Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Daring Bakers - Givin' You Some Sugar!


Yes, this is the second time this season that I have made caramel. So lovely of you to notice. I am starting to feel like a real pro now - boiling, reducing, waiting for the magic to begin, stopping the magic before it goes too far.... I no longer fear making caramel. I still fear everything else, but not caramel.
It is amazing to me how much flavour can be coaxed out of sugar, just by applying heat.
This month the Daring Bakers, hosted by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go have baked up Shuna Fish Lydon's signature caramel cake.

The cake is made with a caramel syrup. The icing is made with brown butter and caramel syrup. Caramel syrup is drizzled onto the finished cake. Can you see where I am going with this? This is a wonder in caramel.
Now, my family will tell you - I am not really a cake person. Hilarious right? What am I doing baking cakes when I would rather eat a pie? Well, I like to bake them, and my family likes to eat them. Simple enough.
But let's get back to this particular cake, shall we? This cake is wonderfully moist, I think it is the caramel syrup in the batter. The brown butter caramel icing - Oh My! So very flavourful. A little more caramel drizzled on the top? Yes, yes, we have come this far - might as well go all the way. When the cake and icing were done, I reduced the rest of the syrup and added a touch of cream. I added salted peanuts around the cake as I really enjoyed Dorie Greenspan's combination of caramel and salted peanuts.
We have been eating the cake for a couple of days now - it shows no signs of getting stale in the fridge - I love that! And it wasn't really all that difficult to make. It seemed like it would be, I read the recipe over and over again for weeks. But when it came time to go ahead and bake - it all came together fairly quickly.
This one is my favourite cake in my Daring Bakers experience. Check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll for more beautiful Caramel Cakes.

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.

It looks like a giant candy bar, doesn't it?

Below is some information on the cake - I put it as written as there seems to be some confusion as to whether it will be "read" if we alter it in any way.

Helping Dolores ( host this month are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food (, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

Our leading lady this month is Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( and her signature caramel cake.


Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites ( Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe ( … he-recipe/)

Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111 (I didn't make the caramel balls, others may have)

If you’re looking for additional guidance on the cake, Shuna’s got some great information posted here as well ( … he-recipe/) and here ( … ake-a.html).