Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Give Thanks For Caramel Cake

Now it would be an understatement to say I had difficulties with this cake. First, I tried making the optional caramels. I had read how others were having issues with the cooking times and temps turning the caramels into a rock hard block. Wow were they right! My block of "caramels" could have been used as a deadly weapon. Hahaha. Instead of wallowing in my mess, I decided to move on to the syrup part of the recipe. I'm sorry, did I say syrup? I meant paste, or at least that's how mine turned out. Everything was going fine until I went to add it to the cake batter. I go over to the pot of cooled down syrup and there is a cloudy, hard, paste. WHAT?! So I warmed it up and it resumed it's liquid form, but only long enough for me to add it to the batter and frosting. Which leads me to the frosting debacle. Although I really wouldn't call this a true frosting since it was not smooth or easy to work with like a regular frosting. The moment I added the syrup to it, the whole thing turned oily looking. Thankfully, adding the cream transformed it into somewhat of a frosting, but not a very spreadable one. While all of this was going on my cakes were baking up nicely. The two square cakes I decided to make turned out beautifully. So golden and perfect.

Oh, and did I mention how very very sweet the frosting was? Too sweet to cover an entire cake. So I only used it as the middle layer in the cake, then covered the cake in a vanilla cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Sorry, but that frosting was just not going to cover my entire cake.

I would like to thank our hosts this month for such a learning experience. So thank you to our host Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, and her co-hosts Brownie of Brownie and Blondie, Jenny of Foray into Food, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.


By: Shuna Fish Lydon

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 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.
- 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.

By: Alice Medrich
- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
A 9-inch square baking pan Candy thermometer
Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.
When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.
Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.
Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.
Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.
Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.

Stay tuned for my next baking adventure!
Pin It


Jude said...

The frosting was a tad bit too sweet wasn't it? Also had to make the caramel syrup twice -- it turned into a brown block of sugar.

Christina said...

Yeah, but it did taste good. Just not something I would frost an entire cake with. I think it would be really good drizzled over coffee cake.

nikkita said...

Sorry you went through all sorts of trouble with the whole process! I didn't even venture into making the caramels though. Well done on completing the challenge ^_^

Christina said...

Thank you. I guess it wouldn't be a challenge if we didn't make a mess every now and then ;) And it still tasted really good.

Lesley said...

Your post makes me laugh. Yes, too sweet. You're brilliant to use a cream cheese frosting on that cake, I think that combo would be perfect.

Fuji Mama said...

Despite the problems your cake is GORGEOUS! I hear ya on the frosting!

BTW, have I mentioned how much I love your profile pic?

Christina said...

hahaha, why thank you :)

melivanilla said...

I love pain au chocolats too!! what a great blog name! :) I thought the frosting was too sweet even though I significantly cut out the sugar. Probably why it didn't turn out like everybody else's frosting. Yours looks almost delicate.... mine is dense and quite heavy. Well done!! I like your post, am now gonna browse your blog :)