Monday, September 8, 2014

Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears

Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears
More celebratory cakes! A belated birthday cake. I was offered the challenge of making a cake that involved pear and salted caramel and I can rarely say no to a challenge. My friend is not a fan of sponge/cream cakes. He's a big fan of mud cakes, especially caramel ones. A couple of years ago I attempted to make him one and it was one of my first mud cake attempts. It wasn't the best, totally overbaked and brick-like. But this time I think I got it just right.
Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears
I haven't made a secret of the fact that I am not a mud cake person. I'm scarred from many years of crappy chain bakery and dodgy supermarket mud cakes that are super dense and/or dry and tasteless. I prefer my cakes light and airy. I prefer a vanilla cake over a chocolate cake. But I really enjoyed this cake. A two-layer caramel mud cake with salted caramel icing, poached vanilla bean pear, crumble and salted caramel sauce. It's INTENSE.
Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears
It was my first time poaching pears! They turned out beautifully tender and matched so well with the buttery crumble that I sprinkled on top. I poached them in a brown sugar, vanilla bean and star anise mixture. I know the cake is a little on the brown and messy side presentation-wise, but don't let its appearance fool you. All the elements combine to make a pretty spectacular cake. I'd recommend eating small slices served with extra crumble and salted caramel sauce and a really big cup of hot tea.
Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears
Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears
(caramel mud cake adapted from this AWW recipe, salted caramel sauce adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
For the caramel mud cake:
250g (2 sticks plus 2 tbsp) butter, chopped
200g (7oz) white chocolate, chopped
2¼ cups (about 450g) firmly packed brown sugar
1½ cups (375ml) water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten lightly
2 cups (about 280g) plain/all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (90g) self-raising flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Grease and line the base and side of a two 18cm (7 inch) round cake tins (warning: batter is quite runny so spring-form tins may leak out the bottom, it is better to use non-springform).
  2. Sift the plain and self-raising flour into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the butter, white chocolate, sugar and water in a medium saucepan, whisk over low heat until the chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Whisk in vanilla and eggs, then add sifted flours. Pour equal amounts of mixture into prepared tins. Bake for about 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out just clean. Cover cake loosely with foil if it is over-browning.
  5. Cool the cake in the pan covered with a clean tea towel. Cake can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temp.
For the salted caramel sauce:
400g sugar (about 2 cups)
170g (12 tbsp) unsalted butter
2/3 cup thickened/heavy cream 
About 1 tbsp sea salt flakes, adjust to taste
  1. Place sugar in a heavy-based medium to large saucepan on medium heat and whisk until it starts to melt (it may clump together but this is okay), continue whisking until all the sugar melts down.
  2. Add a sugar thermometer to the pan and continue cooking without stirring, swirl the pan occasionally to stop the bottom from burning. 
  3. Heat until mixture turns dark golden in colour and the sugar thermometer reaches 180°C (350°F), then add all the butter at once. Take care as mixture will bubble up.
  4. Whisk until the butter is incorporated, then add cream (mixture will bubble up again) and whisk until smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl. and allow to cool slightly. 
  5. When cool enough to taste, add salt to taste. Cool to room temperature.
Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears
For the poached pears:
2-3 brown pears (I used 3)
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups (about 300g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped
Optional: 1 star anise
  1. Place water and sugar in a saucepan on medium high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to simmer.
  2. Peel pears (keeping the stem) and place pears, vanilla pod an seeds (and star anise) in the saucepan.
  3. Simmer, turning pears occasionally to ensure even poaching, for about 20 minutes or until pears are tender (check with a fork).
  4. Carefully remove pears and set aside to cool completely, then pat very dry using paper towels. 
  5. Slice pears in half and use a spoon to remove the core and seeds. Use a small sharp knife to thinly slice pears. You can keep it attached at the stem at fan out the pear slices as shown in the photos, or remove the stem and arrange the slices however you prefer. I retained one half of a pear and diced the fruit into small cubes to use inbetween the two cake layers.
For the crumble:
1/4 cup (about 50g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (about 35g) flour
25g (about 2 tbsp) cold butter, diced
Optional: A pinch of cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Place ingredients in a bowl rub between fingers to distribute butter throughout the dry ingredients. Mixture should resemble large breadcrumbs
  3. Spread mixture in an even layer on baking paper and bake. Check on mixture every 5 minutes, it may start to melt down into a giant thin cookie, just use a fork to break up the mixture and maintain a crumb consistency.
  4. Bake until mixture starts to go dark golden brown on the edges, ensure it does not burn. Leak on tray to cool completely.
For the salted caramel icing:
250g (2 sticks plus 2 tbsp) butter, softened
2 cups (about 250g) icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted
About 1 cup salted caramel sauce (recipe above), adjust to desired taste and texture
Place butter and salted caramel in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until smooth and combined.
  1. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. 
  2. To assemble cake; trim cakes to ensure that their tops are level. Place one layer of cake (cut side up) on your cake stand/plate.
  3. Place 1 cup of salted caramel icing in a piping bag with a wide star tip attached. Pipe a circle of icing about half a cm inside from the edge of the cake, then use a spatula to spread a layer of icing inside the piped circle. (I also spread a layer, using half a pear, of  small cubes of pear throughout the icing, this is optional) Sandwich with the other cake layer (cut side down) and repeat with another layer of icing.
  4. Arrange sliced pear of top and sprinkle a layer of crumble on top. Pour extra salted caramel sauce on top (you may need to warm the sauce up quickly in the microwave if it has become too thick to pour). Serve immediately. If serving layer, keep crumble and sauce separate and place on top right before serving.
Caramel Mud Cake with Salted Caramel Icing, Crumble and Vanilla Poached Pears
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  1. Such a gorgeous cake! I've never poached pears before but I think it's time to make an attempt! :)

  2. This cake looks delicious! The flavours must be incredible together. Yum!

    I made my first layer cake over the weekend, for Father's Day, adark chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. I definitely have a lot to learn about making layer cakes, but I'm keen to keep trying. In fact, I'm planning to make one for my son's first birthday next month.

    Thank you for inspiring me today. I love your blog!

  3. Wow your cake looks really delicious! I love caramel. Thiswould be the perfekt one for me:D

    xo from Germany

  4. This looks utterly delicious! Would be perfect for my Virtual Bake Sale for Macmillan Cancer Support- check it out here

    FoodNerd x

  5. Oh my! This cake looks like it stepped right out of a magazine cover!

  6. Oh my god!!! the salted caramel is everywhere!!!
    It looks really delicious!!!

  7. Oh My Gosh! Yum! I really want to eat that!

    Looks Amazing!

  8. What is a mud cake?!!?
    Whatever it is I need it to come to England! NOW.
    L x

  9. Looks gorgeous! I just read that mud cakes should not be eaten fresh, but should be saved to the 3 day - and up to 2 weeks after baking. Is that correct, and would you recommend it for this cake also?

    1. Hmm not sure about this, I don't make mud cakes often. This one was fine to eat on the day, and tasted good the rest of the week too

    2. Hi There,
      Bit of a delayed response but yes, mud cakes are ordinary on the day of baking - they develop over a week or two. I bake mine, then pop it into the freezer undressed for a week then let it slowly defrost. Super moist, dense and ultimate mudcake-y delicious!

    3. Mudcakes are best made 7-14 days ahead of time (wrapped in cling film and stored in an air tight container) and iced right before needed. The cake actually becomes more moist if you leave it that week or so.
      mud cake can also be made, cooled, wrapped in cling and aluminium and frozen and defosted on the bench to room temp, then iced right before needed. .....hope this helps!

  10. Hey Steph, Do you think this could be made w/ a regular vanilla cake base?

  11. I have to say I'm not that picky about my cakes - I like both heavy mudcakes, and light spongier cakes! This looks great!

  12. This looks so rich, the pears make a great addition. Yum!

  13. Hi love love your blog! great recipes and fab photos :).. keep up the superb work!

  14. Wow that looks incredible! I've never tried a mud cake, thanks so much for introducing them because they sound fantastic. I can see why your friend likes them so much. Love the addition of poached pears too, perfect use of a seasonal fruit :)

  15. Hi was just wondering if this could be made in a 6 x 3 inch pan maybe for a lesser time? And do you think it would be suitable as a wedding cake to hold its weight under fondant? Thanks a lot

  16. Omg thanks for sharing this it's amazing! I made it for my husband birthday yesterday and it was incredible!! I substituted the white chocolate with dark as he's not keen on the white . It was my first attempt at mud cake :)

  17. Yum! I want to make this recipe for my engagement party but as cupcake. How long would you suggest i cook them for?

    1. I'm not sure, I wouldn't really recommend this recipe for cupcakes as its a mudcake recipe, which really depends on a slow bake to ensure that it doesnt dry out. You can give it a go if you want but I wouldn't have a clue how long it would take to bake, you'd just have to check on them regularly until a skewer inserted into the centre cake out just clean.

  18. I'm looking at using your recipe (just the cake and salted caramel icing) for a wedding cake, How high do you think the finished 2 layers are?


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