Apple caramel cake with Ermine cream and working the wood with Joao Nunes

Besides the recipe of this apple and caramel cake (which by the way speaks for itself, it tastes SO good!), at the end of the recipe, I also speak about the  workshop I had the luck to have in Portugal with Joao Nunes, an artist who, in addition to many other skills, works the wood and has certainly made me a super special gift, a wooden tray, which I immediately started to use as an instrument when taking pictures of my pastries.

Let’s start with the recipe:

Ingredients for the base/cake:

2 apples

5 eggs

1 slash of vanilla essence

7 tablespoons of sugar

7 tablespoons of flour

2 teaspoons of chemical yeast

Ingredients for the cream:

This cream (also known as Ermine cream) is not just the regular buttercream,  it is a lot lighter since it has less than half of sugar; Has a smooth and silky finish and at the end, you can add cocoa powder, cinnamon, whatever you like. I use it a lot and the results are perfect, so I have it in high esteem and now I decided to share it with you :):

35 gr of flour

130 gr of sugar

1 pinch of salt

240 ml milk

226 g butter at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for caramel:

220 gr of sugar

65 ml of water

200 ml of cream

2 spoonfull of butter

1 slash of vanilla extract

1 pinch of salt

Start separating the egg whites from the egg yolks, beat the egg whites until they start to foam and slowly add the sugar and the pinch of salt. Continue beating until peaks form. In another bowl, beat the yolks, along with the vanilla drizzle, then add the peeled and cut apples into small pieces. With a blender beat the yolk mixture, until the apple is really fine that you can´t notice. Then add this mixture in the whites and with the help of a spatula mix with wrapping movements; Then add the sifted flour together with the chemical yeast and continue stiring slowly until all is well mixed.

I have evenly distributed the mixture in three 18-cm molds lined with baking paper. Bake at 170ºC for 20 to 25 minutes or until the stick comes out dry. Let cool and reserve.

To prepare the cream put in a saucepan the flour, salt, sugar and mix well, add the milk and mix again. Bring the saucepan to the medium-low heat and continue stirring until the mixture starts boiling, then leave to cook for 1 or 2 minutes; Remove from the heat and continue stirring for one minute to remove the heat (it looks like a very soft cream without lumps).

Using a spatula, pour the cream into a clean plate and cover with paper wrap, so that it does not make a crust while it cools, until it reaches room temperature.

Once the cream is cold, beat the butter for about 5 minutes or until it becomes a pale, then start adding the cream to the butter slowly to make it blend well, continue beating a few more minutes until creamy and more pale,  add the vanilla at the end and mix well. I also added some groud cinnamon.

Now prepare the caramel: put the water with the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, do not stir, just let it until starts boiling, and always keep an eye on it, that it does not burn, it must become amber brown; When it reaches this point, remove it from the fire and carefully add the cream, stir vigorously. Finally add the butter, vanilla and pinch of salt and continue stirring well. Let it cool for a few minutes and then transfer it to a glass container, it will become a little more dense; Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Assembeling the cake: place a bit of the cream in the center of the tray where you are going to place the cake and place one of the three sponges; With a pastry sleeve you can distribute from the center to the outside the cream and in the center put one or two tablespoons of caramel, repeat with the rest of sponges. Now cover the top of the cake with enough cream to slide it sideways with a spatula, until you can cover the cake completely. Here it does not matter that there is some crumble since you must take it to the refrigerator for about 15 or 20 minutes for the cream to settle. When you take it out of the fridge put another layer of cream and  this timetry to be smooth, you can make a drawing as it shows in the photo with the help of a fork or knife. Decorate to your taste with the rest of the caramel on top.

Working with Joao

Being on vacation in Portugal I was very lucky to meet Joao, a university professor and artist who works with clay and wood with a lot of affection. As soon as I saw the pile of wood he had, I asked him if it would be possible for me to take one of the pieces that was cut in a circular shape, since I would like to use it as a tray for my baking and photography. He did not hesitate for a second and then he told me to make some time and he would teach me to work the wood so I could bring it home. So we started to work, we were doing carpentry and artist work to give the desired shape and touch to my ‘desired’ wood, how much I enjoyed!. Thanks Joao, for the experience, the talks and for giving me this unique piece of wood that Im very proud of, a very special tray:)

 

 

Following Joao instructions
Joao working

 

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