November Daring Baker’s Challenge: Caramel Cake!

November 29, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Daring Bakers, Dessert | 29 Comments

This month’s challenge was an exciting one! Whipping out that candy thermometer is always a fun time for me, since I am a chemist… It never ceases to amaze me when you can visually see sugar changing its form just by heating. Caramels and sweet things that are caramel based are positively adored by several members of my family! They were very happy to help me finish this beauty off! And I had extra caramels too!

I would like to thank Dolores for hosting this month and Alex and Jenny also for helping out! This recipe comes to us from the Shuna Fish Lydon from the Bay Area!


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

1) Preheat oven to 350F and butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) 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)
zest from one orange (which should have been strained out after the syrup was made…but the syrup was just too darn syrupy!)
1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.


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

1) 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.

2) 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.

(From Smitten Kitchen post from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick unsalted butter), plus some for greasing the pan
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 cups sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
Pinch salt
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a small saucepan and turn the heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves, hen cook, stirring only occasionally, until the mixture measure 245 degrees (a small piece of it will form a firm ball when dropped into a glass of cold water, but the thermometer is an easier and surer test).
Stir in the vanilla and pour into the prepared pan. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, remove the block of caramel from pan and use a sharp knife to cut it into small squares. Wrap each square in waxed paper or plastic wrap. These keep for weeks, but are best eaten fresh.

Check out the rest of my daring bakers!



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  1. looks great! love the caramel color your cake achieved which means you cooked the caramel to perfection!

  2. Beautiful job with the cake and the caramels!!

  3. Mmmm, so delicious looking. Well done!

  4. Looks so yummy!

  5. Lovely Caramel Cake! That’s a great idea to use the caramels as part of the cake decoration.

  6. Beautiful! The more I see them, the more I wish I’d have done the caramels!

  7. […] Real Butter Half Baked Strawberries in Paris Whisk Confessions of a City Eater Dolce […]

  8. oooh…your cake looks DELICIOUS! i love your plate too, really cute!

  9. I love the way you decorated the cake. Looks delicious!

  10. Your cake looks lovely. I like what you did with the caramels. I sure wish I could decorate a cake. Oh, well, I can appreciate the talents of others. Great job.

  11. So impressive… Your cake looks perfectly layered and frosted.

  12. How gorgeous. And those caramels! They look professionally done. Wow!

  13. I love the loops of caramel on your cake! Looks like it turned out great!

  14. Wow love how youve decorated yours, its beautiful!
    Lovely job!

  15. What a lovely looking cake! Really beautiful and delicious looking!



  16. I love the design you made on top with the caramel! I wanted my caramel syrup to have that deep color, but it just didn’t work out that way! Beautiful cake and caramels!

  17. Wow,
    Your cake came out so nicely!
    I like the caramel decoration on top of the cake.

  18. chemist, cool. looks great.

  19. Ohhhh! Looks wonderful!

  20. Is your cake… outside? in the first picture?

    I love it. Caramel Cake Outside, by Elizabeth.

  21. your cake came out beautifully

  22. So glad you enjoyed our little sugar celebration. Thanks for baking with us!

  23. Your cake looks beautiful! I can’t believe you made everything! Fantastic work!

  24. As always I am late commenting…
    You did a favulous job on this month challenge! Love the caramel flower on top!

  25. Wow, this cake looks amazing! Thanks for posting the recipe too. Great job.

  26. wonderful job! i’m about to tackle the caramels soon – yours look so perfectly soft and chewy!

  27. All I can say is WOW, that’s a beautiful cake. I don’t think I would have the patience for the batter, sauce, and caramels. You rock Elizabeth.

    • wow! thanks wendi!!

  28. This would be totally up my hubby’s alley!

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