Saturday, November 29, 2008

November DB challenge: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was a tasty treat indeed and it proved the perfect 2nd dessert for Thanksgiving along with Mom's pumpkin pie. I let my caramel syrup get good and dark to give the cake and frosting more flavor. I also halved the frosting recipe and had plenty.
This recipe is from Shuna Fish Lydon and you can find it here on her blog: Click me! This month's challenge is hosted by Dolores at Culinary Curiosity, Alex at Blondie and Brownie, Jenny from Foray into Food, and alternative baking help from Natalie at Gluten a Go-Go.


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar (or less, I used a little under 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 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 or cupcake pans. 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. (Wear oven mitts to protect your hands!) 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.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING (I cut this in half and had plenty)

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.

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Last Supper #5: Nancy Silverton

I've been a bit delinquent in this posting, considering we ate this dinner two weeks ago. So it goes sometimes...

For her last supper, Nancy Silverton listed an antipasto consisting of salami, mozzarella, pecorino romano, almonds and olives; fresh crusty bread, Bistecca Fiorentina, Braised radicchio, roasted onions and grilled zucchini.

We went for the antipasto but left out the mozzarella. Then I made Bistecca Fiorentina following a recipe that appears in Mario Batali's Italian Grill. Rubbed with extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs, it grilled beautifully. The radicchio I wrapped in pancetta, then braised it. I roasted red onions in the oven (they look a little dark in the picture, but were delicious!). I drizzled both with a balsamic-whole grain dijon vinaigrette. Both went great with the steak.

All-in-all another great dinner from Project Last Supper. That's 5 complete since late September and 35 to go in the coming months. Next up: French chef Helene Darroze.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Granola for Tracy

We had family and friends visit from Canada this weekend. It was a busy one: into the City, shopping, cooking, out to dinner... I promised Tracy the recipe for granola and just ran out of time to write it down. So here you go Tracy, you guys should be pulling into Petrolia right about now!

Cinnamon Almond granola
(or really whatever kind you want)

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds (unsalted)
1/4 cup flax seed, optional
1 cup whole unsalted almonds (or any nuts you like)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1 cup dried fruit of your choice (cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots, currants...)

Preheat oven to 325 and spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, flax seed if using, coconut, sunflower or pumpkin seeds and cinnamon. Toss to mix evenly.

In a small pan, combine sugar, vanilla, water, oil, and almond extract. Bring to a boil. Pour over oat mixture and stir until evenly combined. Spread mixture evenly on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir to break it apart and then bake another 12 minutes. Add the fruit and bake about 10 minutes more or until it starts to get a bit darker but not burned. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet and store in an airtight container.

Great over vanilla yogurt or with milk!

Chili for a chilly night

It's time for a break from the gourmet. Tonight we are having chili! I use my Mom's recipe, but add a little something extra: grilled fillet! We had guests this weekend and on Friday night we grilled a whole fillet. There's some left, so I'm going to cut it up and throw it into my chili. It adds a great grilled taste to this winter warmer!

Here's the recipe. (I kinda sorta measure things)

Mom's chili
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 or two green peppers cut into 1 inch cubed
  • 1 or two yellow onions chopped
  • 1 28 oz can tomatoes in their juice
  • 4+ Tbsp. Chili powder
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Grilled steak, optional, cut into bite sized pieces
In a pot over medium heat, cook the ground beef, peppers and onions until beef is browned and vegetables are softened. Drain off the fat. Add the tomatoes, breaking them apart as you add them. Stir in the chili powder, crushed red pepper, garlic powder and bay leaf. Simmer about 45 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans and steak if using. Cook to desired consistency. Be sure to taste for salt and pepper. I sometimes add more crushed red pepper or chili powder...

Serve with grated cheddar and crusty bread or cornbread. Jeff loves a grilled cheese with his chili!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Survey Says...

October's poll featured foods starring pumpkin. There was a tie between pumpkin cranberry walnut bread and pumpkin ravioli, so it looks like I have my work cut out for me. We had guests this weekend so I made the bread last week. One left disappeared pretty quickly at my office and the second was enjoyed by our Canadian visitors (with a chunk to Dad of course). We'll have to wait and see when I have time to make the ravioli so watch for more.

Get the recipe on epi.

This month's poll features some new cookie recipes, in plenty of time for Christmas baking! So take a sec and vote for your favorite! I'll bake the winner in December along with some of my favorite Christmas cookies!
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