Saturday, February 8, 2014

Amazing Salted Caramel Cake

There was a recipe for caramel cake that I ripped out of Saveur magazine about five years ago. It looked more than delicious. It looked spectacular. It looked divine. It looked like something that Julia Child would have made for Paul when he had been very, very good. Last week I decided that it was finally time to make it. My mouth was watering for caramel.

And then I read the recipe. When I got to the frosting directions I read this: "Cook, stirring occasionally, until icing registers 240°, about 1 1/2  hours...Remove from heat; beat with a wood spoon until thick, glossy and spreadable, 20-25 minutes."

Let's just revisit those last two lines...beat for two hours? TWO HOURS? Wow. I love baking, and I love my friends, but there really isn't anyone I'd beat caramel for two hours for. Not Kurt. Not Lyle Lovett. Not David Straithairn, not Paul Bettany, Mary Oliver, the Dalai Lama, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Woody Guthrie, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, Jane Austin, Florence Nightengale and George Carlin combined.

So I looked around a little, and found this recipe. It requires 3 short minutes of cooking the caramel, and just a little stir here and there (take that, two freaking hours of stirring!). Even better? It tastes GREAT! The Fleur de sel (flaky sea salt) sprinkled on top is, as they say, the icing on the cake.


Caramel Sauce
12 Tb (1 1/2 sticks)
2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup whole milk

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tb (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granualted sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk

Caramel Buttercream
3/4 cup reserved caramel sauce
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 Tb (half a stick) butter
2 Tb milk
Sea Salt (flaky fleur de sel) for topping

Preheat oven to 350°

Make the Caramel Sauce
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar and milk together, Bring to a boil.
2. Let mixture boil for 3 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let cool.

Make Cake
1. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans. Alternately, fit with parchment paper rounds.
2. In medium size bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
3. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed for 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beatuing until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
5. Add the flour and the milk, beating on low speed until ingredients are just combined.
6. Pour into prepared pans.
7.  Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until done.
8. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Make Caramel Buttercream
1. In a mixing bowl, combine butter and SIFTED powdered sugar on low speed, scraping sides as needed. 2. Pour in prepared 3/4 cup of caramel. Beat on medium about 2 minutes until creamy.

Putting it all together
1. Set aside 3/4 cup of caramel.
2. After the cakes have cooled for about ten minutes, pierce the tops with a fork. Pour remaining caramel sauce over cakes, allowing it to absorb into the holes.
3. Let the cakes finish cooling.
4. When the cakes are cool, remove them from cake pans and frost.
5. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.