Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Daring Baker's Challenge: Caramel Cake

This cake is delicious. Hands down. Possible the best cake I have ever made. On that note, it is also the scariest cake I have ever made. How can a cake be scary you ask? Well, let's take a gander at the following picture:

Can this picture portray the frantic worry that washed over me as I watched the sugar water turn into dry sugar and then burn back into this beautiful amber syrup? Kind of. I am relieved enough at the time of taking this picture to actually start documenting what I am trying to do. But you can also see that I forgot to use the flash...or even bother to focus it. What can I say...I had post-carmelization stress syndrome.

Anyways, I made this cake for a dinner party with some friends and it wasn't until I made it again 2 weeks later that I realized something. I had doubled the frosting ingredients to cover the two-layer cake I made..wait, scratch that. I had doubled SOME of the ingredients (i.e. powdered sugar and butter but not the caramel sauce, cream, or salt...don't ask me how or why, I just did). Really. My poor the time, they still ate it and said it was good so one can only imagine how terrific the frosting really could be. Ahhh I owe you guys!

All recipes courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon

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 each 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. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

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

Thanks for hosting Dolores. Alex, and Jenny.


Anonymous said...

It is my humble opinion that EVERYTHING is better with double butter and sugar! I once accidentally doubled the butter and sugar in a snickerdoodle recipe and they turned out like gorgeous little fluffy sugar donuts, without the holes of course. A happy accident!

Now, to think of an excuse for baking this cake...

hi!monkey said...

mmmm.... tasty! i believe there is a support group for post-caremelization stress syndrome.