Vegan Vanilla Cake (for Cursed Apple Cake)

Cursed Apple Cake

This cake is the perfect cursed centrepiece for your Halloween celebrations! All the decorative elements on their own are not difficult, but when you put them together, it looks really striking. Guests love it when they realize that the red drips are actually a very tasty salted caramel. Set the remaining caramel aside in a bowl for sure, as extra is always appreciated!

Serves 25-30

Ingredients

For the candied apple: (This makes more caramel than you need, but it’s hard to dip the apple if you make less. Feel free to make extra candied apples for snacking alongside the cake.)

  • 1 twig, cleaned
  • 1 red apple
  • 70ml (2.3 fl oz) water
  • 350g (12.3 oz) caster or granulated sugar
  • 50g (1.7 oz) liquid glucose or light corn syrup (you can replace this with sugar, although this increases the likelihood of the sugar crystallising, especially if you’re repeatedly dipping several apples into it)
  • Vegan red gel food dye

For the red salted caramel drip:

  • 90ml (3 fl oz) water
  • 240g (8.4 oz) caster or granulated sugar
  • 225ml (7.6 oz) coconut milk
  • Fine table salt, to taste
  • Vegan red gel food dye

For the fondant frogs:

  • 100g (3.5 oz) green fondant
  • 4 edible eyes
  • Vegan Vanilla Cake (see recipe)

Optional flavourings:

  • Vanilla extract, rose water, orange or lemon zest, raspberry powder, coffee, almond extract

Method

  1. First, make the candied apple. Poke the twig into the top of the apple so that it is secure. Add the water, sugar and liquid glucose to a small pan and heat over a high heat until it reaches hard crack, which is 150°C (302°F) on a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have one, you can test if it’s done by dropping a small amount of candy into cold water; it’s ready if it hardens straightaway. If it’s still soft, boil for longer. Tip: Avoid stirring the candy at all — your sugar won’t burn as long as you don’t make the temperature too high. You can swirl the pan a tiny bit, but you should barely need to do this. If you stir, the sugar is likely to crystallise and the mixture will get thick and grainy
  2. When ready, add red gel food dye until it’s a deep red colour and swirl very gently to combine — it will spread very easily, so don’t stir! Dip the apple in, tipping the pan a little to help cover the whole surface. Allow any excess to drip off, then place on a piece of baking paper and leave for 15 minutes, or until completely set.
  3. Next, make the red salted caramel drip. Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then turn up the heat and wait (don’t stir) until the sugar turns an amber colour. You can swirl the pan around to even out the colour.
  4. When the sugar syrup has turned a deep amber colour, remove the pan from the heat, add the cream in one go and stir constantly with a balloon whisk. The caramel will bubble up so be careful at this stage! Return the pan to a low heat and continue stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Mix in enough red food dye to get a vibrant red. Pour the sauce into a medium bowl and sprinkle with a little salt to taste. Don’t add too much; it’s better to add too little than too much. Leave the caramel to cool in the fridge for about 2 hours, or until thick.
  5. To make the fondant frogs, make a round blob of green fondant for the body, then squish it down slightly. Add another round blob on top for the head, then use a knife to cut halfway through this to create the open mouth. Attach small thin circles on top for the eyes, then press edible eyes on. Shape a long-tapered piece of fondant for the legs, then fold it so that the tapered ends meet. Place this on one side of the frog, then repeat for the other side. Add small round thin circles for the feet, pressing to make them stick to the underside of the frog, then use a knife to cut slits to represent webbed feet.
  6. Make sure the cakes are cool before assembling. Stack and crumb-coat the cakes. Spread another layer of buttercream all over the chilled crumb coat using a palette knife and smooth again. Chill in the fridge until firm.
  7. When the cake is firm, place the chilled red caramel into a piping [pastry] bag and cut a small tip. Pipe controlled drips down the side of the cake, varying the lengths. Use a palette knife to smooth red caramel over the top of the cake, then add the candied apple. Position a frog at the end of a drip, as if the drip is going into its mouth. Add extra caramel to its mouth and dripping around. Position a second frog peeking out from behind the apple.

Recipe from Celebrate with Kim-Joy by Kim-Joy  (Quadrille, £20) Photography ©Ellis Perrinder.