I can’t quite decide whether I like the name ‘burnt sugar cake’; burnt always hints at a disaster. But then again ‘caramel cake’ isn’t quite dramatic enough. But I would like to stress that nothing gets burnt or charred in this recipe – unless you go wrong of course.
The sponge is rich and gooey but not sticky. The recipe is clever as you make an amount of burnt sugar and use this in both the cake and the buttercream so they complement each other perfectly and give a nice consistent taste.
It comes up a very tall cake and you will get a lot of portions from it as it is quite rich. If you’re making the cake in advance, hold off putting in the shards of burnt sugar until the last minute otherwise them may leak on the buttercream as mine have. I think it’s because the cake got too warm – next time I’ll keep it in the fridge.
Making the caramel is a little strange the first time as sugar is quite fascination as it melts. Firstly it goes a bit lumpy:
Then the bit on the bottom of the pan melts whilst the rest stays looking like sugar:
Then it sorts itself out and all of it catches up:
And you end up with this syrup:
For the cake
450g caster sugar
125ml boiling water
175g unsalted butter, softened
300g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200ml soured cream
For the buttercream
125g Unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
For the burnt sugar decoration
3 tablespoons caster sugar
How to make:
- Preheat oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/ Gas mark 4 and grease two 20cm sandwich tins.
- Make the caramel by cooking 200g of the caster sugar over a medium heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar has melted. This will take a few minutes so don’t try and rush it. When it has melted let it cook, without stirring it, until it darkens.
- Remove from the heat and carefully add the boiling water. Be prepared for the mixture sizzling like mad at this point and possibly spitting at you.
- Return the pan to the heat and stir for about 1 minute until the caramel and the water are combined and smooth.
- Measure out 125ml of the caramel syrup and then pour the rest into a separate dish. Ensure that your measuring jug and bowl are heat proof as the caramel is extremely hot.
- In a large mixing bowl cream the butter with the remaining sugar (i.e. 250g) until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and don’t worry if the mixture curdles a little.
- In a separate bowl mix the soured cream and the 125ml of caramel together. Weigh out the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
- Fold the flour and caramel mixtures into the creamed mixture until combined. I like to do this gradually i.e. add a third of the flour and fold in, add a third of the caramel and fold in, add another third of flour etc.
- Divide the mix evenly between the two sandwich tins and bake for approx 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Let them cool for 10 minutes in the tins before turning out onto a cooling rack and allowing to cool completely.
- Make the icing by beating together the butter and icing sugar until thoroughly combined. Then add the remaining caramel syrup (the caramel syrup left over when you measured out the 125ml that went into the cake).
- Sandwich the cakes together with half of the buttercream and then use the rest to decorate the top.
- To make the decoration put the caster sugar in a pan and heat until it melts and turns golden. Pour onto an oiled tray, or if you prefer, a plate with non-stick foil on it. I did the latter and find it comes off well. Put it in the fridge until set and then break into random shards.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.