Things may have seemed quiet… virtually quiet; does this mean things are actually quiet? No. In fact things are busy, crazy, noisy and for the most part fun.
It has been birthday season, wedding season, merry-making season. And here I have a moment to pause as I await a couple to pickup some cakes for their wedding tomorrow.
Cakes, cakes, cakes. Boy have there been some cakes! There have been jars of crumbs, custards, caramels all around the kitchen, our fridge has been taken over by sweetness. And there is more to come. But with each cake comes refinement of methods, perfecting of recipes and mastering of box folding skills. And each time is gets a little bit quicker and a smidgen bit easier. Swirls are now whipped up, rather than agonised over; layering to a level is now more of a given rather than something to be strived for! Thank heavens it still feels creative and fun, and as always I have a happy and willing gang to lick clean those spatulas for me.
It was Nana Bear’s birthday last week, so the kids got their rainbow on and decorated her cake…
Holy sugar, I hear you call! Well I have been doing my best to maintain a balance in our day to day lives and lunch boxes whilst the dust of icing sugar settles, but my daughter last week described a drawing of a dress she had done as ‘acai’ coloured – so I think we’re doing okay!
And amongst all this I went to a ‘Science of Styling’ class run by the fabulous Megan Morton, to help gain some inspiration in how I communicate what I do so not all of my photos are just of a round cake on my floorboards! At the end of the day I realised it’s all just fundamentals of art anyway, with a splash believing in yourself and your own style, so yippee, let’s just live life as beautifully as we can and that’s got to shine through. And beautiful things make people happy, and that’s okay!
So with all of this and more going on, there haven’t been too many moments for experimentation. But there is some definite sub conscious stirrings going on, and hopefully sometime soon I will have a moment to break free from the busy-ness (business) and still have enough energy to feel creative. And one day bring you a new recipe!
But for now, to my ‘favourite, so far’ salted caramel recipe. Sticky, sweet, salty and still pliable enough to work with straight from the fridge. There was some definite trial and error with some caramels setting rock hard, not the best for layering in a cake! But this one is a keeper, and as is so often the case, we have Christina Tosi to thank for it.
Salty Caramel from Momofuku Milk Bar
Makes about 320g (1 & 1/2 cups)
105g heavy cream
4g vanilla extract
2g salt (Christina recommends 4g, which I find a little salty, so I cut it down to 2, then sprinkle some Fleur De Sal flakes when I am using the caramel for a little more pop of salt)
1 gelatine sheet
105g heavy cream (yes, you need two lots of 105g)
Put 105g cream, butter, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Make a caramel: Heat the sugar and glucose in a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt. Once the sugar is starting to melt stir, stir, stir until you have a beautiful deep golden colour, 3 to 5 minutes.
While you are attending to the caramel, practice your multi-tasking skills and bloom the gelatine sheet, in a cup of cool water.
When you are happy with the colour of your caramel, take it off the heat and pour in the other 105g of cream. Stand back as it may spit and steam! Once it has all calmed down, whisk that pot of caramel until it is smooth and glossy. If there are any hard spots of caramel, put the pot back on a gentle heat and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in the bloomed gelatine, which you have squeezed all excess water from, until is has completely dissolved. At this point you are going to pour your caramel into the bowl with the butter, cream, vanilla and salt in it. Christina recommends pouring the mixture through a sieve, I don’t as I find it makes a sticky mess and my caramel has always been pretty smooth anyway, but by all means go for it if you are that way inclined.
Let the mixture sit without touching it for a couple of minutes, until you can see the butter starting to melt. Then, give it a good old whisk (slowly at first so you don’t splash it all over yourself) until it is shiny, sticky and beautiful.
You can use it right now, or keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks! How’s that for getting ahead? You can give it a blast in the microwave when you’re ready to use it (apparently, we don’t have a microwave so I never bother) until it is the right liquidity for you to use. Or just spoon it in big ol’ dollops from the jar as I do, to make a gorgeous, unctuous, golden mess…