Monday, November 7, 2011

Bake-off Challenge Part II - Caramel Cake Supreme

Author and buddy Angela Hunt recently started her Lovin' Oven Blog which chronicles all the fabulous creations she's been baking. I've been following her and marveling (and drooling) over her recipes. The breads especially. I love bread. It's at the top of my personal food pyramid, for sure––wait, make that the bottom half––as are the sweeter tastes in fare.

I made a Creamy Praline Pecan Pie (below, left)then challenged her to a bake-off, throwing down the baking mitten, which she promptly snatched up, accepted the offer and made this wondrous creation below, a Tuxedo Cake!

Wondering what I should bake next, I read a comment from a reader on my facebook page (waving to you sweet Stacey Daniels) about her mother's decadent Caramel Cake and––BING!––I knew what was next on my list to make. #1 because she said it was fabulous (and she wasn't lyin'!), and #2 because I'd never made a Caramel Cake before. However, I have made caramels and divinity so knew what I was in far. Sort of. LOL!

The homemade cake in this recipe is one of the best I've tasted. So delicate and moist, and not overly sweet. It's definitely a batter I'll use again even when not making the Caramel Cake.

So, for starters, I creamed the sugar and crisco...

Then added the milk and egg yolks, beating well. Then I beat the separate egg whites until stiff...

And folded them in...

Like I said above, these cakes turned out beautifully. So flaky and just a great "soft old-fashioned" cake.

Next came making the burnt caramel icing. Mmmm.... But! you know those disclaimers they put on commercials were a professional driver is road racing, like: "PROFESSIONAL DRIVER! CLOSED ROADWAY! DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME." That's what someone should've told me so I would've been more cautious. LOL! So a word to the wise, do not answer your cell phone during this stage. Do not pause to let your dog go outside because he sees a squirrel and is going berserk! Do not do anything but mind this icing. Just sayin'...

Put the butter, sugar and milk into a pot and melt. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup sugar slowly in a small saucepan until it's gold and syrupy, then add it to the milk mixture. Boil the icing until soft ball stage (about 240 degrees F).

Then pour into a glass bowl, add your vanilla and whip with a mixer until spreading consistency.

I'd done a little reading on the internet about making a Caramel Cake and everyone said that this stage was the trickiest. And it you'll see by my cake below. But hey, we're friends, right? We can be real with each other? : )

If the mixture gets too thick as you're working with it, you can add a touch of cream to thin it back out. But a warning, don't add too much. Like I did. You can add more but you can't take it back. Words to live (and cook) by...

And the final product...tada!

Certainly not Southern Living worthy but oh, does it taste delicious! And I put it on one of my sweet mother's favorite cake plates no less. She loved square cake plates and I love them too. I'll admit, I've got LOTS of cake plates. Love them. Collect them. And use them often just to spruce up normal everyday dishes. Kind of like I drink my sweet tea from a wine glass. They don't call it the Wine of the South for nothing. 

Oh yum, this cake is delicious, and the recipe follows below with permission of Pam Sanders, Stacey Daniel's mom.

And now, Ms. Hunt, the baking mitten is back in your court––or kitchen! What are you making next? Something sweet, I hope. I think next week, we should turn to homemade breads and rolls. Something yummy for Thanksgiving!

So...what do y'all think? 

Pam Sanders (via Stacey Daniels)
1 cup Crisco
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
4 eggs (separated)
Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time. Slowly add flour
and milk alternately. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in mixture. Bake
in 3 greased and floured cake pans until done at 350 degrees.
Burnt Caramel Icing
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Put 3 cups sugar, milk, and butter in large boiler. Bring to a boil and let
cook on medium heat. As soon as mixture starts to boil, heat small fry pan
and sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar slowly into pan as you stir and it melts to a
golden syrupy color. 
Add to milk mixture that is on medium heat and stir until boils again. Test mixture for soft ball stage. When reached, pour mixture into large glass bowl, add vanilla, and  mix with electric beaters until  consistency is ready for icing cake layers.  Enjoy!
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