1/29/12

Caramel Cake

Here’s something I learned on Friday: mind your caramel. Yes, certain as the sun rises in the east, an unwatched pot of caramel sauce will get all effed up.

I have been wanting to attempt this cake ever since I found it in one of my mom’s old issues of Gourmetand then was recently reminded of it again when I was up late one night trolling Lottie & Doof’s recipe archivesbut to quote Morrissey, we tried and we failed. Yes, I overcooked the caramel glaze, so that instead of a beautiful, transparent, liquid glaze (like Gourmet’s and Lottie’s), I blanketed my cake with dark brown sugar-leather.
At one point, I considered trying to remake the glaze, substituting half and half for the heavy cream (I had used all of my cream), but the hardened caramel layer and cake had melded togetherlike a couple of best friends, inseparable.
I share this failure with you as yet another example of me trying to do too much and then doing those things poorly, instead of slowing down and doing one thing right. I need to work on this. I had an old boss who used to say: Ya do it right, ya do it light. Ya do it wrong, ya do it looooooong. I was working as a waitress in a Middle Eastern themed lunch spot, and I was given a series of very serious versions of this speech throughout my time there. And would you believe it? Eight years later, I did this caramel cake wrong. But instead of starting over (doing it long?), I simply lived with it, though I'm kind of glad I did. It was still pretty great in a dealing-with-this-dessert-is-a-bit-like-eating-a-deliciously-sweet-old-boot kind of way. And, bonus, it gave our dinner guests a good laugh.

Next time, I’ll do it right/light. Yes, next time will be different.

Caramel Cake via Gourmet
Cake:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Caramel Glaze:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line bottom with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, flip cake so it is right-side up and then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make glaze:
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.

Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.
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30 comments:

Matthew said...

I had thirds. xoxox

Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said...

Still looks pretty good! I am absolutely petrified of caramel so I am naturally in awe of anyone who even attempts it. Plus those chewy bits of glaze left on the plate look pretty tempting...

penelope said...

Do it right, do it light...What a helpful philosophy! hehehe

Anonymous said...

Dude i think your cake looks awesome, even if it is a little "leathery"! I bet it tasted great!

keepfeeling said...

This looks like the perfect kind cake to go with my morning tea. I would totally dip leather in tea. xo

Heather Taylor said...

Even if it's "effed" up, I still want to eat the hell out of that cake!

Sunday Taylor said...

It still looks delicious. And isn't there another caramel cake you make that I tasted once? That was so good! Have a great week!

Rosie said...

I did the same thing this weekend -- I was trying to caramelize onions, but while I was washing dishes and cleaning the living room and making a cake, they somehow became burned. They didn't look as good as your cake looks.

Ms.Nožisková said...

oh yes, candy is all about precision and concision. it's like the realistic mechanical pencil drawing of cookery. one mention of "hard crack stage" or the like and this abstract expressionist epicurean generally flips the page.

but yay for an attempt... if for no other reason than for a moment i contemplated what a deliciously sweet old boot might actually taste like. x

Anne Zimmerman said...

As a girl who was eating granola last night with a fork, I appreciate your efforts.

Eggton said...

Dude, I learn new curse words from myself whenever I try to make caramel sauces. It's so freaking annoying. I like you picture-- that dollop of caramel almost looks like a little snake or beast, which pretty much sums it up. Bravo for writing it up in a winning style!

Megan Taylor said...

Dream cake!

Mary Anne said...

Wow, sounds like you and Anonymous both had some rough serving jobs back in the day!

The Flavor Carousel said...

Oh i know all about caramel or in my case orange marmalade (no kidding!) and the sauce for the wine poached pears hardening up like that! They did taste good though, like orange and wine flavored candy :-).

Jessica said...

You may have effed this up but it looks amaaaazing. Thanks for making me laugh as always :-)
-Jess

Kara said...

hahahaha this is awesome. love you, old shoe.

i also love the description of the cake as two old friends, obvs.
xo

Stacy said...

I did something very similar this weekend when I overcooked the syrup for granola bars--just slightly, just enough to make them a little bit TOO chewy. (And I also ate them anyway.) But this still looks really lovely! Sometimes old boots really are delicious.

amelia said...

Mary Anne, will you please remind me of why you were crying while waiting tables at Niwana again?? hahahaa

amelia said...

this made me laugh out loud.

K said...

Who doesn't want a Sugar Daddy on top of their cake?

Holly B said...

This looks amazing-I'd go for some of that caramel any time! Great recipe, I can't wait to try it!

Yum said...

Your caramel cake looks delicious, I can't wait to give it a try!

Anonymous said...

Add this to your list of helpful sayings: My aunt always says, "It's hard to be stupid."

essay said...

Great recipe...!! I tried it at my party and it came out with real good caramel taste in the cake...your recipe is now amongst my favorites cake recipe..!!

tunie said...

My version of "do it right do it light..." is to compare how quickly you fill up a vase when you pour water into it really fast, sloshing it everywhere and taking twice as long vs. when you pour it slow and steady, filling it up in no time with no loss of water.

somali music said...
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Blog writing said...

The cake looks so yummy in the caramel touch and the whole recipe is so tempting for me to try it out on the coming weekend....I just noted your cake recipe at my dessert collection.. :)

sales tax filing said...

The caramel end of this cake is looking so much yummy indeed...You have included each and every detail of the cake recipe above and it is really very helpful for all of us to prepare it.

somali music said...
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