So since being back in the country and starting my job, I have been buzzing on this high of life-winning. My recipes for Tasti went live and I have just started writing proper restaurant reviews for Concrete Playground. All this winning luckily gave me a bit of a shield as having McHottie give me the flick the day after I got back didn't put that much of a damper on this buzz.
I was fine until my friend a week later went on about how stunning and beautiful this girl he hooked up with straight after me was. She clearly missed the lecture on how to support friends in such matters. I know the first thing my best friend Alix would have said was "ugh what a dick head. Bet she can't cook, bet she's really boring, what a sluzza" and so on and so forth regardless of it being true or not. I know we shouldn't diss our fellow women but sometimes situations like these allow for the claws to come out.
But anyway, the whole ordeal (not that it really was one) was an interesting activity on figuring out why you actually liked someone. He wasn't into food. He wasn't into going on spontaneous adventures with me and his weekend hobbies mainly included drinking (my parents saw this fizzle coming from day one). I think the best chat we ever had was when he was five beers in when he actually opened up. When I sat down and thought about it, I was really probably just attracted to his great cheek bones, his hot bod and I think for the fact that for a fleeting moment he liked me back. I feel like Taylor Swift should write a song for me to relate to this situation.
But still, what my friend said about this hook up really stung. What does this girl have that I don't? Immediately I went from feeling awesome to doubting my appearance. I immediately vowed to live off cruskits and kiwi fruit until the new year. Is it my face? Am I ugly? Did I eat too much curry in Asia? Do I not fit the required dimensions? Do I come across as plain bat shit cray? It disturbed me that my first thought was that I needed to de-chub. I'm not even chubby, my flatmate this morning pointed out my quad definition this morning going dayyyum gurrrl (in a slightly Russian accent which made it all the more excellent). I just have to keep telling myself that I am just too awesome, and some people just can't handle being around people like me as some form of self preservation. Dammit, feelings suck.
While this was all going on, I was already making friends and baking birthday cakes for new colleagues just a mere 8 working days in. Having made fast friends with someone equally unable to resist sugary treats and enthused about the joys of Tinder, I couldn't wait to see the look on his face as I planted this gem on their desk. I think this is actually my favourite cake of all time.
I first saw the recipe by Angela Redfern and Amy Melchior at Ripe Deli shared by Dish Magazine on Facebook. Just looking at the caramel ooze down the side of the cake got me excited. The only problem with making new and exciting cakes on weekdays is that you cant jump on top of your kitchen bench in the middle of the day and take photos. The fluorescent lighting over on level 1 along with it's fine office decor just isn't the best setting for any sort of food photography. So come Saturday I was making version 2.0 with the sole purpose being to take photos.
I ended up making my own salted caramel out of just cream, sugar and salt and then added half of that to the cream cheese icing. I made sure not to add to much icing sugar as I wanted it to be quite tart in order to break through the sweetness of the rest of it. I also added more cinnamon to the cake because who doesn't like cinnamon?
The icing will melt easily in the warmer weather so I suggest storing this cake in the fridge until you serve it. Drizzle over the extra salted caramel just before you serve as it has a tendency to drip all the way down onto the plate.
Hummingbird Cake with Salted Caramel
Adapted from Ripe Deli's recipe
Makes three 20cm layers
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
420g tin crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
500g cream cheese
70g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
half a recipe of caramel (below) (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste (close to 1/2 teaspoon I would say - but gradually add and taste it as you go)
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and line three 20cm cake tins.
Beat the sugars and eggs well together then pour in the oil and vanilla. Mix in the banana, pineapple and 3/4 cup of the walnuts. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and gently mix.
Split the batter between the three cake tins (about 620g each) and bake for about 30-35 minutes until a skewer just comes out clean (you still want it to be reasonably moist). Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before turning out of the tins. Cool completely before icing.
Make the caramel whilst the cake is baking. In a medium sized saucepan, heat the sugar and water together. Begin to warm the cream in a separate saucepan but be careful not to boil. Bring the sugar to the boil without stirring and continue to heat until it turns a bright amber colour. This should take around 7 minutes. Remove from the heat (and hold over the sink) and gradually pour in the warmed cream. Add it bit at a time as it has a tendency to boil over. Take a spatula and scrape the sugar syrup from the bottom of the pan and mix it in. Start adding the salt and tasting it with each lot you add. Leave the caramel to fully cool. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge. It will probably last a few weeks in there.
To make the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese together with a balloon whisk until voluminous and fluffy. Start pouring in the cold caramel quarter of a cup at a time into the mix and whisking until it fluffs up even more. Alternate caramel and portions of icing sugar until three cups of icing sugar and about a cup of caramel have been added. Beat on high for another couple of minutes just to get it extra light and smooth.
To assemble, level off the cakes with a sharp serrated knife. Take the base layer and smooth over about 3/4 of icing followed by a sprinkle of walnuts. Place over the middle layer and repeat. Take the top layer and smother over significantly more icing and then decorate the top by sprinkling walnuts around the edge. Drizzle over the cold caramel making sure plenty falls down the sides. Set in the fridge for about half an hour so that it doesn't slide apart (especially in the hot weather) then serve.