Bit of an experiment, this one, and for no good reason except that I hadn’t baked for a while and I felt like giving something new a bash. Having loaned out my set of 8″ tins and my palette knife to a colleague (side note: the extent to which I feel bereft is absurd, and not a little embarrassing), I opted for something that didn’t require those things. Namely, a bundt cake with a pouring glaze/sauce rather than a spreadable icing.
225g unsalted butter (room temperature)
350g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
375g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
250ml soured cream
75g dates, finely chopped
For the glaze:
220g caster sugar
60g unsalted butter
180ml double cream
Preheat to 180C and butter your bundt pan. As there are lots of dips and grooves in a bundt pan, I’d recommend buttering it with your fingers rather than using greaseproof paper or anything; this way you know you’ve got all the corners.
Beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and add the vanilla extract, then break up with a fork. Add to the butter mix a tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift in half the flour and fold in by hand. Add half the soured cream and combine gently, then repeat with the other half of the flour and the other half of the soured cream.
Pour half the mixture into the bundt pan, then stir the dates into the remaining mixture and throw that in the top. Even out the surface and bake for around 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce. Put a large, heavy-based saucepan (not a non-stick one) on a medium heat. Measure out your sugar, then cover the base with a layer of sugar and watch it, hawk-like, until patches start to melt. Don’t stir. As patches start to melt, cover them with a smattering more sugar. Continue until all the sugar is in, then you can start to stir in tiny circles with a rubber spatula to incorporate the unmelted sugar with the melted. When all the crystals have melted, keep your face and hands clear of the steam as you add the cream and stir in. Remove from the heat and add the butter a chunk at a time, and stir in. Don’t worry if it looks split at any point – it will emulsify. When your toffee sauce is smooth and rich, set it aside to cool.
When the cake is baked, let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack. While it’s still warm, use a pastry brush to paint it all over with a little of the toffee sauce so that it soaks into the sponge. Leave the cake to cool completely.
Finally, pour over as much of the remaining toffee sauce as you think your sweet tooth can tolerate and scatter with a few salt flakes. The chances are you’ll have some toffee sauce left over to serve on the side. Serve with a cracking cuppa and a naughty smile.
P.S. Taste test reports are excellent, so definitely worth another outing one day soon. Particularly good when microwaved for a few seconds with an extra dollop of toffee sauce on the top of the slice. Don’t tell your dentist.