Sunday, 18 January 2015

Brown butter spice cake

Christmas may be over but winter is definitely here, which is why I was drawn to a spicy cake this week.  This cake had so many lovely facets that appealed to me: tea, spice, treacle, brown butter and even a bit of citrus.  All the flavours were offset by a very simple classic buttercream.

It’s worth taking your time over making the brown butter.  Your nose will tell you without any doubt that there is a huge difference between brown butter and burnt butter!  Gently heat the butter and it will become foamy; let this stage pass and the butter will turn clear and a wonderful dark amber colour…and it smells divine.  It’s also a bit like caramel in that you’re better to take it off the hob just before it’s at the stage you want, as it carries on darkening and you risk taking it too far.

This is such a comforting, homely looking cake but it packs in so much flavour – the best of all worlds.  The tea and citrus lifts what would otherwise be a lovely but ordinary dense gingerbread; I expected the cake to be more sponge-like but it isn’t – it’s definitely in the gingerbread camp.    Not sure what I did but my cakes came out huge!  I had to shave a bit off each one just to get it to a size that would fit in any of my storage tins!  Still, it gave me the opportunity to photograph a whole layer:

This cake is a keeper, by which I mean you’re best off making it a day or two in advance – it gets stickier and more flavoursome.  Bring on the snow – I’m ready for it!


For the cake:
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g treacle
250ml tea, made using 2 teabags
Grated zest of 1 orange
600g self raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mixed spice

For the buttercream:
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk


Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C/350F/ gas 4. 
Line two loose bottomed 20cm round sandwich tins with baking paper.
Now make the cakes: melt the butter in a pan until it turns brown (but not burned).  Do this over a gentle heat – at first it will foam, but will brown shortly after.
Strain the butter through a coffee filter or several sheets of kitchen paper into a bowl and leave to cool.
Beat the cooled brown butter into the sugar, eggs and treacle.
Stir in the cooled tea and orange zest (I put the zest in the tea so that it infused the flavour into the tea).
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, spices and baking powder.
Beat the butter mixture into the flour mixture.
Divide evenly between the prepared tins and level the surfaces.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.   Mine actually took a fair bit longer – nearer to 40 minutes.
Cool, in their tins, for 20 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until it is soft and whippy.
Beat in the vanilla and icing sugar.
Beat in the water.
Place one of the cakes on the serving plate and spread the buttercream over it.
Place the other sponge on top.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Dipika said...

Holy moly, look at the size of that! Looks lovely and sounds like it's got all the best flavours!

Baking Addict said...

I am always impressed with the height of your cakes.This sounds perfect for this time of the year.

Hettie said...

Oh My! I have to clean my laptop now as I have just dribbled all over it!!
Had to pin it as I want to make it for the weekend!

Katie said...

That looks delicious. Love the sound of the tea and spices - chia tea cake! Yum

Snowy said...

Lovely combinations of flavours. That's a real slice of cake!

Jo said...

I'm still convinced that you must be some sort of cake whisperer, they always come out looking huge! Love the combination of flavours in this cake. Perfect with a big mug of tea!

Stuart Vettese said...

That looks MAHOOSIVE and delicious in equal measure CC - me likey!

Anonymous said...

That is some HUGE cake. Looks so divine! I really want to make one now, yum. xx

Kate Glutenfreealchemist said...

Sounds wonderful. Looks like a perfect cake to accompany a cup of tea. Your description of how to make brown butter is perfect..... Really helpful to inspire a bit of confidence!

Diane said...

Wow doesn't this look yummy, tanks for sharing the recipe.

Hugs Diane

Cakelaw said...

This cake looks wonderful - the layers are sky high, and browned butter is just plain delish.

Choclette Blogger said...

Haha, your cakes always come out huge. This one sounds delightful and gingerbread texture appeals hugely.

Brogan said...

This cake looks amazing! Got a brilliant rise too! Love this blog! xxx