Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake

This delicious caramel cake graced the Thanksgiving table this year, thanks to the Daring Bakers! After 2 months of savory challenges, I was very happy to see something sweet.  
This Caramel Cake with Carmelized Butter Icing is the brainchild of Shuna Fish Lyndon of Eggbeater

This is a sweet, dense cake that really doesn't need the frosting, although the frosting is delicious, so I would go ahead and make it anyhow.  I decided to stray from the recipe a bit and add a layer of granny smith apples cooked down in some butter and a splash of the caramel syrup, just to mix things up.  

The caramel syrup is easy to make, but I would cut the recipe in half if you don't want leftovers.  Be sure to follow basic caramel safety rules when making it (long sleeves, cold water nearby)

This is a perfect tea cake or base to a coffee or crumb cake, in my opinion.  I liked it with the frosting, but I like it even better a couple days later, with the frosting scraped off with a cup of tea. 

Thanks to this month's hosts Dolores from Culinary Curiosity, Alex from Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food, and Natalie from Gluten a Go-Go

Find Shuna's recipe here on Bay Area Bites or below:

by Shuna Fish Lyndon

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

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


Sara said...

adding apples sounds like a brilliant idea!

vibi said...

Beautifully accomplished challenge, Lauren!
I agree apples must have been a great marriage! It sounds divine!

Engineer Baker said...

Ooo, adding apples sounds wonderful! A perfect way to cut the sweetness of the frosting.

Carla said...

The cake looks great! Did you have the Twofer Pie as well for Thanksgiving? If not, don't worry. You didn't miss that much.