Nov 29

Living Dangerously with the Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

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It’s always exciting to see what the not so secret band of bakers, the Daring Bakers, will come up with to challenge us every month. I always love going to see what our challenge is at the beginning of every month. For the past two months we have been given savory challenges, so this month we were rewarded with a sweet challenge. Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity was this month’s fearless hostess, along with co-hosts Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo, Jenny of Foray into Food, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (assisting the alternative baking contingent). They presented us with Shuna’s Fish Lydon ‘s (of Eggbeater fame) Caramel Cake as our November Challenge.

The fun in this challenge was making the caramel syrup which was the caramel flavoring for the cake and frosting on the cake. This involves heating sugar and water until they caramelize into a gorgeous dark amber color and then pouring in more water.
When you pour in the water you are rewarded with a show as the caramel jumps and hurls itself about inside of your pot!
Very fun, but you have to careful to avoid the spatter because that stuff gets HOT!!! I also loved browning the butter used in the frosting because the smell of browned butter is absolutely heavenly!

The cake itself was easy and quick to put together. We were given a lot of latitude with this challenge, so I made a smaller round cake with two layers.
When assembling my cake I brushed the bottom layer with some of the caramel syrup and then a layer of the caramelized butter frosting. The frosting was extremely sweet so I decided not to frost the sides of the cake, leaving them au naturel, and only frost the top of the cake. The result was definitely a bit more rustic looking and reminded me slightly of a giant cupcake.
The taste was fabulous, and I was really glad that I had brushed the bottom cake layer with the syrup because it really helped to bring out the caramel flavors. The texture of the cake was fabulous–a slightly coarse yet really moist crumb reminiscent of corn bread. Yum!

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
By Shuna Fish Lydon

10 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tspn. kosher salt
1/3 c. Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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

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

4. 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.

5. Sift flour and baking powder.

6. 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.}

7. 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.

8. 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.


2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 c. water (for “stopping” the caramelization process)

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.


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

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

2. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

3. 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

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

jillian November 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Your cake looks wonderful! I also had to restrain myself with the super sweet frosting.


Bob November 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Mmmmm, caramel cake. I’ve never made caramel, I’ve heard it is difficult. Did you have a hard time with it?


Lorraine E November 29, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I agree, the smell of browned butter is amazing! So rich and nutty. Your cake looks lovely! :)


Gretchen Noelle November 29, 2008 at 7:46 pm

A giant cupcake – cute! Lovely job!


[email protected]: a food blog November 29, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Brushing the cake with the caramel syrup is brilliant! Great idea.


laline November 30, 2008 at 6:43 am

This cake is amazing !!!


LollyChops November 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Yow.. that cake looks amazing!


Regina November 30, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Mmm, giant cupcake. :)


Contamination December 1, 2008 at 10:38 am

Looks great, how much for postage to Japan?


Ingrid December 1, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Terrific looking cake even if you didn’t frost the sides. LOL! I’m from more frosting is better camp! :-)


Bex December 1, 2008 at 8:12 pm

That cake looks awesome! Mmmm creamy caramel frosting.


Dolores December 2, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Your cake looks great. I love the idea of hydrating the layers a bit with the leftover syrup. Will have to try that next time.

Thanks for baking with us.


Fuji Mama December 3, 2008 at 9:32 am

Thanks so much everyone!

Bob–I think caramel isn’t too bad, just as long as you follow the directions closely and watch it closely! You just want to make sure that it doesn’t get too dark (unless you like it to taste burnt)!

Contamination–If someone will buy me a plane ticket I make door-to-door deliveries! :-)


Melanie Gray Augustin December 4, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Ohhh… yum! I shouldn’t have read this before lunch!

Hey, I have a caramel question for you… I’m one of these naughty people that love to make caramel by just boiling a can of condensed (sweetened) milk. I know it’s dangerous as the tin can explode. Do you know a safe way to do it? I actually have a super sweet caramel tart recipe that I’m hoping to make for Christmas.


Tartelette December 5, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Fabulous job on the cake Missy!! I love it!!


Fuji Mama December 6, 2008 at 9:21 am

Melanie– Here is a safe way (scroll down, the method is at the bottom of the post):

Tartelette– THANK YOU!


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