Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Very Close...

Shuna’s Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting,
Pecan Praline Topping and Caramelized Bananas

“Don’t ask a Southern boy if your Caramel Cake is better than my mother’s,” exclaimed my husband once when I asked for a comparison. So it was no surprise to me when his eyebrows perked up when I informed him of the Daring Bakers’ Challenge for November.

His mother’s recipe consisted of a plain vanilla cake, which was not too sweet, which helps balance the rich caramel icing made of butter, brown sugar, vanilla and evaporated milk. Simple, but good! Our challenge recipe is somewhat different.

First, homemade caramel syrup is added to both cake batter and icing. Second, the butter in the icing is browned first, and then beaten. I was up to the challenge and curious to see if Mother-in-Law’s recipe would take a back seat to this upstart!
Shuna Fish Lydon, who earned a BFA in photography, and has been a professional cook and baker for 15 years, created the DB Challenge recipe. Her Caramel Cake recipe can be found here: http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006/12/24/caramel-cake-the-recipe/.

Here’s my experience:
For the syrup I determined that 6 minutes and 30 seconds was enough boiling on high heat to produce the smoke. By then it measured about 355°F! With a wire sieve over the syrup, I quickly poured the cold water without it splattering out.

Upon reading some of the comments on the members’ forum, I decided to reduce the amount of sugar in the batter by ¼ cup. I also added ¾ cup chopped and toasted pecans to balance the sweetness, add a nutty twist, and shadow the Praline Topping.

The batter was beaten and beaten and appeared curdled in the end. 2 tablespoons extra flour seemed to do the trick, then Batter Man (hubby) insisted on his raw portion, which was met with good reviews. I used an 8x8 square pan and baked the batter in two batches, but even though the layers did not rise as much as expected it was dense and delicious!

The Caramelized Butter Frosting also had that curdled look, but that was mended with the addition of about ½ stick softened butter, which helped bring the ingredients to a smooth mass. Icing Man (hubby) exclaimed it a killer icing!
I filled the layers with icing and iced the cake. I decorated the top with a Pecan Praline Topping I have been making for years. Here’s the link to the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pecan-Praline-Topping-104320. It’s delicious and very easy to make.

At the last minute, I sliced some bananas, sprinkled them with turbinado sugar, and sicked my kitchen torch on them. The flavor added yet another dimension to the seriously sweet confection.
The cake (in small portions) was enjoyed by many over Thanksgiving weekend. My niece, Sasha, requested it for her birthday next year, and hubby deemed it ‘very close’ to mama Mrs. Virginia Bolt Harris’ Caramel Cake. Now that’s a huge compliment!

Ms. Lydon’s blog http://eggbeater.typepad.com/ is a wealth of information for the home baker and I’ll be checking it periodically for ideas and tips. Thanks for being a good sport through our efforts in replicating your cake.

Thanks to our hosts Dolores (http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/), Alex (http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com) and Jenny (http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/) for hosting the challenge. It’s been so much fun!

- Dragana

1 comment:

Gabe's Girl said...

It looked wonderful! I knew you would make it something special. Now, I will want to borrow some of your fancy sugar and kitchen torch. After all, I am your neighbor and am supposed to ask for at least a cup of sugar! Great blog all around, D!