First shot at being a Daring Baker ~ Caramel Cake Recipe

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My maiden venture as a Daring Baker!! A group that I always was in awe of… I looked forward to their creations with excitement….and the awe was always reinforced…. Many months ago, while chatting with one such wonderful baker, she asked me to take a shot at it….in an insane moment, I wrote in and asked to be added onto the list of ever growing bakers …. Last month, with diwali and the insanity surrounding chocolate orders, I didn’t do the challenge…. What a bummer, to get added on and then chicken out at the first instance!! So this month, when they announced the challenge, I was sure I wanted to give it a shot at least…better to have tried and failed than not tried at all being the mantra!!

collage11Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting that was the challenge thrown to us this month. The caramel cake is the signature cake by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. The gracious hosts this month are DoloresAlexJenny, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go to assist for the gluten free baking advice.

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The additional “optional” challenge was Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, with LOTS of variation. Which I didn’t do for many obvious reasons…… I am back at work, in my earlier life of working from home, there were times when I would try and “find something to do” in the afternoons. They now, do not exist.

I funnily lost track of time and date and kept putting off trying the challenge for every other weekend….yesterday while I chatted with Aparna, I told her I was going to do the challenge on the weekend, she said “tomorrow is posting date” imagine what a kick up my pants that was!! I frantically read through the posts at the forum and realized that I might have to make the caramel syrup a day earlier to make it easier on myself…. With what is happening in Mumbai, we were pretty much glued to the TV and that plan went down the drain……

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This morning, I decided to get my act together and began my first challenge as a Daring Baker….. First ahead, was the Caramel Syrup….. with amma (as keyed up as I was) deciding just then to help me….. I mentioned that the other DB I spoke with had said the syrup was too much and had halved it, so I would too…. I stepped out to buy some eggs, and by the time I got back, she had mixed 1 c sugar with ½ c water…halving the amount of sugar, but not reducing the amount of water!! I decided not to add any more sugar and try and use the same….so I cooked and stirred and stirred and it bubbled and boiled and with a cup of water close by, I had all these visions of the molten sugar syrup landing on my hands and scalding me (yeah I am the queen of drama!!) instead, it just became one hard mass of white cement like stuff…. So I added 2 T of water and cooked some more, by this time the syrup had become damn lumpy but was beginning to get nice and golden. I took it off the heat and strained it with a metal strainer…. Then as an afterthought, put back the lumps of sugar onto the fire and watched it caramelize a lovely dark amber…. I read about some DB who ended up with hard rocks of caramel, so I strained this back into the earlier caramel syrup, mixed it a bit, and voila!! I had the most beautiful caramel syrup ready…..

Note to self: don’t sit around till the last minute to do the challenge!!

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Then I waited 2 hours for the damn thing to cool till I could make the cake…. made an SOS to another fab baker to clear a few doubts i had…..I followed the cake recipe to the T, and was quite happy with the lovely buttery yellow colour of the batter. I baked one 8×6 rectangular cake, and one small 3inch round one. Since we aren’t too hot on sugary stuff, not that I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I feel rather guilty to indulge in it since amma is a diabetic. I made the smaller one to give my neighbor, and half of the rectangular one will be shared at work with colleagues.

So there it is then, my first challenge as a Daring Baker….. I was more anxious than excited…. But it was a lovely beginning…. I enjoyed this challenge…. I will be making the cake again, minus the frosting!!

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Do stop by to see what all the other Daring Bakers have come up with. Dolores, Alex & Jenny thanks for hosting this challenge. Cant wait for the next challenge!!

My take on this Caramel cake:

The cake was lovely…. Buttery, moist and sweet. Will be perfect on its own minus the frosting.

read more for the recipes…………….

CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

(italics within brackets are the changes i made)

Original Recipe: Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar (i used 3/4 cup white sugar, pulsed in the food processor before adding to the butter)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract ( i used 1 tsp)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. (i used one rectangular 8×6 pan and a round 3 inch 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.

CARAMEL SYRUP
2 cups sugar (I used 1 c + 2 T of 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.

I meant to halve the caramel syrup, finally ended up with what I think is 2/3 of the original yield of the recipe

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used 6 T salted and 6 T unsalted butter and left out the salt)
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted (I used 1 ½ c confectioner’s sugar)
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream (I used milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract ( i used only 1 tsp)
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste (i omitted this)
Cook butter until brown. (I cooked it till just melted and golden) 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 confectioners’ 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

For the frosting, I used salted and unsalted butter in equal parts and hence left out the salt. I made it with just 11/4 c sugar instead of the whole amount (adjusting the amount of butter as well). I cut the rectangular cake into two parts, trimmed the edges and sandwiched them with a thin layer of the frosting. likewise for the small round cake.

 

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. bakingobsession says:

    Congratulations on your first completed challenge! And welcome to DB! The cake looks beautiful!

    thank you!

  2. Sunshinemom says:

    OMG! First one and so beautiful!! Too good:)

  3. Swapna says:

    Wow..wow… the first wow from me, the other from our princess..she loves to watch Nigella lawson and started drooling over pictures of food..!! Yep, she started early..!!

    Thanks for ur comments on my post..a great plan gone awry!! she has a lisp when she says ‘s’

  4. arundati says:

    vaidehi, valli, anuvidya, priya, clumbsy cookie, raaga, uma, alka, jayashree, HC: thanks for all the fab stuff you’ve said!! i loved making it!!

    Aparna and Deeba: you were soo much a part of this daring baker thing!! sigh!! i feel like this is some dedication speech!! but seriously… you were inspiration allright!!

  5. Happy Cook says:

    Wow they look so superb. Iamsurprised that youdidn’t join upearlier with such a good talent for making cakes.
    You have done the deocrationsso beautifull.
    Love them.

  6. Jayashree says:

    Wooooooooooooooowwww!!!!! Wonderful attempt Aru, keep it up!!!

  7. Alka says:

    If this is your Maiden attempt in baking,i can’t imagine how far you can go in your future attempts..the cake looks so soft and moist and the frosting is awesome 1

  8. Uma says:

    Wow, the cake is so beautiful and mouth-watering.

  9. Raaga says:

    Awesome… for lack of a better word. This looks fabulous!

  10. Deeba says:

    You absolutely insane queen of drama, who gets a kick in her pants now & then…you did pretty darned GOOd for the first challenge. BEE-YOO-TI-FUL…very very pretty girl! Welcome to Daring Bakers…WOOHOO…catch you on the next challenge where you shall hopefully remember ‘not to self’!!! xoxoxox

  11. Welcome to the DBers! You did a wonderful job!

  12. aparna says:

    Looks so yummy and tempting.

  13. anudivya says:

    Looks gorgeous, I can’t believe it is your first time with daring bakers! Nice.

  14. Priya says:

    Wow tempting one..looks marvellous Arundati..

  15. Srivalli says:

    OMG Aru..thats really fabulous!…lot of efforts seems to have gone in!..I am surprised that this is your first attempt!..:)

  16. Aparna says:

    Well, so I get part of the credit for these lovely cakes? For pushing you to join the DBs.
    Welcome to the DBs and congratulations on a successful 1st challenge. Nice to know you’re looking forward to the next one.:)

  17. Vaidehi says:

    great recipe Cake looks so tempting..

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