How To: Carrot, Sticky Date Toffee Cake with Vanilla Buttercream (Halloween Special)

Hi Nibblers!

Halloween is here! Now, I must admit that I’m not much of a Halloween fan. I’ve always thought it was something us Aussies never really knew the origins of and hence, never needed to participate in the festivities. But, I am mistaken. Halloween is actually someone’s favourite event of the year. People make amazing costumes and the creativity levels fly through the roof. I decided to join in on the fun and made a cake – my favourite thing to do! I love all the spooky designs Halloween entails but I decided to be inspired by pumpkins this year round so here goes!
Also before I get into things, I wanted to let you know I’ve tried out a new buttercream recipe. This recipe was courtesy of my day course at the Australian Patisserie Academy at the North Ryde campus. I liked how the buttercream didn’t melt so quickly in my hands and shapes held their form for longer. The recipe uses both buttercream and vegetable shortening as the latter has a higher melting point which means it’s able to stay moulded for longer. The only downside to this recipe is that the vegetable shortening needs to be left at room temperature for at least 24 hours before it can be beaten which makes it hard for last minute cakes. However, apart from staying power – my normal recipe and this one both taste exactly the same so it all comes down to what your baking occasion calls for. Feel free to pop over some questions as well, I would be happy to answer them.

How To: Carrot, Sticky Date Toffee Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Makes 3 tier 20cm round cake

What you’ll need:
Cake component:
– 510g self raising flour
– 185mL milk
– 375mL of sunflower oil
– 6 eggs
– 4 tsp. cinnamon
– 240g brown sugar
– 250g pitted dates fresh if possible or dried – roughly diced
(If dried, soak dates in water for about 10 minutes before dicing)
– 8 medium sized Carrots (grated into strips)
For Toffee sauce:
– 125mL thickened cream
– 3/4 cup of brown sugar
– 75g of butter
Vanilla Buttercream
– 250g Copha – diced (vegetable shortening) – softened for 24 hours at room temp
– 500g unsalted butter – softened at room temp
– 400g icing sugar
– 1 tsp. vanilla essence
– Green food colouring
– Red food colouring
– Yellow food colouring
– Black Icing (for writing) – I used Wilton’s

How To:
Cake component:

1. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Lightly grease 3 x 20cm round tins (or 1 x 20cm x 10cm) tin with baking paper / or cooking spray then set aside + 2 medium cupcake moulds (for pumpkin topping)
3. Sift flour, sugar and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl then mix together
4. Create a well in the middle of dry ingredients then add eggs, oil and milk and combine until well combined
5. Fold in dates and grated carrot
6. Evenly divide batter between three tins ensuring to leave behind enough batter to fill 2 cupcake moulds
7. Place cake in oven for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly brown and cooked (If it’s only one cake tin – place in oven for at least 45 minutes before checking progress)
8. Place cupcake mould in oven for 18 minutes or until lightly brown and cooked
(Note: used cake tester / toothpick to ensure it’s free from batter and ensures cakes is cooked)
9. Set aside to completely cool
Toffee Sauce:
1. Place butter, cream and sugar into saucepan on medium high heat until sugar dissolves then bring to a boil
2. Let sauce simmer for 8-10 minutes – stirring occasionally until sauce is a lovely golden brown colour and slightly thickened then set aside to cool completely
Vanilla Buttercream:
1. Beat butter on high for about 5 minutes or until it changes from a yellow colour to off -white
2. Add Copha into the mix and beat on high until there are no more lumps – approx 5 minutes
3. Add vanilla essence and icing sugar and beat for a further 5 minutes or until well combined
(Note: for a thinner buttercream – add a Tbs. of water at a time until desired texture
for a thicker buttercream – add a Tbs. of icing sugar at a time until desired effect)

Time to decorate!
Once cakes are completely cooled you can decorate!
1. Level cakes to create three even layers (as need be)
2. Place first layer onto cake board then smear a nice even layer of butter cream on the surface of first layer making sure the edges have a slightly higher incline
3. Spoon about 1/4 cup of toffee sauce into centre of first layer – ensuring that the buttercream around the edges will be able to hold the liquid
4. Place second layer on top of first
5. Repeat steps 2 and 3
6. Place final layer on top of second and smear buttercream all over the cake and along the edges creating a crumb layer
7. Remove cake from two cupcake mould then place cupcakes on top of one another in the centre of top cake layer
8. Place in fridge for approximately 10 minutes to set
9. Colour 1/2 cup of remaining buttercream in a seperate bowl with 3 drops of green food colouring – or until desired shade
10. Halve remaining buttercream into seperate bowls and with one bowl colour buttercream with 2 drops of red food colouring and 4 drops of yellow food colouring to create orange – or until desired shade
11. Using a Tip 61 and the orange buttercream – start from the top centre of the two stacked cupcakes and pipe a straight line downwards to the base of cupcake before continuing onto the next line – ensuring the lines slightly overlap to create a pumpkin effect until cupcakes can no longer be seen
12. Using a Tip 67 and green buttercream pipe three leaves in the top centre of the pumpkin to create a stem look
13. Starting from the middle of the cake, pipe white buttercream using Tip 47 from the centre of the pumpkin to the base of the large cake in the straightest line possible
14. Alternate step 13 with the orange buttercream to create a vertical pattern effect
15. With the remaining green buttercream, pipe along the edge of the base of the cake to create a border
16. Using black icing draw on eyes, nose and mouth to create a Jack-O-Lanterns face
17. If you want to be more thorough – on a piece of parchment paper use orange buttercream with Tip 61 to pipe a oval shape
18. Pipe a leaf with buttercream on top of that to create miniature pumpkins
19. Place parchment paper into fridge or freezer for at least 5 minutes and working quickly, place around cake – try to be decisive because they will melt quickly and you’re done!

I know this is long ended recipe but, it does make for a perfect carrot, date and toffee combo that can be enjoyed any time without any of the fancies! I would have loved to done a video tutorial for this as I feel sometimes it is a bit difficult to explain things  in words. Visual aids would be amazing! I am a one woman team so I’m trying to come up with ways to improve – I promise! I hope you Nibblers enjoyed this recipe and feel free to comment with anything at all.

Happy trick or treatin’!
Nibble Away



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