I’m a bit funny about frosting, I find it can be a bit hit or miss. All too often it’s too sweet and sugary or it can be grainy rather than silky smooth, or worst of all it can become crusty with a hard sugar […]
It wasn’t until I travelled to Charleston SC that I thought of praline being anything more than the chocolate seashells that Mr Colonial Cravings receives for Christmas every year. But in Charleston we tried some very tasty crunchy little clusters of caramelised pecans. I think the European ones are usually made from almonds or hazelnuts and ground very finely before they become those little chocolatey indulgences. The caramelised pecan version are what I associate with praline and cream ice cream, the inspiration for this cake!
I’ve shamelessly hijacked the decoration idea from the mojito cake that Jax shared with us all this summer (although hers was far neater than mine!)
350g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
50g cocoa powder
120g butter (softened)
pinch of salt
375g icing sugar
3 tbsp cream
Start by making the praline so that it has plenty of time to cool and become crunchy. Cover a sheet pan with oiled foil or a silicone mat and set it aside. Put the sugar in a wide non-stick pan and gently heat it until it melts and caramelises. If you want to decorate the top of the cake with any whole pecans then set them aside now and roughly chop the rest. Carefully stir these into the caramel and immediately pour them out onto the prepared tray. Leave these to cool and harden whilst you bake the sponge.
Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and grease and line three 18cm (or similar) sandwich tins. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa in a large mixing bowl and then whisk in the sugar and salt. Beat the butter into the mix.
In a separate jug whisk together the eggs and milk. Beat the liquid into the dry ingredients in two batches and then divide the batter between the three prepared tins and level off the tops. Bake the sponges for 20 minutes, by which time they should have risen nicely. Let them cool in the tins for a couple of minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Soften the butter for the frosting by beating it a little. Add the icing sugar and cream and beat again until you have a thick fluffy frosting. Now to crack on with the cake construction!
If necessary trim the sponges to give them nice level tops and then sandwich them together with about a quarter of the buttercream between each layer. Use the remaining buttercream to coat the top and side of the cake. Make the top nice and smooth but don’t worry about the side too much as long as there’s enough frosting coating them for the praline to stick.
Put the caramelised pecans into a food processor and pulse them until they are quite finely chopped. Gently pat them into the sides of the cake, making sure that they stick in a nice even layer. Decorate the top of the cake with any pecans that you set aside earlier or just leave it plain.
These are so insanely good. Mr Colonial Cravings calls these Aztec rolls, which I suppose is a little bit less of a mouthful than ‘chocolate-chili-cinnamon-rolls’. Just as well, because if you make these your mouth will be way to busy scoffing them to do anything else. It’s ridiculous that it’s taken me three years of food blogging to get round to making them.
I’ve always loved Chelsea buns but somehow cinnamon rolls just don’t do it for me, I like the warm soft bread but the sugar and cinnamon always just seem to be a bit something and nothing. Too sweet, too cinnamony (if that’s a word!). Don’t even get me started on the frosting.
Add some rich, dark chocolate, chili heat and tangy lime though and I am a very happy bunny! These are so yummy, warm and gooey or left to cool so that the chocolate becomes solid.
I’ve used a mix of white and wholemeal flour in these because I like the texture and the extra sweetness but feel free to use all white flour if you prefer.
150g strong white bread flour
80g wholemeal flour
7g easy blend yeast (1 sachet)
1 tsp sugar
big pinch of salt
125ml warm milk
50g soft dark brown sugar
100g dark chocolate
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
40g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 lime
Sift the flour into a large bowl and mix through the salt, sugar and yeast. Rub the butter into this mix. Warm the milk a little (so it’s just tepid) and use a fork to beat the egg into it. Gradually pour the egg/milk mixture into the dry ingredients and bring it all together to form a soft dough. I think a butter knife is best for this. Remember that the flour may not be able to absorb all of the liquid, so it’s a good idea to add the wet ingredients a little at a time.
Once you have a nice ball of dough, turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes until if feels nice and smooth and springy.
Wash and dry the bowl you mixed the dough in so that it’s nice and warm and lightly oil it. Pop the dough in the bowl, cover with oiled cling film and put it somewhere warm for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
Whilst the dough is rising you can prepare the filling. Cream together the butter, sugar and spices, so that they are nice and fluffy. Finely chop the chocolate, I find a food processor does this quite easily.
Once the dough has risen take it out of the bowl and knead it again for a minute or two on a lightly floured surface . This means that all the air bubbles will be evenly distributed throughout it. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, a little bigger than a piece of A4 paper. Spread it with the creamed butter and sugar so that the whole surface is covered and then evenly sprinkle on the chocolate.
Roll the dough up tightly, starting at the long edge. Cut into nine even-sized pieces and place these, cut-side down into a lightly buttered baking tin. Re-cover with cling film and put the tin back in a warm place for another hour until the buns have risen and are sitting quite snugly in the tin.
Pre-heat your oven to 190°c. Bake the rolls for about 30 minutes until they are golden brown and the filling has become a wonderful molten mess.
Take the rolls out of the tin to cool, so that the steam doesn’t make the bottom soggy but don’t break them apart just yet.
To make the icing simply cream together the butter and cream cheese and then beat in the icing sugar and lime juice. Chill the icing for 20 minutes and then drizzle it onto the rolls before serving.
BIRTHDAY! Birthday, birthday, birthday! Hurrah for me! I’m probably at the age where I should be dreading birthdays and worrying about entering a different age bracket on surveys, but the thing is…I REALLY like cake. Is it weird to get excited about making your own […]
We took a little road trip up to Vermont in October to meet up with a couple of our friends from back home. This nicely coincided with my friend’s birthday. We also realised whilst we were away that we’ve known each other for 25 years, which means that this year is our Silver Friendiversary (or something like that – I’m sure Hallmark can come up with a catchier name for it).
Anyway, I wasn’t going to turn up in Stowe without a cake for my friend, but I did need to come up with one that could survive the 500+ mile journey up there. I’m pleased to say that this performed admirably. The cake has plenty of moisture from the pears and the frosting is less prone to melting than others that I’ve worked with.
The flavours of this are quite subtle, I didn’t want anything to be too over-powering. However if you want to amp-up the rosemary then just put the sugar for the sponge in a container for a few days with several sprigs of rosemary that you’ve bashed with a rolling-pin and it’ll take on a bit more of the flavour.
2-3 pears (depending on size)
handful of rosemary sprigs
150g sugar (or rosemary infused sugar)
pinch of salt
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g pear puree
2 tbsp milk
100g icing sugar
4 tbsp maple syrup
225g cream cheese
You need to start by making the roasted pear puree, this can be done a few days in advance if you like. It’ll be quite happy in the fridge.
Peel, core and quarter the pears, mix them with the rosemary on a baking tray and roast them at 190°c until they are really soft and tender. How long this takes really depends on how ripe the pears are to start with, so keep checking them. Once they are soft, let the fruit cool and then puree them (discard the rosemary) in a food processor until they are really smooth. I like to sieve mine too so that there are no lumps at all. Set this aside.
Once you have your pear puree you can get cracking on the cake itself. Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and grease and line a couple of sandwich tins.
Cream together the butter, salt and sugar until it’s fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, following each one with a spoonful of the flour to stop the mixture from curdling. Sift in the remaining flour along with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and briefly beat it together. Add the pear puree and milk and beat the batter again so that it is well combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the tins, smooth off the tops and bake the sponges for 25-30 minutes. Test them with a skewer but they should be lightly browned and feel springy to the touch.
Remove the cakes from the tins and leave them to cool on a wire rack.
The frosting is very easy to make. Simply beat the butter, salt and sugar until they are fluffy then add the maple syrup and briefly beat again. Add the cream cheese and beat the whole lot until it’s thick and creamy. Use about a third of this to sandwich the two cooled cakes together and use the remainder to frost and decorate the cake however you like. There are some videos on youtube that will show you how to do the ‘basket weave’ piping that I’ve used. It’s really very easy (I promise!).
These yummy treats have a lovely rich, slightly sticky, moist sponge sitting underneath that swirl of thick, creamy, fluffy buttercream. I’m a sucker for malt and chocolate together and the subtle background of coffee really brings them together nicely. Because the sponge is made with […]