This cake started out being a banana, coconut and pecan cake from a recipe, and ended up being a free for all, difficult to name, bananaless number. I kind of didn’t know when to stop with the flavours, I guess. I decided to ignore the caramel sauce element when naming it, though, as the stand out flavours are coffee and nuts, with a background of vanilla. I did almost make a banana buttercream to go with the cake, just to keep everyone’s palates busy, but decided with help from @MySecretTeaRoom to keep it simple so as to accentuate and not mask the flavours in the cake. Apart from overwhelming the flavour of the sponge, my main worry about banana icing is the banana discolouring or spoiling overnight and spoiling. I’d like to try it out sometime, but maybe on an occasion when I have plenty of time to see if it works, and make something else if not.
I began by using my very successful white chocolate, pistachio and coconut cake as a template, a starting point for the ingredient adding frenzy. Here, before I forget them, are the ingredients to make one eight inch pecan cappuccino cake:
- 6oz butter
- 4oz margarine
- 8oz dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup caramel sauce (which I happened to have in the freezer)
- 2 tsp instant coffee, made up to 1/4 cup with hot water
- generous 1/2 cup pecan halves, ground into a surprising paste (I didn’t know that would happen)
- 25g each hazelnuts and walnuts, ground
- 8oz plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Icing (enough to thinly fill and cover, the cake wouldn’t suffer from making about half as much again and spreading thickly):
- 125g butter at room temperature
- 175g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Well, the pecans. What is there to say? I put them in the grinding mill attachment on my blender, turned my back on them briefly and they turned into paste. I guess they’d have turned into pecan butter if I’d left them a bit longer, though I’d had to have added something for extra flavour as it wasn’t strongly flavoured on its own. I should really have kept some of the pecan halves roughly chopped for texture but I’ll try to let bygones be bygones, and not dwell on the issue <twitch>. The hazelnuts and walnuts didn’t do the same thing, though I was keeping a closer eye on them so that possibly accounts for it.
- Heat the oven to 170C and grease and flour an eight-inch round cake tin.
- Using a hand held mixer, mix the butter and margarine until soft. I used a mix of butter and margarine in the white chocolate, pistachio and coconut cake because that is what I had available, but it worked out so well last time that I’m going to stick with it, like a good luck charm. You know, like some sportspeople don’t change their socks and all that if they’re on a wining streak? But less manky.
- Add the brown sugar and mix thoroughly until smooth.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly. Then add the caramel sauce and coffee, and again mix thoroughly. THOROUGH IT UP. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give one more stir. A thorough one.
- Add the nuts, flour and baking powder to the bowl, and fold in with a spatula; probably the same spatula you scraped the bowl down with, in fact. Stop folding as soon as there is no visible flour. This helps to keep the cake light and moist. Look, I just gave you a serious tip without using the word thorough.
- Tip into the cake tin, level off by dint of much smoothing, shoogling and tapping the tin on the surface, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 150C and bake for a further 35. Again, changing the temperature part way through wasn’t premeditated but it did work out so I kept it. With this cake mix being more moist, I think you could safely keep the temperature at 170C and bake for a shorter period.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a rack. Unfortunately I forgot to take the cake out of the tin. While this gave me a lovely moist cake, it was so moist that it split when I tried to sandwich it. Not to worry, there are few cake ills that enough buttercream can’t cure. Still, though, you don’t really want the crack of doom running across the top of your sponge cake. I don’t think anyone would say that was ideal, unless they were Sauron, although what use he’d have for a cake I don’t know, given that he’s just one giant eye.
While the cake’s cooling, make the icing:
- Beat the butter with a hand mixer, until soft and smooth
- Add and incorporate the vanilla
- Add the sugar gradually until you have a thick buttercream
When the cake is ready, split it and fill with the frosting, then sandwich – make sure that the top of the cake, which should have a shallow dome, is upside down to give a flat top surface. Use the rest of the icing to cover the cake. Once again, I took no measures to avoid the icing getting full of crumbs, which gave it a nice speckled finish as it turned out. Hoorah for happy accidents! It also added to the ‘cappuccino’ vibe of the cake, looking a bit like it had chocolate sprinkled on it. I then added gold coloured chocolate coated coffee beans round the edge and some glitter all across the top; my mum likes glitter. The cake looked pretty classy, which I think I spoiled a little by adding the glittery writing; the glitter icing is a different texture to the other writing icing I’ve used, much thinner and gloopier, so it was hard to control. The cake at one point said ‘Happy Biilidiy Mmm’, which wasn’t exactly the message I intended to put across, though (and she’ll forgive me for saying so) was appropriate in a way, since it read like one of my mum’s text messages. Still, I managed to at least make it legible, and my mum loved the glitter so that was the important thing, of course. And you can hardly tell that I started the word ‘mum’ too far over after I put those nice candles in…