Dan Lepard’s Caramel Hazelnut Mini Cakes

Dan Lepard caramel hazelnut mini loaf cakes

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.

Dan Lepard caramel hazelnut cakeHere 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.

38 thoughts on “Dan Lepard’s Caramel Hazelnut Mini Cakes

  1. Choclette

    As a natural splodger myself, I empathise and admire your willingness to try it out. But actually you’ve done a lovely job, these look like excellent home made treats which would be lovely to receive as a gift. Those papers are rather special – where indeed can we get those from I wonder.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Choc I thought I replied! Where has the reply gone I wonder… We natural splodgers must stick together and hold fast against the tyranny of the perfectly turned sugar rose, the immaculate smoothness of royal icing and let our inner splodginess express itself – the Jackson Pollocks of icing :D

  2. Pingback: Goldilocks and the three shower caps | Zeb Bakes

  3. minadott

    I will be in the UK May 19th…can bring a modest quantity over and post down to you (not exclusive at all…from the local equivalent of Sainsbury…I don’t suppose you want to know that they sell little 50g blocks of fresh yeast and also buttermilk……in fact the local Lidl sells fresh yeast…but you can’t buy a piece of smoked haddock for love or money so it all balances out)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      You are a treasure, it wasn’t meant as a hint though :)

      I can get fresh yeast at The Bread Store on the Gloucester Road in Bristol and there is buttermilk of a sort in the shops, the one that’s like yoghurt. I was just amazed at how those little cake papers baked and the cakes don’t stick to them at all. I’d been saving them up for something special and then I thought I really must use them….

      Have you ever thought of trying to smoke your own haddock? It must be possible….

  4. Suelle

    The mini loaves look really sweet, however splodgy you think the icing is! I’m not very good at neat icing either, and never get the hole in the plastic bag the right size when trying to drizzle, so it’s always a bit hit and miss. I always tell myself that no-one else knows what I intended!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Suelle, I remembered that you really rate this cake too! What is it about icing? I watch videos and it looks so easy and then I try and it’s splodgecity… ;)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Jack, thanks for that link!

      I don’t know what the ones Minadott gets in Switzerland cost but I hope they’re not 50 p each, that works out quite a lot for each batch of little cakes. No wonder cakes are pricey to buy in the shops if the packaging is that expensive.

      Edit: I just had a quick google and I found someone called marmalady co uk who has plain ones which aren’t so expensive, I might order some of those. Packaging learning curve here…. ;)

      Are you the Jack I know from Ricks and DDD? The email address is not familiar?

      1. The Cornish Exile

        Hi. Yes, that’s me. I seem to have about a zillion e-mail addresses… I really should rationalise them a bit. Looking forward to this year’s Return to Bethesda!

  5. Jeannette

    I think your cakes look very attractive and tempting, Joanna. Nothing beats home-made cakes, the shop ones may look perfect but the taste is usually disappointing. I’m rubbish at decorating too, I’ve got most of the tools for doing it, but not the patience!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Do you reckon it’s about patience then? I think it’s about having a knack and lots of practice and a feel for how icing works, I have no sense of whether when I’ve mixed some bowl of goop up it will pipe or sploosh or what it will do. It’s a complete mystery. But the cake part is really good and I do recommend it :)

  6. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I hate to break it to you, but Dan doesn’t write recipes for you, he writes them just for me. ;-)

    I love the gorgeous little containers, and the cake sounds delish, I really must try it, and the little hearts on the top are so cute!

  7. cityhippyfarmgirl

    There is nothing quite as pleasing to the eye than seeing a whole lot of little cakes all lined up.
    …and those little containers are lovely. I wonder if you could get any here…

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      If I deconstructed one I am sure you folk could make them. It’s just a question of a few strategically placed creases and some curved corners, but they are lined with something magical that releases the cakes when you unfold them….

      They are quite big little cakes by the time you have eaten one, though you can be dainty and cut them into teeny weeny slices and pretend you live in a dolls house. ;)

      1. heidi

        I tried making little boxes for baking out of parchment paper- it is much harder than I anticipated. :(

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          I’m going to deconstruct one of the wrappers and see if I can draw a diagram for it. Two cakes left, two went to the dog walker who is so slim she can eat any cake, I’ve eaten two, some more went out on various hospital visits, a couple next door, I think Bri ate one… might have to make some more…

  8. C

    They look truly lovely Joanna – sadly I am one of those people with ‘nasty allergies’ so can’t taste them as meant. I think if I were to attempt the recipe I’d replace the nuts with either semolina (well, it’s a bit crunchy…) or just more flour. But I know that really I’d just be kidding myself and it’s the contrast and complement of the sweet dulce de leche and toasty nutty flavours that make the cake what it is, so I’d try and persuade myself to make something else instead….

    The little cake liners are lovely, but as you have seen anything in the UK like this seems to be so expensive :-( I too am one of life’s splodgers. And I can’t set up a decent/interesting photograph of what I’ve made for love nor money… sigh. I’ll get there eventually.

    PS I haven’t got round to using those After Eights I bought, but am munching on them as I type. Not much use for baking now… I’ll have to buy some more…..

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I was thinking of you and several friends of mine when I wrote that. I wonder…. I have been brooding about this, if one toasted some of the nuttier flours like spelt or rye whether one could get some toasty ‘nutty’ not nutty taste into these…

      Thanks for reading anyway :D

  9. Abby

    I think they look adorable, Joanna…what fun little gifts! I’ve always been a clumsy icer (?) myself, but attributed to the fact that I usually use a little baggie with the end cut off which makes it kind of challenging to be precise…and then I finally borrowed my stepmom’s pastry kit, complete with tips in different sizes and patterns…and I learned that it wasn’t the baggies…it was just me! ;-)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks Abby! It’s so sad when one can’t blame the equipment – I have some of that kit too, I don’t even bother taking it out of the box any more…. :)

  10. teawithhazel

    i am too scared to make this delicious looking recipe today..i would eat too many/much..but i will make it next week when my three hungry children visit for our fortnightly meal together and when i can send the remainder home with them..

  11. jan trounce

    I love the notion of splodgers uniting and holding fast, we could have a Splodgers Union and found a Grand Old Splodgers Hall (GOSH) for short – or summat…My one and only go at piped icing was for one of my daughter’s birthday cakes. The cake had got stuck in the pan but I thought decorating it would disquise it. I was going well as I ‘deftly’ folded greaseproof paper into a piping bag, filling it made my confidence wobble and then when the whole thing did a ‘bombs-away’ on me, I became a little unhinged. So, I am very impressed by your cakes and they do look so lovely in their cases – I love things decorated with hearts. PS: when the flaming birthday cake was presented to the gathering of little people, one of Sally’s friends said “Mummy, do I have to eat that”!!

  12. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    I would have been crushed if someone said that – great story Jan :) – I am tempted to add the picture of my attempt to tastefully glaze a white chocolate bundt in February for a small boy’s birthday. It looked like a Dalek that had been through the washing machine or at the very least a time vortex.

    Oh wotthe… I ‘ll add it here so you can see the full horror and that I am a fully paid up GOSHER! The cake stuck so I melted white chocolate and cream which then was too runny, so it didn’t hide the holes, so then I stuck left over sweeties from trick and treat night all over it…
    The Doctor wouldn’t have had a slice I’m sure. He would have taken one look and said, ‘Run!!!’

    White bundt dalek cake

    1. heidi

      I like the look of this cake- and using Halloween candies- so economical and smart. It does look a little like something out of the Tardis- but that only puts it into a category only the Time Lords can judge. (I’d have eaten it!)

  13. Mariana

    Oooh I’m so impressed Joanna. Your mini caramel hazelnut cakes don’t look so ‘mini’ to me, but they sound divine. I love how you’ve adapted the recipe with the icing, the decorating and the gorgeous paper boxes. The fact that they don’t all look the same is what makes it ARTY and CRAFTY. So next time dear, don’t admit to being clumsy, simply say you intentionally made them all to look different and individual. That way the recipient feels special with their own unique creation. Now – who’s a creative gal then?

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