Coffee, Vanilla Latte and Caramel Layer Cake – The Machiatto

This is my pay day cake – the cake that rewards me for making it to the end of the month and indulges me with my own piece of cake land heaven (sigh).

Coffee Vanilla Caramel Macchiato Cake

In honour of feeling knackered this month I wanted to create a ‘Macchiato’ which is a coffee drink found in Starbucks consisting of espresso, milk. froth and drizzled with caramel. So I set out to recreate this in cake form that will last longer then a coffee (well maybe?) but will still give a coffee buzz and a sugar rush. It had to be big and as I enjoyed making my Tiffany inspired chamapgne layer cake earlier in the year I knew I wanted to make another one.

Coffee Vanilla Caramel Macchiato Cake

Inside this layer cake there are four layers of espresso flavoured coffee cake one layer earnt for each week worked.  I think a pay day cake should be desirable and luxurious with no saving pennies or calorie counting allowed as it is a once a month treat.

Coffee Vanilla Caramel Macchiato CakeEach coffee liquor soaked layer has lashings of rich dulce du leche caramel and vanilla bean latte buttercream.  The entire cake is bathed with swirling layers of buttercream and edged delicatley with dulce du leche caramel.

Of course the best thing about going out to Starbucks is usually a toss up between the silky caramel drizzle or the little caramel wafers on top of your cup that go all gooey with the heat.

To make the experience as close as possible my ‘Macchiato’ layer cake has these butter toffee wafers too, after all this is pay day cake and I want to have it all for a moment before going back to basics next week.

Coffee Vanilla Caramel Macchiato Cake

I like this idea so much I think I will make myself a pay day cake each month.  Want a bite? Go on…

Macchiato Coffee Vanilla Caramel Cake

Ingredients for Coffee Cake

400g Butter (room temperature)
400g Caster sugar
400g Self raising flour / cake flour
8 Eggs (room temperature)
2 tsp Homemade vanilla extract (or use good quality)
4 tsp of Espresso instant powder (or to your own taste)
Water to make up 50ml of coffee
1 tin of dulce du leach / caramel (this will be used for the filling later – I use Nestle)

Preheat the oven to 150 / 315F / Gas 2-3 or 140 fan

  1. Grease and line two 8inch / 20cm deep cake tins (I use silverwood)
  2. Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until fluffy and pale in colour (about 5 mins)
  3. Add two eggs and mix until combined
  4. Add half the flour and mix until combined
  5. Repeat with the remaining eggs and flour
  6. Make up the espresso with 4tsp of coffee added with enough water to make 50 ml
  7. Add vanilla extract and mix for the least time until the flavours are mixed in
  8. Pour the batter evenly into two tins (you can weigh the mixture)
  9. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for approx 50 mins or until cake is springy to the touch and a cake tester / skewer comes out clean.
  10. Leave in the tin to cool

Layering the Cakes

  1. Once cool – cut the top edge off each cake to make it level
  2. Measure the height of your cakes to work out equal layers
  3. Slice each cake in half horizontally to make four layers  ( I use a serrated knife to do this – I go around the sides of the cake first before then taking the knife across the remaining middle section to get a clean layer – see the video on the tiffany inspired champagne layer cake for this)

Ingredients for Coffee Sugar Syrup
45ml coffee liquor (or use espresso mix again)
3 tbsp of homemade vanilla sugar (or you can use any type of brown sugar)

Heat the coffee liquor and sugar in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved
Brush the mixture evenly onto each cake layer

Vanilla Bean Latte Buttercream
400g softened butter
800g icing sugar
6 tbs milk
4tsp instant espresso powder
2 vanilla beans (seeds scraped out)
2 tsp homemade vanilla essence (or other good quality)

  1. Cream the butter and  milk until light and fluffy
  2. Add the icing sugar and continue beating until it is well combined and light and fluffy in texture
  3. Add the espresso powder to the 2 tsp of vanilla extract and pour into the buttercream mixture
  4. Add the beans / seeds from 2 vanilla pods and add to the buttercream mixture
  5. Mix for the final time until all flavouring is well combined
  6. Use straight away or if putting it in the fridge remember to allow at least an hour for it to come fully back to room temperature so it is soft enough to pipe

To Assemble the Cake

Add a dollop of buttercream to the centre of your cake stand and then add your first layer of cake and press down – this will keep your cake in place.

Layer your cake in this order

1st layer – caramel
2nd layer – buttercream
3rd layer – caramel

  1. Use a palette knife to spread out the fillings and make sure you don’t go right to the edge or the caramel is likely to ooze down the sides of your cake.
  2. Add a very thin coating layer of buttercream using a palette knife all over your cake (don’t worry what it looks like) and place in the fridge for 30 mins so the buttercream can firm up.  This will stop crumbs getting into your icing.
  3. After 30 mins use a large palette knife to ice your cake all the way round (again the video on the tiffany layer cake is very good at showing you this).  Iit is much easier if you have a cake turntable – I do not have one but I do have a lazy susan (revolving circle wooden board) so I used that and it worked perfectly!
  4. To get the same effect with the buttercream as I did you need a small palette knife placed flat on the side of the cake at the bottom.  Hold the palette knife and move the cake round on the turntable until you reach the top.  It is like running your finger round and round your cake.
  5. I then used a palette knife loaded with dulce du leche and went round the same pattern gently to add a touch of caramel to the layers.
  6. Make a criss cross on the top of the cake with caramel (just like they do in Starbuck) and pipe buttercream on the top in what ever formation you like – top with a butter toffee wafer and get ready to eat.

This cake will last well in an airtight container for a few days.  I also entered into the fantastic Alphabake Challenge for March and this month’s letter is M.  The challenge in kindly hosted by The More than Occasional Baker and this months host Caroline Makes.

Enjoy! x

Sprinkle Spiral Cookies

Ever since I saw beautiful spiral swirl cookies on Sprinklebakes who has such beautiful photography that it just inspires me to keep on trying.  They would make perfect party or wedding favours as they can be made ahead and frozen and you can adapt the flavours and colours to suit any event.  After hours of staring at cookie images I dreamt about them which meant I had a soggy with drool pillow and images of swirling colours had caused me to roll the duvet around me leaving the other half with none and shivering (oops).  I must have thought about them far too much as the next night I ended up having dream arguments with myself over which colour and flavours to create and I would shout out ‘strawberry’ or ‘blue no pink’ and then silence would fall only to be filled by that baking addict long sigh of contentment.    

Be warned that these cookies will bring out the sprinkle fetish in you and when the box of sprinkles finally arrived I literally pounced on my poor neighbour with delight as she delivered them to me.  I should have waited to open the box when she was gone but the ‘I need sprinkles NOW!’ urge took hold and I started to open the box in a relatively cool (ish) manner.  This was until the selotape decided to stick better than a wax strip during a brazilian and then all decorum went out the window.  I bit the selotape with my teeth like a hungry caveman, clawed at the box with my talon nails whilst trying to explain to my dear friend (in between breaths) that it was sprinkles inside.  She knows me well, so she took a ring side seat and watched me with a smirk as I wrestled with the cardboard caged sprinkle tigers.  If you can recognise any of this odd behaviour you need to consult my baking addiction guide here – yes right now!

Ahh sprinkles how I love you I could literally look at you for hours. 

I choose to model the sprinkle spiral cookies on ‘Stupid Cupig’ who is a little Bath pig which I designed and painted for our top table at our Valentine wedding inspired by a play of words from the song ‘Stupid Cupid.  I love the Bath Pigs about as much as I love my home City of Bath.  The pigs were the focus of a treasure hunt involving life-sized pigs painted by artists, schools and businesses (this was of course before I discovered sprinkles).  I spent many an hour hunting piggies with my son trudging behind his maniac Mum just so I could photograph each one in order to name the tables at the wedding after them.  How else can you get away with sitting random odd people at a table called Inky Pinky Porky without causing offence!

The cookies are cotton candy and vanilla flavour as I wanted something fun and different.  They have a melt in the mouth sugar cookie consistency and taste as amazing as they look.  I am taking a frozen bath covered in sprinkle butterflies with me on holiday to bake.  I will be back to make more of these and I will try to take some of photo’s of the making process as I have my heart set on some pretty packaging and different flavour combinations.  Also I realise as I look at the swirl cookies that they remind me of bacon particularly when accompanied by a pig looking over them – perhaps that’s why she turned her back to them!

Ingredients (Adapted from Peggy Porshen Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe from the book Pretty Party Cakes which you can buy here and is packed full of cake and cookie imagery guaranteed to make you go oooh)

Makes 3 cookie rolls 1 for now – 2 for later or reduce the recipe.  This recipe gives a firm cookie dough that once chilled could be used as a weapon against intruders as well as being firm enough once chilled to get perfect swirls.

Vanilla Dough

200g unsalted soft butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
1 vanilla pod (scrape out the seeds or you could use 1 tsp of vanilla essence – try my homemade version which is very tasty and easy to make)
400g plain flour

Cotton Candy Dough

Same ingredients as above plus the following
Add 8-10 drops of quality flavouring to the butter and sugar mixture (I used Lorann Cotton Candy – which you can get here)
4-5 drops of colouring to the butter and sugar mixture (I use Sugarflair as this will not effect the consistency of the dough – which you can buy here) always colour the dough a little bit more than the colour depth you wish it to be as some colour will be lost during baking.

Sprinkles – I found smaller ones worked better (non paraleills) – but the choices are endless! 

Instructions for dough (make each separately)

  1. Line a cookie sheet / tray with baking parchment / greaseproof paper
  2. In a mixer cream the butter and sugar together, add the vanilla
  3. Beat in the egg until combined and add the flour and mix on a low-speed until a dough forms.
  4. The recipe says to mould the dough into a ball and cover in clingfilm and transfer to the fridge for at least one hour.  Repeat above to make the second batch of dough but add flavouring oils and colouring.

Making the swirl (see a photo guide here by the amazing Sprinklebakes who I find such both a baking and photographic inspiration)

  1. Line a cookie sheet or flat baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Roll out both sets of dough so that each is a large rectangle and 5mm thick (about the size of a pound coin).  Place the vanilla dough on on a lined baking tray then place your coloured layer of dough on top – neaten the edges of the dough so both are an equal size by cutting out a rectangle with a knife.  

Note: If your dough just crumbles and will not roll out I found if I warmed it a little so the dough is pliable and then rolled it out it worked better.  Make sure you return it to the fridge for at least an hour or overnight (see below). 

  1. Now it is time to roll – start the process of by rolling the first layer over the tightly and then roll it up like swiss roll – use the paper to help you get a tight even roll. 
  2. If the dough splits – pinch it back together and keep going – it will all be fine in the end.
  3. Pour your chosen sprinkles to a baking tray (with sides – this is more for me than you!) and roll the cookie in it so that it is covered in sprinkles.  Cover your cookie roll in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least one hour – better still leave it over night until firm. 
  4. At this stage you can also transfer the cookie roll to the freezer for up to one month (I keep them longer and they have been fine) and defrost in the fridge overnight before baking.


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 / Gas 4 / 170 Fan
  2. When ready to bake cut the cookie roll into slices once fully chilled. I prefer mine to be about 1cm (ish) as this gives a melt in the mouth cookie rather than too cripsy.   Warning – cutting the roll before it is firm will result in an imperfect swirls – look on the internet there are plenty of pictures of them
  3. Bake in the oven for 8 – 12 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your cookie they should not be brown but will just beginning to have a slight golden colour to the outside. I always do a small test batch to see how long to bake them for.

Happy Valentines!

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Clementine and Cardamom Shortbread

I baked some delicate clementine shortbread with a hint of warming cardamom and drizzled with chocolate to warm up the Football Mothers who diligently and proudly stand in all weathers every weekend to watch their sons.  It’s cold already as I sit here and I can’t feel my feet, my fingers are slow at typing, nose is occasionally dripping on the keyboard.  This is before I go to the windy, sub-zero micro climate of the football field where shivering is obligatory and all sense of fashion is replaced by anything thermal and woollen. 

cardamom and clementine?  Don’t worry the cardamom is there to boost the clementine flavour and gives a warming dimension which is delicate and not overpowering.  These  just melt in your mouth leaving a warm burst of citrus as an after taste.

The football testers enjoyed the shortbread out on the cold windy pitch and scarves were ceremoniously pulled down from mouths for a few minutes.  Apparently cardamom is very good for men said Mum1 with a raised eyebrow. 

The original recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson here

100g icing sugar
200g plain flour
100g cornflour
200g very soft unsalted butter
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
Zest of two clementines
6 cardamom pods
Dark chocolate for drizzling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Add the icing sugar, plain flour and cornflour into the bowl of a food processor and give it a quick run to ensure there are no large lumps
3. Add the butter and vanilla seeds to the mixture (keep the pod to your make own vanilla sugar or vanilla essence)
4. Mix again until the mixture begins to form into a clump or ball ( a few minutes do not  overmix). Tip the mixture into the a greased tin and level with a spoon or palette knife. 
5. Cut the shortbread into slices to make fingers and prick each finger three times with a fork. 
6. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  The shortbread should be pale and perhaps a  little golden around the edges. 
7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before the fingers as they will have tried to merge back together.  Leave shortbread in the tin to cool before removing as they are very crumbly and need to firm in my experience.
8. Drizzle with melted chocolate and scatter grated zest on top for decoration.

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Licking my baking wounds

‘I feeeeeeel good’ with homemade vanilla essence.

So it’s back to work (groan) after a baking mad break and with its many disasters, trials and tribulation.  I can safely say it is better to be at work and no I will not be givng up the day job anytime soon. The holidays have been accompanied by sessions of continual baking failures resulting in a melt down in this order:

1. full body shaking – the type that causes me to look like I am having a fit
2. hypervenitlating punctuated by stifled sobs and snorts whilst trying to explain what was wrong
3. Followed by this conversation:

‘it’ big snort, sobbing noises

‘went’ snivel, wailing and sniffing

‘wrrronnngggggggg’ followed by banshee wailing

4. Ending with a red blotchy face that looked like I fell into a field of nettles

This major sobbing session was over a trio of baking that cracked, exploded and sunk over four days (rule of 3). When my self pity reached its full height instead of coming to my aid and comfort; my son put on his life jacket whilst smirking and continued to play the Wii.  My husband stood holding the front door saying ‘Just letting the tidal wave of tears out the door dear otherwise I was going to get my windsurf board out’.  I have to say that was a rather surreal moment and if I had not been so self abosrbed I may have cracked a smile, well maybe.  Naturally I didn’t smile to keep true to the tormented, distressed, hormonal women’s law.

Self Soothing
To succesfully self-manage this hormonal ourburst I promptly returned to bed, sulked for an hour and punishing myself by looking at baking pictures on pintrest.This is what I do, I mean when I was dieting I always used to sit down with a chocolate bar to comfort myself whilst reading a diet magazine.  After half an hour of being in bed I grumbled under my breath at all you wonderful bakers out there as I was now staring at the images on foodgawker and screaming out ‘ it should be me!’ after my third photo submission to them that day had also failed.  If there was an oscar to be won for full on self pity I would win it hands down unless I was up against a baking footballer or my son ( I wonder where he got that from?)

Like Sugar and Spice
I wouldn’t mind baking disasters so much but the price for quality vanilla essence is astronomical and all these bin endings are costing me a fortune. I hate both waste and failure equally and If I dwell on this any longer I will only end up diving back under the ‘it’s going to be alright’ duvet that I just got out of.

I make my own vanilla sugar but once I topped snivelling and washed my face I decided to lick my baking wounds and in a true knee jerk ‘my baking failed and someone is going to get it’ fashion (other than my family – remember the new years pledge).  I decided the best thing to do is to stick two fingers truly up to the vanilla essence manufacturers and make my own and I tell you what it feels good (cue James Brown click and listen as you read – just for you @bakingbeats ). This is a gift to myself so I won’t feel so crappy when my bakes fail and at least this way the failure will be cheaper , taste good and be accompanied by deep satisfaction of not buying the required brown bottle when I next go to the Supermarket. Now I feel good (yeh), I knew that I would. I feel nice, like sugar and spice, so good , so nice, as I got you.  DIY vanilla essence, yehhhh!

Homemade Vanilla Essence (When I hold you in my baking cupboard, I know I can do no baking wrong)

Homemade Vanilla Essence
A great gift to you or a baking friend – why not make a few at the same time.

Ingredients (here comes the normal bit)

Vanilla pods – it is much cheaper to buy your vanilla pods from a a reputable company online. I used this one and I could get into the whole lengthy discussion as to which pods are best but I am not going to as lfe is too short do your own reading but here is a link to explain the different types I personally went with Madagascan ( because I like the movie). Not only do the pods you buy like this have far more flavour but are also far cheaper than ones you will find in most supermarkets where you normally pay over the odds for a manky half-dried dead looking that looks like something the cat sicked up. The ones I ordered are plump, fragrant and succulent pods that when stored in my baking cupboard slap me across the face with a vanilla fragrance – oh yes they totally do it for me.

Bottles – you can buy preserving bottles from stores but you can also recycle an old bottle such as a sauce or juice bottle; mine are olive oil and pizza express dressing bottles -upcycing is the new recycling I have you know. The bottles will need to be sterilised before use – see here for how to do this. I did mine in the dishwasher and got them out when it was on the drying cycle.

Vodka – don’t worry about the make it simply does not change the taste at the end I used Sainsburys basics. As long as it it over 30% proof (volume of alcohol in the bottle not the bloodstream) you will be fine. You can also make this with rum – see what you have left in your cupboard.


Tip: Make sure you know the size of your bottle before you start – if not fill it with water and then pour the water into a measuring jug to find out. I am sure you knew but I didn’t so I wanted to remind myself.

1. Fill each sterilised bottle with vodka (not quite to the top)
2. For every 180 ml of Vodka you will need 2 Vanilla Pods
3. Slice the pods in half with a sharp knife
4. Place pods in the bottle
5. Put lid on – put in a dark cupboard for 6-8 weeks. Turn the bottle upside down 3 times (rather than a vigorous shake) once a week.
6. Use – that is how simple it is

Vanilla Beans

Vanilla Beans

You will see sediments in the essence – this is just vanilla bean particles. These are the bits you normally scrape out to use so do not be afraid of them they taste amazing so resist the bakers temptation to remove any dodgy brown bits as these ones are good.

Freshly made Vanilla Essence the colour will change over the weeks

To refil

When your bottle gets to 1/3 remaining top up with vodka. Continue to turn the bottle once per week. You will not have to wait the 6-8 weeks to use it, just a day or so as you are refreshing it so the trick is to never let your vanilla essence supply run dry else you have to pay the pimps prices in the supermarket. After the 6-8 weeks display your bottle in the kitchen as this will help remind you to put in used beans as they still have a lot of flavour to give and when to refil.

Add more beans to refresh every 6 months or so (or more if you use lots of it) when the colour starts to fade. You can also put your used vanilla pods in here (as well as to make vanilla suage – another highly expensive item you can easily make) so they can carry on giving back to your baking. No waste, no nasty chemicals, cheap and environmentally friendly, fantastic and the taste is packed full of vanilla punch.

Make your first batch of cakes with it as per the recipe instructions to test it ( as flavour strength will naturally vary according to different beans adn howlong they have been soaked) and adapt the amount if needed in future if you find the vanilla flavour too weak or strong.

Happy making and stick up whatever gesture you like at the manufacturers and lick your own baking wounds x

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Image of vanilla sugar


The humble vanilla bean / pod

The vanilla bean in magnificent it its dark dreary half shrivelled disguise of a pod nestling its tiny seeds away from prying eyes. The pod looks like something you would throw out in disgust after finding it hidden beneath your fridge not an aromatic flavouring to add depth and flavour to your golden cakes. When the vanilla bean has served it’s purpose it can live on and make a delicious vanilla sugar that you normally find in quality baking shops or gourmet restaurants. Of course they charge a fortune for it in the shops and yet you can make this in a blink of any eye. It also gives you advantage when people ask you how you make your cakes so tasty you can say

“I always use a gourmet vanilla sugar”

This will produce a look of awe from your friends and perhaps a scattering of understanding nodding even though they may not know what it is; it sounds impressive. If you are lucky most will not dare to ask what vanilla sugar is for not wanting to look dumb. For those that do – there is no harm in sharing your secret if you wish.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar = You are a Baking Queen 🙂

All you need to do is:

1 x air tight storage jar (Kilner are good)

1 x vanilla pod / bean emptied of seeds (after being added to your cakes)

Cut the vanilla bean / pod into several pieces – not too small that you forget to fish them out when you bake with the sugar – it’s not good to chomp on one of these pods as they do not taste nice raw. Add your used pods to a storage jar / airtight container. Pour caster sugar over the top – I use golden caster sugar for my vanilla cakes as it make them taste smoother and more like a vanilla ice cream and gives your cake the slight twist in flavour to a normal victoria sponge for example. Place the vanilla sugar wannabee mixture in a dark cupboard ( the baking one is a good idea so you don’t forget where you put it!)

After a few days or as long as you want, the flavour will intensify the longer you leave it. Use it in reciepes that call for vanilla extract and sugar such as cakes, creme brulee etc. Why not have a teaspoon in your coffee – because your worth it and you can!

Enjoy x
Look at the choc & toffee cookie  recipe or toffee fudge meringue to see where I have used this wonderful sugar.
Next on my list will be making some vanilla extract as I want high quality and low price = win win!