This weather has been uncharacteristically lovely for England. It is wall to wall sunshine outside, but I’ve been stuck inside most days at my desk, with Jeff (the cat) keeping me company. At the moment he is lying across my arm in front of me, so I am typing with my hand protruding from underneath his soft furry belly. He’s needy but I love him. Working normal office hours again really does make you appreciate the weekends, and we have been making the most of them, with trips to food fairs, long bike rides and visiting friends. Last weekend we were back up in London for dinner with my amazing group of friends, where everyone brought some item of food to contribute to dinner. Of course, I was charged with pudding….
A beautiful, hot summer’s day surely calls for something summery like pavlova with mountains of fresh berries or a zesty lemon cake? Nope, I wanted toffee. Warm, comforting toffee. In the form of an easily transported and served cupcake. This recipe was adapted from Hummingbird’s Cake Days, from the section titled “halloween and bonfire night”……. Apparently I don’t stick to seasonal baking rules.
It was one of the hottest days of the year. Any readers from hotter climes will laugh at our measly 28ºC, but for us Brits, that was stifling. No air-con, not even a fan! Just the hope of a cool breeze blowing through the open windows. My frosting wasn’t happy.
I love having an opportunity to bake for people, (other than my boyfriend and family). So it was lovely when one of my friends said “Kate, these cupcakes are really incredible”. I hope you can try them out and get compliments like that too :).
On a completely different note, CakeyKate is now a home owner! My boyfriend and I have bought a little house, which is currently having its guts ripped out ready for everything new to be put in. It’s the smallest project I’ll ever work on, but probably the most exciting and most stressful. I just can’t wait to finally be painting it, not watching as all the plaster collect in piles on the bare floorboards.
But here we are, cake:
Adapted from Hummingbird’s Cake Days.
Makes about 15-18 cupcakes.For the Sponge 180g dates, chopped quite fine 180ml boiling water 80g Trex (or butter) 150g brown sugar (I used dark brown, you could use light brown) 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 180g plain flour ½ tsp baking powder 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda ¼ tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla essence For the toffee filling and sauce 110g Trex (or butter) 170g brown sugar 55ml almond milk For the frosting 160g Trex (or butter) 500g icing sugar 50ml almond milk 50g toffee sauce (above) a couple of drops of buttery caramel flavour (optional) handful of chopped dates or chopped fudge to decorate
Place the chopped dates in a small bowl and cover with the boiling water, leave to soak for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC, 170ºC for a fan oven. Line two muffin tins with cases.
Beat together the Trex and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well after each addition. Don’t worry if it splits a little, it’ll come together in the end.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add these to the egg mixture in three batches, then beat for a couple of minutes until the batter is smooth.
Add the vanilla essence and soaked date mixture (including water), and mix into the batter by hand, until the dates are well distributed.
Spoon into the cases about 2/3rds full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until well risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins slightly, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cakes are cooking, make the toffee sauce. Melt the Trex in a small saucepan and whisk in the sugar, milk and salt. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for 3-4 minutes, or until it reaches soft-ball stage, 116ºC 240ºF. Leave it to cool on it’s own. Don’t stir it! If you do, you’ll end up with grainy fudge instead of runny sticky sauce. If you think it’s too thick, or if you do “accidentally” stir it, a lot, put it back on the heat and add some more almond milk to get it back to the right consistency. Then leave it alone!
To make the frosting, beat the Trex until smooth, add a quarter of the sifted icing sugar at a time and beat. Add the milk, cooled toffee sauce and flavouring and beat on medium-high until light, fluffy and spreadable. Add more milk if it is too stiff.
To assemble the cakes, use a small knife to cut a cone out of the top of each cake. Spoon a teaspoonful of sauce into the hole and replace the cone. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of each cupcake and sprinkle with dates of fudge pieces. Finally, drizzle with more toffee sauce, watered down with more milk if necessary.