Thursday, 15 November 2012

Butterscotch Pecan Crumb Cake

This month's Clandestine Cake Club meeting was a bit of a last minute arrangement but the theme was Halloween tricks and Autumn treats.

I kind of wanted to make a S'mores cake but don't have a kitchen blow torch to use on marshmallow icing (and refuse to buy one solely for this occasion) so I decided on the Butterscotch Pecan Crumb Cake from Outsider Tart's Baked in America. I love this book and the bakery itself. I've met one of the David's twice now and he is lovely and very keen for baking to be homely and rustic.

This is a sheet cake and I felt anxious to take it to Cake Club as everyone expects layer cakes. I felt this one was Autumnal and it reminds me of eating crumbles for Sunday pudding at my Mum's house!

I brought my ingredients to room temperature. You will need a 12x9 inch cake pan. It may seem like you are using a huge amount of ingredients but this is a really hefty cake!

For the crumb topping:
255g unsalted butter
380g plain flour
340g light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the cake:
525g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
460ml buttermilk (you can make your own but I've found pots in Waitrose and Tesco)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter
225g dark brown sugar
175g granulated sugar
4 large organic free range eggs
340g chopped pecans


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease the cake pan and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

2. First make the crumb topping by mixing the unsalted butter, plain flour, light brown sugar and salt in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Store in the fridge until needed.

3. To start on the cake batter mix the flour, baking power, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a spare bowl and set aside. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in another bowl and set aside.

4. In the stand mixer bowl (or another spare bowl) cream the butter and the sugars until fluffy, this should take about 10 minutes. Slow the speed and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg is added. Turn the mixer down to the slowest speed and alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk/vanilla mixture. Gently mix in the chopped pecans then scrape the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Remove the crumb topping from the fridge and sprinkle it on top of the batter, gently pressing the crumbs down as you go.

5. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. You may have to cover the top with foil to make sure the crumbs do not burn. Allow the cake to cool in the tin, then serve.

So there you have it! It went down very well at Cake Club. I also took some to work for my boss - she described it as the best cake she has ever eaten!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake

I've been absent over the past few weeks - I cannot believe how quickly they have flown by. I have been ridiculously excited for Christmas since about September and have done a lot of my Christmas shopping already. How are you getting on with your Christmas planning?

So on to the recipe. Cheesecake is a big favorite with Mark and I and doesn't last long in our house. My friend, Kat mentioned a couple of times that she'd like to come and bake with me so I suggested this as she loves cheesecake too and her other half, Oli is obsessed with peanut butter!

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe (from 'Kitchen'), it is easy and works every time but make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before you start. You will need a 23cm spring form tin.

For the base
200g Digestives
50g salted peanuts
100g dark chocolate
50g unsalted butter

For the cheesecake
500g full fat Philadelphia
3 large organic free range eggs
3 egg yolks (organic free range)
200g caster sugar
125ml full fat sour cream
250g smooth peanut butter

For the topping
250ml full fat sour cream
100g milk chocolate
30g soft brown sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Add the base ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it comes together. Empty into the tin and press in to make an even crust. This can now sit in the fridge until you have made the filling.

2. Add the cheesecake ingredients - Philadelphia, eggs, egg yolks, caster sugar, sour cream and peanut butter - into a stand mixer (or do it with a hand mixer) and beat until the mixture becomes smooth.

3. Fetch the base from the fridge and pour the cheesecake mixture on top. Smooth the mixture and bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until the top is dry and set.

4. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and set aside. To make the chocolate topping, gently warm the sour cream, milk chocolate and soft brown sugar in a saucepan - mixing until smooth. Once melted gently pour and spread over the top of the cheesecake, being careful not to puncture the cheesecake itself. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.

5. For the best results allow the cheesecake to cool completely overnight in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, remove it from the fridge for 15 minutes to allow it to warm up ever so slightly.

So that's it - this is a really lovely and smooth cheesecake, and I think even those who are not massive fans of peanut butter would enjoy it as it's quite subtle and the chocolate topping makes such a difference.

I am off to Clandestine Cake Club on Wednesday and our theme, though a bit belated, is Halloween and Autumn. I'm going to make a Butterscotch Pecan crumb cake (from the Outsider Tart book) as I feel it's quite Autumnal and comforting! I will blog about it next week!

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