Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake

Sorry I'm posting this late in the day but we got back from Thanksgiving in the Tennessee mountains late last night and Helen Mae is really struggling to get back into a good nap schedule. Good thing I had foresight to make this delicious and very rich cake last week before I left for our trip!

November's Daring Bakers challenge was Caramel Cake with Browned Butter Caramel Frosting. The difficult part of the cake was making the caramel syrup which was used in the cake batter as well as the frosting. Like any caramel, you have to let sugar and water boil together until it turns a dark amber color- what made this a little different from other things I've done with caramel is that once the amber color is attained you pour one cup of water into the caramel to stop the cooking. I read a lot of comments about how much it would sputter and pop when the water was added so I used oven mitts and a long sleeved shirt and I didn't have any problems. Right after the water was added it seemed like the sugar became a little solid but I kept whisking it over medium heat and eventually it turned into a really nice syrup.

Honestly, the flavor of the syrup itself was so good that I could have eaten it by the spoonful- but it really added a delicious taste to the cake. Many of the Daring Bakers complained about the extreme sweetness of the cake and the frosting so I used regular salted butter instead of unsalted and mine turned out with a really great flavor.

I have not had much success with browning butter in the past because I'm always so worried that it's going to burn that I take it off the stove before it actually browns. But I was determined this time to get it right- this little tutorial on All Recipes helped me quite a bit. I strained the butter through a sieve like the directions indicated and I think I ended up straining out most of the salt that was in the butter- so that it was too salty or too sweet.

Caramel Cake Recipe Courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon
Recipe published from Bay Area Bites

Hosts/Co-Hosts for this month's challenge:
Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients.
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.
Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}
Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown.
Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.
Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light
(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)


Wandering Coyote said...

I've been seeing this one around the blogosphere and they all look great - including yours! It's a myth - I think - that unsalted butter is best for most baking; I use salted quite regularly because it's actually cheaper than unsalted (go figure) and I've never noticed any difference in flavour.

Glad to hear you wore protective gear for your caramel-making. I got a wicked caramel burn once and it's like acid - excruciating!

Engineer Baker said...

Kudos for getting the browned butter right - I absolutely loved this frosting recipe. And I agree that the caramel syrup was wonderful on its own as well as in the cake. Nice job!

Rosie said...

I love your new look :)

Your cake looks gorgeous - well done :)

Rosie x

Cristine said...

Your cake looks great! Hope your little one starts napping again soon!

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