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!