Have you ever had one of those days, where you are so excited for something, and it all goes drastically downhill? Well that’s kind of what happened today….
I’m not sure what has gotten into Shan lately, but all she wants to do is bake. I’m okay with this, I love eating new things! In her newly inspired baking phase, she came across this gorgeous caramel cake in Food & Wine magazine, that had to be baked. I was down, it looked amazing, of course we had to try it! I dug around my mountain of props, found some cake pans, and we got to work. She was initially going to make it herself, but whenever Shan gets in the kitchen, I can’t stay away, I love making new things, especially with her.
In hindsight, there were many predictors to how this cake would turn out. First, we needed room temperature butter. Having just taken it out of the fridge, we weren’t about to wait an hour for it to warm. I thought we could cube it up, and pop it in the oven to soften for a couple of minutes. This seemed like a great idea… Until 10 minutes go by… SHIT. I left the butter in the oven. Fortunately only half of it melted. I put it outside to cool, before creaming it with sugar, as Shannon proceeded to put together the rest of the cake.
Everything was going swell, the cake was mixed together, the batter was amazing, we were EXCITED. Naively, we poured the batter into our 9-inch cake pans. We were supposed to use 10-inch pans, but who has 10-inch cake pans!? Not us. It would be fine, we assured ourselves. Oh yeah. We also forgot to line the bottom with parchment. “There is lots of butter and flour, I’m sure it will come out fine”, I tell Shannon.
Cakes go in the oven, Shannon and I go upstairs to get ready for a family supper. I come downstairs 10 minutes later… OH BOY! Cake is starting to drip all over the place. I put a tray in the bottom rack. It’s okay. Our cakes will be fine…
Cakes stop dripping. We remove the drip tray and consume all the spilled cake. Cake drippings are delicious. Let’s just pretend we did that on purpose (for a snack).
Cakes finish baking. We put them on the rack to cool, and head to my parents for dinner.
Excited for our prospective caramel cake, we return from dinner, and attempt to remove the cake from their pans. Boy, parchment paper would have really made these come out perfectly! Regardless, the cakes are out, slightly damaged, but they’ll be covered with caramel, so who cares right?!
Fast forward to day 2.
Shannon excitedly begins to make the caramel frosting. It’s our first time making caramel, we are thrilled. Music is playing, it’s sunny out, the caramel frosting turns out great! What a relief!
Now onto icing the cake…
Where do I even begin?? We pour the caramel into a bowl, add the vanilla, and whisk until it has cooled and thickened a bit. Shannon starts pouring caramel onto the cake, and I work to spread it around the top. A great team effort! As I’m spreading the caramel, the cake starts breaking, pulling up, and sticking to the caramel… This isn’t good. We haphazardly finish the top. Through our struggles, the caramel starts to harden, making it nearly impossible to frost the sides. We try. The cake just sticks to the caramel, it’s all a big disaster…
At this point, we are ready to admit defeat. The caramel has cooled, the cake looks terrible, we are laughing distraughtly. With nothing to lose, we put the caramel back on the stove, in hopes that it will warm and become a bit more spreadable. It works! Kind of… We pour the caramel around the edges of the cake, trying to spread it again with no success. We give up on the spreading, and pour it all over the edges hoping it sticks. It kind of works, it definitely looks terrible, but the caramel tastes delicious. It’s a cake only a mother could love. Let’s just close our eyes, stuff our faces, and call this one a win!
Oh yeah, and here is the recipe, from Food & Wine. Good luck!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2½ cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped)
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups buttermilk
- CARAMEL FROSTING
- 3 sticks unsalted butter
- 3 cups sugar
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Butter and flour two 10-inch cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda, whisk to combine.
- With a mixer, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, continuing to beat until pale and pillowy, about 3 minutes.
- On low speed, beat in the ⅓ of the dry ingredients, and buttermilk at a time, until all ingredients are combined.
- Pour batter evenly into your cake pans, baking about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out clean.
- Let cool on a rack for about 30 minutes.
- Remove cake from pans.
- In a large, heavy pan, melt butter on medium-high heat.
- Stir in sugar, buttermilk and baking soda, cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture foams up and then subsides, about 5-7 minutes.
- Continue cooking about 10 minutes, until caramel becomes very dark brown and reach 240F on a candy thermometer.
- Pour the mixture into a mixer bowl, add the vanilla extra, and using the paddle attachment, beat for about 3 minutes on low speed, until thickened but still pourable.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape about 1 cup of frosting onto the bottom cake layer, spreading evenly to the edge.
- Place second layer of cake on top.
- Pour the remaining frosting on top, quickly spreading over the rest of the cake.
- Let frosting cool at least 2 hours.
Sarah O. says
God bless you for posting this. It makes me feel a lot better about my recent kitchen failures! Also, truth be told, I still really wanna eat that cake. Like, 10/10, would eat that cake.
It happens to the best of us! It was still 100% delicious!
Svenja M says
Thank you for posting this. Puts my kitchen massacres into perspective: It happens to everyone! I faved this on foodgawker just because you guys deserve it so much. You fought until the end and you made the most of a disaster by handling it with humour. Well done!
Haha we definitely weren’t going down without a fight! It’s important to share the triumphs and the failures, right?
Claudia | The Brick Kitchen says
LOVE this!! Made me smile at my computer like an idiot – I’m sure it must happen to everyone at times and it is always so frustrating, but so good when you can look back and laugh!! The photos still look great and I bet it still tasted amazing, so who cares! Plus, the rustic look is all the rage right now, so lets just say you are ahead of the game 🙂
I think we ended up having more fun trying to fix the disaster. It was definitely an experience we won’t forget!