Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Baker: Caramel Cake and Frosting

Wow! I'm going to make today's challenge date by the skin of my teeth. Because I put myself on a sugar treat block 3 weeks this month, I put off making this until I could eat sugar again. I think between Thanksgiving pies and this cake I am on sugar overload. Maybe I should go on sugar block again until Christmas...

Because I didn't want too much sugar after the holiday, I halved everything. I baked my cake in a 6 in. round cake pan. It worked perfectly. The frosting has a very unique flavor. I loved the browned butter flavor, but boy is it SWEET!!! I didn't even add all the sugar it called for. Matt said he thought it tasted like a fancy desert you'd get at a restaurant. You know, the kind you can only eat the small portion you're given before going into a sugar coma. He liked it.

I first started by making the caramel syrup. Two suggestions on the forums really helped me out here.
  1. After turning the heat on, don't stir the sugar until it turns amber and you add the water.
  2. When you add the water, use a strainer. I didn't have any splatters or splashes whatsoever come near my tender skin...
  3. Also, don't over cook the syrup. I let mine reduce a little too long and it turned out a little too firm. When I used it in the cake batter there were little crystal shards. It turned out just fine after baking, but I had to add a little water and reheat the syrup just long enough to thin it out so I could use it in the frosting.

I'm obviously no cake decorator!
After cutting out Matt's piece, I thought it quite resembled Pacman.

This month's challenge is hosted by Dolores, Alex, and Jenny.


Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites (


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


Gretchen Noelle said...

Your cake looks great! The pacman pic made me chuckle!

TeaLady said...

Pacman cake!!! *GIGGLE* Love that game. He eats everything in site. And that is what happened to this cake, every bit gone. IT's the taste that counts. Looks yummy!