sweet child o’ mine

I love cake. LOVE. Cake. I usually default to chocolate cakes simply because I’ve had such a hard time finding white/yellow cakes that really rock my world. Most recipes that I’ve tried are sort of… I dunno… dry? Uninspiring? (BTW – if anyone has a really rockin’ yellow/butter cake recipe, please share!)


So, when Daring Baker time rolled around again and our hosts, Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity … Alex of Brownie and Blondie … Jenny of Foray Into Food … and Natalie of Gluten A Go Go (for a gluten-free perspective) announced this month’s challenge – caramel cake – I was hopeful. Hopeful that I’d be able to up my non-chocolate cake repertoire from one (a love discovered during previous DB challenge, as a matter of fact) to two. Maybe there’s hope after all!


As is often the case with DB challenges, I had to conquer a couple of techniques new to me… caramel syrup and browned butter. After reading about many problems with the caramel syrup, I went into the kitchen scared to death of failure and coming away with a bitter syrup. Leave it to me, then, to err on the side of caution. I think I actually went a little too light. The good news, though, is that the syrup was still really great… even if it looked more like honey than caramel!


The browned butter came off without a hitch and all of the elements melded together so beautifully. The cake was moist with a wonderful crumb, the frosting was lovely, and the added drizzle of syrup was beautiful. I opted to make cupcakes rather than a full cake so that I could take all but a few of them to work for sharing… and I’m happy to report that the co-workers were well pleased!


(by Shuna Fish Lydon – ::blog here:: and ::recipe here::)
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 each 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 350F.

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. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

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.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelization 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.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin. OR… cover your pan with aluminum foil that has a small hole in it through which you can pour the water… this worked like a charm for me.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s 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 confectioner’s 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 confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized 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.

* * *

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the ever-growing list of DB’ers to see all of the wonderful interpretations of this recipe!

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36 thoughts on “sweet child o’ mine

  1. Aran says:

    Your cake turned out NICE… it was so moist, wasn’t it? And your photos really reflect it. Fantastic!

  2. RecipeGirl says:

    Mmmmmm… love that caramel dripping down the sides. I’m a huge cake fan. But I’m pretty critical of cakes and their flavors too. This one looks delicious!

  3. Aparna says:

    What a beautiful moist cake. I like the swirl of frosting on top. Very nice pictures.

  4. Love the photographs..they make me want to jump through the screen and grab one! Perfect!!

  5. Rosa says:

    Your cupcakes look so pretty! I love the dainty swirls… Great job!



  6. Renee says:

    I love your cupcakes. They looks so yummy. Your decorations are divine.

  7. zorra says:

    Me too, love the pictures and your decoration skills! Well done.

  8. Absolutely beautiful presentation and lovely photos :) Cupcakes ROCK!!

  9. Vibi says:

    The last picture broke my heart… those minis were way too cute to eat (sob)! I would have froze them LOL just for the fun of looking at them once in a while! Really a very, very nice outcome!

  10. danamccauley says:

    Great looking results – you took a pretty basic recipe and glammed it up beautifully!

  11. nikkita says:

    Oh my.. your photos look like they’re coming straight out of a luxury hotel advert or something!

  12. Your photos of the caramel cake cupcakes are BEAUTIFUL. I love the way the caramel syrup is dripping down the perfectly placed spiral dollop of frosting. Just perfect!

  13. Elra says:

    your cake look absolutely tempting, I love that mounting frosting on the cake. They make the cakes look beautiful.

  14. Shari says:

    I love the swirl of icing on your cupcakes!

  15. Lauren says:

    Mmm, your cupcakes look amazing! Awesome job with the icing =D!

  16. Natalie says:

    Wow your pictures are gorgeous, love how youve piped the buttercream. Amazing job!!

  17. Paula says:

    Gorgeous! Love the cupcakes. they look amazing!!

  18. marion says:

    the way you frosted your cupcakes is just perfect ! I wish I could be so handy at pastry !

  19. What lovely cupcakes! They really look beautiful and so delicious! Fabulous!

  20. Meeta says:

    how absolutely gorgeous! these look so lovely!

  21. Leslie says:

    Lovely! Our cupcakes look like twins!

  22. How pretty are your cupcakes! And drizzled with the sauce, perfection!

  23. CookiePie says:

    Your cupcakes are soooo pretty! I love the caramel oozing off — so delicious!

  24. bex says:

    who can say no to a cupcake? I’m drooling

  25. lauren says:

    Your cake looks gorgeous! I love how you topped it with the caramel syrup!

  26. Amy says:

    Your cupcake looks amazing! This was a fun challenge!

  27. sandra says:

    I just love your cupcake in the 3rd photo: so pretty and elegant!

  28. Dolores says:

    I love your thoughtful “grown up” approach to cupcake decoration. And I’m glad Jenny, Alex, Shuna and I were able to add to your arsenal of non-chocolate cake recipes. Thanks for baking with us!

  29. Jacque says:

    Yours looks fantastic! I love the golden caramel drizzled over the top of the icing.

  30. Regina says:

    Your cupcakes look so good! The photos show off the cake’s texture wonderfully.

  31. cookiedoc says:

    Great job! I’m glad that everyone liked the cake.

  32. Y says:

    That looks awesome! Love the piping, and that first photo is so beautiful :) Of course, I also love your post’s title!

  33. White and yellow cakes generally don’t rock my world. But your pictures sure do!

  34. Deborah says:

    Love your cupcakes! They look great!

  35. Robin K. says:

    The frosting was awesome! :)

  36. Caileigh says:

    I love your blog! I ran through all of your archives and found fabulous, new recipes I will have to attempt!

    As for that vanilla cake, I found on other blogs that http://www.joyofbaking.com/YellowButterCake.html this cake is a heavenly, moist yellow cake.

    This one’s not bad. I recently tried it, with minor adjustments from the reviewers. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Davids-Yellow-Cake/Detail.aspx

    Best of luck!

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