Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge...Caramel Cake! YUM!

Our leading lady this month's challenge was Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater and her signature caramel cake. And in a supporting role we have an optional challenge: Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, with LOTS of variation. Guaranteed to keep us all on a sugar-induced high all month!

The host and co-host's for this month;s event were Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity host this month are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo: ), Jenny of Foray into Food . And since they don't know jack about alternative baking, they once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go to assist them.

Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe can be found here on her website Eggbeater.

I loved this cake. This was probably one of my favorites, yes, despite all the trouble I had. All my own fault as this recipe is flawless!

I was making this to be served with our Thanksgiving Day meal. I may have over scheduled myself a bit and was a bit rushed but this cake was truly forgiving! I made two 8 inch cakes and layered them. I didn't have a 9 inch one and this worked really well.

Here is the only trouble I had...when I browned the butter for the frosting I followed the directions and browned it nice and went to pour it through my sieve and into my mixing bowl. As I was pouring I heard some crackling and kinda thought that was weird but kept going. Then I smelled it. The sieve was nylon. It had never crossed my mind at all!!! Crazy huh? Anyway as this was my last butter in the house and I had some lessons and things to get the girls to I wrapped up the cakes and left them for the morning.

As I was a little more rushed (Thanksgiving Day prep) and had both of the girls home with me, I wasn't nearly as creative as I would have liked to have been. As it was, my guests loved this cake and it flew off the platter, yes, even over pumpkin pie!!!!

I did follow some advice from Elle of Elle's New England Kitchen and added 1/2 tsp of salt to the frosting. This really helped to cut the sweet. I probably could have darkened up the caramel syrup a bit more but the flavor still shone through!

I have included the recipe along with the recipe for the caramels but have yet too make them!


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

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

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

- 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.

Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.
(recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert)


RecipeGirl said...

Great job! Wish I had done it, it looks delicious!

Jen said...

It looks terrific, Judy!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Your cake looks pretty glamified to me Judy and perfect for the big occasion:D

glamah16 said...

Hah!We did similar decoration. So that what was the famous nylon mesh incident.Look great!

Megan said...

That is too funny. I did the same thing with the nylon strainer. The recipe said to strain and then cool. It should of said, cool then strain. I bought a new wire one just yesterday. I was to tired last night to mention it when writing my post. Thanks for the giggle!

Anonymous said...

Your cake is beautiful! I love the color that this cake turns out to be.

Sweet Treats by Dani said...

"yum" indeed!

Sara said...

another strainer bites the dust! great looking cake.

Elle said...

Oooh, it looks so pretty! Wasn't it delicious? We're definitely going to have this one again. Sorry about your poor strainer!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Great job Judy! Oh yes, please try the caramels, they're really good!

Andrea Meyers said...

You pulled it off, congrats!

Anonymous said...

I'm so surprised at the variations of light and dark in cake crumb! It looks like a completely different cake. Love the piped decorations. So fluffy and beauteous...You replaced your mesh strainer, right? ;)

sj said...

oooo that looks so delicious! Yum yum yum! Wanna send some of that up north? heh :)

Susan @ SGCC said...

I love how you decorated your cake. Very fancy! Your cake also looks so fluffy! Mine was very dense. But oh my, was it delicious!

Anne Coleman said...

I love the double layers! I think it's so much better than the single I did. Beautiful decoration!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely job! I don't think you were the only person to have issues with their strainer. I saw a photo of a melted one already today!

Zoe Francois said...

Your cake looks so light and fluffy, mine was much more dense. Hhhm, I might have to try it again! ;)

Anonymous said...

Very well done! Looks lovely.

Deeba PAB said...

Looks ceratainly yum the colour of the frosting & the pretty platter the cakes' on. Pity about the sieve...great challenge! Love the piping too!

Heather said...

Man, I wish I had a fat slice of that right now! I don't know how you find the time to bake a cake, seriously. You're a Wonderwoman!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I could certainly see why that cake would vanish in a blink--that's a whopper of a treat for Thanksgiving! And sorry about the Nylon sieve--doesn't look like it slowed you down a bit as that cake looks to die for. Also, great work decorating the cake...I'm always envious since that is very much an area I need to improve in. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Your cake is gorgeous! I was going to try adding some piped decoration along the edges but I got scared at the last minute and used pecans instead :-) I loved the cake and am glad I forced myself to make it after all!

Thistlemoon said...

Wow! looks great and I am sure it was a perfect ending to a delicious Thanksgiving meal!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

how exquisite. the cake looks perfect!

Dewi said...

Wow, well done!
your cake look wonderful.

Dharm said...

Your cake looks just great! Rather funny about the nylon mesh...!!

Rosie said...

Beautiful job Judy... Love the icing and piping it is stunning!!

Rosie x

Bex said...

Well done! Looks great.

Y said...

Great cake! Love the piping. I have a plasticky strainer as well... it has never occured to me that it could melt!

Half Baked said...

Your cake looks great! Well done;)

Dolores said...

Oooh... sorry about the sieve! :) Glad you enjoyed the finished product though. Thanks for baking with us.

Brenda Campbell said...

YUMMY!!! I will have to try this cake! We love caramel here!