So. How does this work? A Creme brûlée cake. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I love French food and I especially love creme brûlée. It’s one of my all time favourites. So I thought, why not mix together my love of cake with my love of this French classic.
The single most satisfying bit when eating a creme brûlée is cracking through that caramel top to get the goodness below. So why not replicate that, here?
I spent a while thinking how this would work. It would need caramel, it would need custard. The custard was the easy part – logic says to sandwhich it in-between layers and the result is somewhat satisfying to say the least. I thought about sprinkling with caramel pieces, decorating with caramel shards and then I realised I was missing the point.
The single most satisfying bit when eating a creme brûlée is cracking through that caramel top to get the goodness below. So why not replicate that, here? Sure, it makes serving somewhat of a mess but actually isn’t that the point? It’s not a cake. It’s a creme brûlée cake. Crack through that caramel and cut the cake!
One more thing. I wanted a bit of a stronger caramel flavour to come through here, and so I decided to change things up a little, using burnt butter in the cake and in some of the decoration. Gee. Not only is the smell is divine, but it adds a depth of flavour that just reminds you of the French dessert that little more.
Yields: 15 slices.
280g plain flour
220g butter, unsalted and softened – 50g set aside for the buttercream.
3 large eggs (room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
200g softened, unsalted butter.
500g icing sugar, 100g of which is for 50g of the butter already set aside.
1 tbsp whole milk
200g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 egg yolk
10g corn flour
Grease 2 deep 6″ cake tins with butter and dust with flour – making sure the bottom and sides are covered with a thin film of flour. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan).
Make the custard. Warm 200ml of the milk in the pan with the vanilla. Place the remains 50ml in a bowl. In the bowl, add the sugar, corn flour and egg yolk. Whisk together. When the milk in the pan starts to bubble, pour a small amount into the bowl and whisk to temper the mixture. Pour the remainder in slowly, whisking as you do. Once all whisked together, pour through a sieve back into the pan. Put the pan back on the heat and whisk until it thickens. This will roughly take 5 minutes. Pour this through the sieve again, into a bowl. Press some clingfilm on to the top of the custard to prevent it forming a skin and place in the fridge to cool until you need it later during assembly.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. In a small pan,. Melt the butter. Keep the pan on the heat. The butter will start to bubble. Swirl the pan a little. Keep on the heat – it will get to a point where the butter starts to foam, and black specks begin to appear at the bottom of the pan. Pour into a heat-proof container and leave to cool a little, before sticking in the freezer.
Remove the butter from the freezer and leave to soften to put in the microwave for a few seconds. Reserve 50g of it, setting it aside for late. Beat the 170g in a stand mixer for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and beat again for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix inbetween each addition. Add a good drizzle of vanilla bean paste and stir.
Take the flour mixture and add a third, stir. Add half of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the flour, once again and combine followed by the rest of the buttermilk and flour. Mix.
Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 30 minutes, checking with a skewer that it comes out clean. Once done, leave to cool completely.
While the cakes are baking, make the buttercream. Beat the softened butter for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add half the icing sugar and beat again for 2 minutes. Add the remaining half and beat once more, along with some vanilla bean paste and 2 tsp of milk.
Take the 50g of burnt butter from earlier and beat for 5 minutes. Add 50g of icing sugar and beat. Combine the remaining 50g along with a dash of milk and the vanilla bean paste, until it’s fluffy and smooth. Decant into a piping bag fit with a star nozzle.
Next, make the caramel disk. You’ll need one of the 6″ cake tines for this. In the base, place a circle of tin foil that sticks up slightly around the edge. Pour the sugar and water into a heavy-based pan. Stir to combine and then turn the heat to medium. The sugar will dissolve and it will take about 15 minutes for the sugar to dissolve and for the sugar to turn a dark amber colour. Once this happens, quickly, confidently but most importantly carefully pour the caramel onto the tin foil that is placed in the cake tin. Leave for 10 minutes to cool before removing. Leave to cool completely and peel off the foil. Set aside until assembly.
To assemble, take the plain buttercream and spread a thin layer on the top of the bottom layer. Then pipe a circle around the circumference of the cake. This creates almost a well in the centre. Pour the custard in and smooth out. Place the top layer on top, pressing down slightly. Now down a crumb coat on the whole cake. You want to lock in all the crumbs to stop your top layer of frosting dragging them all up again. Once the crumb coat is done, place in the fridge for up to an hour. Once set, complete the frosting – take the remainder of the buttercream and smooth the edges and top with a cake scraper.
Place the caramel circle on the top of the cake and pipe the burnt butter buttercream around the edge both at the top and the base.