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.

Name That Pizza Contest - Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

Fresh spinach, fresh mozzarella, and fresh waitresses 32 kinds of craft beer!

Here at the Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, we're getting semi-famous for our pizza, served every Thursday (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. We serve homemade thin-crust Neopolitan-style pizza. The mozzarella and feta cheese are made here at Dancing Rabbit from local organic milk. We offer a variety of toppings, which double in the summer during gardening season. We think our pizza is pretty darned good, and so do our customers. Quantities are limited so reservations are highly recommended (660-883-5522).

I was told when I arrived to the ecovillage that I should try pizza night at the Milkweed Mercantile, that it was better than NYC pizza (my home town) and I didn't believe it. I finally experienced it and it is seriously amazing pizza. I don't think I can find crust light this- thin and flaky. The toppings were also done to perfect proportion. This will go down as one of my top 5 lifetime pizza experiences. 
~Lena, NYC

To celebrate our joy of pizza we're having a contest. 
The winners get....(drum roll please)...PIZZA!

1. Create a pizza from the toppings listed below, and give the pizza a name.
2. Prize: a gift certificate for one Milkweed Mercantile pizza AND your pizza creation will go on our menu. You will become famous for being a creative genius and most likely your life will change immensely. You will get lots of "likes" on Facebook, and your name will become a household word, synonymous with "good taste," "elegance," and "anchovies."

 One of the judges demonstrating her pizza tasting technique.

3. You may enter as many pizzas as you wish.
4. The object is to create a DELICIOUS pizza with a clever name.
5. Points will be awarded as follows:
    Each judge* will evaluate pizzas independently, and all evaluations will be combined for a total score.
    Each judge may award up to 25 points.

   25 points = perfection.
  • Up to 5 points awarded for flavor combination
  • Up to 5 points awarded for cleverness of the name
  • Up to 5 points awarded for how name fits the toppings 
  • Up to 5 points awarded if we actually want to eat the pizza
  • Up to 5 points awarded at judges' discretion as bonus points 
1. To submit entries: leave a comment below OR leave a comment on the accompanying Facebook post.
2. Deadline: All entries must be submitted by midnight on Monday, March 3, 2014.
3. Winners will be announced Friday, March 7, 2014
4. We are not responsible for any lost entries. Blame Bill Gates.
5. Number of winners: Judges may award as many winning combinations as they wish. We're keeping our fingers crossed for lots of great entries!
6.  Have fun!

All pizzas come with our own special tomato sauce (organic crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt)

Meat/Fish toppings:
La Quercia Prosciutto 
Applegate Pepperoni
Italian Sausage

Other stuff
Dan’s Feta Cheese
Egg, local, cage-free
Ranch Dipping Sauce (made here at the Mercantile)

Vegetable Toppings
Smoked Jalapenos from Blue Heron Orchards
Pickled Jalepenos from Mrs. Milkweed’s Kitchen
Fresh Spinach
Red and Green Bell Peppers (from local farms when in season)
Black Olives
Kalamata Olives
Green Olives
Raw Red Onions
Caramelized Yellow Onions
Button Mushrooms
Morel Mushrooms (in season)
Shitake Mushrooms (in season)
Corn, Organic non-GMO
Spinach, fresh (from local farms when in season)
Sundried Tomatoes
Garlic Slices, fresh (from local farms when in season)
Fresh Basil (in season)
Pesto (in season)

Alline, Top Banana, Milkweed Mercantile
Kurt, The Guy Who Does Everything Else, Milkweed Mercantile
Nik, Minister of Pies, Milkweed Mercantile
Katherine, Vice President, Pizza Division
Mae, Vice President, Dessert Quality Assurance

Ready, set, GO! You have until midnight on March 3rd!