Carnation brand condensed milk is a British institution. And like Tate and Lyle’s amber elixir Golden Syrup, we do it ever so well. Show me a British home baker who doesn’t have a can of it in their pantry and I’ll scoff at their total lack of Britishness! The tin is a beauty to behold in itself, although I do miss the tins which had the label printed directly onto them, as opposed to the paper label version we have today.
It’s a handy store cupboard ingredient and when boiled down for hours in a slow cooker or on the hob, all that sweet milky goodness turns to the most gooey, unctuous, satin smooth dulce de leche, which makes the easiest and most indulgent caramel you ever will have. And if the mere mention of dulce de leche doesn’t immediately conjure up images of Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons on their first date in Havana, you’ve had a poorer childhood than I (or perhaps one less obsessed with musical theatre – potayto, potahto).
As the worldly wise gangster Brando teaches the god-fearing, naive Simmons, dulce de leche means quite literally sweet of milk. For those of you who live in fear of making traditional caramel by cooking sugar with all the attendant worry of third degree burns from accidental splashes of molten sugar or burning the ass out of your favourite saucepan, this is the caramel for you.
Of course, the manufacturers of condensed milk have made it even easier and faster for us as you can buy it ready caramelised in it’s can. I am busy (
lazy) enough to buy it ready caramelised today. I’ve added Greek yogurt to tenderise this all-in-one method Choc Chip Caramel Loaf Cake and temper the sweetness of the caramel although do rest assure, this somehow is not an overly sweet cake at all.
This loaf makes puts all that glorious goo to work with some dark chocolate chips, to make a manila toned, understated but somehow still luxurious little loaf cake. Being a milk-based product, the creaminess comes through well in the final bake and the crumb is moist and dense, not to mention perfect with a cup of tea. Loaf cakes are often overlooked at cake counters across the country, with their dowdy, plain Jane looks being overshadowed by more elaborate and frosting overloaded layer cakes or pretty and flamboyantly coloured cupcakes.
Hungry Hubby loves a slice of lemon or vanilla scented loaf cake with a cuppa and dare I be presumptuous enough to suggest this cake may be the perfect treat for Dads about to celebrate Father’s Day here in the UK at least? Whilst I wouldn’t call it a masculine cake (if such a thing exists), you can’t deny the packaging of cupcakes and the like are very much geared towards the females of this species. Of course, if you fancied slathering a freshly baked slice with some of the leftover dulce de leche as you serve (perhaps with some raspberries to lend fruity tartness to the rich, creaminess of this bake) then I applaud and encourage thee to do so!
- 225 g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 250 g dulce de leche
- 150 g dark chocolate chips
- 175 g very soft butter
- 2 large eggs
- 140 g Greek yogurt
- Seeds from a vanilla bean or 1 tsp of extract
Preheat the oven to 170˚C and set an oven shelf so that the top of your cake tin comes no higher than half way up in the oven. Line a 2 lb loaf pan with greaseproof paper.
Place all but the choc chips in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until the ingredients come together as a smooth, manila coloured batter - do not over beat and do ensure your butter is very soft before you start. Fold in the choc chips.
Spoon into your prepared loaf pan and level off the top, with a slight dip in the middle.
Bake for 1 hour but check as 55 minutes and be prepared to go to an extra 10 minutes if needed (domestic ovens vary a lot). The cake will be very well risen, have a deep furrow running down the centre and a skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Serving with the extra dulce de leche is highly recommended!
Either buy a can of ready caramelised condensed milk or cook it in your slow cooker completely covered in water on low for 8-10 hours. You can cook it in a pan of water on the hub for 2-3 hours instead if that is easier. Always ensure the can is completely immersed in water and never let the pan boil dry.
Ensure you butter is very soft before you start - if necessary, beat this for a few minutes until very light and fluffy before adding in all the other ingredients at once.
With regard to the yogurt - don't use low/no fat sorts as these are too runny and tart. If using a very thick brand (like Total) then beat in a little milk to make more like thick, spoonable cream rather than set yogurt in texture.