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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers November--Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting






Wow. Wow! This cake is incredible. It's way better than I expected. I mean, I knew it would be good, but I thought it would be sticky sweet. You'd think from the title that it would be, right?

I know, I did, too!

But with the tricky use of extra salt in the frosting, it's melt-in-your-mouth perfect. I was told it's the best cake I ever made. I just might have to agree. It's moist, delicious, not overly sweet, and the best part? Easy to make. Only three components in this one, and not one of them is difficult or too time consuming.


This recipe is from Shuna Fish Lydon and you can find it here on her blog: Click me! Click the link and make the cake. Really. You don't even need any outrageous ingredients for this one!

This month's challenge is hosted by Dolores at Culinary Curiosity, Alex at Blondie and Brownie,
Jenny from Foray into Food, and alternative baking help from Natalie at Gluten a Go-Go.



I only have one teeny complaint with the recipe, and that is with the caramel syrup part. I've never made caramel syrup before, so I didn't really know how long it should take. It sits in the pan on the highest heat, until "smoking slightly and dark amber." How long will this take? Five minutes? Ten? Half an hour? Mine wasn't just smoking slightly after a few minutes, it was steaming. A lot. And unfortunately, I don't have stainless steel pans. I have Calphalon Anodized Aluminum pans, so looking for the amber color without burning my face off was no easy task. So a simple "This will probably take about 10 minutes" would have been wonderful. Also, an estimate for about how long it would take to get to the right "syrupy" consistency would have been helpful (by the way, roughly 10 minutes on both counts). OH! Greatest tip ever! When pouring the cold water into the hot syrup, it'll pop and sputter and all of those bad things you don't want it to do, so a fellow DB'er gave this tip: Make a foil cover for your pan ahead of time, with a hole in the middle for pouring the water through. Works GREAT!) I had to make the syrup twice because it didn't get dark enough the first time, and my syrup just tasted like plain old sugar. Oh, and you don't have to stir the water and sugar, also not in the directions--but I've read a lot of recipes and figured that was the case.

But fortunately, the results were worth the effort. Did I tell you this cake is awesome?



So some of the DB'ers were saying (in early returns) that the frosting was too sweet, so some additional salt would be good. I used at least half a teaspoon, and may have added a half more, but my entire family was crowded in to the kitchen and being extremely distracting. (Still love you guys!) So it's an add to taste kind of thing. But that salt (along with the browned butter!) just completely makes the frosting. I only added one tablespoon of the syrup to the frosting, and the rest was cream--to loosen up the sugar in there and make it creamy. Could have eaten it right out of the bowl.

We also had the option to make caramels using this recipe: Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007
. I wasn't really planning on making them, but the syrup we made earlier? It was just sitting there in the pan on the stove top. My husband asked what I was going to do with it, and really, I had no idea. So he quickly scanned the caramel recipe, and reheated the syrup, followed the directions, and reduced the remaining ingredients slightly. We poured it into the prepared pan and hoped for the best. We love experiments! It hardened pretty quickly, so we thought we'd get a pan full of toffee. That would have been fine, too, but after four hours, we had the most delicious vanilla salted caramels. Nice, right? Sometimes I hate that he can make just about anything work in the kitchen, and I have to work at it, hehe. But at least I get to enjoy the results. And I swear, I do all of the cooking on this blog! Except the pizza, the grilling, and most of the deep frying--those are his specialties. ;) (I did fry the egg rolls, though!)





I used two 9" pans for this, since I didn't have a deep 9" cake pan. They baked for about 18-20 minutes. Definitely watch for the sides to pull away from the pan and do the toothpick test.

Would I make these recipes again? Absolutely! Every single one of them. Even the syrup. ;) Thanks for the challenge this month, Dolores, Jenny, Alex and Natalie! And special thanks to Shuna, for making herself and her recipe available to the Daring Bakers. It's one of my favorites so far!




PS-- The pecans are candied pecans I just happened to have on hand from Trader Joe's. They go amazingly well with the cake!

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51 comments:

canarygirl said...

Oh my Gawd. Not only did you make this amazing cake, but the caramels too? I need to learn to make caramels! I can't get those here! And I want some! REally bad! My kids thank you in advance. :) MUAC!

rainbowbrown said...

I agree, this was a delicious cake. Pecans sound like a wonderful addition!

Jo said...

Great job and lovely looking cake. And you even did the caramels, my hat off to you.

Garrett said...

Decadent as always, Elle. I didn't really have a problem with it being too sweet either - I was sort of expecting an overly syrupy mess with overbearing sugary sweetness, but it was all subdued pretty well. The addition of pecans is a great idea - a little bit of flavor, without being so strong as to take away from the caramel.

culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess said...

Beautiful Elle, just beautiful. I agree this cake was so good, very delicious.

HoneyB said...

It looks awesome! I unfortunately was unable to get to it but plan to make it in the future! Yours is the first cake I am seeing, YUMM

VeggieGirl said...

Sooooooo decadent and divine.

RecipeGirl said...

Looks wonderful! I love your tips... and sometimes those recipe writers just don't think to include the simplest of helpful directions for the unassuming cook!

Foodycat said...

This looks perfect! Very beautiful and the description is wonderful. Yum!

kat said...

Your cake looks beautiful with those nuts on it. I'm with you on times for the caramel sauce would have been good, I have the same pans as you so the exact same problem of trying to see the color.

Ingrid said...

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Your cake looks wonderful and sounds even better! I've been wanting to make a cake. I purchased some nice new tips that I wanted to give a spin. Do you think the frosting will hold up to piping?

Also, thx for the helpful tips! And good job to your husband on the caramels!
~ingrid

giz said...

Very impressive - you did an incredible job on the cake and you made the caramels too. You were far more ambitious than I. I think your tip about adding more salt is a good one - I found the icing a little over the top.
I also was wondering about how long it took to get to the amber stage with the caramel - it was about 10 minutes on this end.

Sara said...

wasn't the foil lid trick just great??? i was so thankful i found that tip. looks great elle!

diva said...

that's a beautiful and perfectly made cake! caramel and pecans are a delightful combo. x

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Beautiful Elle! Thanks so much for your help with the salt addition! I love the way your cake looks. It's so elegant looking!

Elle said...

Thank you, everyone!

Ingris, the frosting would definitely hold up to piping. In fact, you can see some of it in the new Foodgawker's Daring Bakers Gallery:
http://daringbakers.foodgawker.com/

Jo said...

Wow! Yum!

Elle said...

I mean Ingrid! Sorry!

Amy said...

Oh wow, Elle! Yours turned out beautifully. Great work.

Andrea said...

Oh I love the idea of the candied pecans, yum. Nicely done on the challenge!

Dawn said...

Yeah she's back and rocking a superbly fine looking cake!
Looks good momma!

Honey Pickles said...

You cake came out fantastic! I like the pecans on top. Yummy.

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer said...

That cake looks amazing - You can see just how moist it is just from you great pics!!!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Great idea to turn the leftover caramel into the caramels! I still have some syrup leftover, and since that was my favorite part of this month's challeng, I may make some more. Your cake looks perfect!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Your cake looks wonderful!! Love the decoration on top and the caramels seem tasty. Great job!

Sophie said...

Easy to make, really?! I was too scared to make it this month :). Salt in the frosting sounds like the perfect way to balance out the sweet yummy flavors! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Ella said...

Coming out of lurker mode to say: Oh. My. gosh. Your cake looks so good! Mine was definitly cosmetically challenged, but tasted OK. I've made the caramels 2x and both times I have over cooked them. Doesn't stop me from eating them though...
I steeped the cardamon seeds in the cream...out of this world delicious.
Congrats on your 100th post (I'm almost there myself) I enjoy reading your blog.

B More Sweet said...

I made this cake too and yours looks way way WAY more beautiful than mine. I also loved this cake - I would get married to this icing if I could (that wouldn't be weird or anything, would it....) But I did think the cake was too sweet - possibly because I put a layer of caramel syrup filling between the layers AND stuck chocolate/pecan/caramel candies around the outside. Still...I struggled through it....

Beautiful work as always, Elle!

Passionate About Baking said...

Love the work behind the scenes...cake, caramels & the talented DH!!! Well done Elle...beautiful cake & fabulous caramels. The frosting was VERY addictive & I had to tear myself away from the bowl...next time will add more salt to cut the sweetness...

Bob said...

Looks good! After reading all the ways folks have done this, I think I'm going to have to try it myself. :)

Lauren said...

Mmm, your cake looks amazing! I totally agree that saltyness of the icing was the perfect way to counteract the sweetness, your caramels look beautiful as well =D!

Pinch My Salt said...

I added lots of sea salt to the frosting and it was absolutely delicious! I wish I would have had time to make the candy, too! But I'm saving the recipe and will definitely be making the caramels for Christmas. Your cake and caramels are beautiful!!

Karen said...

Great baking Elle! Looks delicious. Alice Medrich is one of my favorites. I'll have to give it a try when all the holiday cookies get to be too much. Thanks for the inspiration.

TeaLady said...

Your cake is beautiful. Too bad you didn't like it HEEHEE!!! Yummy!!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a gorgeous cake and delightful looking caramels! Great job!

Cheers,

Rosa

Adam said...

Fantastic job Elle! The cake looks perfect, and I like your tip on adding extra salt to offset any extra sweetness. This is decadence heaven :)

Grace said...

this is practically poifect in every way--bravo. :)

Deborah said...

I also added extra salt to the frosting to cut back on the sweetness. Your cake looks perfect - and so do those caramels!

marye said...

what a great looking cake! Love the pecans.

Ruth E said...

Great work on this month's challenge!!!

I never saw that tip about the foil lid with a hole for stopping the caramelisation - I'll remember that for next time I make this

Annie said...

It looks divine! The caramels too... I so want to pick one of those pecans off and eat it right now! :)

Bunny said...

Thats one good looking cake Elle! Very nice!

Elle said...

Your cake is one of the best looking I've seen! Plus adding that salt is obviously a good thing. Your caramels look delish, too.

Bex said...

Wow you cake came out perfect. Very nice.

kellypea said...

I'm cracking up over your post and can just see you trying to find that color in that pan. Mine took quite a while to color but when it did, oh man was it beauteous! Your cake is stunning. And so are those caramels. I'm wishing I still had a piece of it.

Half Baked said...

I agree this cake was superb! Nice job yours is beautiful!!

Y said...

What a great way to use the leftover caramel syrup - the resulting caramels look great, as does your cake :)

AK Mom said...

What an absolutely gorgeous cake!
Please stop by my blog for a well deserved award.
http://akbaking.blogspot.com/

Mochachocolata Rita said...

oh goshhhh! i love everything about this cake! i could almost smell it (maybe i am just too hungry)

Cris said...

I think it is snowing here on your blog, so cute! And the cake looks... terribly good!

Dolores said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed our tribute to sugar. And you're so blessed to have a man who enjoys the kitchen (and can navigate well it it) just as much as you do. But you know that. :) Thanks for baking with us!

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