Monday, 31 July 2017

Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake

Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake Roses

This is a pretty special cake. My take on a sticky toffee pudding with a new and amazing toffee buttercream, surrounded by a piped buttercream to look like a basket of flowers. It looks fancy but with a few special piping nozzles, it's no where near as hard to make as it looks.

The nozzles you need are a 2D piping nozzle for the flowers. For the basket itself, I used a wilton 47 tip - if you search for a "basketweave piping nozzle" you'll find it. I believe there are different nozzles to make different width of baskets, so if you want thicker weaves get a bigger nozzle :) I'll describe here how to pipe the baskets, but I know it can be easier to see this being done - here is the youtube link I used. 

I used a 1M piping nozzle for the flowers and ridging, and a 104 wilton nozzle for the leaves (I'm pretty sure you could make good leaves just by slicing the end of the piping bag off however...)




This toffee buttercream is amazing, and it's really simple to make. Don't worry about making the caramel - this recipe is foolproof :)

Makes one 23 cm cake


For the cake:
  • 400g (2 & 1/4 cups) dates, chopped
  • 480ml (2 cups) weak black tea
  • 200g (1 cup) light brown sugar
  • 50g (1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g (7/8 cups) butter
  • 2 tbsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 320g (3 cups less 2 tsp) self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt

For the vanilla buttercream:
  • 100g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) softened butter
  • 200g (2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp boiling water
  • Red/pink/purple gel food colouring (to colour the flowers)
  • Green food colouring (for the leaves)

For the toffee buttercream:

  • 300g (1 & 1/2 cups) dark soft brown sugar (or half dark and half light soft brown sugar for a less intense toffee taste)
  • 170g (3/4 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 90ml (2/5 cup) skimmed milk 
  • 250 - 315g (2 - 2&1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm springform cake tin (with butter or oil), and dust the base and sides with flour.

2. In a saucepan add the chopped dates, black tea and bicarbonate of soda. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes until softened. Use a blender to mix the dates/tea into a thick sauce. Leave to one side to cool.

3. Melt the  butter in a saucepan or in the microwave (be careful in the microwave though as if you don't cover the plate the butter may "explode" all over the microwave...).

4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla together for a few minutes, until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has become pale and slightly thicker. 

5. Whisk in the melted butter into the eggy mix. Fold the dry ingredients and pureed dates into the mix until no more flour speckles can be seen. Divide evenly into the prepared cake tin.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, and the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin. 

7. Whilst baking, start the toffee sauce (this is the first step of making the toffee buttercream so see the toffee buttercream ingredients in the list above). Pour the dark brown soft sugar, butter and milk into a saucepan and place on a low-medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the butter has melted.

8. Turn the heat up (to about medium) and let the caramel boil for 4-5 minutes. If using a sugar thermometer, the temperature will read about 170c/350f. If not using one, stop when the mixture has deepened in colour and thickened. Take off the heat, add the vanilla extract and salt, and leave to cool for a few minutes.

9. Set 1/3 of the caramel sauce aside. Set aside the other 2/3 to cool, then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to cool fully.

10. Once the cakes are out of the oven, prick all over with a fork. Spread over the caramel sauce (the third that isn't currently in the fridge). Set the cakes aside to cool fully.

11. To finish the toffee buttercream, take the caramel sauce out of the fridge and pour into a large mixing bowl. Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat in using an electric whisk if possible (a wooden spoon will work too, it'll just be harder work). Gradually add more icing sugar until the buttercream is thick and when you lift the buttercream from the bowl, it sticks to the whisk/spoon and doesn't fall off (but doesn't feel too stiff to move). If you add too much buttercream add a teaspoon or so of hot water to loosen.

12. To make the vanilla buttercream, beat the softened butter until very soft then sift in half of the icing sugar and the vanilla extract. Add 1 tsp of boiling hot water and beat. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar until the buttercream is thick enough to not fall off the spoon when lifted from the bowl, but not too stiff to move around the bowl.  Set aside one third of the buttercream. Take two tablespoons of this and colour it light green (for the leaves).

Divide the remaining buttercream into bowls and colour as desired for the flowers. For example if you want purple and pink flowers, divide the buttercream into two and colour one bowl pink, the other purple.

13. To assemble the cake, gently remove the cakes from the tins, making sure to keep the orientation (i.e. don't flip them). 

14. Place a tablespoon of buttercream (it doesn't matter which) onto the cake board/serving dish (this will ensure the cake stays still in transit, even if that transit is just from the kitchen to the dining room!). Top with the first layer of cake.

15. Use a palette knife to spread about a third of the toffee buttercream on the top of the cake layer. Try to evenly spread the buttercream to the edges - it doesn't matter if it goes over a bit.

16. Top with the second cake layer. Now use a palette knife to spread a thin layer of the uncoloured vanilla buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This creates a crumb coat, and hopefully means you won't end up with any crumbs showing on the outside of the final cake :) 

17. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes, until the buttercream stops feeling sticky to the touch.

18. Now for the fun! Prepare piping bags - for the basket weave, place the piping nozzle into a piping bag and half fill with the caramel buttercream. For the flowers, place a 2D piping nozzle into another piping bag and fill with the flower colour of your choice. If you want flowers with two colours in them, spoon half of e.g. the pink buttercream down one side of the piping bag, and the purple buttercream down the other side.

19. Pipe the basket onto the cake. If you practice using the basketweave nozzle, you'll note that if you have one end of the piping nozzle towards you, you'll get a smooth line when piped down, and when you turn the piping bag 180 degrees and pipe down, you get a ridged effect. 

20. Pipe a ridged line down the cake, then pipe smooth lines horizontally over the vertical line you've made, leaving a gap about the width of your piping nozzle between the lines.

21. Pipe the next vertical line, then pipe ridged lines from the gaps between the horizontal lines, over this next horizontal line.  If this doesn't make sense, follow the youtube link at the top of the page for a visual demonstration by the experts.

22. To pipe the roses, hold the piping bag with the 1M nozzle vertically over where you want the centre of the rose to be, then pipe a concentric circle going outwards (like a snail shell). Repeat as desired, using other colours if you like.

23. Place the green buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a flower petal nozzle (I used a wilton 103). Pipe leaves about 1.5cm around the flowers (this just means piping down and along for a second or so, and the nozzle means you get a nice leave shape).

24. To finish, I piped the remaining purple/pink buttercream around the edge of the top of the cake. I stuck with the 1M nozzle and simply piped down then moved around 1cm, to create a kind of ripple effect.

25. Enjoy!!

This cake is lovely and moist and should keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake Roses

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