cocoa
  • 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

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Oreo Celebration Cake

Chocolate seems to be dominating my blog recently, so before I break from that theme to enter other territories I thought I would share my Oreo chocolate cake recipe. It’s made up of three chocolate fudge cake layers which are sandwiched between chocolate ganache, slathered in Oreo cookie frosting and topped with chocolate drips and Oreo cookies. Make it for your next special occasion and your guests will be forever grateful (if a little heavier…).

Ingredients (the quantities might sound like a lot- but this is a big old cake!):

  • For the cake: 400g plain flour, 450g caster sugar, 125g cocoa powder, 3tsp baking powder, 3tsp bicarbonate of soda, 4 eggs, 350ml milk, 225ml vegetable oil, large pinch salt, 300ml boiling water
  • For the ganache: 300g milk chocolate, 200ml double cream
  • For the Oreo frosting: 300g butter, 800g icing sugar, 3tbsp milk, 1 pack oreos (crushed into crumbs)
  • For the drips: 100g dark chocolate, 120ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c then grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
  2. Place your plain flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir briefly to combine.
  3. In a jug, mix together the eggs, milk and oil. Make a well in the bowl of dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Whisk together until smooth, then measure out your boiling water. Add the boiling water in a few additions, carefully mixing to distribute it through the cake mix. It will be very runny, but this is what makes the cake so moist. Once smooth, pour the batter into the three cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Once baked, leave to cool completely.

  1. While the cakes are cooling make the chocolate ganache. Finely chop the milk chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream until nearly boiling then pour straight over the chopped chocolate and allow to melt. Stir until smooth then set aside to cool.
  2. Now make the buttercream. Place the butter in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk (using electric beaters) until pale and thick. Add the icing sugar in additions and keep beating until it becomes white, light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Now add the Oreo crumbs and milk. Whisk again to combine then adjust the consistency by adding a drop more milk if necessary. Set aside.
  3. Make the chocolate ganache for the drips now, to allow cooling/ thickening time. This ganache should be runnier than your filling you’ve already made.  As before, heat the cream and pour all over the chopped dark chocolate. Mix until smooth then set aside until it reaches a thick but still pourable consistency.
  4. Now it’s time to assemble your cake! Layer up the chocolate sponges with milk chocolate ganache (and a little Oreo frosting too, if you like!) then coat the whole cake in a thin layer of the Oreo frosting (a crumb coating). Chill for 10 minutes, then use the remaining frosting to create a thick outer layer. Smooth down with a palette knife and cake scraper. Chill again to firm the edges, then pour the runny dark chocolate ganache over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides.
  5. Now you can garnish with more Oreos and serve!