There’s been a serious lack of cake around here recently. Although, if I’m being perfectly honest, there’s been a serious lack of anything around here recently. Despite a New Year’s Resolution I made to myself to post here once a week, I’ve been suffering a serious bout of ‘cooking block’ recently (it’s a bit like writer’s block, only with more washing up at the end of it.) While I’ve attempted to alleviate this by baking cake-after-cake-after-cake, none of them have been right. A Blood Orange and Lemon cake which involved simmering the fruits whole before blending them into a pulp resulted in a concoction which was lip puckeringly bitter. (It ended up being dumped in the bin while myself and Mr. McMc attempted to whistle the last post.) A Red Wine and Chocolate cake was OK, but slightly too chalky and dry to share with the class, while the hastily snapped pictures I took of it made it look like a gigantic disintegrating doorstop covered in splooge.
Finally, in a last ditch attempt to create something anything which was vaguely dessert-based for Easter dinner, I hit upon the idea of a Butterscotch Cake comprising of an ethereally light vanilla sponge coated in a layer of thick butterscotch. It was simple, it was delicious and it didn’t require me to grate, boil or pulp anything that could fly out of my mixer and hit me right between the eyes (you may laugh at this, but – real talk – the other day an uncrushed lump of muscovado sugar flew out of the bowl of my KitchenAid and whacked me right in the forehead. I would have found it hilarious if I hadn’t been so shocked.) It was perfect – an addictive slice of buttery, caramelised sweetness which might just be one of the best things to ever come out of my kitchen.
I’d suggest serving it for afternoon tea accompanied by genteel finger sandwiches and tea served out of china cups, but I found that it was best eaten messily with my fingers while watching episode after episode of Community in my pyjamas. And while I’m not entirely sure my blogging mojo has fully returned, it was certainly nice to welcome its brief return with a saucepan full of butterscotch.
BUTTERSCOTCH CAKE (Makes 8 generous slices and 16 slim ones)
For the sponge, I used a mixture of demerara and golden caster sugar which added a nice caramel note. If you don’t have any demerara sugar, just use 150g golden caster sugar. The butterscotch recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen (have you bought her recipe book yet? You really should you know.)
You will need:
For the cake
- 150g unsalted butter
- 75g demerara sugar
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 150g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the butterscotch sauce
- 125g unsalted butter
- 109g muscovado sugar
- 1118ml double cream
- 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract, plus more to taste
- Bake your cake: Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4/150°c. Grease a medium sized springform cake tin and line it with baking paper.
- Beat the softened butter and sugars together until they look light and fluffy. (You can do this with a wooden spoon if you have super-strong arms, but you might prefer to use an electric mixer for this bit.) Add the eggs, milk and vanilla essence and whisk again. The mixture should be thick enough to drip off a spoon and leave a trail in the bowl.
- Sift the dry ingredients together. (I always use a trick I learned from Delia for this which involves holding the sieve at chest height to ensure that the flour gets a good airing as it falls down into the bowl.) Add the flours to the wet ingredients and gently fold the mixture together until everything is just combined. You don’t want to do this too roughly as then the sponge will lose some of its light airiness.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and smooth out with a spatula. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the side while you get on with the important business of making the butterscotch sauce.
- Make the butterscotch sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the sugar, double cream and salt and whisk together until well blended. Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine. Dip a spoon in the sauce and carefully taste the sauce to see if you want to add additional pinches or salt or splashes of vanilla. Tweak it to your taste, whisking well after each addition. Leave the sauce to cool for a minute until it has thickened slightly.
- Remove the cake from the tin and place on a (large) plate. Pour the butterscotch sauce generously over the cake until it is fully covered. If you have any sauce left over, I highly suggest eating it straight from the pan with a large spoon until you feel a bit sick.
- Once the cake is cool and the butterscotch sauce has hardened, slice the cake and serve with coffee. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight tin for up to five days (but trust me, it probably won’t last that long.)