Daring Bakers in stereo: Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Icing

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge comes to you in stereo on Syrup&Tang. My Parisian correspondent, Harry, has taken up the Daring Bakers cause and baked his little heart out. Alas, he lacks a blog, so he’s posting here alongside me. What did we make? Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Icing.

The name of the cake has been slightly modified to reflect Australian norms (in solidarity with the philosophy of Cathy at Everything Goes With Cream). The cake itself? Well let’s just say that I had contemplated starting this post with “And how f**king sweet do you want it, sir?”. The body of the cake is pleasant, dense but a lovely texture in the mouth. The ‘frosting’ is very, very sweet and if I tell you that I halved the quantity and still had more than enough to create a modest, appropriately iced cake, then you can perhaps take pity on those who made the full amount and now lie in bed in a sugar-induced coma. (And I haven’t even dared mention the caramel sauce and caramels which were suggested accompaniments to the cake!)

Anyway, here you go. As a caramel cake it’s mild, pleasant, inoffensive. There are definitely cakes out there that better express caramel notes, but I might still make this one again. Different icing though.

And now for the account from Harry de Paris: (drumroll!)

Caramel Cake

A Different Way to Fry an Egg

Like a good English novel, I’ve given my Daring Bakers Challenge post an alternative title. Unfortunately I don’t have the flair of, say, Jane Austen, but the moral of the story, I hope, will rival a good George Eliot.

When I first read through the recipe for the caramel cake, it all seemed to me like a bit of a sugarfest. Two cups of sugar here, another cup there, add a stick of butter or two and some cream. Just thinking about that amount glucose was making me hyperactive!

Not being a particularly sweet tooth, the challenge for me was how to make something that wouldn’t make my head spin. I determined to add a slightly more savoury element to the recipe, to counter the sweetness of the sugar syrup. After much umming and ahring, I finally decided to incorporate a small quantity of coffee, into the batter in which I soaked a few cardamom seeds. It then occurred to me that I could take the idea further and try making a kind of marble cake, with a syrupy batter on the one hand, and a more savoury coffee one on the other.

Dutifully I turned on my oven to preheat it to the right temperature. Baking in my gas oven is always a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. The three markings which appear on the temperature dial are 150, 250 and 270°C, with the latter two spaced further apart than the first. Precision is not one of its stronger points.

Now to the batter. One lesson I learned the hard way was that, if you’re as bad at cracking eggs as I am, crack them into a cup before adding them to the mixture, because trying to get egg shells out of the batter is a right pain! My second and third eggs went into a cup while I…oh I forgot: the oven!

After faffing about with my batters and eggs and things, my trusty oven temperature gage told me I had well and truly overheated it to levels usually reached in a potter’s kiln. I opened the door for a couple of minutes to cool it down while I went back to my batter. Enter the eggs. I picked up the cup to mix the eggs into batter, and with one swift and somewhat inelegant move, the cup slipped from my grasp, the contents fell squarely upon the open, but still scorchingly hot oven door and fried instantly. It all happened in slow motion, like a dream sequence in a film. The smell of rapidly cooking egg brought me back to reality, however, and I hastened to clean it up – easier said than done on a burning hot surface.

After that minor disaster, and a few eggs later, the cake and icing more or less made itself. I’d left it the oven a touch too long so it came out a little singed. The marbling effect didn’t work visually, as the coffee wasn’t dark enough, but the taste of the coffee touched the spot. My guests that evening were happy as far as I could tell, and they asked for seconds, which is always a good sign. And the story of the eggs certainly made for an entertaining anecdote.

So… the moral of the story clearly is that one must always keep one’s cups of eggs well away from hot ovens when the door is open. But everybody knows that!

Thanks for reading! HARRY.

Recipe: Shuna Fish Lydon from Eggbeater published on Bay Area Bites.
Challenge: hosted by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. Co-hosts: Alex of Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.

20 thoughts on “Daring Bakers in stereo: Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Icing”

  1. Duncan dear,
    Both of you and Harry are so funny. I had fun reading this post, and off course LOL, made my husband wonder what’s wrong with me.
    You know, I didn’t even bother to half the recipe. Although, I knew from the beginning that this was going to be overly sweet and dense cake. I just did it for the sake of the challenge, which I must admit,though the recipe seemed so long… and difficult, it wasn’t really challenging at all. I also knew it was not my type of the cake that I would eat, so I made it, taste a bit (share my my husband and my son) then, gave it to my gardener.

    My cake and the frosting had very beautiful golden color (I am wondering why, every DB’s member that I’ve visited had light color on their cakes and their frosting)? maybe (like you) they also half the amount of the caramel syrup that were suppose to go to the cake and frosting?

  2. GLad you enjoyed it Elra! You know, I think the frosting colour is to do in part with how dark we took our syrup, and also how far we strained our browned butter. Some people went for a lighter syrup. And I know I didn’t use a fine mesh when straining the butter, so this would have let some small particles of browned milk proteins get through. Your frosting looks just like mine! 🙂

  3. It’s interesting because I thought the cake was not a remake, but the icing I will definitely use again. Of course, I added a generous amount of salt to the batter, deeply browned my butter, and proceeded very, very sparingly with the sugar.

  4. Oh the thought of the cake is making my ateries clog right now. I’m not a fan of caramel generally and to have so many caramel elements in the cake would definitely give me tooth aches.

    Harry, your tale of your cake was hilarious. You could possibly have just plopped the fried egg on top of the cake and invented something new???

  5. LOL! love this post. I’ve been pretty much on a sugar high these past days myself. And your friend should create a blog! 🙂

  6. Haha, Duncan, I liked your original title much better. I couldn’t abide by the cake myself, especially the obscene amount of sugar and butter.

  7. Ha! Yes. In accordance with everyone else so far, I found both parts of this post an absolute pleasure to read. And while I would read a blog of Harry’s, it complements this one well! so I look forward to December’s double entry, whatever crazy things we have to do.
    Duncan, thanks for stickling on the S and the icing.
    Harry, glad to hear the coffee worked. If I were to make this again that would be the way to do it.

  8. As a caramel cake it’s mild, pleasant, inoffensive.
    Much like the maker Duncan? 😉 Totally LOLed at your proposed opening. I have a hunch: the icing sugar quantity is a typo. I mean, the way the icing shelves like that on the side kind of makes me suspicious. Or maybe it needs more buttah. Of course 😉

    I loved Harry’s account of his baking adventures… And yes we did know that already but bless you for entertaining us, heh heh heh 🙂

  9. A double entry huh, well done boys. Very entertaining, the caramel cakes look yummy but the talk of all that sugar is full on. I love the sweet stuff but I think a caramel cake is a bit sweet for me. Great job guys and Harry how did you go cleaning the egg off your oven LOL! 🙂

  10. Hi everyone. Harry’s been away gallivanting around London, so I guess he might not comment for a day or two yet.

    I can say that my icing was a bit thick, Manggy, so yeah, just needed a little more butter or cream (both were included).

    As I sat staring at (another!) slice of this cake yesterday, I decided I would probably like it much more if the icing were strongly coffee flavoured… much as Harry made a half-coffee cake batter.

  11. Thanks for the entertaining post. You know, I didn’t “know” that about the eggs. My kitchen is rather small and I often use part of the range for prep work. I don’t use eggs, but that warning will play through my head at some point.
    Jane of VeganBits.com

  12. Hey everyone!

    Thanks to all for your encouraging comments!! As Duncan mentioned, I was away eating fish and chips in London this weekend (I miss them so much in Paris!), so have only just read through them all.

    To Amelita, let me just answer in the form of another moral of this littel tale: Egg can and will get into every nook and cranny of your oven if you let it – be wise and clean it first before using your oven again or you’ll bake it on for ever more…

  13. What a pair of dag’s you two are.
    Thats the biggest ” sugar fix ” I’ve ever read.
    Not to mention the newest way to fry eggs.
    Must try the later one day.Keep up the good work.
    Dilly lilly

  14. That’s certainly one way I wouldn’t want to fry an egg! As someone who has spilled toffee all over the stove top before, Harry, I feel your pain!

    I love this DB in stereo thing. Are you two going to do this every month from now on? 🙂 It’s like two-for-the-price-of-one cakes!

  15. Sugar induced coma just about describes this one!
    I’d make this again with less sugar and absolutely no icing or frosting and serve it with coffee.

  16. Hi everyone.

    Hey Jude… I’d say you were still in Sachertorte mode eh? Had a bit of glaze left over? 🙂 It’d work.

    @Y: Harry probably won’t come back now that you’ve made him into a multi-buy bargain;) I don’t think I’ll do this month’s and Harry is vacillating about it.

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