Daring Bakers Challenge : Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Frosting

Caramel. The ultimate expression of the potential of sugar.

(The above line works better if you imagine Jean-Luc Picard saying it)

In a move as wildly unanticipated as black beans in brownies, I have recently found myself obsessed with listening to Guns and Roses. This is surprising even for me, because I have never really rated them too highly in the past. In their heyday, the only GnR-related things that ever registered on my radar were Slash’s hair, and Stephanie Seymour walking down the aisle in November Rain.

Now, I can’t stop listening to them. I’ve become an instant fan (just add sugar..) and even found myself arguing with B the other day over whether November Rain was on Appetite for Destruction. He insisted no. “And I should know,” he said, “I’ve listened to that album millions of times.” “So have I,” I countered, “I listened to them millions of times.. erm..yesterday!” Of course, it turns out the track is on Use your Illusion I.

Anyway, Appetite for Destruction makes for great baking music. Or maybe it doesn’t. Perhaps I was sufficiently distracted by the music to calculate my conversions wrongly (darn cup measures!). Perhaps it was the mistaken double amount of butter I incorporated into my cake mix, or the extra flour, but I don’t think the end result was as originally intended. Mind you, the cake still turned out well, with a lovely caramel flavour, but it wasn’t anything to get too excited about.

So, I’m putting this one down as a “glad I made this, but probably wouldn’t be tempted to repeat it again!” challenge. As for decorations, I wasn’t feeling too inspired when it came to making this cake, probably because I had already been making quite a few cakey related things this month, so I went for a simple round cake, split it and slathered on the thinest scraping of vanilla cream, then topped it with some hazelnut macarons (my best attempt to date, of an adapted Paco Torreblanca recipe) sandwiched with the leftover frosting and chocolate ganache.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting back with another macaron and a cup of tea, wishing someone would take me down to the Paradise City…

Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Frosting :
(Note: I realised after putting the cake into the oven that I had stuffed up my conversions, so the cake recipe below is the original unconverted recipe, cup measures and all.)

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 176’C.

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 & cream 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.

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.

392g sugar
125g water
250g water (for “stopping” the caramelisation 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.}

180g unsalted butter
453g icing 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 icing 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 icing sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelised 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

(This month’s DB challenge recipe was brought to you by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater, as selected by the wonderful Dolores of Culinary Curiosity and co-hosted by Alex and Jenny. Thanks guys!)

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  1. matt wright said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 5:05 am

    absolutely incredible looking. Your blog just keeps getting better and better, one of my favorites out there.

    Out of interest, do you prefer working with weights or volumes for baking? Coming for the UK the whole cup measurement thing seems crazy inaccurate to me – seems odd measuring dry things by volume.

  2. Leonor de Sousa Bastos said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 8:17 am

    Your cake looks beautiful!!

    I love your twist on this month’s DB challenge…

  3. veggiebelly said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

    What a beautiful cake! Your pictures are gorgeous!

  4. Erik said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

    Hmmm – Welcome to the Jungle and melting sugar – what an interesting combination! Your cake looks fantastic! Well done.

  5. cakebrain said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 4:35 pm

    I love your pics! They make me so hungry! and more importantly, they’re inspirational! Your macarons in particular are very handsome…I have a special place in my heart/stomach for them!

  6. Y said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the comments 🙂
    I’ve been a bit slow to check out the other DB creations out there, but am gradually making the rounds, I promise.

    Adi: I’m afraid that particular macaron recipe belongs to someone I know and I’m not authorised to give it out, sorry! If you’re looking for a place to start though, Duncan’s articles on macarons are very detailed :


  7. Christie @ fig&cherry said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

    Oh dear lord my heart stopped.

  8. Jodie said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 4:47 am

    Gorgeous cake! I never thought I’d read Guns N Roses and caramel in the same blog post. 🙂

  9. Mão na Massa said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 8:14 am


    I really adore your blog! Its delicious and fantastic!
    I’m a FAN!

    Good Job!
    Kisses =)

  10. arfi said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

    i like the second photo. love the compo. caramel cake sounds really sweet. my hubby would love that without me interfering hehehe i guess i am not that a sweet tooth.

  11. marika @ madcap said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

    A few things. First, what a beautiful plate of cake you have there. LOVE the macarons with it. Second – I agree, that line rolls right off the tongue with Jean-Luc in mind. Three, Appetite for Destruction is one the best albums of all time – great for driving, why not baking? Makes sense.

  12. Angela said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 2:24 am

    Jean-Luc Picard and Guns N’Roses, all in the same post? Now that’s an unexpected pairing!

    Your cake looks fantastic and so elegant with the addition of the macarons. Yum!

  13. JacqueOH said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    LOL, GnR rocks! So many great songs…. sigh…

    Anyway, your caramel cake looks so perfect. You know how to make a dessert look inviting, that’s for sure.

    I have deep respect for anyone brave enough to try macarons AND master them as you have.

    Nice work!

  14. Kat said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 9:10 pm

    It looks perfect! By any chance can you post your recipe for the macarons? I’ve been toying with them for months and still have no luck in getting them as poofy as yours :\

  15. Y said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

    Hi Kat! Sorry, that particular recipe belongs to someone I know and I’m not allowed to give it out. What recipe are you using at the moment though? Also, have you tried Duncan’s site for tips on making macarons? I mention the link several comments above. 🙂

  16. the caked crusader said,

    December 8, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

    Wow. Now I need to wipe my drool off the keyboard. Thanks!

  17. maryann said,

    December 10, 2008 @ 3:16 am

    haha..great post. And the cake doesn’t look bad at all!

  18. Helen said,

    December 10, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

    Wow, your expertise with desserts is always amazing. Those macarons. *sigh* Utter perfection.

    In-between baking demands, perhaps you’d like to spread some meme cheer? I’ve tagged you for the 6 random things meme. Hope you’ll join in the fun 🙂

  19. Mandy said,

    December 12, 2008 @ 2:05 am

    Good job on the challenge. You make the slice of cake so chic. Just curious, between the macaron and cake, which one do you like better?

  20. Arwen from Hoglet K said,

    December 12, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

    Shame Jean-Luc Picard wasn’t into food. Neelix is the only one who comes to mind, and his food was aweful!

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