This is a fantastic nutty caramel cake recipe of Dan Lepard’s published first in the Guardian newspaper in 2008 around the time I first started being interested in baking.
Here is a pic of my first effort. I did it as a sandwich cake and was really pleased with the result. It looked far more respectable than the few cakes I had baked up to that point. Dan Lepard often writes his Guardian recipes around what he hopes we keep in our cupboards or can get hold of fairly easily. This has the effect of making me think he writes these recipes just for me; the delusions of my enormous ego. Anyway I have made this a couple more times since then and it is now lodged firmly in my mind in the cake file. Suelle made it with different nuts and coffee granules and turned it into a different cake again and described it here on Dan Lepard’s forum. Edit: Sadly Suelle’s post is in the section of the forum that has been removed.
I thought it might work as a small cake too. Though I am bad at deviating from recipes and things tend to go awry when I do, these were really quite OK. The icing is impressionistic to say the least. I tried using a piping bag, but I think I cut the end badly as it came out in two separate little ribbons, amazing how I can mess up stuff like this and get fingerprints on the decorations too….my clumsiness never ceases to amaze me!
You will notice there is a distinct absence on this blog of craft projects for the same reason.
I can braid dough if I concentrate, but that’s dough which I have more of an affinity with; precision icing, straight lines, squirls and swirls, icing bags, not to mention the hand-eye co-ordination required, pass me by time and time again. Hey ho, life is short and I can practise my icing skills in the next life. Some people are born to ice great cakes and others are born to splodge icing everywhere. I am a natural born splodger.
If you love caramel and toasted hazelnuts and don’t have one of those nasty allergies then this is a superb recipe. If you are going to make it as a cake then go to Dan’s original recipe for his instructions and timings. If you are allergic to nuts and reading this, what would you use instead of nuts?
I had these cute little mini loaf papers which Minadott kindly sent me ages ago and I thought this would be a great cake to use them in, and good for giving away. Now I’ve used them up I would like some more, does anyone know of a source in the UK?
If you decide to have a go at this the full recipe is easily accessible from one of the links higher up the page. I haven’t altered it apart from cooking times so don’t feel justified in writing it out here.
Here are my notes from making it in case anyone is interested. I recommend reading the recipe right through and weighing out the butter and the caramel first for the two parts of the recipe, cake and icing. In fact doing a proper mise en place would be a good idea anyway!
You need to allow time to toast the hazelnuts, I put them in the oven at about 160 ºC fan for 15 minutes or so, and then left the oven on for baking the cakes. You do need to watch them carefully so that they don’t burn, so do this first and have a cup of coffee or something while you do it.
Once the skins have turned dark, furiously rub them together in a teatowel to get most of the skins to come off, allow them to cool and then grind them up. That’s the fiddly part of the preparation for this recipe. Alternatively buy expensive hazelnuts with no skins and toast those, or buy even dearer ground toasted hazelnuts if you can find them. I wonder if one could use hazelnut butter in this recipe as an alternative?
To make the batter :
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together. I put them through the sieve twice and gave them a good stir with my dough whisk for good measure.
Cream the soft butter, sugar and caramel together till they are nice and smooth and you can’t see any little particles of butter. Add the lightly beaten eggs, mix in the ground hazelnuts followed by the flour-cocoa-baking powder mixture till everything is well combined and even.
Divide the mixture up between your cupcake papers, I filled these about two thirds full, – maybe they could have done with a bit more in them – and bake for 12 minutes at 160 C fan on a middle shelf to start with and then test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean, if it comes out with uncooked mixture adhering to it then bake for longer. I pulled these ones out of the oven after 17 minutes.
Allow to cool completely, then beat up the icing ingredients till smooth and fluffy. If you are making cupcakes you could either split your cupcakes and fill them with icing for maximum sweetness, or turn them into butterfly cupcakes or splodge away on the top like me.
The cake part itself is not so very sweet, the toasted nuts balance the caramel taste beautifully in my opinion, and as I don’t like loads of icing on cakes these days a few squiggles on top suits me fine.
There aren’t many cakes that I make more than once, and this one ♥ is at the top of my small list along with lemon drizzle cake.