Flipping through the book, this cake caught my eye. That caramel frosting spoke to me. Though it was delectable in the end, I had some trouble with this one. Surprise! A recipe from the sea-level land in the humid Delta region didn’t translate well to the dry mountains of Colorado!
This cake comes from the chapter “1946 to 1962: Tupperware, Bake-Offs,® & a new domesticity.” The frosting is described as difficult, but completely worth it.
Things started off ok. Beautiful batter, two greased tins, and a preheated oven. Sam-interference was minimal.
The cakes puffed up, over-browned on the edges, then deflated while cooling. Dang it.
Then I tore the cake while getting it out of the pan. My bad. I rushed extraction to get to school-pick-up on time. Also, Sam was thrusting Duplo’s in my face while I tried to flip the racks. At this point I let the cakes completely cool and started the frosting later. Frosting can cover many sins.
Hmm. The frosting. So you make a milk and sugar mixture on the stove. Then take it off the heat and melt sugar into caramel in “4-5 minutes.” Mine took over 15 minutes. I don’t know if that was because of the altitude, the pan choice, or my stove’s burners. Either way, when I added the caramel to the milk mixture it clumped into solid gobs. “Stir until smooth” wasn’t going to happen. I think my milk mixture cooled too much while I made the caramel.
Feeling like a participant in the GBBO technical challenge, winging it on a recipe with only a vague idea of my target, I put the pan back on low heat and stirred until the caramel re-liqified and could blend.
The recipe said to put the pan in a bowl of ice water and stir constantly until it thickens to a consistency almost as thick as peanut butter. I had no idea how long it would take to set up. I thought I reached the right thickness when it ribboned on itself and didn’t reabsorb easily. The instructions warned about needing to reheat the mixture if it sets up while frosting the cake. My cake was so fragile, I decided to err on the soft side. Wrong decision:
I spent the rest of Captain America: Winter Soldier scooping the icing off the sides and back on top. Eventually it solidified. I swirled the icing to try to cover all the crumbs, broken edges, and sunken top.
I made some more caramelized sugar to fill in the crater. It ended up quite nice considering all my struggles.
I served the cake to friends and it was well received. Jack particularly liked the frosting. I agree! For all its trouble, that caramel icing is a new favorite of mine. I’ll definitely be putting that on more cakes. The cake was buttery and delicious and I thought it had a faint caramel flavor to its crumb. But I’ve been eating salads and I quit dairy,* chips, fries, and candy, so the slice I ate tasted AMAZING.
In summary: Two thumbs up, with experience would recommend.
*Turns out I’m lactose intolerant. Was having a lot of GI problems, getting worse over the last year. Tried Beano, Devrom, Activia, etc. Finally tried a week of no dairy/taking Lactaid with small servings. Symptoms completely resolved! I feel so much better. Aging sucks.
I can’t believe I’ve never baked these before! So easy and tasty, and seasonal. How have I never made them?
I’m looking forward to a good weekend. Ben and I have a date tonight. We’re going to get Torchy’s Tacos and then seeing Wonderbound, the contemporary ballet company, perform with the Flobots, a local rap group (I think?).
Tomorrow we’re having friends over to rewatch Guardians of the Galaxy in anticipation of its sequel. Looking forward to seeing some friends and having some good food! (The party is my excuse to bake another cake.) (This is not all that I’ve baked this week. I made sand dollar snickerdoodles and a batch of chocolate chip cookies already.)
I have a wonderful new recipe book about American cakes. It’s a collection of traditional recipes from the 1700s up to today. I have been dying to make some and finally found time to try it out today. Sam helped me choose the Cowboy Cake as our first endeavor.
First you simmer raisins in water to soften them and flavor the water. Then you use half that water in the batter and half to make a syrup. Prepare both, pour the syrup on the batter, cover the Dutch oven and bake it. No, this was not cooked over an open flame under a starry sky as Ben suggested. Sam only slightly hindered the process, spilling sugar and nutmeg on the floor and sprinkling water all over.
No eggs or butter are used in the cake. Shortening provides a little fat, and it season with cinnamon and nutmeg. The book notes that they would’ve whipped up very cold evaporated milk for topping, when fresh dairy was hard to come by. I used Reddi-Whip.
It took longer to bake than they said. It’s supposed to be 25 to 30 minutes. At 25 minutes it was still obviously wrong. At 35 minutes it was almost there, but I give it another five for a total of 40 minutes to be sure it was thoroughly cooked. It collapsed and absorbed the excess syrup within minutes. I had trouble scooping out the cake. The raisins and syrup formed a thick toffee-like layer on the bottom. I don’t know if that’s from over-baking or from letting it cool for hours before serving after school was out.
We had a few activities to keep us busy at the start of spring break. But by Tuesday the boys were tearing into each other and I was out of patience. Ben encouraged me to risk the spring storms in the mountains and the germs floating around our family to drive to Grand Junction for the rest of the week.
Everything turned out great. The boys had tons of fun and were exhausted every day. No one got sick. The roads were fine, just a little snow in your Eisenhower tunnel coming home. I’m glad I decided to take the leap, it’s always great to see the grandparents from both families. Ben had some nice quiet time in the house. We spent today lounging, listening to conference, and relaxing at home, ready to jump back into school and work tomorrow.