Saturday, November 29, 2008
The Daring Bakers' November Challenge - Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
Caramel! It has to be my very favorite sweet flavor. So you can imagine how happy I was to see a caramel cake as this month's challenge for the Daring Bakers. (Recipe HERE.)
I haven't made a cake in a long time! But this recipe was a pretty straight-forward one, and not difficult. The only part that was a little challenging was making the caramel syrup, which was simply a cooked and caramelized mixture of sugar and water. I decided to make this sweet, amber concoction a day early, to make the actual cake-preparation simpler. (I think I might have stopped the caramelization a little too soon; it would have been better to have a richer, darker color.) Here are some pictures of the process and the final syrup.
The next day I baked the cake and iced it. I spread the icing on the cake using this old icing spatula, which used to belong to my dad, who was a professional baker. As you can see, it's well-worn, and has his name engraved onto the blade, so some other baker wouldn't walk off with it. It means a lot to me, because I know his hands held and used it innumerable times over many years.
To jazz up the top, I used some left over dulce de leche that I made the week before. It had been in the refrigerator, so I warmed it up, briefly, in the microwave, and drizzled it randomly across the top.
It was fun to bake a cake from scratch again. As I said, it's been quite awhile. I would certainly make this recipe again sometime. I was pleasantly surprised at the cake's texture, which was both dense and moist - unlike those fluffy, airy cake-mix cakes. The addition of the caramel syrup to the batter gave it a wonderful, mildly caramel flavor. I would be happy to eat this cake with no icing whatsoever! In fact . . . I think I'd prefer it that way. I'd have much preferred a sort of caramel glaze, poured over the cake, instead of a butter-based icing, which was too sweet for me (and that's not something I can often say!).
The next evening, after baking and icing the cake, we invited our across-the-street-neighbors, David and Lorraine, over for cake and coffee. I had stored the cake in the refrigerator, and I really enjoyed the flavor more the second day. David and Lorraine both told me how good the cake was, and both cleaned their plates, which is always a compliment to the cook.
Many thanks to the Daring Bakers' hosts/co-hosts for this month:
Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity
Alex of The Blondie and Brownie Duo
Jenny of Foray into Food
Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go
The recipe they presented was by Shuna Fish Lydon (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006/12/24/caramel-cake-the-recipe/).
Other Completed Daring Bakers' Challenges: Lavash, Pizza Napoletana