Monday, 29 August 2011
This cake hurt me.
I've been working as a one-to-one tutor for the past week, teaching comprehension and creative writing for English school entrance exams for nearly six hours a day. I find it very tiring.
Caramel probably wasn't the best choice of things to make when I could hardly keep my eyes open. I couldn't help it. I had hazy memories of the utter pleasure of the sour cream fleur de sel caramel sauce from this layer cake that couldn't be resisted any longer.
Everything was fine until the sugar turned at an unusual speed, causing the caramel-covered spatula to be flung out of the pan as I grabbed the whisk to beat in the hot cream. Without looking, I reached out for the bowl of sour cream. My middle finger found the caramel-covered spatula instead.
Once the sour cream had been whisked in (the priority!), I spent about an hour attached to the cold tap. I then taught with my finger in a glass of iced water. I took a ziplock bag full of iced water on our dog walk to keep it cool before settling down on the sofa with another water glass. Every now and then I would decide to see how long I could go without a cooling device. I never lasted long - it's amazing how much those blisters can sting. Late that night I tried again and to my surprise they didn't start hurting and haven't since.
I decided to use my old favourite crêpe recipe, swapping out the wholemeal flour but keeping the brown butter. I doubled the recipe and made crêpes for a long time. It felt like I was standing over the hob for hours. I don't normally get annoyed with repetitive tasks. This time I did.
Finally I had stacks of lacy crêpes (I like them with loopy edges, not neat ones), a jar of nearly-burnt-but-not-quite caramel sour cream sauce,a bowl of whipped cream and a tub of raspberries. Turns out I didn't have enough whipped cream. It still tasted great, but it would have been better with thicker layers of filling (I've added more to the ingredients below). I'm glad the caramel cooked further than usual as it really worked in this context.
The flavours mean that the cake isn't too sweet - it's smoky, creamy and slightly sour. The burns were worth it.
Also, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who popped over from my last post to like my new facebook page - you're all awesome.
Dusky Caramel and Raspberry Crêpe Cake
(inspired by Amanda Hesser via Smitten Kitchen, caramel recipe adapted from Baked NYC)
For the dusky caramel:
112g granulated sugar
1 tbsp glucose/golden syrup
70 ml water
140ml double cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
70ml sour cream
For the crêpes:
50g unsalted butter
220g plain flour
pinch of salt
300ml double cream
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
raspberries, to top
To start the caramel, put the sugar, glucose/golden syrup and water together in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar as you bring it to the boil over a high heat. Meanwhile, heat the cream and salt in a small saucepan until the salt is dissolved and the cream has reached a boil, then remove and set aside. Keep going with the sugar until it reaches a deep golden brown.
At this point, remove from the heat and let sit for a minute before whisking in the hot cream. Let the foam subside, then whisk in the sour cream. Leave to cool then store in a jar in the fridge until using - it firms up after a few hours.
When you're ready to start making the crepes, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Keep heating as it foams up - take off the heat when it smells delicious, the foam has subsided and there are brown flecks floating in the golden liquid. Put aside to cool.
Sift the flour and salt into a big mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack an egg into it. Whisk in, slowly incorporating the flour around the well. Repeat for the other three eggs. Start adding the milk slowly, whisking well between each addition. Finally whisk in 50ml of the water, followed by the brown butter.
Heat up a medium sized frying pan with a solid bottom over a high heat. When it gets really hot, turn it down to medium-high and grease with a small knob of butter. Use a ladle to pour a small amount of mixture into the pan and swirl it so you have a thin layer. Wait until it starts to brown around the edges and flip. Check the consistency of the mixture from this test crepe and add more water if needed.
Repeat with the rest of the mixture, placing each done crepe onto a wire rack to cool before stacking them. You should get around 20-24 crepes.
To make the creamy filling, whip the cream and sour cream together until soft peaks. Briefly whip in the icing sugar and vanilla. Reserve a pretty crepe for the top. Place one crepe on your serving plate then smear with a teaspoon of caramel, followed by a heaped tablespoon of the cream. Place another crepe on top and repeat the process until you have used all your crepes and cream. Spread the last pretty crepe with the last of the caramel. Top with the raspberries, dust with icing sugar and serve.