Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

This is my first Daring Baker's Challenge and I am very excited!  The recipe for this months challenge is Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites.  Our wonderful hosts this month are: Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo), and Jenny of Foray into Food.  For alternative bakers, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go to assist us.  I did not have time to make the optional caramels, but I am hoping to make them sometime in the next couple weeks.  I was a little intimidated by this cake after learning about all the trouble other Daring Bakers were having with the caramel syrup, but mine turned out perfectly the first time!  I did make only a half batch of the caramel syrup and that was just the right amount to do the cake and the 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 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 and flour 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.

     I really enjoyed baking this cake.  I have had very little experience with baking cakes from scratch, so I'm thrilled it turned out so well.  I highly recommend following the recipe exactly, as it makes all the difference.  When you are ready to make the caramel syrup, set up everything you need right there, and watch closely so that when the sugar mixture starts to caramelize, you are ready to pour in the water.  If you don't have everything ready at that moment, it will probably burn before you have the chance to pour in the water!  My cake got rave reviews at Thanksgiving dinner, everyone particularly liked the frosting and said they had never had anything quite like it.  I thought it was delicious.  I added a good amount of salt to the frosting, I'm not sure how much, but it really helped balance the sweetness.  The cake itself is a little more dense than other cakes I've tried, but very moist and perfect with the frosting.  I wish I had taken the time to get better pictures, but there were some hungry people milling about the kitchen, so I had to settle for some quick snapshots.


Renee said...

Congratulations on your first challenge! I love the pecans. YOur cake looks great!

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS on a very successful and well done first DB challenge :) Your cake is beautiful, well done!!

Lauren said...

Ooo, your cake looks amazing! Wonderful first challenge!

Candice said...

I agree about the salt really making the frosting. It was sooo good.

Angela said...

Welcome to The Daring Bakers! Your cake looks fantastic, and well done with getting your syrup just right on the first go!

Diana said...

Your cake turned out lovely. The nuts were a nice touch. My husband loved the denseness of the cake, he said it was like cornbread but tastier! Congratulations on your first Daring Baker's challenge. Well done.

Eat4Fun said...

Congratulations on completing your first DB Challenge! You did a great job with delicious looking results!

Amy said...

Congrats on completing your first challenge! It looks lovely.

Fit Chick said...

Great job on your first challenge! And welcome to the DB's.

ashleystravel said...

Welcome to Daring Bakers. Great touch with pecans. Can't wait to see what you do next month!

jillian said...

Great job! It was smart to make half the syrup. I had to throw out the extra.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Welcome to the group! You did a great job with your first challenge, your cake is beautiful with the pecans!

Bumblebutton said...

Your first challenge is certainly a winner! But you've gotta make some more of that caramel syrup for your coffee and cookie breaks. Lovely job!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Looks like your cake turned out wonderfully! Great job & welcome to the Daring Bakers!

BC said...

You were wise to make half of the caramel syrup. We're using the leftovers for pancakes!

Maria said...

Nice work on your first challenge! the cake looks terrific!

Libby said...

Goodness gracious, what a cake. Lovely!!!!

Claire said...

Great job. You did wonderfully on your first challenge! Glad everyone liked it. I had some fans of the icing as well, little finger tracks were the evidence.

Lynnylu said...

Welcome to Daring Bakers! You did a fine job on your first challenge. I like the pecans atop the cake, too.