Whiskey is ALWAYS a good idea

So we’re fairly well settled into our new home now. I finally unpacked my ridiculous collection of shoes and tidied up under the stairs. When I get round to buying a spare bed and we consider having a housewarming party you’ll know that we’ve properly finished this moving in lark. We have found ourselves pretty busy every weekend since we’ve moved, but I did find time to remember some birthdays and produce a cake.

I’m a sucker for trying to match a flavour to a birthday so I probably spent way too much time searching for something interesting on Pinterest than I should have. It paid dividends though, as I found this Gingerbread Layer Cake with Whiskey Salted Caramel which was perfect for my Whiskey loving friend.

Given this was delivered to work on a Wednesday it meant very rapidly baking a cake during my lunch break (hello MasterChef style timed challenge) and then making caramel and buttercream once I’d finished work and before hubby got his dinner (sorry hubby).

This was definitely one of my more ‘rustic’ looking cakes, especially as I didn’t bother with evening up my layers (or actually turning the two cakes into four layers), but the feedback from happy birthday participants was positive, and I had the satisfaction of watching every last slice disappear.

The gingerbread layers speak a very Christmas-y language, but given June is *technically* winter here, I figure we can get away with it, and it made a lovely difference from the stock standard chocolate cake we normally see (and there is nothing wrong with stock standard chocolate cake). And after watching someone dip slices of apple into the Whiskey Caramel I’m wondering if caramel apples might be a good idea!!

 

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Salted Whiskey Caramel

From topwithcinnamon.com

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 110g treacle
  • 110g golden syrup
  • 225g soft dark brown sugar, not packed
  • 2 medium eggs (I used large because its what I had)
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

For the Salted Whiskey Caramel Sauce

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp whiskey
  • 1-2 tsp flaky sea salt

For the Whiskey Caramel Buttercream

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 330g icing (powdered) sugar
  • 100ml salted whiskey caramel

 

Method

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare two 18cm round, deep cake tins by greasing and lining the base with parchment paper.
  2. Heat the butter, treacle and golden syrup in a large saucepan over a low heat until the butter has melted.
  3. Beat in the sugar and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and milk together. Slowly beat into the butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt into the saucepan and beat until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the icing and caramel sauce.

For the caramel sauce

  1. Heat the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, swirl the sugar into the liquid areas of the pan without stirring.
  2. While the sugar is melting, gently warm the cream and butter in a separate pan until the butter has melted.
  3. After about, 10 minute, or once the sugar has completed melted and is a dark amber colour, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Immediately whisk in the warm cream and butter mixture (be careful, as the hot caramel can splash up). If the sugar solidifies, return the pan to medium heat until the mixture is liquid again.
  5. Stir in the salt and whiskey.
  6. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl to remove any remaining lumps of sugar and leave to cool.

For the buttercream

  1. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter in a bowl for 3 – 4 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and whiskey caramel sauce then continue to beat for another 2 -3 minutes until smooth.

 

Assembly

  1. Level the cakes by cutting off the domed tops (I like using a serrated knife for this) and split each layer in half so that you four layers in total.
  2. Spread the first layer with about 1/6 of the buttercream. Make a thicker layer of buttercream like a dam around the edges and spoon in about 2 tbsp of the slightly cooled caramel. Place the second layer and repeat the buttercream/caramel process. Repeat with the third layer and place fourth tier on top. Cover the entire cake with the remains of the buttercream. Chill for 30 minutes then pour over the caramel.

 

 

Hansel?

For my brother-in-laws party, I wanted to surprise him with a Linzertorte. Given its an Oktoberfest themed party (yes, I wore dirndl!) and he is super proud of his Austrian ancestry I thought the Austrian dessert would be a great bet.

Plus I was hoping to impress his Austrian Chef Dad, who is a big sweetie.

I went for a slightly tweaked version, substituting gingerbread pastry instead of the hazelnut version that's more traditional. I thought that would give me some breathing space if it wasn't right too. Sneaky.

The Linzertorte disappeared with satisfying speed. There is absolutely nothing more gratifying than when something you've made is devoured by the people you made it for. And judging by their responses, I'll be making this one again.

Gingerbread Linzertorte

From Martha Stewart, Pies & Tarts

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup treacle
  • 2 large egg yolks, plus 1 large egg white for egg wash
  • 1 1/4 cups good raspberry jam

Method

Sift flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix on a medium-low speed until combined. Add butter, and mix until combined, about 2 minutes. Add treacle and egg yolks, then mix until the dough just comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out two-thirds of the dough into a 12-inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Fit into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (I had buttered mine). Spread jam over the shell and refrigerate for 30mins.

Roll out the remaining dough between lightly floured pieces of parchment until its 1/4 inch thick. I then cut out stars with my handy cutter until I'd pretty much used up all the dough. As you cut them out carefully transfer them to a piece of parchment on a baking tray. Then pop in the fridge for 30mins.

Lightly beat egg white, brush the rim of the tart shell. Carefully decorate the top with the gingerbread stars. Refrigerate again for about 30mins.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Transfer tart to a rimmed baking sheet (I used a pizza tray). Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 50mins to 1 hour. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Remove from tin, and cut into slices of whatever size you fancy!!