Wow, I finally managed (incredibly) to complete my challenge on time! Let me start (according to the rules) by mentioning the recipe appeared on this blog http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006/12/24/caramel-cake-the-recipe/ and is a creation of Fish Shuna Lydon. The blogs hosting this Daring Bakers November 2008 challenge are : http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/ , http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/ and http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/ .
Now for my post. As I first read the recipe (and other guys’ comments), I knew right away that I absolutely HAD to reduce sugar amount, and I did so at every step.
I started the previous day by making the sugar syrup. I made only HALF the recipe, and found it was plenty (I had some left over). No problem at all making it, I just had to be careful since from the moment sugar just begins to colour to the moment caramel is ready it takes mere seconds! When a very fine wisp of smoke started coming out, and the caramel was pretty dark (but NOT burnt), I pronounced it ready. I used a long spatula when adding water to the hot caramel (away from fire), and it did splatter, but fortunately I didn’t get burned.
No problem making the cake itself, as mentioned in recipe, it is an ordinary “dry, wet, dry, etc.” cake. I slightly reduced the sugar as well (used 1 cup and 2 Tbsp), and added more baking powder (a total of 1 ½ tsp). My rule of thumb for cakes than don’t have stiff-beaten egg whites is no less than 1 tsp per cup of flour. In my oven it took 1 hour to bake completely. The colour was lovely (thanks to the dark caramel).
As for the icing, I used only 6 Tbsp butter, 4 oz (about 1 cup) icing sugar, no cream, no vanilla, 2 Tbsp caramel syrup and 1 Tbsp of rum. With these quantities I had enough for filling and icing top of cake. I couldn’t have found takers if I had put in any more sugar. I still found it too sweet, but I used it to complete my challenge, and altogether the result is pretty good. I’m taking it to the office Monday, I’ll let you know how fast it goes!