Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake (and Happy Birthday Tim)

After skipping last month's Daring Bakers' challenge, I was ready for November's challenge. We were all given the task of making a caramel sauce and incorporating it into a cake and frosting. I really loved how this cake turned out: moist, dense, sweet, but not overly sweet.

It so happens to be my dear husband's birthday today, and we celebrated the occasion with his family over Thanksgiving with this cake. The birthday boy and his whole family loved the cake; his uncle from Taiwan even told me that everytime he visits, I have to make the cake. Very flattering indeed, but I have to give props to Shuna Fish Lydon as her recipes were easy to follow to bake a great cake.

Thanks to all the hosts for this month's Daring Bakers' challenge! The lovely host this month is Dolores of Chronicles of Culinary Curiosity and her assistants are Brownie of Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
from Shuna Fish Lydon

Caramel Cake
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

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Sift flour and baking powder.
5. 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.
6. 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. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

Caramel Syrup
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 and color is a 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. Please 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
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons 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.


tim said...

mmmmmm i can still taste it! thank you baby :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wonderful that the cake is being requested as a regular from your kitchen - what a compliment! Great job!