90th birthday: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery

Himmingbird bakery (Photo) Rachel Kramer Bussel

Himmingbird bakery (Photo) Rachel Kramer Bussel

I mentioned in my last post that last Saturday (1st June) was my Grandmothers 90th birthday, it seems crazy to say that. 90 is quite an age to get to. I have mentioned my grandmother in several of my posts since I started writing this blog. She has often served as the inspiration behind or the source of a recipe or at least the techniques I used when making it. I grew up cooking with my grandmother in the kitchen and I got my love of baking and home cooking growing up in a house hold where we hardly ever had anything which was ready made or from a jar or can.

Being raised by my grandparents made me a bit old fashioned in many ways I often think, and Hana sometimes says too. It comes through in the kitchen when I’m baking and I often shun the electric whisk in favour of doing it by hand, why? Because I grew up doing that and it was the way my grandmother taught me to do it. The electric mixer always feels a little like cheating.

For her 90th birthday we decided to take her out for lunch, luckily she felt well enough after coming out of hospital to go. It was nice to have some of the family down to see her, my uncle (her son) and cousin came down with two of her three children, the eldest at 10 years and youngest at just 8 months. This was the first time she had seen her youngest great-granddaughter Milly which made her really happy and helped to alleviate a lot of the stress she felt when going out.

As well as taking her out for lunch I decided to bake her a cake and had to think of a special one. How often do you have a 90th birthday to celebrate! I looked through the cook books and upon the recommendation of Hana decided up on a Sweet and Salty Caramel Chocolate Cake. I have to say this was not the easiest cake I have made, by quite a long way in fact. Making caramel can be daunting if the first time you are making it is to go in a 90th birthday cake and you know you don’t have time to do it a second time. Under pressure by Queen and David Bowie was playing in the back of my mind as I was cooking this. The only thing I can say is that it is totally worth it. The recipe is for three layers but our cake tin only holds two so I kept the third one back and with the mounds of left over frosting and caramel I made a single layer one for us to keep at home.

Moist Chocolate Cake

Moist Chocolate Cake (Photo credit: Chocolate-Dessert-Recipes.com)

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake by the Hummingbird Bakery 

Makes 10-12 portions

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake - Hummingbird Bakery

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake – Hummingbird Bakery

For the Chocolate Sponge

300g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
140g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
100g cocoa powder
160ml buttermilk
1tsp vanilla
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt

For the Salty Caramel

200g caster sugar
2tbsp golden sugar
120ml double cream
60ml soured cream
1tsp fine sea salt

For the Frosting

200g caster sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
360ml double cream
450g dark chocolate
450g unsalted butter

Sea salt for sprinkling at the end
You will also need three 8in sandwich tins lined with grease-proof paper


You start by making the first of two slightly different batches of Caramel, so here we go.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake - Hummingbird Bakery

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake – Hummingbird Bakery

For the Salty Caramel: In a saucepan add the sugar, golden syrup and 60ml of water. Gradually bring to the boil stirring so it doesn’t stick. Towards the end it will boil up quite a bit. After 10 minutes it should become syrupy and a rich dark caramel colour.

In a separate pan bring the double and soured cream with a pinch of salt to the boil the take straight off the heat. Stir so the salt dissolves in the creams.

When both are ready remove the caramel mixture from the heat slowly add the hot cream. It will bubble up quite a lot so be careful. It will then reduce down to a smooth creamy golden colour. Stir well then set aside to cool to room temperature.

For the Caramel Frosting: Again bring the caster sugar and golden syrup to the boil along with 60ml of water. As before let this boil for 10 minutes or until it becomes syrupy and caramel coloured like before.

Bring the double cream to the boil and carefully add to the caramel mixture. Again it will bubble up so be cafeull. Set this caramel aside in a bowl to cool as you did with the last lot (be careful not to confuse them).

How to make the frosting

Sweet and salty chocolate cake, make the frosting

Once it has cooled to room temperature add the chopped chocolate gradually and keep stirring whilst you do. Whisk with an electric mixer for 10 minutes, I say electric as you do need to do it for about 10 minutes or till the bottom of the bowl feels cool. Next add the butter. I did this in stages too as it just won’t mix if you try to do it all at once. Once it is whipped up pop some clingfilm over the top of the bowl and whack it in the fridge for about 45 minutes.

For the sponges: Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/Gas mark 3. Next line three 8inch sandwhich tins.

In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugars till light and fluffy, a couple of minutes. Crack the eggs in one at a time and blend each one into the mixture before adding the next.

In a jug mix together the cocoa powder with the buttermilk and vanilla essence with 60ml of water till it forms a thick paste. I found this bit a little difficult  as there didn’t seem to be enough liquid to do it.

Gradually sift the remaining sponge ingredients into the butter/ sugar mix. As you add this alternate it with the cocoa/buttermilk paste. This might seem a bit of work (and in some ways it is) but it’s worth it. Whisk till everything is incorporated.

Divide between your three greased or lined tins and bake at 170c for 25 – 35 mins (depending on your oven). They are done when the top feels very springy and a knife comes out the centre of each clean. Cool in the tins to help them keep their shape before turning out onto a wire rack.

Putting it all together: Once completely cool pop one sponge on the bottom of you cake plate or whatever you are serving it on. Add 2tbsp of the Salty Caramel and spread it over the sponge. Top the caramel with 3tbsp of the frosting and smooth out before layering the second sponge.

Now top again with the Salty caramel and the frosting before repeating with the third and final sponge, leaving enough of the frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake. You can decorate with chopped or grated chocolate a just a light sprinkle of sea salt flakes.


4 responses to “90th birthday: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

  1. Pingback: In memory of my Grandmother | russellskitchen·

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