Come back, don’t run away, I know the ingredients have one or two things in common with a salad dressing but this is honestly a very decadent cake that is perfect for special occasions.
I made it as a belated Birthday cake for my husbands dad when his parents came to stay recently although I have to admit that I chose the flavours largely with my husband in mind. It’s one of his favourite combinations.
Hotel Chocolat once produced a balsamic salted caramel chocolate that he still fondly remembers so this was my attempt to emulate that.
The sponge alone is wonderful and if you can’t muster the energy to make the ganache and the butter cream that go with it then it’s just as nice served with slightly sweetened mascarpone.
I’ve wanted to try making a cake with olive oil instead of butter for a while and I was really pleased with how well this turned out. I did a little bit of research to find out how using oil varies from using butter before starting out and essentially it’s a case of increasing the fat but decreasing the liquid content so as long as I re-balanced this in the recipe it should all go well.
I didn’t want the cake to be too dense in spite of it’s richness so I added the balsamic vinegar not only for flavour but also to increase the effects of the raising agents. My cake did rise an awful lot (to the point where it resembled a volcano.) I think this is due in part to the fact that I don’t have a fan oven in my Yankee house so it is prone to hot spots. I didn’t mind though as it meant that there was plenty for me to taste when I leveled it off. Just in the interest of research of course!
I also baked the whole batch of batter in one deep tin because it makes a three layer cake and I only own two sandwich tins. Consequently my cake did take a really long time to cook all the way through – if you do have enough sandwich tins then I would definitely recommend baking the cake that way. Do make sure that the tins are deep enough though because as I say it does rise a lot.
Serves as many people as you’re prepared to share it with.
250g self raising flour
50g good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of crushed sea salt
100ml olive oil
4 tbsp of fat free Greek yoghurt made up to 200ml of liquid with milk
1 tsp balsamic
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 ml approx hot water
Salted Caramel Cream:
150g butter (room temperature)
200g icing sugar
4 tbsp tinned caramel or dulce de leche
4 tbsp double cream
1 tsp sea salt
Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
150ml double cream
200g good quality dark chocolate (chopped)
Preheat your oven to 180°c and line the base of your tin(s) but also make sure that they are well greased and lightly dusted with flour all over.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa and raising agents and then mix through the sugar and salt.
In a separate bowl or jug mix the Greek yoghurt with enough milk to give you 200ml of smooth liquid. Whisk the oil and the eggs into this, ensuring that it is all well blended. At the last minute add in the vanilla and finally the vinegar.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and beat together. An electric mixer is the most effective way of doing this but obviously if you’re not prone to tennis elbow then it’s fine to do it by hand. Finally mix in the hot water a little at a time, bearing in mind that you may not need all of it. You want a fairly wet batter but it shouldn’t be too liquid, you’re baking a cake not making hot chocolate.
Pour the batter into the tin(s) and level off the tops. The baking time will vary depending on whether you’ve used one tin or three. Mine took nearly an hour but if you are using multiple tins I would recommend giving them 20-25 minutes and then testing them by poking a skewer or cocktail stick into the middle and checking to see if it comes out clean. If they aren’t quite cooked through to the middle then return them to the oven for a further five minutes or so. Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the salted caramel cream use a wooden spoon to cream together the butter and half of the icing sugar and cream. Mix in the caramel and salt and then add the remaining the sugar and cream and beat it all together until fluffy.
For the ganache simply heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Mix it together until the chocolate is melted and blended into the cream. Let this cool and then whisk or beat it with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
To assemble the cake cut the sponge into three even layers trimming the tops to make them level. Sandwich the layers together by spreading a third of the caramel cream between each layer.
Next use a palate knife to spread a thin layer of the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake but be a little more generous to cover the sides.
Fill two piping bags with the remaining frostings. If they have become too soft then just pop them in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up a bit. Pipe this all over the top of the cake however you like.
If you want to do the ‘petal’ icing that I did then use either no tips or large round tips on the piping bags. Pipe a blob of frosting and then use a palate knife to drag through it to create a ‘tail’. Pipe the next blob of frosting over this ‘tail’ and repeat all over the cake working your way to the centre. I promise it’s very easy and looks very effective.
This cakes freezes and defrosts brilliantly so you can make it in advance if you need to. It also means that you don’t have to waste any leftovers and in my case you can have a cheeky slice whilst adding to your blog!