Sticky Toffee Drip Cake Attempt #3 (8 Inch, 3-Layer Cake, Gluten-Free)
Hooray! I finally made this cake and it didn't collapse on me! Plus the cake lasted long enough for me to take some proper photos before it was devoured. Result! As you will remember if you caught my last blog post of this cake, I unfortunately had a slight (read: large scale) disaster. In summary, I had the idea to soak the cake layers in warm toffee sauce to create that sticky toffee goodness I was looking for. Unfortunately, whilst the soaked cake layers tasted YUM, the slightly thinner cake layers did not hold together when I started assembling the cake and I ended up with a sliding, crumbling mess. So, I ended up creating Sticky Toffee Trifle instead.
My third attempt at this cake was also somewhat hampered by the fact that I broke my electric hand mixer from so much whisking. I've kept it because one side of the beaters still works, which I can use with a whisk attachment, but unfortunately I can't use both beaters at the same time. However, I am hampered NO MORE because I now have myself a beautiful big red KitchenAid stand mixer with varying bowl sizes and numerous attachments (!!!). Thank you to my Mum, my Dad and Greg for possibly my most cherished Christmas present of all time.
If anyone else gets as excited as me about new kitchen appliances, you will understand how exciting this is. I've been pining after a KitchenAid for at least a couple of years now, because my Mum has had one for at least 20 years and it is still in perfect working order. It has not yet let her down. I think that is pretty impressive. Bearing in mind my track record when it comes to mixers (I seem to have broken two electric hand mixers in one year, though neither of them were the sturdiest), I think I probably need a stand mixer on the sturdier side.
I've also been wanting a stand mixer for a while because it will allow me to (pardon my French) get sh*t done in the kitchen! It means I won't have to stand over what I'm whisking til it's done, I can be doing at least a couple of other things while my mixer is doing something else for me. I'm looking forward to what I'll be able to create with my stand mixer and newfound time this year so make sure to stay tuned to Goods & Puds to find out!
For now, here is attempt #3 of my Sticky Toffee Drip Cake. For this version, I doubled the recipe and divided the cake batter between three 8-inch cake tins to make a larger, 3-layer cake. I was making this cake for Christmas to feed about 15 people, so a larger cake was needed!
Utensils: Three 8 inch non-stick loose-bottomed cake tins, baking paper, oil/butter/cooking spray for greasing, small and medium saucepans, handheld whisk, large mixing bowl, electric hand or stand mixer, sieve, cooling rack, large serrated knife, cake board or presentation plate, cake turntable (optional), large / small palette knife, cake scraper (optional), refillable squeezy sauce bottle (optional).
Top Tip #1: If you would prefer to make a smaller cake, halve each component of the recipe below and divide the cake batter between two 5.5 inch cake tins instead. This is a perfect size if you're only catering for a small amount of people (e.g. 5-7 people) or want to create more of an individual-sized birthday or celebration cake for someone. Plus, a smaller cake is much easier to assemble, store and transport.
Top Tip #2: I have to be honest and say I never used to be one to line the sides of a cake tin. I thought because my cake tins were non-stick that it didn't really matter. However, over the last few months I have realised that lining the sides of the cake tin (as well as the base of course!) helps the cake to rise evenly all over, which means no lopsided cakes or 'hilly' cakes! When I line my cake tins now, I also ensure that the 'cuff' around the sides of the cake tin extends around 5cm above the top of the tin. This helps to make sure that the sides of you cake doesn't burn.
Sticky Toffee Cake
300g sayer or medjool dates, stoned and roughly chopped
200ml honey whiskey (I used Jack Daniels) or dark rum (or replace the alcohol with water if you would prefer not to use it)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
120g unsalted butter, softened
250g soft dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons black treacle
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
320g gluten-free self-raising flour (or use normal self-raising flour and don't add the baking powder if you don't need the cake to be gluten-free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g crystallised ginger or stem ginger in syrup, roughly chopped
Sticky Toffee Sauce
260ml double cream
240g unsalted butter
200g golden caster sugar
4 heaped teaspoons black treacle
4 heaped teaspoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
Vanilla Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 large egg whites
180g soft light brown sugar
300g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
150g cream cheese, cold
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
Selection of fresh fruit or other decorations of your choice (I just used figs on this occasion to keep things 'un-fussy')
Makes: One three-layer 8 inch cake.
1. Make the cake batter: Preheat the oven to 160°C fan. Thoroughly grease and line the bottom and sides of three 8-inch cake tins. Place the chopped dates, honey whiskey and water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat and then simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda. Set to one side while making the cake batter.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar using an electric hand or stand mixer on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the egg, whisking until fully incorporated. Add the black treacle, mixed spice and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
3. Sift in the self-raising flour and baking powder in 2 batches, whisking after each addition to ensure the flour is fully incorporated and there are no lumps. Mash the cooled dates using a fork and then add to the cake batter along with the chopped crystallised ginger. Mix until combined.
4. Split the cake batter between the three prepared cake tins and bake until the cakes spring back when touched and a knife inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean aside from some sticky crumbs, around 30-40 minutes dependant on your oven. Cool on a cooling rack in the tins until cold enough to turn out, then leave on your cooling rack until fully cooled.
5. Make the toffee sauce: While the cakes are cooking, combine all the toffee sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil while whisking occasionally. Simmer for 3 minutes before splitting evenly between two bowls to cool. Once cool enough, cover the bowls with cling film and place in the fridge until assembly time.
6. Make the cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream: Cut the butter into small pieces and leave to soften at room temperature. Thoroughly wash and dry a stainless steel mixing bowl (a glass heatproof bowl could be used but it will not cool as fast after being taken off the heat) to ensure no fat comes into contact with the egg whites (as this will stop from them from whipping into meringue).
7. In a medium pan, add about 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Add the egg whites and sugar to the stainless steel bowl and place the bowl over the pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly using a hand whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved (this will take about 3-4 minutes). The mixture is ready when you cannot feel any sugar granules when rubbing the mixture between your fingers and mixture is hot to the touch. If you have a thermometer the mixture should reach 70˚C.
8. Once the sugar has fully dissolved remove the bowl from the heat and using a hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy and stiff peaks have formed, and the bottom of the bowl feels completely at room temperature to the touch (this should take around 5-7 minutes with a stand mixer and 7-10 minutes with a hand mixer).
9. Once stiff peaks have formed and the bowl has cooled to room temperature, reduce the speed of the whisk to medium and add the butter one cube at a time until fully incorporated. Once all the butter had been added, whisk in the vanilla extract and keep whisking until the buttercream has reached a silky smooth texture. NB: If your mixture starts to look lumpy or curdled, don't panic but just keep whisking and it should eventually come back to smooth (if after a lot more whisking your buttercream still doesn't look silky smooth, consult Google on how to fix). Add the cream cheese, and fold in gently using a spatula. If your mixture starts to look curdled when you have added the cream cheese, go back to whisking on medium-high speed until the mixture comes back to smooth.
10. Assembly: Trim the tops of each cake so that they are flat and so that the top crust of the cakes are removed (place the trimmings in the fridge for late night snackies). Place the first layer on your cake board or presentation plate, securing with a little buttercream. Then spread 1/3 of the buttercream over the bottom layer.
11. Take one bowl of toffee sauce out of the fridge and spread 1/2 of the bowl over the top of the buttercream. Place your second cake layer on top and repeat spreading another 1/3 of the buttercream and the rest of the first bowl of toffee sauce. Place the final cake layer on top.
12. Using the remaining buttercream, spread a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Using an icing scraper or palette knife, scrape and smooth the frosting on the sides of the cake so that some of the cake starts to show through. Smooth the top with a palette knife. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
13. Warm up the remaining bowl of toffee sauce so that it is pourable but not too thin and not warm. If the sauce looks separated, the best thing to do is heat up the toffee sauce fully until hot and then leave to cool, stirring frequently so that a skin doesn't form over the sauce. When your sauce is the right consistency and temperature, pour carefully into a squeezy sauce bottle if you have one. Work around the sides of the cake starting from the top, squeezing the bottle so that a drip pattern appears around the whole cake. Alternatively, use a spoon to drip toffee sauce around the sides of the cake. Once the drip pattern has been created, carefully pour toffee sauce over the top of the cake and spread to the edges.
14. Place the cake in the fridge for at least another 30 minutes before decorating with fruit or other decorations of your choice.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to eat, take out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before serving to allow the cake to come to room temperature before eating.