Saturday, November 29, 2008

Olivia’s Caramel Layer Cake

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( for sharing with us her signature caramel cake. Her recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting can be found at (, as published on Bay Area Bites ( If you’d like to try the recipe, additional guidance on the cake can be found here ( … ake-a.html) and here as well ( … he-recipe/). Thanks also to the co-hosts this month ( Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food (, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

The assembly of this cake requires the careful coordination of 3 recipes: a caramel syrup, the cake, and a caramelized butter frosting. The latter two rely on the perfect execution of the first. Much ado is made about balancing the addition/incorporation of liquid and dry ingredients to form the cake batter. This part was not a problem for me. I was most nervous about the syrup, wondering if I cooked it long enough—if the color was deep enough. I took pictures so that I may compare with others. It certainly tasted good and it did its job in flavoring the cake and frosting.

I love making layer cakes and so chose to do so with this challenge. The amount of batter this recipe generates was perfect to fill two very deep 6-inch cake pans. In my opinion, splitting each layer (for a total of 4) always makes the assembled cake look stately as it is sliced and plated. I brushed each layer with caramel syrup and drizzled the top and sides of the cake with syrup once it was frosted. Admittedly, my piping skills leave a lot to be desired. To finish, I sprinkled the frosted cake with Murray River Australian Sea Salt ( (I’ve been sampling the gourmet salts at my local spice shop. Read further below for more details on its appearance and texture.) It made the cake sparkle with a slight iridescent sheen and was a good counterpoint to all of the sugar.

This little 6-inch layer cake was a huge hit! Smaller and smaller portions were shaved off of the last slice—no one wanted to take the last piece. The most repeated compliment was “moist”. It was even suggested that this would make a superb wedding cake. I feel so fortunate to have access to such professional talent as Shuna and to be able to reap the accolades as well.

Having a copious portion of caramel syrup left over, I decided to make a half portion of Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from her book, Pure Dessert. The recipe calls for golden syrup. After researching exactly what that was (including appropriate substitutes) and perusing other caramel recipes in which honey or agave nectar were implemented, I determined by the viscosity of my caramel syrup left over from Shuna’s recipe that it would be a good substitute. It worked beautifully. I chose to make a softer caramel by allowing the confection to reach only 260°F. Each caramel was dusted with a pinch of Murray River Australian Sea Salt ( The salt is a new favorite of mine. It has a lovely, fluffy texture, a pale peachy color, and the salinity was a good contrast to the sugar. I wrapped the caramels in wax paper, twisting each end. They will be a birthday gift for my officemate who keeps a candy bowl full of Werther’s on his desk. I think he may notice a distinctive difference in these handmade treats!


No comments: