caramel cake

caramel cake

This month the Daring Bakers made a Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites. Dolores of culinary curiosity and Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo), Jenny of Foray into Food were our hosts.

I made my cake on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for a little pre-holiday potluck and it turned out pretty well, perfectly serviceable, but not amazing. I would probably revisit my adaptations before making it again – the texture was just a little too funky. Still, I did love the caramel flavors, so I might come back to this challenge and rework it.

Sadly, when I left the party, I discovered that my car had been broken into. Nothing was taken, but the passenger side window was smashed, which means that I’m out $200.  With the hub-bub of Thanksgiving, and trying to get the glass replaced, the cake and this post were completely forgotten. It is still hanging out in the brown paper bag which I never unpacked, and is probably as stale as a rock… and I am a day late in getting this out.

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 eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 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: 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.

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

I know I haven’t been around much lately. In just over a month, my life will start to shift back to normal. Until then, I don’t know how many posts I’ll manage to get up. But, I couldn’t let another month go by without a Daring Bakers’ post. This month the Daring Bakers made eclairs, and my gluten-free version turned out fabulous. The day that I made them, I had no sweet tooth, and no desire to bake. I also, wasn’t really craving chocolate, so I decided to go with a more classic cream filling. Luckily the next day, my sweet tooth came back, and within a few days all the eclairs had vanished from my freezer. I’m almost tempted to make more.

To make the dough gluten-free, I used a combination of gluten-free flours, added xanthan gum, and just a touch of baking powder. I’m not sure the baking powder was entirely necessary, but I did get a nice rise. I also decided not to prop open my oven door while baking.

Oh, and this month’s challenge was hosted by Tony Tahhan and Meetak.
Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Recipe after the Jump!

I came across a recipe for saffron and cardamom panna cotta the other day and thought to myself, why make panna cotta when you can make ice cream? So, I played with the recipe a little bit and ended up feeling quite smug when I tasted the results. Imagine the best rice pudding you’ve had at an Indian restaurant, minus the rice, and cold. It was perfect for these 90 degree days we’ve been having, and also a great follow up to curry.

Recipe after the jump!

banana cream pie

Last year, just before Father’s Day, I made homemade gluten-free graham crackers. My plan was to make my Dad this pie. But, my little sister was graduating, and Father’s Day sort of got lost in the shuffle. We stored the graham crackers in the freezer, but they were so good, I kept sneaking them. There might still be a few hanging out in my parents’ freezer, but I doubt it. Needless to say, my dad never got his pie last year. So this year, while he was visiting, I decided to make it up to him. Luckily, I have since found a great replacement crust for the old graham cracker standby. This cookie crust cuts down immensely on the work and tastes like shortbread. It works very well with the vanilla pudding and the banana.

Recipe after the Jump

This cake almost killed me. Or, at least, the buttercream almost did. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a more frustrating sojourn in the kitchen, and I definitely have new respect for the “daring” portion of the name “daring bakers.” Of course, it was largely my fault. For the record, you absolutely cannot use salted butter in buttercream frosting. Also, it is not a good ideas to add a sugar syrup that has crystallized, unless you want chunks of sugar in your buttercream. If you use a crystallized sugar syrup and salted butter together, I guarantee you, you will be dumping your buttercream down the drain.

Which explains why there had to be a second attempt at the buttercream. On the second attempt, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and make a honey syrup instead of a sugar syrup (it was actually part honey, part sugar), but it wouldn’t get up to 225 degrees. I used it anyway. I ended up with liquid buttercream. Apparently, if I had stuck part of the frosting in the freezer and the rest in the fridge and tried beating again, I might have been able to rescue it. I didn’t know that at the time, down the drain it went.

Which explains why there was a third attempt at buttercream, with my last two sticks of butter. I almost followed the recipe the third time. But, I cut down the sugar, so there would be room for the sweetness of the honey. After some frantic whipping, and a moment of panic when this buttercream too seemed headed for soup, the buttercream pulled together beautiful. Still, exhausted and cranky, I vowed I would never make an Italian buttercream again.

Until, I tasted this cake. It was wonderful, restaurant-worthy, wedding-cake-worthy, cure me of my baklava cravings-worthy. I had worried that the cake would be too sweet, with honey flavoring so many layers. I had also worried that the pistachio flavor wouldn’t come through. But mostly, I worried that the entire cake would end up in the trash, inedible. But instead, I couldn’t have been happier with the results. I would make this cake again, and not change anything. Each layer of this cake really does sound a distinctive note, and they blend together in beautiful harmony. The joconde is light and airy, with a hint of cardamom and a strong pistachio flavor. The buttercream is creamy, and tastes of honey, but the flavor is muted, almost subtle. The syrup adds hints of lemon and cinnamon and a rich jolt of honey that plays off the mellowness of the buttercream. With a rich taste of pistachio and a creamy decadent texture, the mousse was my favorite layer, and would make an excellent dessert by itself. Finally,the glaze, which I almost couldn’t bring myself to add, cuts the richness of the mousse, picks up the lemon notes of the syrup and gives the cake balance.

I know this recipe looks intimidating. But if you want an adventure in the kitchen, and a rich reward at the end, give it a try. This was my first Daring Bakers’ challenge, and I look forward to many more

Recipe after the jump

ice cream sandwich picture

Deb from Smitten Kitchen did me in again. I now have in my freezer six generously sized homemade ice cream sandwiches…. and they are good…the cookies especially. I skimped on the ice cream, it isn’t homemade or even premium, and I certainly can taste the difference (but my wallet objected to spending the extra, and tonight the wallet won…) Still, these ice cream sandwiches were never really about the ice cream. No, they were about the brownie roll-out cookies, which I wanted the second I saw them. I managed to put it off for a week or so, but when five o’clock rolled around, and I knew that I had nothing to make for dinner that was worthy of posting on the blog, I couldn’t resist any longer. I did manage to show some restraint… I cut the recipe in half (which yielded 16 large round cookies… and yes, if you do the math, that means two of the resultant ice cream sandwiches are not in the freezer, but only one of those is in my stomach… thank God for roommates).

Recipe after the jump

blondies

I don’t know what it is about blondies, but I never seem to make them sober. Somehow, when you get me three or four drinks into the evening though, the urge to bake becomes irresistible. So tonight, four shots in, out came the measuring cups and the chocolate chips. But hey, my guests didn’t seem to mind, and the blondies were delectable. I should probably tweak this recipe a little more. My blondies don’t have a lot of lift, another egg or a little more baking powder would help that. But these are a carmelized gooey delicious mess, and while they might not be the most photogenic, it doesn’t really matter. Also, I find that trying to improve a recipe while drinking is not a good plan. So, feel free to add baking powder or an egg, and let me know how yours turn out. But really, these are great just as they are.

Recipe after the jump