Sunday, 26 October 2008
Sultana cake with vanilla custard buttercream
This is one of my all-time favourite cakes; the last time I made it was pre-blog and pre-assuming my Caked Crusader identity. It’s simply pleasing to eat – the sponge is soft and the sultanas provide little juicy bursts of sweetness. For a fruit cake it’s also very light – don’t write it off as a heavy, Christmas-style cake.
Previously, I have made this cake and served it plainly. However, I recently came across a wonderful new buttercream recipe that combines butter with custard. I don’t have the words to describe just how gorgeous the buttercream is; it’s whipped and light and sweet and why are you still reading this – you should be off making it!!! It’s also mega-rich but oh so tasty and I knew it would work well with the sultana cake. So here it is:
The cake is light due to the inclusion of buttermilk. Whenever I look at buttermilk the Hoagy Carmichael classic “Ole Buttermilk Sky” comes to mind - never let it be said I don’t have my finger on the pulse of what the yoof are listening to! I can’t imagine a sky being the colour of buttermilk yet Hoagy wouldn’t lie to me. This clip on Youtube seems to show a buttermilk sky (with the bonus of Hoagy’s mellow vocals) but it doesn’t look much like what’s in my carton:
Some gratuitous extra shots!
For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
375g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
For the custard buttercream:
150ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
125g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/315°F/Gas mark 2-3.
- Grease and line a 20cm square tin. It’s easier if the tin is either springform or loose bottomed.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This is a big cake that uses large quantities of ingredients so it will take longer to cream the butter and sugar. Don’t skimp!
- Gradually beat in the egg and vanilla. If the mix looks like it’s curdling add some of the flour.
- Stir in the sultanas.
- Fold in a third of the flour and baking powder, then a third of the buttermilk, then a third of the flour and so on until both are fully combined.
- Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
- Bake for 1 - 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer comes out cleanly. Mine took 1 hour 5 minutes.
- Cool for 30 minutes before removing from the tin and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Up to this point, the cake can be made a day in advance of serving. I would only recommend making the buttercream on the day of serving.
- Now make the buttercream: Place the milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Whisk the egg yolks and then pour the milk and sugar mix over them, whisking all the time.
- Return the custard mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat stirring all the time.
- After approximately 10 minutes, the custard will coat the back of your spoon. Remove it from the heat and leave to cool. If you have overcooked the custard and it’s gone lumpy, pass it through a sieve. To be honest, I always pass custard through a sieve as it’s horrible to put something in your mouth expecting it to be smooth and getting even the tiniest lump.
- Place the butter in a bowl and whisk until it is soft and looks almost whipped.
- Gradually whisk in the cooled (but not cold) custard until combined.
- Finally, whisk in the vanilla.
- Spread the buttercream over the sultana cake.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.