Wednesday 24 February 2010

Sweet treats for dark days....

This is the Burnt Sugar Cake I made looked and smelt delicious! I actually called it 'Caramel Cake' for the customers as the British don't like the word 'Burnt' I've discovered (even though I think that Burnt Sugar sounds intriguing & delectable!) I must write about the psychology of food & menu writing one of these posts - it's a fascinating area!
Anyway, whatever you want to call it, the cake is adapted from a recipe in another favourite book: Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott.

I use this book a lot for ideas and the cakes always turn out brilliantly - moist (I hate that word, but can't think of another that describes so well!) close textured and tall!

Burnt Sugar Cake
{adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott}

First make a burnt sugar syrup by heating 1 cup sugar & a tbsp cold water in a heavy pan until the sugar melts & turns a rich, golden brown colour. DON'T STIR the mixture, just shake or swirl the pan if you need to, or it will crystallise! When it's a good colour, pour in (carefully, it will spit & hiss!) a cup of boiling water & stir with a wooden spoon to create a smooth, brown syrup. Remove from the heat & allow to cool.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees & line a 10" baking pan with parchment (sides & base)

3 cups all purpose (plain) flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 sp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1 cup/2 sticks/ 1 250g pack butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs

In a large bowl, beat the butter & sugar at high speed until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Pour in 1/2 cup of the cooled burnt sugar syrup & beat well. Add the dry ingredients & milk/vanilla alternately beginning with a 1/3 flour mixture, then half milk/vanilla etc. Beat only until each mixture is incorporated. Scrape batter into pan & bake approx 1 hour. I set my timer for an hour, but then turn the cake tin 180 degrees & bake for another 15 mins or so, testing with a skewer to check it's done in the middle. Ovens vary so much in strength! Cool in the tin for about 15 mins, then turn onto a cooling rack until completely cold.

Caramel frosting:

3 3/4 cups icing (confectioners) sugar
1/2 cup burnt sugar syrup
1/4 cup/1/2 stick/1/4 pack butter, softened
2-3 tbsp evaporated or regular milk (I used double/heavy cream)

Beat first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until incorporated. Add milk or cream a tablespoon at a time to make a smooth, spreadable frosting. Add more sugar or cream to adjust the consistency until just right.

Split the cake into 2 layers, use half the mixture to frost inside & the rest for the top. I drizzled a little reserved syrup on top to decorate, but you could also use fudge bits, butterscotch chips- or leave it plain!

A lovely cake to eat with a cup of strong coffee to cut the sweetness.

My other creation, baked this morning, was my own recipe for

Cookies & Cream Muffins
{recipe by Rachel Lucas!}
makes 9 large muffins

300g self raising flour
150g sugar
200ml whole milk
100ml sunflower or other tasteless oil
2 free range eggs
2 tbsp cocoa (unsweetened)
1 tsp baking powder
4 Oreo cookies, crumbled
Icing (confectioners) sugar to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius & line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine all dry ingredients in a  large bowl. Whisk together milk, oil & eggs until well combined. Pour wet ingredients over dry & mix lightly with a fork until incorporated but still craggy & lumpy. Don't overmix or the muffins will be tough! Divide mixture between cases, filling right to the top. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan & bake for 10 minutes more. Dust with icing sugar & serve while still warm - although they're also good when cold!
As with all muffins, they're best eaten the day you make them.

A really quick & easy recipe - about half an hour from start to stomach if you have all the ingredients to hand!

So I hope you try at least one of these recipes. We sure need something to get us though the final, dark, wet, cold days of the Northern hemisphere winter! Soon it will be time for light, healthy food again - but for now I say: Eat cake, drink tea & be cosy!

Enjoy your day & your sweet things xox


  1. Oooooh, yum!!! Your cookies and cream cupcakes sounds delicious. Oreos are hard to come by here, but if I find them I'll make these!
    Hope you are doing well, dear friend!
    xo Dawn

  2. Oh Rachel what are you doing to me?! I would LOVE a slice of cake and one of your muffins they all look and sound delish!
    Wishing you a lovely day
    Morwenna xoxo

  3. I have put on ten pounds just reading this, but what the heck, cut me a slice, I'll be around for a coffee in 10 minutes! What about succulent instead of moist? Or maybe luscious? Anyway, they look, as ever, just about the best cakes I have ever seen. Drool!
    Love love love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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