Sitting down with a hot cup of coffee, a piece of cake and a glossy magazine is one of my favourite weekend treats, and discovering a new title that is fresh and innovative is just the bees knees.
In all honesty I stopped buying tattoo magazines a few years ago, partly because they all seemed to start out so well and then become a bit samey but also because I had started discovering new artists via Tumblr and Instagram far more often than in print.
Things & Ink bills itself as "a new style of tattoo magazine that embraces female tattoo culture, for artists, collectors and those yet to go under the needle. Each issue is filled with beautiful images, real-life stories, tattoos, opinion pieces, fashion, inspiration, art, artists, history, beauty and much more" and it doesn't disappoint.
I love that the magazine reads a lot like a good blog, perhaps because a lot of the contributors are bloggers themselves. The layouts are really pretty and the actual quality of the magazine is great. I think the main thing that drew me in was that so many respected artists have been getting involved with the publication. So far they have chosen two great lady tattooers to grace the cover - below is a little behind the scenes video from the second cover shoot with the beautiful Cassandra Frances.
Full of great interviews, thought provoking articles about what it means to be a tattooed woman, great little product round ups, tattoo history and lovely artwork produced specially for the magazine by some of the UK's best artists it really is a great read and a must for any tattoo collector that appreciates the culture and lifestyle that comes with it. You can order issue 2 here or if you want to start your collection properly you can get a discounted bundle of issues 1 & 2 here.
And now onto the cake! Every year I get Pete to pick out a birthday cake from my collection of recipe books, then I mess around with it and give it the Nancy factor. This year he chose the espresso brazil nut cake from Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard - you can find the original recipe here.
As Dan says one of the problems with a coffee and walnut cake is that quite often you get a few bitter walnuts in your batch and that taints the whole cake. Brazil nuts are buttery and delicious and so I figured why not amp up the richness with some sweet and silky salted caramel. Holy wow did it work. Cream cheese in the icing was the obvious way to counteract the sweetness and using golden caster sugar in the cake layers worked perfectly with the ground brazils to give a super moist and tender crumb.
Basically, you must try this cake!
Caramelised Coffee and Brazil Nut Cake
125g golden caster sugar
100g caster sugar
4 eggs (preferably large)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
100g brazil nuts, ground or finely chopped
20g fine ground instant coffee (or normal instant ground to a powder)
40ml double cream (or milk)
Salted Caramel Sauce Ingredients
75g good quality unsalted butter
50g golden caster sugar
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
125ml double cream
1 tsp sea salt
200g full fat cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
100-200g icing sugar
salted caramel sauce
Preheat the oven to 170C and butter and line two 8" cake tins.
Cream the sugars and butter together until they are really pale and fluffy -about 3-5 minutes. Now add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition and the stir in the vanilla. Sift together the self raising flour, ground nuts and coffee and add to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Add the cream (or milk) and stir until smooth and add a nice droppin consistency.
Divide between the two tins and smooth over, then tap the tins a few times on the work surface to knock out any air bubbles. Bake for 20-25 minutes, remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before removing from their tins to cool completely. While the cakes are cooling make the salted caramel sauce.
Caramel Sauce Method
Melt the butter, sugars and golden syrup together over a medium heat and simmer for 3 minutes swirling occasionally - don't stir or the sugars will crysallise and the caramel world will end. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and 1/2 tsp salt - taste a little (careful it's hot!) to check if the salt levels are ok, I usually add the full tsp or sometimes more but its completely up to you. When its just right set it to one side to cool.
Whip the cream cheese, vanilla paste and 100g of icing sugar together until smooth and creamy, then add the salted caramel sauce a few tablespoons at a time until you have the flavour you want. If it gets too runny add a little more icing sugar.
Take your first cake layer and trim off the top so its flat. Pour over a few tablespoons of the caramel suace and smooth it over so it soaks into the sponge. Spread on a nice thick layer of the cream cheese icing and top with the second cake layer - I don't bother trimming this one down as I like the dome but you can if you want. Smooth over another thick layer of icing and drizzle with some more caramel sauce - it looks great if you let it drizzle down the sides onto your cake plate!
Enjoy with a big mug of coffee, or with a cocktail like I did last night. Perfection!