Carmel Cake

Daring Bakers November Challenge

100_0683, originally uploaded by lclea.

I’m a little late getting this up as I spent the day traveling back from Colorado. I looove Colorado and one day may just not return from a vacation out there (I actually did this before, so don’t doubt…)

I had a fun time making this cake, and for someone who’s made caramel, it wasn’t too hard. My cake ended up really carmelly and possibly a little too sweet, I would maybe back it off a touch if I made it again or have a heavier hand with the salt.

I thought it ended up pretty. 

I’m showing links for the recipe, it’s author and the wonderful hostess of the Daring Baker’s challenge this November following.  Also, see other great cakes at http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/

CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/)

FOR THE CAKE:
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt, and cream the mixture until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

FOR THE CARAMEL SYRUP:

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

FOR THE CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING:

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS
from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111

Ingredients
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Equipment
A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer

Procedure

Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

Variations

Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.

Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.

Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.

Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.
Hosted by Dolores of http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/

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Cashmere Hat

IMG_2254, originally uploaded by lclea.

Know what’s the best thing about laptops? You can blog from bed. Not that I am, of course not, how lazy…

Anyhoo, I noticed recently that I have been neglecting part of my blog. In big ole letters at the top it mentions all the things I’d envisioned my blog containing. I’m going to try and actually get more of those things into the blog. My start is knitting.

I was taught to knit by my aunt when we lived in Colorado. aside—Ever notice how a lot of good things happen in Colorado? For some reason, I am a natural at knitting. I just took to it. Now I’m not all sensei master about it like my aunt, but I’m not bad.

The thing is I love knitting.  It relaxes me and takes me to a happy place.  Also, when you’re done, you get a prize, a gift for all your work.  My trouble is I’m so busy now that it’s hard to justify taking the time to knit.  That being said, I’ve started knitting again.  Since I’ve been back at school I’ve started some socks (with the school colors, natch), finished a ribbed/ruffled scarf and a cool hat.

Here is the  little hat I whipped up. I’m all about hats. They are fast to knit and you can knit them in the round which is easy-peasy. This was a neat little kit we (actually my mom got for me) got at a LYS (local yarn shop). It’s a swirled rib pattern and looks spiffy. Please don’t laugh at my attempts to photograph it. That is a work in progress.

Looks like I’ll get a chance to wear it since the temperatures are dropping off the charts later today. Yah!

Back on the Horse



Back on the Horse, originally uploaded by lclea.

As I said yesterday, I love horses. If you look at the last post you can see me as a kindergartner on a rather large horse. A big memory of that ride was that I felt no fear. I never considered that I would fall off.

I have however not always stayed on the horse. I’ve been pitched twice. Once I was little. I remember being on the horse and then I was in the gravel. I probably cried, heck I was young, but I never considered not getting back on another horse.

The other time I was older. My family was in Colorado again and I was heading off for a six hour ride. On the longer rides occasionally we got to run the horses. I absolutely loved it and tried to canter/gallop whenever I could. A couple of hours into the ride right in the middle of a run, my horse hit a hole and tripped, rolled over on me and I was on the ground. I admit I was a little shook after all horses are heavy and it was so unexpected because I was a decent rider. This time I literally got right back on the horse. Luckily he wasn’t hurt and we finished the ride. We even got to run some more. I still love horses and someday I’m going to get one of my own.

I have to admit being a little bucked off today. Nothing serious, and tomorrow I’m right back on. This journey to my PhD is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be times when I can run full out and times when the horse rolls over on me. Its all about getting back on, getting back up and enjoying the ride.

Little Girl on a Big Horse

Little Girl on a Big Horse, originally uploaded by lclea.

From the earliest I can remember I loved horses. In this picture we were on vacation in Colorado. I was so excited for the first time I was going to ride on a horse by myself. I remember them hoisting me up. I remember that silly blue helmet they made me wear, I guess to protect me in case I fell off. What I remember most is loving it. It was a little scary being up so high, but I loved it and I just knew I wasn’t going to fall off.

There is something about a horse. I still love it. I don’t think there has been a time when I’ve been on a horse that I haven’t felt wonderful and free. I feel like it’s where I belong.

It’s a little bit the same being here at school. This is something I’ve wanted for so long and now here I am. It’s a little scary, especially when the classes are tough.  Maybe I need a blue helmet. I guess I’m just a bigger girl on a larger horse, and again it’s going to be the ride of my life.

Under Pressure

I miss Freddy Mercury.  I was listening to my Ipod yesterday and Under Pressure came on.

Okay, A, it’s a great song.  For some reason, when I hear it everything just stops and its like my life is on a sound track.

B. it also was very appropriate since I’ve been slammed with work the last few weeks and was studying for another horrible stats test.  I was defiantly under pressure.  I hit repeat twice.

Then it hits me, Freddy Mercury’s been gone for an awful long time.  Freddy died back in November of 1991.  Back when we were in the early days, fighting the good fight against AIDS.  I remembered back to the friends I’d lost.  I remembered watching the NAMES project quilt grow. But Freddy, he was a one of a kind person.  So much talent, and died so young.

So pop on your Ipod, and rock out to some Queen and remember Freddy.

freddie-mercury1

Post Election



100_0072, originally uploaded by lclea.

I love this picture of Colorado. I’ve never taken a photography course, so it may break all kinds of photographical rules, but still I like it.

I like the bareness and bentness of the tree. I like how it’s trying to block your view, but it can’t completely. This was taken on a short hike. It was taken in the fall four years ago when my life was very different. It’s interesting how dramatically things can change, but I image the tree is still there. Still bendy.