Saturday, November 29, 2008

November DB Challenge: Caramel Cake


Shuna Fish Lydon's Caramel Cake, to be specific. Along with our hosts Dolores, Alex, Jenny, and Natalie (for those GF DBers out there), Shuna had us making caramel syrups, browning butter, and whipping up a cake "that is truly about baking." Uhh... little did I know that all those other cakes I made didn't have a thing to do with baking? Well, my initial skepticism disappeared after seeing some of the problems that people had - curdled batter, burnt caramel syrup, solid caramel syrup, collapsing cakes, unbaked cake centers... Yikes!


My solution? I actually made the cake before the last week of the month - I know! I've never done that, mostly because the challenges haven't taken too incredibly long. But after seeing so many people redoing the recipe, remaking the caramel syrup 1, 2, or even 3 times, I... umm... got a lil scared. You see, I'm not a really exciting baker. And my favorite things to bake aren't very fussy - bread, cookies, etc. Layer cakes have so many things that can go wrong, and really, what's so bad about a sheet cake with standard frosting when you want a little cake?


Luckily, I was stuck. I'm a Daring Baker, darnit! I have to make the caramel cake. It's a requirement, and if everyone else has to struggle through, I do too. So I rolled up my sleeves, pulled out my ingredients, and... revised the recipe. I just halved it, okay! Nothing really big, but what was I supposed to do with a 9" two-layer cake?!? There was only one tense moment actually during the entire assembly - I had forgotten to bring my milk to room temperature, which slightly curdled the batter. Well, it was already mixed up, so into the mini springform it went. With my fingers crossed. Because I'm rational like that. (Operators on the floor have asked if I spent thousands of dollars to go to a fancy engineering school to learn how to cross my fingers. Seriously.) There was a little extra batter after filling the pan 2/3 of the way full, so into a little 7 oz ramekin it went.


Honestly, I have no idea how long it baked, because I was browning butter by that point in time. And guys, there was room in my brain for only one thought - "Why have I never browned butter? OMG, I must brown butter ALL THE TIME. SOOO GOOD!" With a hefty dose of the caramel syrup and enough powdered sugar to get it to a spreading consistency, I realized that I would have to frost the cake asap so that I didn't eat the browned butter frosting by itself. Or at least not all of it. Out popped the cake from the springform (next time, I'd butter and flour the pan, it stuck a bit), cooled, split, and frosted.

As decoration, I was going to make Alice Medrich's Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, but unfortunately the heavy cream that was destined for them was repurposed for whipped cream on Thanksgiving. What can I say? The boyfriend (and to be honest, me as well) can't have pumpkin pie without whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream. Byebye caramels, hello brittle. Pepita brittle. Love of my life. Seriously, this stuff is awesome. So complex, just | this close | to being burnt, sooo tasty.


The takeaway message? Make the frosting. Make the brittle. Dear lord, make the brittle. The cake? Eh, a little too fussy for not enough payoff. I'll stick with something simpler next time I need cake to slather that frosting on.

Seriously. Make the brittle.

55 comments:

Jacque said...

I pretty much agree with your thoughts.

Yours looks delish!

Judy said...

Wasn't that frosting fabulous? The cakes were rather plain, tastewise, but that frosting made all the difference. I made the caramels this morning, and they are delicious. I'll have to try your brittle as well.

Di said...

Great pictures--it looks like your cake turned out great. I agree, the frosting was amazing, though I think I should have cut back on the sugar a bit. But the combination of the browned butter and caramel and salt was awesome. I ran out of time to make the caramels too, but hopefully I'll get to them soon...

rainbowbrown said...

Okay! You win. I'll make the brittle. Nice looking cake too. cakecakecake... :)

Jude said...

I will also make the brittle. Something about the it sounds so sinister but I will, indeed, make the brittle.

natalia said...

I'm going right away.....! I didn't make the caramel candy so I should try your version !!!For me the frosting was too sweet maybe with half the sugar because I liked the brown butter and caramel flavors

Cristine said...

Looks delicious! I loved the frosting, too!

strawberriesinparis said...

Awesome job! and brittle?? well I'll have to try that!

NQN said...

I had the very same reaction when I browned the butter-why haven't I browned butter more often? Your cake looks lovely!

Natashya said...

That brittle sounds really good!
Your cake looks great, I am glad I never saw the comments about other people's troubles with it, I might have been even more nervous.
I really like your little polka dot spoon too, very cute!

Megan said...

I agree - the cake wasn't anything fantastic.

Shaheen @ Ambrosia said...

Delicious looking cake. Great going!

Yasmeen said...

I love the mini serving of the creamy delicious cake.love you new blog makeover.

Beryl said...

I concur, I thought the cake and the frosting together was way to sweet. But the frosting by itself- could not stop eating it!

Sara said...

God, that frosting was good! Great post, good looking cake!

Lori said...

Your cake looks great. I like the new look of your blog.

Marye said...

ummm I am not sure, Caitlyn, should I...Uh...should I make the brittle?

Great cake..you did an awesome job!

blessings,
marye
bakingdelights.com

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Browned butter is a fantastic event! Takes you over the top.
I loved the cake.

Marie said...

oh dear, your cake looks sooo wonderfully delicious! I love the pecans on top and the drizzle. I loved the frosting on this cake. I could have just eaten it with a spoon like a pudding!

Susan said...

You've convinced me to make the brittle. The cake is gorgeous and brown butter does indeed make everything better.

vibi said...

WOW! Those caramel chunks look divine! What courage you had to make them on top of the cake!
Beautiful! I the inside looks as perfect as the outside!

Katrina said...

The whole thing looks amazingly good. The brittle definitely looks amazing. Printing that recipe.

Aparna said...

Your cake looks good and maybe I should make the brittle?
I put cashews in my caramels.

David said...

Your cake looks great! I also thought the frosting was the best part.

Judy said...

Sad to say, I only made a half-recipe of the frosting. It didn't even frost all the cupcakes, let alone leave enough for straight eating! Never again.

TeaLady said...

WOW! CAitlin. I think you must have been just waiting for my post to come up. I posted, went back and BAM!!! there was a comment. Your cake, as usual, looks yummy!! Brittle topping. Great Idea. Guess I was lucky, I didn't have any trouble with ANY of the cake parts. Must have been my lucky day. It was the frosting that made the cake, tho'. Great job on yours.

crumblycookie said...

Interesting - I liked the cake way more than the frosting. And thanks for the brittle recommendation - I've had my eye out for a good brittle recipe.

anudivya said...

Looks awesome... you are quite the daring baker!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Aren't you glad you made it? Looks just perfect, really!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Great job on the cake! It looks delicious. I agree it was fussy to make. Have checked out the Brittle - yes, I will definitely make the brittle!

Cakelaw said...

Your cake looks amazing - good on you for rolling up your sleeves, despite your misgivings. (I was lucky - I only read the DB forum AFTER I had finished, otherwise I think I'd have never started.)

Fit Chick said...

I agree with you about the cake, nothing special; the frosting was just too sweet for me. I shouldn't have used so much on my cake!

pinkstripes said...

Your cake looks wonderful. Did you like the pepita brittle? I can't tell. :P

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Your cake looks yummy! Make the brittle, take the cannoli. I hear and I obey. I will make the brittle. I'm so glad that you have discovered browned butter. Food of the gods.

Gretchen Noelle said...

So you are thinking I should make the brittle? Lovely job on your cake. Truly, the frosting had to go on quick, otherwise I am not sure there would have been enough for the cake.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your cake is adorable! I totally agree with you. The frosting was to die for. And, I am definitely making the brittle!

Dolores said...

I am so-oooo with you on the frosting. How is it I'm forty and only now discovering the magic of browned butter. Worthy of licking off someone you love.

Thanks for baking with us.

Pinch My Salt said...

I loved the flavor of the cake on day two. And I loved the frosting...in small amounts. But what I really loved was the combination of the two! And now I want to make the brittle :-)

MeetaK said...

lovely! this looks fantastic.

Julia said...

Sounds like we're on the same page. I liked the cake but it didn't blow me away or anything. But the frosting? Yes, yes, yes! It was so, so good.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. :-) Oh and I'll try the brittle soon too. :-)

kellypea said...

Hilarious! I have made the brittle and completely agree with you -- just not with this challenge. I loved the dark, dark caramel and its complex flavor. Salt in the frosting make it for me. Beautiful presentation on yours.

linda said...

So I guess I should make the brittle ;)
Love the look of your cake with the brittle decoration! Love the plate you served it on.

Snooky doodle said...

this looks really nice. Great blog I just visited it for the first time. i m a follower now :)

Tammy said...

I actually thought the cake was the best part! Looks great :0)

Elle said...

Like you posting style! Good exchange of that yummy brittle for the caramels. Your cake looks really great, too. I agree that it wasn't my favorite cake, but the browned butter really added something to the frosting.

Jesse said...

That cake came out beautifully! I have to try that brittle - yum!

Peabody said...

Looks like it turned out great. I so need to make the frosting.

nikkita said...

woah your cake looks perfect! look at the layering!

Jodie said...

Ooh your cakes looks a lot fluffier than the brick that mine turned out to be. I'll make the brittle!

bittersweetblog said...

Glad you didn't let the cake intimidate you- It came out wonderfully. :)

Jo said...

That looks seriously good. It's going on my "to make" list.

Liz said...

Ooh, the plates with the little spoons are too darling! I always love your presentation.

Y said...

Finger crossing is an artform, especially when it works! ;) Your cake looks fabulous.

bakinginoregon said...

All right, all right, I'll make the brittle! Gosh!

Your cake looks great, glad the frosting survived the trip to its destination on the cake.

Jenny said...

I'm glad I hadn't taken the time to read the problems posts, they might have frightened me!
Pretty cake.