Cake Disaster

Cake Disaster

I love cake. Mmmmmm…cake. What can be better than the wonderful smells wafting out of the oven while your cake is happily baking away in there. I am usually pretty good at making cakes. In fact no cake big or small has defeated me yet UNTIL the Caramel Cake. It sounds innocent enough. And if you have ever had the opportunity to try one of these babies you would understand why I was so excited to bake my first ever Carmel Cake for my family and friends.

I lovingly followed the recipe for what claimed to be The Best Carmel Cake Ever. Notice in the picture how light and fluffy the cake looks and how smooth the frosting is. Notice it because that is NOT what my cake looked like. No folks, my cake looked like the leaning tower of cakedom with a bunch of brown glop thrown on top. Oh and did I mention that it was 11 at night when I started this project and I misread the recipe and added 4 tsp of baking soda and not baking powder like the recipe called for? My cake, folks was NOT the best carmel cake ever. It was inedible. A failure of colossal proportions. My poor guests. They tried, oh how they tried to be polite. Alas, it was not to be.

Undeterred I decided that no cake would defeat me and set about reading in my Baking Bible all about white cakes.

Turns out they are different. I was curious because I have never made a cake that calls for that much baking powder (4tsp)

Well I followed the recipe religiously. I assiduously measured out every ingredient. I resisted the impulse to open the oven door while the cake was baking. I lovingly and with no bad thoughts toward the cake, watched it as it baked and looked kind of weird in the oven (all bubbly and well, weird).

The cake turned out ok. Not perfect but not ruined and inedible either. I waited almost 2 hours until the cakes were all the way cooled and then put them in freezer bags and put them in the freezer thinking they would be easier to frost.

The carmel frosting turned out good this time. I used a different recipe than the one in The Best Carmel Cake Ever.

In the end my second attempt was edible. Not the carmel cake of my dreams. I will keep working on it though until I get something I am satisfied with. Oh yeah. almost forgot, I sprinkled it with large sea salt crystals which was actually one of the best things about the cake, so I recommend doing that.

Do you, readers, have any tips or recipes that you love for this cake?

Classic White Cake from Baking Illustrated

2 1/4 cups (9oz) plain cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans.
1 cup milk at room temp.
6 large egg whites, at room temp.
2 tsp almond extract. ( I did this but in my opinion it was too overpowering. I would only use 1tsp next time).
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 oz).
4tsp baking powder.
1 tsp salt.
12 tsp (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool.

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 2 9inch cake pans and cover the bottoms with parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust with cake flour, tapping out the excess.
2. Pour the milk, egg whites and extracts into a 2 cup measuring cup and mix with a for until blended. (they explain this technique in the long intro about why white cakes are different. You would expect to whip the egg whites and fold into the batter but BI says not to do this. I am not sold on this)
3. Mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand up mixer on low speed. add the butter, continue beating at low speed until the mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
4. Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed ( or high speed if using a hand mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium and beat 20 seconds more.
5. Divide the batter evenly between cake pans. Arrange the pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart or stagger on different racks to allow air circulation if your oven is small. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes.
6. Let the cakes rest in the pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from the sides of the pans with a knife and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto different wire racks and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
(At this point I froze them)

Carmel Frosting:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the butter and brown sugars in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, stir, and let the mixture return to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Add about 11/4 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until the frosting is smooth. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, but not so much so that it thickens and hardens. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of frosting on top of each cupcake and spread it out with a short metal spatula or spoon, taking care to cover the top completely. The cupcakes are then ready to serve.

Here is the bad cake. Oh cake you were so bad.

Now here is the cake that was better. Better but still not stellar. A work in progress.

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