Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel Chips

by meike peters

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel

Many years ago a woman called Carole Handslip came into my life. It wasn’t really Mrs. Handslip herself, rather her recipes. My aunt Ursula rearranged her vast selection of cookbooks and asked if she could hand down some of her culinary jewels to me. I didn’t have to think twice and was happy to receive a few of her 80’s kitchen classics, which were about tapas and baking, of course, as Ursula is as passionate about it as I am. Carol Handslip’s slightly old-fashioned but nonetheless beautiful Home Baking book was one of them, it’s a great collection of typical British biscuits, scones, teabreads and festive and novelty cakes. I fell in love with it immediately as I thumbed through the pages for the first time.

There’s something very relaxing and nostalgic about these old books. The styling and the choice of recipes is often quite different to today’s aesthetics and culinary trends, it wakes up so many memories and reminds me of many forgotten sweet and savoury treats, it feels like time traveling. These are treasures of the past so I’m always more then excited to spot a fine example at a book store or in my aunt’s kitchen.

One of the first Handslip recipes I tried was a Caramel Chip Gâteau, a quite extravagant and dramatic looking cake. It’s a layered coffee sponge with buttercream filling, golden icing and tiny caramel chips on top. It’s a gorgeous creation and it inspired me to make my own espresso Madeira cake without a filling but with a shiny espresso icing. Carol uses dark coffee for her recipe but I prefer to bake with instant espresso powder, it adds more depth. Although I’m not the biggest fan of caramel candy, to me it just tastes sweet and sticks to the teeth, the carmel chips on Mrs. Handslip’s creation were visually so captivating that I couldn’t help myself but pick up on her idea. It’s Halloween weekend after all and it fits perfectly.

A few months ago I shared one of Frances Bissell’s recipe with you, her lavender white chocolate caramel cake, she’s also a fantastic British cookbook author. I wrote about her great book, The Floral Baker, and also mentioned her wonderful London publisher, Stephen Hayward of Serif Books. Stephen died of a heart attack last week, which made me very sad. Although we never met in person I enjoyed the email contact we had. My condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace, Stephen.

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel Chips

plain flour 220g / 1 2/3 cups
cocoa powder 1 teaspoon
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
instant espresso powder 4 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
butter, at room temperature, 200g / 7 ounces
sugar 200g / 1 cup
organic eggs 3
milk 2 tablespoons

For the espresso icing

icing sugar 100g / 1 cup
instant espresso powder 1 teaspoon
about 5 teaspoons water, boiling

For the caramel chips

sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C /  355°F (convection oven) and butter a 18cm / 7″ springform pan.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well in between. Add the dry mixture and the milk and mix until combined. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan, even it out and bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes or until golden and firm on top. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool completely before you cover it with the espresso icing.

Whisk the ingredients for the icing until well combined and very thick, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time, and sprinkle or spread over the cake.

Brush a piece of baking paper with a little vegetable oil. Melt the sugar for the caramel chips in a pan until golden brown and pour onto the oiled baking paper, flatten it quickly with a knife. Let it cool completely, break it into pieces and decorate the cake.

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel




Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel




Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel