Saturday, November 29, 2008

Finger-Licking Good!

Unfortunately, last month I did not get to do the Daring Bakers' Challenge; however, this month I was excited to see the recipe...a caramel cake. One of my parents' favorite desserts is a caramel cake. This one, however, proved to be quite a bit different, though delicious! I saved the cake for the end of the month when my entire family gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. Typically, we have pies for dessert. My grandmother always made pecan pies. This year, I was pleased to see that the caramel cake was the ONLY dessert, out of pecan pies, chocolate pie, and baklava (which was DELICIOUS!), to be completely eaten by the end of the day on Thursday. I got many compliments...even a few silent ones from the kiddos! :-) Obviously the kids enjoyed the icing and no one here complained of it being too sweet. I thought it was perfect! The only thing that my family found strange was the size. Several people asked it if was supposed to be that short. Because I didn't have a deep dish cake pan, I used two regular sized ones and made a layer cake. However, it was shorter than your normal layer cake, ending up at the height that I think the deep dish pan would have produced. Despite that comment, no one really minded...hey, it just left more room for that baklava...or more cake! Thanks to Dolores, Alex, Jenny, and Natalie for hosting. And biggest thanks to Shuna Fish Lydon for the wonderful recipe! I HIGHLY recommend this cake. Though it did take a bit of hands on time it was not overly difficult and produces a beautiful and delicious cake. Check out more results here.

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

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

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...or use an aluminum foil hood!

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)


Gretchen Noelle said...

How wonderful that your cake was devoured for Thanksgiving - that surely is a compliment!

Elle said...

It did make a short cake...I cut mine in half to add filling, but still it was short. Everyone at our family dinner enjoyed it, too. Great job!

Unknown said...

Gretchen - Thanks...I was quite excited.

Elle - I think I'd actually make this one again. When my dad complained about the height, I said that I'd have to double the recipe to make it tall...he just shrugged his shoulders like, "So?!" :-)

Pearl said...

ahh! isn't it so great when one dessert is completely gone, and you realize that it's yours?

the pictures look so adorable :)

Peabody said...

Looks like a good month to participate.

Jaime said...

looks like you and i both had about the same color in our caramel syrup! after seeing some of the others, i realized that i had not cooked mine long enough... i can only imagine the flavor being even more caramel-y if you let it cook longer :) it must be good if it was gone by the end of the day, right? :)

Dolores said...

I'm so glad you and your family enjoyed the caramel cake. An empty plate is a pretty clear sign you baked a winner. Thanks for baking with us!

April said...

It looks fantastic! That is great that everyone loved it. It was a winner in my house too!

Anonymous said...

It was a great addition to the dessert table wasnt it? Yours looks great!

Anonymous said...

I love the foil idea to avoid splatters!!!!! Genius!!!!!

Baker at Law said...

Your cake looks yummy. I understand about the height. I used a 3inch deep cake pan 1.5 times to achieve the height I did. Also, I used some cake flour to lighten the cake. Great job and it sounds like you might have a new Thanksgiving favorite.

Anonymous said...

Eat it all on the first day that really shows what they thought!!!! I think this cake is one of the better cakes I have made super moist and even better the next day. Love the photos. Thanks for your comments on my blog.

Chou said...

I'm so impressed that your cake was consumed immediately! Sweet!

BC said...

All right, your cake came in number one!

Angry Asian said...

so glad your cake was a hit with your family! my roommate and i polished it off, thankfully i halved the recipe!

Bumblebutton said...

The genius in you made two layers so that you could have more cake to frost! Lovely job!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job on your cake Clair. That's great that everyone loved it during thanksgiving :)

Unknown said...

Pearl - Thanks!

Peabody - It was...I really enjoyed this one.

Jaime - Yeah, I could have cooked mine longer but, honestly, got impatient!

Dolores - was a great challenge!

April - Yeah, it's always fun when family enjoys it!

Marye - My family is usually a pie family, so I was surprised when this went before the pies.

Betty - Thanks! I actually saw it on the chat forum

Rysheda - Yeah...unless we have another sweet recipe next year!

Audax - I wish I could have tried it the next day. I loved the crumb of the cake.

Chou - So was I...that makes it even more fun!

BC - Yay!

AA - Uh, yeah. If I hadn't had someone to help eat, I would have been in trouble!

Bumblebutton - And I think that my dad would have liked MORE frosting!

Briannlee - Thanks! I was happy about that!

Beth said...

I'm glad that you enjoyed this month's recipe. I thought about making the caramel cake for Thanksgiving, but thought there would be a revolt from my family if there were no pies!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Mags said...

Looks move with the foil.

creampuff said...

It sure was finger lickin' good, Claire! Your cake looks so "sweet"!

Jessica said...

There were some little fingers at my house just dying to get into that cake! Although it didn't all get eaten on Thanksgiving, my husband's 15 year old brother was staying with us and I think he ate 2 or 3 pieces a day until it was gone! If only I had his metabolism...Your cake looks delicious too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Claire! Your cake looks scrumptious! Do you happen to have a more 'southern' version of caramel cake that your parents might recognize as 'real' caramel cake?

Christine said...

Don't you just feel wonderful when everyone devours your dessert! Great job!

Anonymous said...

Your cake looks wonderfully moist and has a great color. I agree with you on the lack of height...mine was even shorter since I baked it in one 10 inch springform. Great job! An empty cake plate is the best compliment!

The Shulls said...

Oh my... I wanted just to dip my finger with your frosting and caramel... how delicious!!!!! I was so concerned about my cake decoration since my 2-year-old hid my decorating tools and I am still not able to find them!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Lauren said...

Ooo, your cake looks amazing! Great job!

Unknown said...

I love my high sided cake pan, it was worth every penny. Your cake looked great as a layer though.

Mary said...

Wow--that looks fabulous and for it to go before Pecan pie--that is truly impressive.

I love your "About Me"--a southern girl who doesn't like sweet tea? Almost unheard of! :)

Allison said...

Wahahaaha it always feels great to win the dessert popularity contest at a party! =) Your cake looks fab!

Vera said...

What a beautiful cake, Claire!

Jane said...

Oh my.
This looks & sounds delicious!