Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Baking! Caramel cake and caramels

Well this was an exciting month for me, I got to co-host this challenge with Dolores and Alex. I'd tried it a few times before for my Wilton classes so I knew it was a winner!

The recipes were a signature caramel cake from Shuna Fish Lydon (aka eggbeater), and an additional bonus challenge of Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels. I cant say no to caramels, so I did both!

We made a caramel sauce, and then incorporated it into a cake and the frosting. I found this to be a totally delicious cake, really moist and not too fatty either. I'm biased as I adore caramel, but I really liked it!

The cake is fairly straightforward, its lovely and moist from the caramel and from the milk that is added.

The frosting is very interesting, it is made from brown butter. I found that even my fine strainer let flecks of the browned butter through, but I liked the brown flecks in the icing.

This time, I decided to add some apple accents, I made apple chips as a decoration(see gourmet, I used cinnamon instead of cumin), and mixed some of the frosting with my apple butter for the filling. I think it worked really well. I then took some of the caramel syrup and boiled up with some cream to make the caramel syrup decoration. I also discovered that trying to write with caramel is very tricky as you get little hard bits of caramel getting stuck in the piping tip.

Many of the Daring Bakers mentioned that this recipe was too sweet for them, I knew that I'd made it before, but it got me second guessing myself and worrying that everyone would hate it. Turns out I didn't need to worry, the birthday girl loved it and everyone else seemed to as well. Its a lovely moist cake, we all knew to take a small slice, but it was very well received. Another reminder that the daring bakers are a very diverse bunch, and maybe the recipe changes depending on your location and ingredients, not to mention everyone interpreting the caramel instructions differently. Funnily enough Shuna recently commented on this in a post.

I actually made 1 1/2 recipes so I could make some babycakes too, they were made in little petits fours cases, but they came away from the cakes so I removed them. I topped them with a little apple butter/frosting mixture and an apple chip or two.

I then got to work on the caramels. A vanilla bean was simmered in some heavy cream, which was added to a boiling mixture of sugar and golden syrup. The mix was then boiled until it reached 265f and then poured into a pan to cool. They were cut into squares and then I had to very quickly wrap them before I ate them all, they were totally delicious!! I found them to be even more delicious than my usual fleur de sel caramels. Not sure if it was the golden syrup or the real vanilla bean. Mmmm



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 them 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 water1 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)

GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels

Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert


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


9-inch square baking pan (I used a silicone one so no fussing around was required)

Candy thermometer

Procedure: Place the baking pan on a cookie sheet.

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.


Deeba PAB said...

Thanks for hosting the wonderful challenge this month. Was different to anything I've done before, & very enjoyable indeed! Love your cake, the apple accents (they are amazing), & the petit fours! WOW!! Cheers Deeba

Marija said...

Your caramels are perfect! Thank you for hosting!

RecipeGirl said...

Terrific! A wonderful success :)

Tara said...

Thanks for co-hosting this months challenge... I feel your pain with the caramel stuck in the piping tip, I had the same problem with flakes of salt blocking my tip when I was piping my icing... very annoying! Beautiful cake :)

Lis said...

Thanks so much for hosting a fantastic challenge this month, Jenny! You guys did an amazing job! :)


Aparna Balasubramanian said...

I really like the way your cake is decorated with apple chips. Looks very unusual.
And such perfect caramels.

Thank you for hosting this month's challenge. The frosting was a bit sweet for me, but the cake was awesome. And I actually made caramels!

Renee said...

Thanks for hosting. I adore caramel as well, and it really made this cake special! I will make it again...and again...and again!

Yasmeen said...

Cake and the caramels looks perfect.Baby cakes with apple accents was neat idea.thanks for being such a lovely host:)

Medhaa said...

this was a lovely challenge, love the cake. THank you so much.

ingegerd said...

your cake is greate!!=)

Speedbump Kitchen said...

Great job, thanks for hosting this great challenge

Laura Rebecca said...

Thank you for hosting! Your caramels are gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Your caramels look amazing! Thanks for a wonderful challenge! :)

Di said...

Ooh, I love the idea of apple with this cake! And your caramels look terrific. Thanks for a great challenge this month.

adozeneggs said...

The cake looks amazing and I can't wait to make the caramels for Christmas!

Helene said...

Thank you for hosting this month! It was a great challenge and you made everything perfect!

Andrea Meyers said...

Your cake turned out so pretty! Thanks for hosting this month and choosing such a scrumptious challenge.

Anonymous said...

Great job and thanks for hosting!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Nice idea to use dried apple slices and youe caramels are absolutely perfect! Thanks for co-hosting this month!

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for hosting the challenge this month! I love the apple accents on the side of the cake as I adore apples with caramel :) I also didn't find it too sweet - and I ate big pieces of it!

Cakelaw said...

Your cake and caramels look fab - love the apple round the edge. Thanks for being one o our hosts this month.

BC said...

It was sweet for us.. meaning we just paused for 5 minutes befoer thinking about having more.

Your cake and cupcakes are gorgeous.

CookiePie said...

Thanks for hosting! Your cake is gorgeous, and I love the apple you added. Great job!!

Jennifer said...

Your cake is gorgeous! Thanks so much for hosting.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful choice for this month's challenge, it was a lot of fun!

And I really respect anyone who can write on a cake- I still find it intimidating!

Maryanna said...

Your caramels look so chewy and creamy. Mine were a little darker, but tasted so good.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this challenge - thanks for choosing such a great flavour to explore.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely apple circles! Your caramels look perfectly delicious also! Thanks so much for helping to host this months challenge!

Angela's Kitchen said...

Beautiful! The apple accents are amazing.

And thanks for the challenge. It was great! I finished it all gluten and dairy free and it is a keeper.

Anonymous said...

Those caramels are lovely! I procrastinated and didn't have time for them, and I'm so regreeting it. Thanks for co-hosting the challenge this month. It was a fun one!

Shaheen said...

Hey there! Thank you for hosting DB this month. It was a lot of fun and I had a great time making caramel cupcakes. :D

Janet said...

Oooh that is a lovely birthday cake! Thanks for hosting the DB challenge this month :)

glamah16 said...

Thanks for cohosting. I love your vesrions.Especially the apple chips. Fun you made the cake for Wilton classes! Far diffrent ffrom my Wilton experinces( they encouraged us to use box mixes).

Anonymous said...

This was my first DB challenge and I had so much fun! Thank you for hosting! I didn't do the caramels, but I am going to do them this week.


Brownie said...

Absolutely lovely! It was a pleasure to co-host with you this month!

Katrina said...

The cake looks great and the caramels look delicious!

Anonymous said...

Your cake and caramels look great! Thanks for hosting this month!

TeaLady said...

Beautiful cake. Great job. Thanks for hosting this cake. It was an experience.

chef_d said...

Thanks for the challenge!! I thought I wouldn't be able to post it on time but it was worth it!

Dolores said...

Oooh... I really like the apple addition.

And I'm so-ooo glad you insisted on the icing as part of the challenge; it's a-may-zing.

Thanks for jumping in and hosting with us.

Anonymous said...

Love the apple decoration. Thank you for the wonderful challenge!

Esther said...

Thanks for a great challenge. One that is certainly on my to make again list

Lot-O-Choc said...

Great job on hosting a truly delicious challenge! Love your cake, i didnt get the time to make the caramels :(

Unknown said...

So glad that your crowd liked the cake...mine did, too! We like sugar! :-) The caramels look wonderful. I didn't try them but you did fantastic with them.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What a great idea with the apple butter! and the apple chips are so cool.
I really enjoyed this cake and the frosting.

Anonymous said...

Your play on a caramel apple is so creative! Thanks for hosting this challenge, and especially for all the incredibly helpful tips you gave in the forum... couldn't have made my cake without them!

Anonymous said...

Apples and caramel do meld very well together, good idea, now add some cinnamon to the cake and val la, you have a wonderful warm winter treat! Your caramels look wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful cake, and I love the petit fours as well! Thanks for co-hosting this month and for a great challenge!

Libby said...

Great challenge! The baby cakes are adorable and the caramels look so professional.

Jaime said...

thanks for cohosting! your caramels look tasty and your cake is so beautifully decorated!

Bumblebutton said...

Thank you for the great challenge! I thought it was delicious! Your caramels are the perfect color and those apple slices are just gorgeous. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

First off, I must say, you are a cake artiste! Secondly, I want to thank you for cohosting the November challenge.

Finally, I made a huge boo boo. Apparently, when I posted my caramel cake and candy challenge, I accidentally checked 'private'. I just remedied the situation so my post is now viewable to all. I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out!! SO sorry for that! Just wanted to make sure you knew I completed it :)

Anonymous said...

This was a great challenge! Everyone who tried it, loved it! Yours looks great, I like your piping skills.

Anonymous said...

I was the birthday girl and I LOVED this cake! Thanks Jenny!