I very much enjoy being a member of the Daring Bakers. It gives me a chance to try new recipes and techniques that I would NEVER try to tackle on my own, and is challenging and fun all at the same time. That being said, I get to the end of most monthly challenges and say, “Phew! That was tasty, but I’m never making it again!” There is one very notable exception to this: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. I think this cake is possibly the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It is rich and sweet and kind of sinful-tasting. And it’s pretty easy to boot! I’ve made it three times in 5 months, and I look forward to making it again and again as the years go by. As I made this yesterday, I realized that I have never posted the recipe, so here it is:
Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
by Shuna Fish Lydon
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
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter one tall (2-2.5 inches 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, and cream them until light and fluffy. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs and vanilla, 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. Turn off mixer and–by hand–use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure the batter is uniform. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Place cake pan on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until sides pull away from the pan and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water, plus 1 cup water for stopping the caramelization process
In a small stainless steel saucepan with tall sides, mix 1/2 cup water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with a wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to high; cook until amber-colored. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in remaining 1 cup water. Caramel will jump and sputter! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on a be prepared to step back. (I always wear an oven mitt too!) Whisk over medium heat until is has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.
Caramelized Butter Frosting:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 Tablespoons caramel syrup
kosher salt to taste
Cook butter until lightly browned. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl; set aside to cool. Pour cooled brown butter into a mixer bowl. Add sugar a little at a time. When the mixture looks too chunky to take any more; add a bit of cream and caramel syrup. Repeat with sugar, cream, and caramel syrup until mixture looks smooth and all powdered sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste. Frost cooled cake.