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The first Daring Bakers challenge I did was SO challenging that every month I quiver a little in my boots and wonder what they’re going to ask us to do next. So it was a sweet surprise to discover that this month’s challenge was technical, but simple: bake a cake. Very sweet, very homely. The technical bits of the challenge were the sugar work – boiling up a dark caramel syrup, burning butter and making caramels. I must admit I passed on the caramels as the caramel cake was sweetness overkill for me already.

Thanks to the hosts of this month’s challenge:

Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, along with Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo, Jenny of Foray into Food and for the alternative bakers, Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.

The recipe is from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater – and you can it recipe here. To be dazzled and amazed by how glamorous this cake can look if you are a more dazzling baker than me, check out some of my accomplished fellow Daring Bakers – Aran, Helene and others. Me, I’m not one of those to turn my cake into spectacular works of art; this is about as homely-looking a baked thing as I’ve made in a long time. But sweet sweet sweet!

My only variation on the main recipe was to add sliced apples into the top. And I didn’t have a plain round tin, so I used this fluted one:

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The batter took ages to cream, and then later it curdled somewhat during the beating process. I blame the 30-year-old Sunbeam I was using…

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Mandatory breastfeeding break between batter and icing making:

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One homely-looking cake, cooling:

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For the icing, I used a bit of mascarpone instead of the cream. The burnt butter was AMAZING though, and we used some of the leftover butter over asparagus for the starters that night.

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I couldn’t face icing over the pretty apples, so I iced the sides instead. I think it gives a very Bohemian 70s look. Not glam, but it has homely appeal 🙂 And it went down well for dessert on Shabbat, night before the posting date!

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Caramel Cake With Caramelized Butter Frosting, courtesy of Shuna:

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 each 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 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. (The best tip I got for this was to cover the pot in some thick aluminium foil with a hole in the middle, and to pour the water through the hole. Muuuuuuch safer!!)
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.}

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.

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