The Daring Bakers are a group of baking enthusiasts around the world challenged each month with one fairly involved recipe. Everyone bakes the same thing, and while you must follow the rules, this month there were variations in cake sizes, suggested additional ingredients, and an optional recipe (I’m lucky I eeked out the compulsory one!). Then, everyone posts the results of the challenge on the same day.
Dolores is our host this month, along with co-hosts Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo) and Jenny of Foray into Food. They chose Shuna Fish Lydon’s signature caramel cake recipe as the challenge for November.
And challenge is the operative word. For my first-ever Daring Bakers recipe, I was to start by making a caramel sauce using only sugar and water (not cream and butter, as I have in the past without incident). Here’s what my first batch looked like:
Nice, huh? And since I didn’t have enough sugar to do this again, it was off to 7-eleven at 11 (p.m.).
The second batch went much better, but it solidified by time the frosting portion of the program rolled around and separated when I attempted to reheat it. You know the saying, “Fool me once…”? Well, this fool was not about to start a third batch of caramel at midnight so the frosting would have to do with the one tablespoon I was able to rescue.
After the caramel debacle the recipe was (pun alert) a piece of cake. Many Daring Bakers commented in the user forum that the cake was dense, but I found mine (in the form of cupcakes) to be pretty light. The dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method of mixing is pretty key to achieving this consistency so do follow it if you give this recipe a try. I also felt the cake and frosting would be way too sweet for me with the recipe as given, so I cut the sugar in the cake in half (to ¾ cup) and the frosting to 2-1/2 cups of powdered sugar (I would have used less but I needed that much just to get the proper consistency). And there was no way I was tossing the cake to the curb if it was too sweet, so I guess I broke the rules by cutting the sugar. Such a rebel, I am. (Note: Still very sweet!)
The recipe can be found on Shuna’s web site. Photos from my Midnight Madness baking session follow…I decided to do old school cupcakes, like that fancy downtown NYC bakeshop has popularized. The cupcakes baked in a standard size muffin pan for 23 minutes. For a much fancier take on the challenge, check out this beauty at Tartelette.
Me (my hand, really), preparing to do battle with the sputtering caramel:
The Messy Baker:
Why do I start projects so late? WHY?
Perfectly golden cupcakes:
And the imperfect frosting job (I had a pastry bag out...but decided to keep it real):
Thanks for joining me on my inauguration into the Daring Bakers! Don’t forget to comment on my last post to help me raise money for a great cause.