Cook with Eli and Mollie

Daring Bakers November: Caramel Cake

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My first Daring Bakers challenge! Caramel Cake. I felt such pressure and I did pretty well considering it was my first and I'm not much of a confident baker. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and LOVED the tasty result!

I had a heck of time getting the caramel syrup to work! Something is tricky in caramelizing sugar and I finally got it on the third go, but also wasn't sure what "caramel syrup" should be like... I assumed it was supposed to be thicker than what I finally settled for but it worked out fine. Then I had a disaster with the cake pan... I bought a new cake pan for this recipe and opted for one with a removeable bottom (like a cheesecake pan, but different) so I can easily remove it and present it beautifully. But somehow, the cake leaked out through the bottom and into the oven!! I realized this when I had lost half of the cake, so quickly put a pan under the cake and was able to keep the remaining half of the cake. But it resulted in a mini cake. I cut the 9" square into four 3" squares and piled them up for a 4 layer cake!

Beautiful taste and I was proud of the result, although I have a lot to learn about decorting a cake!

The recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting is courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites (

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.

Take 1 (hardened clumps!):

Take 2 (liquid with clumps):

Take 3 (success!):

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)

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature1
1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperaturesplash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
to do:
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.

The cake on the bottom of the oven:

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