Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge -

Yeah! Finally, I'm posting this month's challenge. I actually completed this one quite a few weeks ago, because I couldn't get the thought of cake with caramlized butter frosting out of my head... it was driving me crazy! I just wanted to have a bite of this delicious sounding cake.

This month's recipe comes from the amazingly talented baker Shuna Fisher Lydon (to view her webpage click here: And this month's hosts are: Dolores (of Culinary Curiosity), Alex (of Blondie and Brownie), Jenny (of Foray Into Food), and for the alternative bakers Natalie (of Gluten-A-Go-Go). Thanks guys, you are doing a great job :)
And now, on to the recipe:

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
-10 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
-1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1/3 cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
-2 each eggs, at room temperature
-A splash of vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Sift flour and baking powder.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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)

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 tbsp unsalted butter
-1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
-4-6 tbsp heavy cream
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-2-4 tbsp caramel syrup
- Kosher or sea salt to taste

1. Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

2. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

3. 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)

Using my new foodbuzz spatula to whip up the butter cream :)

(The below recipes were optional, I didn't really want to make caramels... and I had a lot lying around in my pantry, so I just molded pre-made caramels into weird pole-shaped things and used them to decorate... pretty lame I know :P)

Ooooo layering the cake :)

Yields eighty-one 1-inch caramels
-1 cup golden syrup
-2 cups sugar
-3/8 tsp fine sea salt
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 1/2 tsp pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Equipment: A 9-inch square baking pan, candy thermometer

1. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

2. When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

4. Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.


Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.

Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.

Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.

Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.

(recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert)

I know my cake looks a little bit hodge-podge. I decided to decorate my cake with these strange caramel "poles" for some reason... it sounded like a good idea in my head, but when it came down to actually decorating it, it kind of turned out... well... like a mess. I also wanted to dust the top with some crumble praline cookies, in a sort of checkered patterns, but to no avail. Sometimes I wonder what exactly is going on inside my crazy mind. So in the end, although it looked like a crumble-topped, lame-looking cake it was still delicious. I will definitely make the buttercream again... the caramelized butter was oooooh soo tasty.


Jude said...

I also used my foodbuzz spatula for making the cake :)

Palidor said...

Very, very nice!

Glad you're back. I've missed your postings! :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wonderful job and congratulations for getting it done early on in the month!

Steph said...

Aww.. I want a foodbuzz spatula now! Good job on the cake!

Camille said...

Your cake looks fantastic! I always have a picture in my head when I start out to make something and, alas, what I get is often very different. I think your cake looks really delicious and I like the crumbled cookies and the poles of caramel...I mean really, they are caramel...they can't be bad no matter what!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job on your cake. I love the topping and the sides with logs of caramel. Lovely!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Allergy Mom said...

The caramels on the side are some of the best decoration I've seen. Great look.

silverrock said...

Jude, hahaha... that's hilarious. Well, I guess great bakers think alike :P

Palidor, thanks for the kind words. But don't worry, I'm going to have plenty of time to bake once my exams are over (on the 12th!!!)

Camille, I agree... caramel in any of it's many strange shapes is always delicious.

Everyone else, thanks for the nice comments :)