With the holidays near, I have been trying out a bunch of new recipes, including the two unique recipes I developed and posted yesterday for a Kitchen Play assignment. For some reason, the thought of a caramel cake appealed to me, so yesterday I decided I was going to bake just that.
My baking assistant, Smuckers, and I decided to consult Epicurious.com for a caramel cake recipe and came across this one, which we determined was a winner. One of the things I really don’t like about baking is that I have to use real recipes, but alas, if I want delicious homemade baked goods, I need to start somewhere. Hopefully someday I will be confident enough with my baking skills to start making alterations to existing recipes without the fear it will destroy them.
Anyway, the recipe is as follows:
- 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 unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
- 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
For caramel glaze
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Equipment: a candy thermometer
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line 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 wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
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.
Making the caramel was both the most fun and most nerve-wracking part. I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I just tasted it a few times, being careful not to burn my tongue as I did on the caramelize brown sugar salmon on Saturday. It was neat to watch the mix go from a very light brown to a darker brown and to taste as it went from brown sugar to caramel.
The caramel ended up thin but really delicious. The vanilla really added an extra depth to the caramel and made it very fragrant. The cake soaked up much of it, making the cake a bit sticky and gooey. It is a simple, creamy, not-too-sweet treat and would be perfect with tea and a bunch of friends.
I have spent a lot of time cooking and baking, organizing things around the house, catching up on laundry, doing yoga, and running these days. And while I do have blogging work, some work for Red White Boston, and my newest freelance job with go2media (please like go2boston on Facebook & follow on Twitter!), I am kind of enjoying taking care of the house. I know there are certain women out there (who I know!) who would have a total snark fest with that, but I am learning to be okay with it. I am very slowly learning that this time is a gift and that I should be making the most of the moment. VERY slowly learning, but that learning is turning out to be the main purpose of taking this time. I am trying to turn everything from yoga to cooking to dog walking and running into a mindful meditation, to slow down, and to realize just how unique these few months will be in the grander scheme of my life. You have all been really supportive and totally lift me up with your comments and emails, so thank you!
Are you a person who can live in the moment, or like me, do you constantly have a million things from the past, present, and future running through your mind, even in the middle of the night?