As you read this, you will undoubtedly note it was posted several days late. I actually completed the cake a few weeks ago, but the preparations for and cleanup after the holiday kept me from the computer for the better part of 5 days straight. So, I hope you’ll grant me a little leeway this month (and probably next month too!) I am one of those people who hates to be late to anything, so in order to address this issue, I can assure you I have properly punished myself with a steel whisk.
I have to say that there weren’t many challenges that could have been presented this month that would make me set aside the time from holiday (Thanksgiving) preparations in order to make them. Which is why when I found out what this month’s challenge was, I was torn – do I spend time getting the house in order after our remodel, or do I bake? Of course, baking won out, how couldn’t it? Caramel Cake with Caramel Icing and Vanilla Bean Caramels? Are you serious? The only thing that may have gotten my attention more than this would have been some sort of triple chocolate cake with triple chocolate icing and triple chocolate pots de crème shooters on the side.
So, I set about to make this cake for a November family birthday party. Not having spent much time making caramel, I was a bit concerned about my ability to gently coax a lovely golden amber caramel out of my pot of sugar water. Past experiments with this mixture have not always gone very well, but as a Daring Baker, I was determined to complete this challenge.
It wasn’t as time consuming as some previous challenges have been, but it did present a few persnickety steps, particularly, the caramelization process, that did involve some time and intense focus on the stove top. Everything went well, though, and other than ending up with a pan that needed a little extra scrubbing, all of my caramel turned out just fine. I wanted a slightly larger cake, so I doubled the cake recipe and used (2) 9″ round cake pans – the final size was just right for the birthday cake. I did run into one issue in that I could not find any Golden Syrup available locally (I’ve seen it before, I just couldn’t find it when I needed it) so I ended up making a golden syrup copycat recipe I found online.
I shared this cake with about 10 other people and had mixed reviews. The frosting was the issue. I found it almost too sweet (if there is such a thing) and for my taste, the browned butter was out of place (as it was for several other tasters too). I’ll stick with browned butter and mizithra cheese served over hot pasta. The caramels, however were a big hit and disappeared quickly. Will I make this again? The cake, absolutely yes, the frosting, perhaps a second go without the browned butter would be more to my liking as well as a thinner layer – this stuff is wicked potent! The cake itself is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, and perhaps, if I’d toned it down a bit on the frosting, it would have been perfect. As you can see by my choice of caramels for the opening photo, that I was impressed by them. I only wished I’d topped them with some flake salt. The caramels are a definite make again recipe.
A big thanks again to Dolores at Culinary Curiosity, Alex of the Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food for the great challenge and for hosting this month. Natalie at Gluten A-Go-Go provided information for the Alternative Daring Bakers. This month’s Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting is courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (Eggbeater), as published on Bay Area Bites. The Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels are from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111
You can find a copy of the recipe here. Click on any of the photos below to see a larger version.