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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge - Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was a signature cake from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. The hosts for this month's DB Challenge were Dolores of Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food. We had to make the cake and camelized butter frosting. Making flavored caramels from Alice Medrich's recipe were optional, so I chose the option of NOT making them...too much going on this month.

Evidently, the cake is supposed to be delicate, light, and subtly flavored. Mine wasn't. It was very dense (and VERY sweet) with a straightforward taste of caramel. I don't think I did something right. Pitiful looking cake, right?

After reviewing Shuna's FAQ, I think I poured in the caramel syrup too quickly (all at once) when making the cake. The batter looked broken, and I don't think I ever achieved an emulsification again. Don't get me wrong, the cake had a wonderful flavor. The caramelized butter frosting was good, too, although I didn't really have enough to use for decorating. Together, however, I think mine would have sent someone into a diabetic coma...way too sweet!!! I think I'll definitely be baking the cake again (especially since I have some caramel syrup left over), but I will probably use a different frosting. Likewise, I may try the frosting again, but most likely it will be on a different cake.

Oh, and since the cake was so dense (and short), I decided to torte the layer into two. Bad idea. Don't do it. Just don't. But do try the recipe for yourself and see what you think!

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

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 large 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. [Yeah, use a tall pan. Lining a shorter one with parchment worked, but not too well.]

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.

Caramel Syrup

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! ***Note: 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.

Caramelized Butter Frosting

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream (I used 3 Tbsp)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup(I used 3 Tbsp)
Kosher or sea salt to taste (just a pinch was enough)

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into mixer bowl to cool completely.

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.

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting recipe courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites.


Gretchen Noelle said...

Too bad it didn't come out as you had hoped. I think it looks delicious and I am sure it tasted great!

Amy said...

It looks good - best of luck with the caramel syrup, it can be used in so many ways!

TeaLady said...

What counts is how it tastes, and it looks like it tasted great. Good try.