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 (


  1. Your cake looks great. The cranberry in between the layers sounds delicious

  2. the cranberry layer in between the cakes looks delicious. and so does the caramelized butter on top. yum!

  3. Great job on the challenge - cranberry sounds good!

  4. Eek! I guess I burnt my syrup, since it was dark as the burnt photo you posted. But it did taste wonderful!

    I love your cranberry addition - it must've cut the sweetness of the cake perfectly. Great idea!

  5. Cranberry? OH YUM! Great idea!!
    Love the swirly on top!

  6. Lovely top of the cake! And the color between the layers is wonderful. Great job on this challenge!

  7. i'm so impressed by your decorating. bravo!

  8. This is a beautiful cake! I love the sea of caramel in the middle; and I agree, the browned butter is fantastic!

  9. Beautiful, and happy to hear I am not the only one who burnt their first batch of camarel syrup.