Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not just a piece of cake







I was really really nervous. All that talk about 'balancing fat with acid and protein JUST RIGHT' scared a beginner like me. Not forgetting the warnings and safety precautions of preparing the caramel syrup - which I did finally get right on my third try.
I took this as a three day project. On the first day I made the syrup. Although it scared the hell out of me, I would recommend this to everyone. Not only because it's sometimes good to conquer your fears, but also because it tastes so good, is (after all) quite simple (and cheap!) to make, makes a great gift and goes great with fruit, ice cream, hot milk, with plain yoghurt... I could go on, but at this point I have to admit that I almost gave up while running to the shop to buy more sugar during my attempt to get it right. But that's irrelevant.
Next day I baked the cake. I Used three different sized glass jars instead of one springform and baked them for almost an hour. Of course I was stressed and afraid about how they would turn out, but when the sweet scent of caramel spreaded across the kitchen, I was sure it couldn't have gone completely wrong.
Then the third day was frosting day. It went quite well although I was still worried if my caramel syrup had the right consistency. I did everything exactly as in the recipe and found myself tip toeing around the ingredients to keep them happy and co-operative.
After that it was pure pleasure. I liked how the salt and caramel tasted together. And the cake itself was amazing. In all I'm proud that I completed my first ever Daring Bakers Challenge and I'm already looking forward to the next one!
Thank you Lisa and Yvonne, and Thank you Shuna for the recipe!

To see other Daring Bakers creations, go here




CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING




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.

CARAMEL SYRUP

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 (colour should be dark amber) without mixing it.

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.

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 http://eggbeater.typepad.com/, as published on Bay Area Bites http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/.

Co hosts this month (http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/) are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo: http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/), Jenny of Foray into Food (http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/). And since none of us know jack about alternative baking, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (http://glutenagogo.blogspot.com/) to assist us.

13 comments:

Marija said...

Welcome to the DBs! Your cake is beautiful!

Dragon said...

Great job with your first challenge! It took me two tries to get my caramel just right. :)

Laurie said...

Excellent job on your first challenge! It looks delish :)

Jude said...

Perfect layers... Didn't know what they meant about balancing the cake and all that but it turned out delicious nonetheless.

Julia @ crazyaboutbretzels said...

Thank you all for the support!! :)

Rossana said...

Mielettömän kaunis kakku!

Haastoin sinut karkkimeemiin. Käy kurkkaamassa sivullani. Jos sinulla ei ole aikaa tai huvia osallistua niin ei hätä :D !

Yaelian said...

Congratulations on your first entry to Daring Bakers...

Näyttää tosi namilta toi kakkusi ja ei lainkaan kalpene muitten osallistujien kakkujen rinnalla (kävin kurkkimassa,,,)

linda said...

Wonderful job on your first challenge! Mini is the way to go with cakes ;)

Ruth said...

Great first challenge. Your cake and photographs are beautiful!

nikkita said...

You did a great job! Very pretty petite I think ^_^

Gretchen Noelle said...

Great job with your 3 day cakes! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Julia @ crazyaboutbretzels said...

Thank you everyone! It's a great feeling to belong to the Daring Bakers! :)

Claire said...

Great job on your first challenge! I think you had nothing to fear.