Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful for the Daring Bakers' November Challenge

This months challenge was truly special to me- 1) Because I have not made a true layer cake in so long, I forgot how much I feel in love with cake decorating. I cannot wait until I am closer to all my decorating supplies. 2) I never cook with butter. Going vegan a few years ago drew me to a baking margarine that I love and I usually use that. But, because we had to brown the butter I decided to use the real deal… Now, I can see why Paula Dean puts butter in EVERYTHING! Minus the negative cholesterol and blood pressure properties, it smelt and tasted so yummy! 3) I got to share this cake on Thanksgiving day (and the day after) with great friends.

This months DBer's challenge was a caramel cake and a caramelized brown butter icing. All information regarding the host, recipe creator, and the recipe itself can be found at the end of this post. But, I will delineate where I made changes (or had difficulties).

Caramel Syrup
This is only the second time in my life I have had to brown sugar in a pan. Once for the Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream challenge in July 2008 and for this challenge. And in true form, I burnt the first batch in July and the first batch here. Just to see the difference, I have included this picture. Can you tell which picture is the burnt one? Exactly!

Also, after reading about having tons of caramel syrup left over, I halved the batch. That was enough for the cake, icing, and to pour some between the layers and on top with no leftovers.

Caramel Cake
I did make a few changes to the cake.
1) I used 1 ¼ cup cake flour and 1 cup all purpose flour for a lighter less dense cake.
2) I used rum extract instead of vanilla. I thought the rum would enhance the caramel flavor.
3) I used a home made cranberry puree between the layers. (Boil 1 cup water and sugar together in a pot. Add cranberries and let simmer until mixture is red, foamy, and the cranberries have burst open. Next let cool for 5 minutes and mash through a sieve to extract the juices and softened cranberry pulp. Lastly whisk in powder sugar to taste and cornstarch to thicken the puree.)
Caramelized Brown Butter Icing
Browning the Butter is a MUST! It releases some hidden flavors of goodness I did not even know butter had! I did not use all the powdered sugar recommended in the recipe and I added more cream. My icing yielded just enough to cover an 8 inch triple tier cake.

Challenge Info:
Helping Dolores ( host this month are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food (, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

The leading lady this month is Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( and her signature caramel cake.

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites ( Shuna Fish Lydon's recipe (