The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 8 Challenges.
Total Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
The Great British Bake Off is a classic show for bakers and those looking for a friendly competition. All the bakes on the show look delicious and I often want to try baking them myself! I finally got off the couch and into the kitchen to recreate some of the recipes from Bake Off! I chose to start with season eight of Bake Off as it is my favorite season and the one with some of my favorite challenges!
We’ve made it to the Showstopper challenge of caramel week: A caramel cake! In the Great British Baking Show episode, the winner for this week is Kate. I believe a large part of this decision is due to her caramel toffee apple cake. Even Prue wanted the recipe! So, I also stole the recipe for Kates caramel apple cake and decided to run with it. This seemed like a great way to start 2022!
I seem to be working with a lot of juice for the week 4 recipes. I guess using juice is the best way to infuse flavors into the desserts. For this recipe, I used apple juice, apples, cinnamon powders, and an all-spice mix to get a deep and rich flavor into the cake. All the other ingredients were classic cake baking standbys like flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and salt.
Prepping the Juice
The first step of the process is boiling down the apple juice into a concentrate. This process helps bring out the apple flavor in the cake. Boiling down the apple juice also slightly caramelized the added sugar that was in the apple juice I used. I thought this gave the cake that extra level of flavor.
Making the Batter
To make the batter, I started by beating the butter until it was smooth and fluffy. I would always recommend using softened butter for this process, but cold butter can take shape if whipped long enough. After the butter is prepped, I added the sugar and beat it again until light and fluffy. This process help incorporate the butter, sugar, and air into the dough to make it the cake spongey. After the butter/sugar mixture is ready, I gradually added the eggs and beat the batter after every addition.
In a separate bowl, I mixed together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and mixed spices. Some people like to sift the dry ingredients to prevent clumping in the cake. I am a lazy person, so I don’t normally do this, and I have never seen a problem. If you live somewhere humid, sifting the ingredients is a good way to separate all the dry ingredient susceptible to moisture.
Then I added the flour mixture into the egg/butter mixture and blended everything together until the batter was just combine. Overmixing cake batter can result in a stogey (or chewy) texture so it’s important to watch the batter. Especially if you are using a stand mixer. The last thing to add is the apple juice syrup and the dried chopped apples. Make sure to incorporate them into the whole batter to get that apple flavor distributed evenly.
After the batter was ready, I distributed everything into three cake tins. This makes for a smaller sponge but allow the cakes to bake quicker than if I had only used two tins. While this is baking, I would prep anything else you need for decorating the cake (check out caramel buttercream and toffee apples). When the cakes finish baking, a toothpick should be able to come out cleanly from the thickest point in each sponge. I let the cakes rest for five minutes inside each tin before removing them and allowing them to cool on a wire rack.
Decorating the Cakes
For the decorations, I wanted to make layers of cake, caramel butter cream, and toffee apples. There were two layers of cake then caramel buttercream then toffee apples before I slathered the reaming buttercream all around the cake. I used the remaining toffee apples for decorations, but you can also use a hard caramel or spun sugar decorations using the caramel made from just water and sugar!
I really enjoyed doing this challenge. I had so much fun in every step of the process from making the cake, to making the caramel buttercream, to decoration. Cooking caramel is so easy to do, and it adds so much flavor to everything I put it in. This “weeks” challenges also have taught me to cook down juice to infuse flavor into my bakes. The concentrate really brought that apple flavor to life. I was worried that the cake would end up too much like an apply muffin, but it has a distinct cake flavor with no chucks or bits!
Am I ready for bake-off? I’m doing fine in terms of flavor. But, in terms of decorations? Not so much. I think I didn’t do enough in the decorations department, but a little sugar work and this cake would have been magical.
The process of caramelization occurs when sugar is heated at a high temperature. This removes any liquid and allows the sugar to break down into glucose and fructose. When the sugar is then cooled, the chemical make-up of sugar is then reformed into a complex polymer to give it that nutty and delicious flavor. I thought this process could only occur with a sugar and water mixture, but anything can caramelize so long as the sugar is dissolved into a liquid. So, if you take processed apple juice from the store and heat it up, you’ll end up caramelizing it if you’re not careful!
Caramel Apple Cake
- 1 ⅓ Cup Apple Juice
- 1 ⅖ Cup Unsalted Butter 1 Cup + 7 Tbsp
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 5 Eggs beaten
- ¼ Tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Cups Self-Raising Flour
- 2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2 Tsp Ground All Spice
- 1 Apple Finely chopped
- Cook juice in a small pan, stirring frequently, until a concentrated is make (about ¼ cup). Leave to cool
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- In a stand mixer or a large bowl, beat butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat again for another 5 minutes or until light.
- Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all spice.
- Fold flour mixture into the egg/butter mix.
- Add in the apple juice syrup and dried apples to combine.
- Distribute the mixture between 3 cake tins. Bake for about 20-22 minutes until well rise, golden and springy.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate / Prepare as desired.