(also as a side note, the longest post title in the world…)
As you could probably tell from last week’s Bake Along post, I was pretty excited by the idea of caramel week. Mainly because who doesn’t love caramel?!?!
If we’re discussing current favs, I’m also loving Liam right now, yes, he hasn’t shone through yet so far as a particularly fantastic baker, caramel week was his week, and I feel as though he should have won star baker, especially as I’m not a fan of colour spun sugar on anything other than candyfloss or toffee apples.
Having made many many caramel slices in my 25 years, and featuring a recipe already back in the archives when I’d just started blogging, I decided to go for something fun. Stroopwaffels are delicious, but alas I have no waffle maker, and wasn’t about to invest for the sake of one post, plus Lidl’s version are pretty tasty as an alternative!
This week’s caramel bake along also happily coincided with my wonderful Babcia’s 80th birthday, and so a caramel themed cake could easily fit in as a birthday cake! Hooray for palming off my bakes onto anyone I can and avoid getting chubs from eating it all on my own!
As we’d also said we would conjure up a magnificent Chinese feast (because, bless, of all the fancy dining options available to her, all she wanted to celebrate the big 8-0 with was a family Sunday lunch takeaway at her house!). It turns out, all Chinese takeaways within a 20 mile radius do not open on a Sunday, and as my darling other half is a dab hand at Asian cuisine, we cooked up cashew chicken, crispy chilli beef, pulled pork spring rolls, vegetable spring rolls, and cashew mixed veg for all of us.
I baked the actually apple cake using this recipe, and made it the night before as Adam was helping his uncle out. I also happened to make a vegan version with this recipe, which actually turned out pretty tasty too. We were lucky enough this year to get an absolute glut of apples on our one little tree, and have so far harvested well over 100 fat juicy sweet cookers – so any excuse to bake with them is marvellous!
Now my idea was for carefully smoothed salted caramel buttercream, with dripping salted caramel sauce, a sugar spun nest with a blown sugar sphere filled with apple mousse. As you may or may not have noticed, I only got halfway through.
Cake. Done. Buttercream. Done. Salted Caramel Sauce. Delicious, worked perfectly first time – Done! As for the blown sugar spheres? Bloody nightmare!
I found a recipe, and set about at 8am in my pjs trying it out, expecting, as the recipe promised, that it would be simple.
It required getting the sugar up to 298F, and it only took the first attempt to realise my sugar thermometer, in fact, was broken, as the sugar boiled, caramelised and subsequently burnt, before it had even reached 200 degrees! Attempt two was using my naked eye alone, and a little pot of water to test the soft ball method. It looked great, I was confident. That is, until I poured it all out and it instantly crystallised into a hard messy rock. Fail. This is where poor Adam was awoken (which was a bit mean seeing as he hadn’t got home until 4am!) to help. His attempt turned out exactly the same as my second one. Crystalised sad sugary mess. So naturally I gave up. Screw you sugar spheres. I would take my big pot of apple mousse and simply splodge a bit on everyone’s plates instead.
Other than the fact the sugar attempts had left me sticky and very late leaving, the caramel bake was still a huge success. The birthday girl loved her apple cake, all slices were consumed, and the leftover salted caramel in the fridge tastes fantastic cold, exactly like those soft Werther’s originals. I had great plans for extravagance, yes, I also should have probably lit the candles to take the photos, but hey, celebrations came first, and a great tasting cake is all that really matters!