Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake (Gluten Free and Dairy Free): Clandestine Cake Club meet No. 2

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

I have previously written about the Clandestine Cake Club of which I am a proud member. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, so you can see where this post is going… 🙂

The last time I attended a CCC event, I took the Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake and the theme was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. This event theme was: ‘the Great British Bake Off! The ultimate baking-together experience. Whether you choose a recipe from one of the winners or something that was featured on the programme, even if you want to recreate the tent in cake, the choice is yours.’

I have to admit that I didn’t actually go with the theme as I forgot all about it! 🙂 The idea was to spend two hours baking a cake that could then be shared with fellow bakers and their friends/family later on. I loved the idea of spending the afternoon baking with people who love cake as much as I do, sharing tips and learning from each other. This is also one of the main reasons I write a food blog! 🙂

So that takes me to the inspiration for my cake. Wendy at Chez Chloe wrote about this recipe for Orange and Almond Cake, and I was absolutely hooked on the simplicity of the recipe!  The recipe if gluten free and dairy free (if you skip the caramel top!) Check out Wendy’s post for a simple step-by-step guide on how to prepare this cake.

With only having 2 hours to bake and decorate a cake, I wanted to go with something very simple but delivers on flavour too. The idea for the additional almond caramel top came from a pear and almond cake that I’ve had in a local coffee shop called ‘Teacup’. I generally love caramel and thought it would be a nice decorative feature that doesn’t rely on the cake being cooled before it can be added on.

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

So here is how it was done:

Step one: Prepare the cake as Wendy suggests- I used one less egg and an 18″ round loose bottom cake tin. However this meant that the cake took a lot longer to bake, so I would suggest a 23″ round tin.

Step two: While the cake is baking make a basic caramel by simmering 125g butter, 125g butter, 50ml milk and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a saucepan until it is smooth and a deep caramel colour. Mix in 150g toasted almond flakes.

Step three: When the cake is cooked through, pour all the almond caramel mix on top of the cake and bake for another 10 minutes.

Almond Caramel Topping

Almond Caramel Topping

The cake should be served slightly warm, with a little cream if that takes your fancy! I think we could have done with letting it cool a little before cutting into it, however the extra baking time and hungry cake fans meant that this just wasn’t an option! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

The cake was super moist and the slightly bitter caramel topping did a great job of seeping into the top of the cake to create a lovely balance of flavours. Check out Helena’s official write up of the event!

I cannot finish this post without mentioning the amazing Sean from ‘Cook Manchester’ who provide fully equipped professional kitchen hire for small businesses. I had a good chat with Sean about his business and the kinds of people who have used the facilities. He’s a really inspiring guy who is passionate about  food and helping others to realise their dreams of starting their own food business. Please check out the website and share with friends who may be interested in finding out more about the facilities.

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

 

CCC-Bake Along

CCC-Bake Along

 

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Mini salted caramel and chocolate cakes and other Christmas bakes

Mini Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cakes

Mini Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cakes

I’ve not posted over the Christmas period, but that’s not because I haven’t been baking! Only because I’ve not baked any new recipes. What I have learnt is that when time is of the essence, never bake something you are not already familiar with!

In the past week, I’ve baked a lot of shortbread, made trays of truffles and bags of candied almonds. I also baked 2 kilos of roast potatoes and dinner rolls for the family Christmas dinner.

Christmas Dinner Rolls

Christmas Dinner Rolls: Wholemeal, Seeded, Sundried Tomato and Parmesan

Although I say that I don’t like to try new recipes when I’m under time pressure, I did try a new technique with these dinner rolls. I’ve been toying with the idea of not kneading the dough for the usual 8-10 minutes before the first proofing. Dan Leopard advocated this method a lot and I did try it once but it went badly wrong. However I’ve had a bit more bread making practice since then so I have more confidence working with yeast. So for these dinner rolls, I kneaded them until the dough had come together then proofed it a few times kneading a little in between. The bread turned out pretty well and exactly how bread should! Score!

Rosemary Roast Potatoes

Rosemary Roast Potatoes

These roast potatoes also turned out quite nice. In my family we all help out a little to make Christmas dinner so we share the work load and the oven space! I’ve done the roast potatoes for the past few years. Thinking about it, I think Christmas is the only time I actually make roast potatoes! 🙂

I don’t think I have much time to back again until the new year now. Looking back at when I started this blog at the beginning of October 2013, I’m fairly happy with the results so far… This blog has helped to keep me on track with my baking and encouraged me to try out new recipes. I’ve also discovered lots of new recipes from fellow bloggers and been inspired by their words. Onwards and upwards in 2014!

Happy New Year everyone! May 2014 bring you and your loved ones good health, wealth and happiness…

Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Truffle Celebration Cake

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Truffles

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Truffles

This celebration cake was baked in honour of a friend and colleague who is moving on to a new challenging role with another equally deserving charity. We had planned a surprise party for her in the office and as always a centre piece cake would be there. We have another colleague who is always asked to make the special celebration cakes as she is wonderful at sugar craft and can model the most amazing figures, making the most jaw dropping cakes that are tailored to the lucky person it is intended for. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to help out this time so I was asked to make the cake instead. What a daunting task! I like to bake but only as a hobby and I’ve found baking under pressure to be so stressful!

I thought for days about what kind of cake to make. I wasn’t even going to attempt any kind of sugar craft as I have never done anything like it before and I wasn’t about to start now! I was also putting extra pressure on myself because I really want this cake to look delicious and inviting, maybe even a little glamorous?! No pressure! 🙂

The Cake

After a lot of too-ing and fro-ing I settled on a basic chocolate fudge cake recipe that I had scribbled down off a friend’s mum. She had made their wedding cake using this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! I remember going back for a second slice because it was the tastiest wedding cake I had ever had and it was home made! The original recipe uses fresh cream and black cherry jam for the filling, so being a ‘black forest’ cake fan it was obviously going to be a winner for me!

This is the basic recipe for two thin 20 cm round cakes:

Ingredients

  • 175 grams Self Raising Flour
  • 2 tbs Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 150 grams Caster Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 150ml Sunflower Oil
  • 150ml Milk
  • 2 tbs Golden Syrup

Method

  • Beat all ingredients together
  • Bake in two sandwich tins at 170 degrees C for 25 minutes

You can’t get much simpler than that right!

The challenge I had was to up-size the recipe for a 30 cm cake tin and have two layers. So I figured that I would double the recipe and see how it turns out. Luckily the recipe worked well all baked in 1 cake tin but I needed to bake it for about 40 minutes in total. I decided that the cake didn’t rise enough to make a two layer cake, so decided to do another batch. I decided upon cutting both cakes in half but only using 3 tiers as 4 was just too high! So with the additional layer I cut it up using a round mould and have put them in the freezer for future mini cake adventures…

Salted Caramel Truffle Cake

Salted Caramel Truffle Cake

The Frosting

As I am going through a stage of experimentation with salted caramel, I decided that this grown-ups party would be the right time to use salted caramel to the max! So I found a few salted caramel butter cream recipes and settled on this Banana Cake with Salted Caramel recipe for inspiration. Mainly because the cake in the picture looked similar to what I wanted to achieve so I figured that I could stick to the proportions of ingredients and have enough to frost the whole cake. It is also a fairly easy recipe to follow.

After watching the sugar syrup boil for ages, I figured that the recipe could be adapted a little to have less water so this stage need not take so long, but would this then affect the quantity of caramel? I decided that this is something to experiment with another time… As I only had unsalted butter, I added a teaspoon of sea salt to the caramel along with the cream to give it the signature taste.

I struggled a little with this recipe as it tells you to ‘Beat the cooled caramel cream using an electric beater until fluffy’, warning that ‘his step takes a while, so be patient’. So I kept the mixer beating the caramel and nothing happened… 15 minutes later I gave up and just started adding the butter. The frosting was actually very runny so I decided to add another half block of butter to the bowl and some icing sugar too the thicken it up and it seemed to work. I also put the frosting into the fridge to harden a little as it was still fairly runny.

This frosting is ideal for people who like buttercream but find it a little too sweet. The caramel flavour is very strong and is a great choice for grown-ups. I also like the natural caramel colour of the frosting as a lot of buttercream recipes require artificial colourings to make them a look nice, so all in all this recipe is another keeper!

 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

The Decoration

Looking on the world wide web for inspiration on how to decorate this cake I decided to make some Salted Caramel Truffles to go on top. For a previous cake I had made profiteroles but I wasn’t too happy with the finishing look, and making these profiteroles was only going to add to my stress levels! The Salted Caramel Truffles were ideal as I could also use the recipe for making Christmas food gifts if they turned out OK.

So after frosting the layers of the cake and decorating the top with truffles and drizzles of left over caramel sauce, the cake was complete! I am slightly disappointed that you can see some of the cake crumb in the frosting, I must have over-baked it so must keep an eye on this next time. As I’m not very good at being precise and ‘pretty’ isn’t really my style, I went for the ‘messy look’. I think I got away with it!

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Truffles

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Truffles

The Verdict

I’m pretty happy with the final product. I got lots of compliments and people even took extra slices home, always a good sign! From the little that was left of the cake, I could tell it was well appreciated! I’ve finally been able to get the cake to slice evenly thanks to a new kitchen gadget I picked up from a local shop but similar to this Amazon product. It only cost me £3 and gives such a perfect professional finish! The cake itself was moist and light, while the frosting wasn’t too sweet. I even had some left over truffles to enjoy too!

A winner all round… 🙂

Salted Caramel Truffles

Salted Caramel Truffles with Salted Caramel Drizzle and Sea Salt Flakes

Salted Caramel Truffles with Salted Caramel Drizzle and Sea Salt Flakes

Making this recipe was also the first time for me to make caramel from melting sugar down in a pan so I was being extra cautious in case I burnt it. However after the first try I’ve realised how easy it is an how yummy too so all my friends and family should not be surprised if everything they get from my this year contains some form of salted caramel! 🙂

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

I’m in love with salted caramel at the moment and this recipe for Salted Caramel Truffles looked too good to pass up! I was looking for inspiration on Christmas food gifts that are fairly simple to do as this year I don’t have as much time as I’d like to dedicate to gift baking. I was also looking for interesting ways to decorate a chocolate and salted caramel cake so these are perfect!I think the last time I tried to make truffles was when I was about 14 years old in a food technology class in high school. Thinking back, I can’t say I was particularly keen on baking cakes back then. I remember enjoying the class though, which is a positive because I have very sparse memories of my school years! Obviously very uneventful…

After rolling the truffles in some cocoa powder I drizzled them with some left over salted caramel sauce and then sprinkled a little sea salt flakes on top to give the idea of what flavour is inside. A bit messy, but not bad for a first attempt!

I had to put these truffles into mini cupcake cases as they were twice the size of my petite four cases, so that gives you an indication of how huge they are! However my excuse is that I need them to go on top of a pretty huge cake so little ones would just not do.

The Taste Test

Obviously one had to be tasted for quality control (and to make sure they didn’t  ruin the final cake!) and I have to say  that they are delicious! The caramel gives the truffle a slightly chewy texture so it isn’t just pure rich chocolate that melts in your mouth. The salted caramel taste comes through but only very lightly. It helps to cut through the bitter chocolate making them very moreish… This recipe is a keeper!

When one recipe inspires another: Coconut Caramel Slice

Coconut Caramel Slice

Coconut and Salted Caramel Slice

 

Home baking has recently seen a revival. My friends, colleagues and family know all about my cake obsession, and I have held many an afternoon tea or baked an experimental cake to share in the office the next day. I had to stop when people complained that they were putting on weight from eating all my cakes! I bake less these days but still enjoy dabbling once in a while. ‘Afternoon tea’ is quintessentially British but now fashionable the world over. I recently had an ‘Asian Afternoon’ tea where finger sandwiches were replaced by a variety of sushi. A perfect example of Asian fusion cuisine!

An earlier experiment with banana gyoza resulted in having left over coconut caramel  that was a little sickly sweet so, I wanted to try it with a little sea salt to take the edge off the sweetness. A quick on-line search of ‘coconut caramel’ and the first recipe that came up was this one! Coconut caramel slice. I’ve adapted this recipe slightly by using the coconut caramel (with a couple of pinches of sea salt flakes added) and adding a drizzle of dark chocolate on top to introduce a contrast in tastes. I’ve also increased the amount of dessicated coconut in the top layer to 200 grams and added another egg. I found that the amount in the recipe was not enough to fully cover the ‘cake’, and I also wanted to use up what was left of packet before I started on another baking adventure ‘just to use up left overs’!

Looking at the recipe, I realised it was very similar to a coconut macaroon recipe I used when baking a gluten free treat to take to a friend’s house as a treat. This Coconut Slice recipe is a very simple recipe, similar to an Almond Slice. Except the ground almond is swapped for dessicated coconut and raspberry jam in the place of caramel. I made Almond Slices a few months ago and they turned out amazingly well for my first attempt. I really like tray bakes. They are simple to make and these layered recipes are always very pretty, looking like you have put more effort in than you really have!

At work we regularly hold bake sales to raise money for the charity I work for. I usually make cupcakes which go down well but I steer clear of eating them as I find the buttercream far too sweet. I think these Coconut caramel and Almond slices will be on the menu for the next bake sale. This way I can enjoy a little treat in the afternoon too!

 

Coconut Caramel Slice

Coconut and Salted Caramel Slice