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Duchess Bake Shop

It is all solved by Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake

IMG_3637.jpgWhen you combine vast quantities of Swiss chocolate with Dutch cocoa powder, French fleur de sel, fresh Canadian whipping cream and buttermilk there is no possibility on earth that this little gateau is not going to solve your problems.

The combination of rich chocolate cake, velvety frosting and a hidden layer of salted caramel is a perfect antidote to winter’s grey skies.

A single layer of luscious chocolate cake is carefully cut in half, spread with homemade salted caramel, topped with a chocolate ganache frosting and finished with a gorgeous glacage. An added bonus, the cake can be baked, frosted and frozen ahead of time with only the glacage step required before serving.

This recipe was adapted from the amazing Duchess Bake Shop Cookbook by Giselle Courteau. The shop is located in Edmonton if you get a chance to stop in, and this cake is their number one seller.

Step one

Salted CaramelIMG_3537.jpg


  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter cubed
  • 1/4 cup finely ground almonds
  • 3/4 tsp fleur de sel


Heat the cream in a small saucepan on the stove until scalding. Set aside and keep hot as you melt the sugar.

Place about a quarter of the sugar in a wide-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Gently melt the sugar, swirling the saucepan around occasionally. Do not stir. Once the sugar is almost melted, add another quarter and repeat twice more until all the sugar is completely melted and has turned amber coloured.

Remove from heat and slowly pour in the hot whipping cream mixing with a spoon or spatula until the smooth. Using a fine mesh strainer, immediately strain the caramel into a bowl.

Mix in the butter, ground almonds and fleur de sel into the hot caramel until the butter is melted. For extra smooth caramel, use an immersion blender. Transfer the caramel into jars, let cool and refrigerate until set. It will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks and is an amazing ice cream topper.

Step two

Chocolate Cake


  • 1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 3 Tbsp dark chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quality cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste


Preheat your oven to 325F and line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and spray it with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, pour the hot coffee over the chocolate, whisking until all the coffee is poured in and the chocolate has completely melted. Set aside.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Whisk the egg, oil, buttermilk and vanilla together in a bowl. Slowly whisk the mixture into the melted chocolate and coffee.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and whisk until the batter comes together. The batter will appear a bit lumpy. Don’t be tempted to overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool completely. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and flip the cake out.

Step three

Ganache Frosting


  • 188 grams of good dark chocolate (I love Lindt)
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed


Slowly melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, add in the fleur de sel. Set aside.

Heat the whipping cream on the stovetop until scalding. Set aside while keeping hot.

Place the water, sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar turns amber coloured. Do not stir. Remove from the heat and slowly pour in the hot cream and stir until combined. Pour this mixture over the chocolate and fleur de sel in three parts, mixing until smooth between additions.

Transfer this ganache into a stand mixer bowl and cool to room temperature Ensure both the ganache and butter cubes are at room temperature.

With the mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes to the ganache a few at time until all incorporated then turn the mixer up to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.


Step four

Assemble the cake and frost

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally into two layers. Flip the top layer so its cut side is facing up.

If the salted caramel has been in the fridge, warm it in a microwave for a few seconds to soften it slightly. Spread about 1/2 cup of salted caramel over the bottom layer of the cake leaving about 1/2 inch around the edge.

IMG_3589.jpgSpread about 1 cup of the frosting over the caramel, leaving a bit of space around the edges. Place the other cake layer on top, cut side up that your cake will have a flat top and gently press down. Transfer the cake to a turntable and spoon about 2 cups of frosting on top, reserving extra frosting to finish the cake. Spread it evenly over the top and sides of the cake and smooth it out with an offset spatula. The smoother the better as the glacage will show all the imperfections.

Transfer the cake to a flat plate and freeze for at least two hours (or up to a week, if making ahead).

Step five



  • 1 cup good dark chocolate
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup


Slowly melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. In a saucepan heat the whipping cream, water, and corn syrup until just scalding. Pour the hot cream over the dark chocolate in three parts, mixing in between additions until smooth.

Step six

Final assembly


Remove the cake from freezer and place it on a flat cooling rick with a pan or foil underneath to catch the drippings. Using a measuring cup or ladle pour the glacage over the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula spread the glacage over the sides, making sure to cover the whole cake. Immediately move the cake to a serving plate using a long offset spatula.

Decorate the cake with the reserved frosting. Pipe five dots on top and a decorative border around the bottom. The cake will keep at room temperature up to four days.



Five best words in the English language: Pie is in the oven…strawberry rhubarb crumble…three other great words

Now I know it’s spring. Time to whip up a pie for The Handyman to celebrate.
I’m not the type to read the last chapter of a book first but it’s good to make an informed decision about recipes. This amazingly tart, sweet and beautifully spiced pie recipe comes from Edmonton’s the Duchess Bake Shop cookbook (with some minor modifications).


My rhubarb plant, like most of the rhubarb in Naramata, is an unknown heritage variety. Almost every garden has a plant that’s likely been there for years and years. I imagine mine has supplied a lot of rhubarb pies in its lifetime. I hope it’s honoured to be blogged about.

Blind-baked pie shell

For pies that have juicy fillings like rhubarb strawberry, you will need to fully bake the shell before filling it.

In my opinion the best pie crust has half butter and half shortening.
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cubed cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cubed cold vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup ice water

Either using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a food processor mix or pulse the flour, butter, shortening and salt for 10 or 15 seconds. Add the ice water and mix on medium or pulse until the dough just comes together.

Don’t overmix. You want some small lumps of fat to remain to make the dough flaky.

Shape the dough into three balls. You will only need one ball for this pie so freeze the other two for future pie baking. Wrap the dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator (and the other two in the freezer) for at least a half hour.

Roll the dough out and place in the pie shell.

Freeze the shell for at least 15 minutes at this point.

Brush the pie shell with an egg wash (1 egg white whisked with 1 tbsp cream (or milk).

Cut a circle out of parchment and fill the lined shell with dried beans, rice or pie weights.

Save the rice for your next blind baking session.

Bake the shell at 375F for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges are light golden brown. Take it out of the oven, remove the parchment and rice and poke the shell a few times with a fork. Put it back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.



  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

Combine all the above in a bowl and using your hands work it all together until clumps form. Set it aside.


Cut the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces. De-stem and quarter the strawberries.
  • 3 cups rhubarb
  • 3 cups strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp orange blossom water
Use fresh nutmeg if you have it…grating it.

To make the filling, in a saucepan, place the rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes stirring often so it doesn’t burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the strawberries and orange blossom water.

Fill the shell to the rim and top with the crumb topping. Bake the pie at 375F for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crumb is golden brown and filling is bubbling. I like this pie warm out of the oven but it’s good cold too.

The six best words in the English language: Pie is out of the oven. The Duchess Bake Shop cookbook is the bomb. Everything I’ve tried from it has turned out beautifully and it’s fun just to browse and drool over the photos.

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