What is Poke cake? I hadn't heard of it until this week, and then I just had to make/eat it. Poke cake is an American cake - essentially just a normal cake - from chocolate, vanilla to carrot or coffee, with holes poked in the top of the cooked surface with the base of a wooden spoon. Then good things - in the form of syrup, chocolate sauce (even jelly) are poured into the hols, allowing the liquid to make the cake incredibly moist and, frankly, fairly dangerous. Once cooled, it’s iced - and served. This is my version - a delicious rich chocolate cake dark with cocoa, with salted caramel sauce 'poked' in, topped with a vanilla buttercream.
Serves around 16 slices - although this doesn’t necessarily mean it serves 16 people of course
For the cake
200g plain flour
240g caster sugar
80g unsalted butter - room temperature soft
40g cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
large pinch of salt
240ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Salted caramel sauce
75 g unsalted butter
75 g caster sugar
75 g golden syrup
125 ml double cream
1 tsp Maldon salt
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter, room temperature soft
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
First make your cake. Preheat your over to 170 degrees (fan). Then, starting by mixing the dry ingredients and butter in a tabletop mixer - a KitchenAid or something similar. Mix on a medium speed until it changes to a sand-like texture. Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl, and then add this bit by bit to your dry mix, beating as you go. Once all the wet ingredients are in, turn up the mixer for a minute or so until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 20cm x 20cm tin lined with baking parchment.
Bake in your preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer/knife comes out clean.
While your cake is baking, make your salted caramel sauce. Add the butter, sugar and golden syrup to a saucepan, and over a medium-high heat melt them together for 5-10 minutes until it reaches a thick consistency and the right level of caramel colour (judge this by eye). At this point add the cream (be careful as it will splatter and rise up as you add the cold liquid), stirring continuously until nicely combined and syrupy. Take it off the heat and stir in the salt. Leave to cool.
When the cake is baked, remove from the oven but leave in the tray. Now is the time to poke your holes! Every inch or so make a hole with the end of a wooden spoon, all across the surface of the cake.
Pour over the salted caramel sauce, dripping it into the holes and covering the surface. Now leave the cake to cool.
Once cool - spread with the icing and then decorate with whatever you fancy - chocolate chips, any remaining caramel sauce, chopped up caramel, nuts….
Note: if you don’t fancy vanilla icing, then chocolate or coffee buttercream would all work well here.