It’s hard to imagine a time when caramel wasn’t salted – such is the star status of this iconic flavour. In fact, salted caramel is nothing new, having fittingly originated in Brittany, France – aka, the home of salted butter – in the 15th century. That fist addition of a little salt to caramel, already sweet and bitter in equal measure, was little short of genius.
Caramel is not difficult to make. Rather, it’s a game of precision of bravery. The pan must be clean, the sugar should not be stirred, and the baker must be brave enough to let the caramel intensify in colour and flavour, but of course prevent it from burning. It’s a subtle precision that really does come with practise.
We’re sure you will need little persuasion to try this latest batch of salted caramel recipes from Lucy Burton!
SALTED CARAMEL PRALINE BROWNIES
- 150g caster sugar
- 125 ml double cream
- 25 g butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 75g toasted hazelnuts
- 150g unsalted butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 70g cocoa powder
- 2 eggs
- 70g flour
- For the caramel, melt the caster sugar and salt in a heavy based saucepan. When it’s golden brown and the sugar has just dissolved, remove it from the heat and pour in the cream. Being careful (it will bubble), beat the mixture to combine. If any lumps of sugar solidify, return the pan to a gentle heat and stir to melt through. Add the butter, stir to melt, and pour into a sterilized jar. Leave to cool.
- For the brownies, preheat the oven to 160C, and line an 8″ (20cm) square tin with baking parchment. Weigh the butter, sugars and cocoa into a small pan, and melt over a gentle heat until the butter is melted and you have a combined mixture. Don’t panic if it’s still a little grainy.
- Remove from the heat, and crack in the eggs. Beat quickly to combine – the mixture should become smooth and glossy. Sieve in the flour, and mix until just combined. Next, pour half of the brownie mixture into your lined tin. Add a layer of caramel, ensuring you leave a few centimetres of margin around the edge. Try not to smooth it at all, as you’ll end up mixing it with the brownie batter.
- Scatter with the nuts, and then spoon over another thin layer of caramel. Top with the remaining brownie batter, and gently smooth into an even surface. Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. You will be able to tell it’s done when the brownie has only the slightest wobble in the middle when shaken.
- Cool in the tin until just warm, then carefully lift the paper out and leave on a rake to cool completely. Slice up and share.
SALTED CARAMEL BANANA TARTE TATIN
- 225g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 190g unsalted butter
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 100g caster sugar
- 60g butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 firm bananas
- To make the rough-puff pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large, clean basin. Cube up the cold butter, then add to the bowl, stirring and chopping it a little using a round-ended knife. Once the butter is well coated in flour, add the lemon juice along with 125ml of cool water. Continue mixing and vaguely chopping with the knife, until the mixture has formed a rough, soft dough.
- Tip this onto a well floured surface, and shape roughly into a square. Roll into a rectangle which is roughly 35×20 cm, then fold into thirds. Roll the pastry out again into another rectangle, and repeat the process. Repeat this 4-5 times. Wrap up your pastry in clingfilm, and leave to cool down in the fridge for a few hours, or preferably overnight.
Check out our Pastry Guide for more hints and tips!
- To make the caramel, heat the sugar in a pan with a few tablespoons of water. Be patient with it and don’t stir it, it will end in tears and wasted sugar. Hold your nerve and let it bubble for 5-10 minutes, until it goes a golden colour and is starting to become liquid. Add the butter and salt, and shake the pan (no stirring) to combine. Pour into the base of a round oven-proof dish, then cut the bananas into rounds and layer over the caramel.
- Roll out your chilled pastry, and cut a circle just bigger than the banana dish. Place on top and tuck around the bananas, then bake at 180C for 40-45 minutes. Your tart is cooked when the pastry is golden and firm to the touch. Flip it onto a plate (beware of hot rogue caramel) as soon as you take it out of the oven.
SALTED CARAMEL CAKE
- 75g unsalted butter
- 185g caster sugar
- 40ml sunflower oil
- 25g cocoa powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 60ml milk
- 75ml cream
- 225g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 300g icing sugar
- 80g cream cheese
- 20ml cream
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 225g granulated sugar
- 50g salted butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 cup double cream
Line a 6 inch cake tin with parchment, and preheat the oven to 180C. Melt the butter in a small pan, the whist together with the sugar, oil, cocoa powder and vanilla. Once smooth, add the eggs, milk and cream and whisk until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and fold into the mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin, and bake for 45 minutes, or until cooked through. If it is browning too much, cover with foil for the final 20 minutes. After ten minutes, turn out onto a wire rack, and leave to cool completely.
Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, then add the cream, vanilla and cheese, and beat to combine. Whisk for 5-10 minutes, until airy and stiff. Take your cooled cake, and slice into 3 even sections. Use the frosting to fill, sandwich and cover the cake.
Put the sugar, syrup, salt and water in a thick based pan, and heat up slowly, until the sugar has completely melted. Do NOT stir it, everything will end in tears. Boil until the caramel has reached a deep, glossy colour, then remove from the heat, and add the cream, swirling to combine. Pour directly over the frosted cake, then leave it to it’s own devices, watching as it trickles down the sides. Top with chopped hazelnuts, honeycomb or something else delicious.
SALTED PEANUT BRITTLE
- 100g salted peanuts, halved
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp water
1. Begin by lining a baking tray with parchment, and greasing this very lightly with oil. Weigh your peanuts then set aside, so that they’re ready to go.
2. Next, weigh your sugar into a small saucepan, and place over a medium heat. Add the water, then shake intermittently, allowing the sugar to dissolve and darken into a caramel. Don’t stir it. Once the caramel has reached a deep golden hue (around 5-10 minutes), remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture onto the prepared tray. Scatter with the peanuts, then top with the remaining caramel.
3. Allow the caramel to harden and cool completely, then break up with you hands or crush with a rolling pin. Store in an airtight container for the perfect cake decoration, or tasty morsel straight from the cupboard.
Lucy Burton is the baker and writer behind Pudding Lane Blog. Writing out of a tiny city kitchen in Brixton, South London, Lucy loves to bake with ingredients at the height of their season and at their most delicious.
Since training at Leiths School of Food and Wine, Lucy has worked as a recipe developer, food stylist and food PR. Lucy is all about simplicity, and believes there are few things worse than investing time and money in a complicated recipe that calls for hundreds of ingredients and doesn’t cut the mustard. Here, Lucy shares her secrets for success and debunks the myths surrounding some of 2017’s biggest baking trends.