Today is the first Mother's Day I've spent without seeing you.
The last few weeks have been incredibly hard, in many ways.
And I guess that somewhere in the back of my mind, I always thought that we'd have more time.
But at the end of the day, it all boils down to one extremely simple fact.
I miss you.
I miss the way your eyes would light up whenever you saw me, especially if I had Sam with me. I miss the way you would gaze in wonder and admiration at how big Josh and Ben have got. I miss how you would tell me how very lucky I am.
I miss the way that you would blow me kisses with that cheeky grin, and how we would swap 'luvs ya's'. I miss the tender stroke of my cheek as we said hello and goodbye.
I miss the way you had of making me feel so special and loved when I least expected it.
I miss the way that you would surreptitiously pat my pocket to see if I had brought you sweeties. If you found a Malteser or two or three, it made your day.
I miss your bravery and your strength. Your intelligence and your humour.
I miss your support and your love.
I miss you.
But I will never forget you.
With love, always, my angel,
If you've read my last post, you'll understand the context in which this one is written. I wanted to say thank you for your words of kindness and support. Although we've never met, I feel I do know many of you from this blog, from visiting many of your own, and through Twitter. I really have appreciated every comment and kind thought.
For a while now, I had planned on making this cake for my mum for Mother's Day, but it wasn't to be. She really loved chocolate, and unfortunately, her absolute favourite sweets - Cadbury's Chocolate Eclairs which have a chocolate centre wrapped in a hard toffee exterior - she could no longer eat due to a swallowing problem. I've used these as the inspiration for the chocolate sponge with the salted caramel buttercream. I think she would've liked it.
Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake
Ingredients (makes one 6 inch / 15 cm cake)
200g self raising flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
4 tbspns cocoa powder
4 medium eggs
225g softened unsalted butter
225g soft light brown sugar
1 tbspn milk
125g caster sugar
80ml double cream
1/2 tspn salt
1 tspn vanilla extract
For the Buttercream
salted caramel sauce
160g softened unsalted butter
350g icing sugar
a little milk to slacken if necessary
Preheat the oven to 160 Fan / 180 Conventional / 350 F / Gas 4. Grease and baseline three 6 inch (15cm) cake pans.
First make the salted caramel. Put the sugar into a saucepan along with the sugar and place over a medium heat. Be very careful during this process, as boiling sugar is extremely hot. Swirl the pan to mix if necessary rather than stir, as stirring may make the sugar clump together in crystals again and ruin the caramel. Bring to a boil, and then allow to bubble until the caramel turns a lovely amber colour. Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream, stirring it into the caramel. The mixture will bubble up and spit, so again, be careful. When you have a smooth sauce, add in the salt and the vanilla. Continue to stir until smooth, then leave to cool.
To make the cake, in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. This will take a good few minutes as you are looking for the sugar to have completely mixed in so it's not grainy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add the milk and mix in. Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix until just combined. Divide equally between the three tins, smooth the top of the mix so it's as level as possible, and then bake in the centre of the oven. They should take 20-25 minutes (mine took 23), so check them towards the end of the cooking time. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
Place the tins on a wire rack to cool. Once they are just warm to the touch, run a palette knife around the edges of the cake to loosen, and then turn out onto the rack to finish cooling.
Once the caramel is cool, you can make the buttercream. Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer and using the paddle attachment give it a little whizz so that it smooths out. Add about half the icing sugar and blend in. You may need to scrape the bowl at this point to ensure the butter is fully mixed in. Add the caramel and mix in. See what the consistency is like, but you should be able to add some more icing sugar at this point. Beat for a few minutes so that it is really smooth.
Once the buttercream is ready, and the cakes are completely cool, you can decorate your cake. I wanted to try and achieve the effect that is on the cover of the Miette bakery book, but didn't quite pull it off (it's more difficult than it looks to get that smooth top without going down the sides of the cake and releasing crumbs everywhere!). So I ended up piping some stars and a rose.
I know it looks a bit retro, but my mum was, so actually, I think it's probably appropriate. :)
Happy Mother's Day.