Friday 3 March 2017

Vanilla, Chocolate and Caramel Drippy Cake - Attempt 1

A bit of a change of tact for me. I normally focus on the technical part of baking, and sort of leave the decorating side for those more artistic...however, we are planning a bake sale for Comic Relief in March, and I thought that a big posh cake might be in order, so I thought I'd have a go at the "on tred" drippy cake style.

I did a bit of reading up on it while I was waiting for my motorbike to be MOT'ed (it failed...for a £30 part that the garage didn't have in stock), and tried it that night. The elements were;
  1. Chocolate and Vanilla sponge (to produce alternate layers)
  2. Caramel meringue buttercream
  3. Dark chocolate ganache
I think I made a few mistakes, that resulted in a rather wobbly looking cake. I'll do this again, and try to correct it.
  1. The caramel for the icing was too thick, and formed some lumps when mixing in. More cream is required.
  2. I put too much icing in-between the cake layers (I was attempting to use it to straighten it, so probably better cutting skills are needed), which allowed it to move too much.
  3. As the cake was moving and swaying, and the icing had lumps, I didn't get a smooth finish, vertical finish. I think I could use a square tool to get a cleaner finish.
  4. I went for tall and narrow (12cm cake tin, and 4 layers). Probably over-confident for a first attempt, a wider/lower cake would be more stable and suitable.
  5. The ganache was a little too thick when I added it...slightly warmer, or slightly more cream to loosen it up. 

On the last point, I was surprised at how quickly the ganache set onto the chilled cake. Whenever I've tried a "drippy" look before, it has ended up as a pool around the bottom.To get the smooth look, it will need to go on warmer, which seems a slight contradiction to normal cake decorating. One other thing that is missing is the "height" decoration on top of the cake...I'll work on this for next time.

One huge success here was the fast method of making the ganache...I just used a microwave, and it came out fine.

Vanilla, Chocolate and Caramel Drippy Cake - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 150'C
  • Lightly grease 2 12cm cake tins

Sponge Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 220g self-raising flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 240g butter
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
1) Place the eggs, butter, sugar and 200g of the flour in a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment

2) Beat to a smooth mixture

3) Remove half of the mixture to a separate bowl (done by always helps to know the weight of your mixing bowls!)

4) Add the remaining 20g of flour to the half remaining in the stand mixer bowl, along with the vanilla essence, and mix in.

5) Add the cocoa powder to the mixture in the other bowl, and again mix in.

6) Place the mixtures in the 2 prepared tins (so you have one chocolate, and one vanilla)

7) Bake in the oven for ~30-35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

8) Remove to a wire rack to cool.

9) While the cakes are baking, you can prepare the icing

Caramel Meringue Buttercream Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites (approx 100g)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 160g caster sugar
  • ~60ml water
  • 80ml double cream (note, I think more is needed)
  • 330g very soft butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
1) Place the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat until very soft (you'll need to scrape it down a few times)

2) Place the caster sugar and water in a clean saucepan

3) Put over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat until it starts boiling. DO NOT STIR! (Rule 1 of caramel making)

4) Continue to boil until the mixture starts to turn a deep brown. This will happen pretty quickly, so keep your eye on it, or it will burn.

5) Once it has turned brown, remove from the heat and add the cream and vanilla essence, while stirring vigorously.

6) Once fully mixed (it will bubble and seize a bit, but keep going), transfer to a clean bowl and leave to cool

7) Place the egg whites and icing sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a bain-marie

8) Whisk for 7-8 minutes over a low heat until you get stiff white peaks.

9) Leave to cool

10) To make the buttercream, beat the meringue into the softened butter

11) Once combined, beat the cooled caramel sauce into the mixture


1) Slice the cooled cakes in half horizontally, and trim the tops, so that you have 4 evenly sized slices  (2 chocolate, 2 vanilla)

2) Assemble the cake on a cake board using alternate chocolate and vanilla slices, with a dollop of buttercream in between.

3) Cover the outside with the remaining buttercream, and smooth off using a palette knife. A turntable is handy for this part.

4) Chill the cake in the fridge

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

  • 100g dark (50%) chocolate
  • 100g double cream (note, I think more is needed)
1) Chop the chocolate up finely, and place in a small heatproof bowl

2) Pour the cream over the chocolate

3) Heat the mixture in a microwave for 20-30 seconds, then stir thoroughly.

4) Continue to heat and stir, doing 10-second bursts, until all the chocolate has melted. It's important to do it in small steps, as you want to keep the temperature even in the mixture to stop it splitting.

5) To decorate, spoon a small amount of ganache onto the chilled cake, and encourage a drip down the side using a teaspoon. Repeat this around the edge. Finally fill in the gaps on top and spread.