Daring Bakers: November Challenge


Two months ago a friend, Brooke, told me about Daring Bakers and encouraged me to join. Well, here I am reporting about my first challenge. I’m not a cake person. I make them from a box. Hello, Duncan Hines. I honestly wasn’t too jazzed about making this, especially since it had 3 different parts and all ingredients had to be at room temperature and had to be added just so. I got incredibly frustrated with the caramel syrup, and that this recipe took me 4 hours to make!! In all honesty, I was mumbling and grumbling the whole time I was baking.

After frosting last night, I had some leftover frosting and cake, and Chris and I thought we would see if the cake was worth making again. Y-E-S!! The cake is fluffy, moist and all sorts of delicious. The frosting holds its shape well, and has a very complex sweet, caramel flavor. So, yeah, I’ll be making this again, but probably not until October 15th. So many thanks to the host and co-hosts: Delores of Culinary CuriosityAlex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo) and Jenny of Foray into Food for opening my eyes to the delight of Shuna Fish Lyndon’s Caramel Cake.

Caramel Cake

(found here)
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 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 (recipe found below) into the 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.

The cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

Caramel Syrup

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (to “stop” 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.

Caramelized Butter Frosting

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.

I would recommend eating the cake that day. It’s far better. Also serve it room temperature. When the cake is cold it somehow tastes really dry and the caramel flavor just disappears. ALSO, I used salted butter in the recipe (and reduced the salt it called for), and the cake wasn’t too sweet.

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    1. Lili says:

      mumbling and grumbling, but it sure is gorgeous!

    2. Brooke says:

      This looks incredible! I actually joined as well and I will start the challenge this month. A lot of members of daringbakers also post their challenges on tastespotting.com the day that they release it.

    3. Your cake looks just gorgeous! Great job on your first challenge, I hope it was worth the four hours of mumbling and grumbling! :) WElcome to the Daring Bakers.

    4. nikkita says:

      Welcome to the DB! Oh my i love the fish scale effect of the caramel on cake! And such beautiful photgraphs too. Sigh~

    5. Brooke says:

      Have you seen this months challenge? I don’t even know where to begin.

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