Layers of rich chocolate brownie, and light caramel sponge, filled with a salted caramel buttercream, and covered in a dark ganache. Finished off with a stack of little fudgy brownie squares, and a generous pour of salted caramel sauce.
Growing up in a little village on the Surrey/Hampshire border, I’m a Southern girl at heart. Born and bred in the home counties, home is the rolling of the Surrey hills, the cliffs and downs of the South coast, and the cobbled streets of Guildford, Winchester and Farnham. Andy, on the other hand, brought up in Hull, is a Yorkshire lad through and through. For him its the sight of the Humber Bridge that signifies home, York is the city that pulls on his heart strings, and an unexplained rivalry with Lancashire is in his blood.
You wouldn’t think such a little country could be so divided, and yet it is. Important debates reign. The proper pronunciation of ‘bath’ and ‘grass’ for example (its obviously bar-th, incase you were wondering!), and what to call various bakery products. In the early days of our relationship Andy confused me with the notion of bread cakes. Far less exciting than they sound, they are just your humble bread roll. Then he had me completely stumped with pikelets, something we don’t have in the South. Although, as it happens, it turns out we do, its just we call them crumpets (clearly their proper name!). The fish and chip shop order is another baffling area when I’m up North. A mysterious item called a pattie is a necessary order. This, it turns out, is a disc of deep fried mash potato. Deep fried potato product to go alongside your deep fried potato product, the carb lover’s dream!
On a more practical level, now we’re back in the UK, this means families at opposite ends of the country, and many a trip up and down the M1. Last week Andy disappeared back up to the motherland, leaving me all alone down South. Unsupervised I have a tendency to head into the kitchen, and bake up ridiculous things we really don’t need. Recipes like this layer cake. I didn’t bake it for any particular celebration, it wasn’t anybodies birthday, there weren’t anniversaries to celebrate, no-one was getting married. No, I just fancied making it and, as no-one was there to be the voice of reason, I did.
Two layers of thick, decadent brownie are stacked up with a light, caramel sponge. They’re filled with a salted caramel buttercream, and then covered with my favourite dark chocolate ganache.
The brownie is made with cocoa powder, sugar and lots of butter, and is fudgy and rich. Its a little more cakey than my regular brownies as a little more structure was needed to support the layers of the cake. It tastes divine with the salted caramel buttercream. Dark chocolate and salted caramel, a perfect combination.
I think though, the thing I love most about this cake, are the salted caramel drizzled brownies stacked up on top. A slice of cake AND a brownie all in one. No need to choose. The dream!
– the caramel sauce and the ganache take a little time to cool and set up. Bear this in mind when making your cake. You may wish to make the caramel sauce and ganache early in the process so they have plenty of time to cool.
– I used about half a teaspoon good quality flaked sea salt in my caramel sauce. Adjust this to your taste. Start with a generous pinch, taste, and add more as required. Its far easier to add more than to take away excess salt.
– the buttercream is made with the salted caramel sauce. Take one and a half tablespoons of the sauce to mix into the buttercream, and reserve the rest for the top of the cake.
Salted Caramel and Brownie Layer Cake
for the brownies
150g cocoa powder
370g unsalted butter
500g caster sugar
6 medium eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g self raising flour
for the caramel cake
170g unsalted butter
85g dark brown sugar
85g caster sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
3 medium eggs
170g self raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
for the salted caramel sauce
125g caster sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
25g unsalted butter
150ml double cream
1/2 teaspoon good quality flaked sea salt (see note)
for the buttercream
330g icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 tablespoons caramel sauce
for the ganache
165ml double cream
200g dark chocolate
dark chocolate chips, to decorate
Begin by making the brownie layers.
Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan / 350F.
Grease and line 2 20cm round tins, and one 2lb loaf tin.
Put the cocoa powder, butter and caster sugar in a large pan. Heat together over a low heat, stirring regularly, until the butter and sugar are all melted together. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then beat in the eggs and the vanilla extract. Finally, fold through the flour until all the ingredients are just combined.
Put about 260g of batter into each of the round tins. Pour the remaining batter into the loaf tin.
Put into your pre-heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until firm on the top, and starting to pull away from the edge of the tin.
Cool for about 15 minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cool, cut the brownie cooked into the loaf tin into 10 small squares, these will be used to top your cake.
Next, make the caramel cake.
Wash, dry and re line your 20cm round tins.
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Stir through the golden syrup.
Add one of the eggs, along with a tablespoon of flour and mix.
Repeat with the remaining eggs.
Fold in the remainder of the flour, followed by the milk.
Divide the batter between the 2 tins.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
To make your caramel, heat the sugar, water and golden syrup in a heavy based pan. Bring it to the boil and let everything bubble away until all of the sugar has melted, much of the water has evaporated, and its just turning a deep, rich amber colour. Its fine to stir the mixture occasionally if you think it might be sticking to the pan. Remove from the heat, and melt in the butter. Whisk in the double cream. Add the salt according to taste. I used about half a teaspoon, but start with less, taste the caramel (carefully – its hot!) and add more if needed. If the sugar has solidified, pop the pan back on the heat to melt again. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
To make your buttercream, cream together the butter and sugar. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat to combine. Fold in the milk. Stir through one and half tablespoons of your cooled caramel sauce. Set aside.
To make the ganache, break the chocolate into very fine pieces in a heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan heat the cream until just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and pour over the dark chocolate. Stir together until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool for about 2 hours until it has reached a spreadable constancy.
Construct the cake. Begin by placing a layer of brownie cake onto your cake stand or plate. Cover with buttercream, then top with a layer of caramel cake. Repeat.
Cover the entire cake in a crumb coat of buttercream. Put in the fridge to chill for about half an hour.
Cover with ganache.
Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the cooled caramel sauce onto the top of the cake. Reserve a small amount to drizzle over the brownies.
Pile the brownies on top of the caramel, then drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce.