Sunday, 28 October 2012

Caramel cake with pumpkin seed brittle

When I saw this recipe in Olive magazine I knew I had to make it – partly because it used yoghurt and caramel, two of my favourite ingredients; but mostly because of the pumpkin seed brittle.  This is as close to a Samhain (or Halloween, if you must!) bake as I’ll get...because I hate pumpkin.

There.  I’ve said it.  I hate pumpkin.  I’ve tried it in sweet dishes and I’ve tried it in savoury and just don’t get it.  The texture is icky, the flavour is icky.  Bleugh.  I’ve had it cooked by Americans who have grown up on the stuff and love it and watched their happy faces fall as they realise they’re not going to convert me!   Of course, it doesn’t help me that it’s a squash – one of the worst nights of my life came about from a violent reaction (no – not of the ‘bathroom’ kind!) to an onion squash soup I’d made...but let’s save that story for another day. 

Pumpkin seeds however, I quite like (even though their ultimate purpose is to create more pumpkins) and adding some crunch to an otherwise soft and squidgy cake worked really well.  The caramel buttercream is so light and flavoursome – I’m already thinking of it on a cupcake....

My decoration of rice paper spiders added a festive twist but not too over the top.  I saved some to sprinkle on each slice so it looked like they were walking over the cake:

Whether you’re celebrating Samhain or Halloween – have a good one!


For the sponge:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 eggs
300g self raising flour
75g Greek yoghurt
2-3 tablespoons milk

For the brittle:
200g golden caster sugar
50g pumpkin seeds

For the buttercream:
160g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g icing sugar
4 tablespoons Carnation caramel (or dulce de leche if you have it) – you will need a further 4 tablespoons when you ‘build’ the cake


Preheat the oven to 160°C/ fan oven 140°C/320°F/gas mark 3.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.  If you prefer, use two 20cm loose bottomed sandwich sponge tins – you need the cake in two pieces so why not make it easier and avoid having to cut the cake!

Start by making the sponge: beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Don’t skimp on this and only move on when the mix looks whippy and light.

Beat in the vanilla.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by a tablespoon of flour after each egg.

Beat in the yoghurt.

Fold in the remaining flour, and the milk.

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Baking the cakes in two sandwich tins will take approximately 50 minutes to an hour.

Place the cake – still in its tins – on a wire rack and leave to cool, removing the tin when it is cool enough to safely do so.

The cake can be made a day in advance if you store it overnight in an airtight container.

On the day you wish to serve the cake, start by making the brittle: line a baking sheet with non stick foil or baking paper.

Put the sugar in a pan (ideally one with a silver coloured liner as its easier to monitor the change in colour) and melt over a medium heat.  Swirl the pan occasionally but don’t stir – this may make the sugar crystallise.

When the melted sugar is golden brown add the pumpkin seeds – don’t panic if some make a cracking noise!  It sounded like fireworks going off and Mr CC came running in from another room fearing I was in peril....awww, what a guy!

Pour the sugar onto the prepared baking sheet – TAKE CARE because it will be dangerously hot!  Use a palette knife or heatproof spatula to spread the sugar thinly.  Work quickly as it will set surprisingly fast.

Put to one side to cool and set.

Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until very soft and whippy.

Gradually beat in the icing sugar followed by four tablespoons of the caramel.

Cut the cake in half, horizontally (if you baked it in one tin).

Place the bottom half on the serving plate and spread half of the buttercream over it.

Drizzle two of the remaining four tablespoons of caramel over the buttercream.  I tried to avoid going too close to the edge as I didn’t want it to leak out and look messy.

Put the top half of the cake onto the buttercream and gently press down.

Spread the remaining buttercream on top, and drizzle over the remaining two tablespoons of caramel.

Break the brittle into shards, and use to decorate the top of the cake.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Greedy Traveller said...

Wow, looks so impressive. Do you make or buy the spiders?

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Greedy Traveller

I bought the spiders from a great seller on ebay who has lots of different designs

Happy baking

Greedy Traveller said...

Brilliant, thanks for the info - great for halloween!

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

Ooh my goodness! This looks 'spooktacular', especially with the spiders. The sponge looks particularly impressive. Would live to try this! :)

Debs Dust Bunny said...

Ok.. I am completely creeped out by the spiders but that cake looks fabulous! I am American, but I'd choose caramel over pumpkin ANY day!

Thanks for another gorgeous recipe.

Gloria said...

I love this look absolutely amazing and delicious, really delicious!!

Caroline said...

Wow, beautiful as ever! Such an impressive cake. I'm loving the idea of caramel buttercream, it sounds utterly delicious! Hmm, not sure about those spiders though, they're too realistic and are creeping me out slightly...

Jo said...

I love how big and fluffy your sponges look! The caramel buttercream sounds delicious too.

MissCakeBaker said...

Great cake. Thx for the eBay link too.

Miss C Flash said...

This looks stunning. A perfect cake for the winter weather x

Recipe Junkie said...

That cake looks amazing. I agree about pumkin - of all the squashes, it's the one I don't get on with either.

Recipe Junkie said...

That cake looks amazing. I agree about pumkin - of all the squashes, it's the one I don't get on with either.

Laura loves cakes said...

This cake looks fab...I also saw it in Olive and loved the look of the pumpkin seed brittle! It works so well on your cake! I'm a little scared by the spiders though ;-)

Maggie said...

Hi CC:) Great cake and love the Pumpkin Seed Brittle too.

Nom! The Indulgent Baking Blog said...

I agree I hate pumpkin too! Vom! I love the spiders actually ;) brilliant cake as usual :) xx

Miss Cakeaholic said...

Wow, I love it! I too hate pumpkin, I don't get it at all! Love the brittle in shards like that. The spiders are a very cool addition! Xx

LandGirl1980 said...


Annes S said...

Ooh the brittle looks fab, great way to decorate the cake!

Love the sound of the caramel buttercream, will definitely steal that idea!

Not so sure on the spiders though, am terrified of them!

Katie said...

Wow that cake looks amazing and fantastically tall like all your baked goodies. I absolutely LOVE those spiders - where did you find them?? So cool!

Choclette said...

Your sponges are always so wonderfully massive - I never manage to make mine as deep as that. As for the pumpkin seed brittle, I'm in love already. And those spiders are adorable - it take it you didn't cut each one out by hand!!!!!

Cakelaw said...

Oooh, this is such a dramatic cake - I love, love, love the brittle on top.

Ulla said...

Looks spooky but taste delicious!

Lucy said...

This is such a majestic cake! I love the dramatic decorations, so perfect for Halloween,

Jacqueline said...

How magestic! I might have to pinch the shard idea for cake club sometime :)

natalie edmonds said...

I just made this. The sponge is lovely. I used crunched crunchier bar and chunks of crunchier bar instead of the brittle and it was lovely