Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resolutions and fabulous cake: Vanilla bean cake with salted caramel sauce

Vanilla bean cake with salted caramel sauce

In a recent meeting, my manager asked what our New Year's resolutions were. One teammate said hers was simple: No excuses. I like it. Definitely a good one to live by. I have a bit of a different approach. I come up with lots of resolutions - it makes it easier to find one that sticks... What are they? Read more, blog more, get organized... those are the simple ones. I'm doing pretty good on all 3 - I've already finished one and a half books thanks to my fabulous new iPad. I've bought a bunch of new baskets and such to help me sort all of my tiny one's toys, art supplies, etc.(For such a small person, she sure has a ton of stuff!) And here I am, blogging away. (My iPad will hopefully help with this too! Leave a comment if you have any tips on blogging with an iPad or favorite apps...)

We shall see how it goes... What are your resolutions? And the bigger question: are they sticking 10 days in?

Though my blogging has been, well, non-existent, I have been cooking. Greek lamb shanks, Singapore style chicken curry, fish with smoked tomato butter... Some of them will make appearances here soon. But I wanted to start the New Year with something sweet, and this cake fits the bill.

I'm a sucker for salted caramel, so this one was an easy pick. The cake is super-dense and the sauce super-sweet. I really could eat the sauce with a spoon... I drizzled extra sauce on it before serving, because more sauce is never a bad thing...

Vanilla bean cake with salted caramel sauce
adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup crème fraîche, or sour cream
3 tablespoons vanilla paste; or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 cup Salted Caramel Sauce (see recipe below) 

Preheat the oven to 350° and butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions, then add the crème fraîche and vanilla. At medium-low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until smooth and evenly combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the cake is golden and springy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn the cake onto a plate then invert onto a rack and let cool.

Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer and pour the caramel sauce over the cake, allowing it to seep in and drip down the side. Cut into wedges and serve.

MAKE AHEAD
The unglazed cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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