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 (, as published on Bay Area Bites (

Other Completed Daring Bakers' Challenges: Lavash, Pizza Napoletana


Maryanna said...

Great job!!! I love the engraved spatula. That's so special.

Di said...

Your cake looks terrific! And it's really neat that you have some of your dad's things to use when you're baking. Oh, and thank you for the tip you posted on the DB board about using foil to avoid getting splattered when making the caramel syrup. Worked great!

BC said...

Linda!!! I found you - I couldn't remember who to thank for the tip about the caramel.

Big BIG thank you!!! You saved a lot of arms from burning.

Papa John said...

At my age I need a bib more often than I would like to admit.

The bib comes to mind because your cake made me want to d-r-o-o-l. I betcha the taste matched the quality of the photos, eh?

I bet I watched Papa Bob use that tool in the shop on South Franklin. I needed a warm and safe place to spend a lot of time in the first months after arriving in town. I was always hustling for little side jobs for "grocery money" in those days, and your Dad (or Mom) was good for a hot cup of coffee anytime. Better yet, I always got a lot more out of those visits than mere donuts and drinks, you know. I know you have the recipes; I hope you have some of his other favorite tools too to go along with them.

(I was even under that shop a few times, down in the tide zone. Another story for another day, Linda!)