Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake



Oh no. Not caramel again. Please!

The baking gods must know that I haven't successfully made caramel, and that's why this month's Daring Bakers challenge is Caramel Cake, I just know it. The baking gods know I have to transform those sugary white crystals into thick amber syrup before I can call myself a true baker.

Sigh...

With fear and loathing in my heart, I once again pulled out the pan and the bag of sugar, and dragged myself over to the stove. One rule of caramel making is that you DO NOT STIR or muck with it in any way, or you risk turning the whole mass back into sandy sugar crystals. Well, for some reason, on my first attempt, I figured the experts didn't know what they were talking about and I stirred, and stirred, and then stirred a little more. Turns out the experts do know what they're talking about. My sugar and water mixture first turned into a boiling syrupy mass, and then magically turned back into sugar and water. Just like the experts said it would.

OK, well, it's nice to know the laws of chemistry are still intact.



On my second attempt I resisted with all my might and didn't touch the stuff at all. And it worked!! I got to the right shade of amber without burning it. Hallelujah! I wanted to shout from the rooftops (fourth time's a charm, I guess).

Armed with my perfect caramel syrup, I made the browned butter caramel buttercream and let me tell you, this is the best icing I've ever made in my life. I kid you not. If it weren't that I need to squeeze into a swim suit in exactly 21 days, I would have eaten the whole bowl with a spoon.


Many Daring Bakers mentioned that the icing was too sweet and I'll admit that without the addition of salt, it was too sweet. But once I added the 1/8 teaspoon or so of salt, it was perfect.

The cake portion had a lovely taste as well. It was a tad dense for my taste, though. I would have liked a slightly lighter cake. But it had a gorgeous caramel color. (By the way, I halved the recipe and made it in two 4-inch pans.) Bottom line... I would make the icing again, but I would probably try a different caramel cake.


This month's recipe was chosen by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity and comes to us courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon. The recipe can be found at http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006/12/24/caramel-cake-the-recipe/. We also had the option of making Alice Medrich's Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels. I ran out of time and didn't make them, but I hope to get to them later in the month.

Dolores' co-hosts this month were Alex of Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food. and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go. Thanks everybody for a most excellent challenge!

OK, this Daring Baker is signing off until next month. As always, I eagerly await next month's recipe.

42 comments:

SugarEd Productions said...

it's gorgeous! I had to skip this month, only my 2nd month, i suck. I wanted to taste it too. life got in the way. yours is so cute! why the heck are you going swimming in december?

Heather said...

Beautiful job Jacque!

chocolatechic said...

Dear me...

That looks fabulous.

Natashya said...

I love your tower of cake! Absolutely beautiful. I might just have to get married again so that you can make this cake for me...

Isabelle said...

magnifique réalisation ! un " bijou " ton gâteau !

April said...

It's beautiful!!

Megan said...

It looks so tasty- and the decorations are just sublime. I didn't care for this cake but it's all about the challenge, right? Congrats on making caramel successfully.

Beryl said...

That icing needs a warning label! I was trying to save the leftovers again but I kept sneaking bites of it!

Engineer Baker said...

I love how towering the four layers ended up - so pretty! And seriously, that frosting was amazing. I halved the cake and the frosting, and then was irritated that I had halved the frosting. I wanted to eat it with a spoon too.

Steph said...

That is beautiful! I can't wait for next month's challenge either.. I hope it's another cake!

Gretchen Noelle said...

What a lovely looking cake! Great job! I agree, frosting delicious; cake just so so.

vibi said...

Simple yet elegant... and totaly courageous to make it a four layers!
I'm amazed Jacque! Beautifully accomplished challenge!

La Petite Pâtissière said...

Hi, I just wanted to say that I think your cake looks amazing!! Really good job, the end result looks beautiful. I am horrified to say that I polishing off the last of my cake as I write this - no swim suits for me, thank god!! :)Lovely blog, too. I look forward to reading more! xox

Cakelaw said...

Lovely layered cake Jaque - just beautiful.

Thip said...

You did it, Jacque. Your cake looks cute!

Megan said...

Your cake looks B-E-A-utiful!

Maria said...

Lovely cake! I love how tall it is!!

Lynn said...

Your cake is exquisite. It looks as if you could use it for a wedding. You have learned the key to caramel, leave it alone and it will be fine. I do love the frosting, I make this a little runny and drizzle it over oatmeal cookies. The cake part, not so much. Still yours is amazing. Great job!

Jude said...

Love the elegant presentation. Makes it even more delicious I'm sure :)

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

The frosting is definitely the winner this month! I love your mini version. So, where are you headed with that bikini??

Jo said...

Fantastic job and 4-layers at that. Great pics and beautifully decorated. Love the mini cake version.

jillian said...

Such a pretty cake! I love all the perfect layers!

Elra said...

Great layers cake, it looks really beautiful.
Well done.

Anne said...

Wow! It looks just beautiful and I love the many layers of the mini cakes. Great job conquering the caramel, too!

Ruth said...

Wow your cake is gorgeous!! It looks like a work of art

Tammy said...

that is so cute! how did you get that icing effect on the side?

SiHaN said...

that looks delish! gosh.. no i'm so tempted to try my hand at these! argh

Dana McCauley said...

Yeah! broke your caramel cycle and created a truly lovely cake - nice work!

Cathy said...

Your cake is spectacular. Absolutely amazing. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Elle said...

First photo is gorgeous! The little cakes are cute, too. Guess the addition of salt to the icing makes all the difference! Glad you vanquished caramel worries. Beautiful color in your cake!

Maya said...

Great job!

Grace said...

YES, caramel again! and again and again and again!
nicely done. :)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

How elegant! I love your layers!

Tammy said...

thanks for the instructions :0)

Claire said...

This is so pretty! Great job at facing your caramel fears. :-)

Y said...

What a pretty cake - I love it!

culinography said...

Your cake came out beautifully!!

Pinky said...

What a cute little cake. I'm a bit jealous, since they aren't allowed to sell the little metallic non-pariels here in Ca I of course adore and desire everything decorated with them.
I'm also re-craving some of that frosting. It was pretty darn fantastic...

Kait said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful. All of those layers; the perfectly swirled icing; the silver balls. Well done!

Vera said...

Jacque, your little cake is adorable!

Mary said...

Your cake is perfect size. No need to share. :)

AmyRuth said...

Jacque = That is absolutely one of the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen. Beautiful photo. Boy, I would like to be your helper.
AmyRuth