caramel cake


This will be my last Daring Baker entry. I’ve enjoyed being a member for the past year, and I learned something useful from every single recipe I’ve made for the group. However, between Tuesdays with Dorie and the Daring Bakers, the assigned baking recipes are starting to overwhelm me. I came really close to not making this cake, simply because I had pumpkin pie left from Thanksgiving, plus four types of cookies and two types of cupcakes in the freezer. I just couldn’t justify putting much time into making a dessert that we really didn’t need.


However, Erin convinced me that the recipe wasn’t difficult, and that I should be able to scale it back without adverse affects. (Based on warnings from this month’s hosts, Dolores, Alex, and Jenny, I was concerned that the recipe was going to be finicky.) She was right. This cake required only a little more time than an average cake recipe.


Plus a little extra effort for me, because I screwed up the caramel syrup the first time. The only times I have ever had a problem with caramel are this cake and the filbert gateau – I don’t know what it is with Daring Baker recipes and crystallized caramel. The second time I made the syrup, I doubled the amount of water I added with the sugar and tweaked the cooking method just a little. I left the amount of water at the end the same, under the assumption that all of the water that’s added with the sugar evaporates before the sugar starts to caramelize. This time I made a nice smooth caramel.


I considered skipping the frosting, but I don’t have much experience with browned butter, so I wanted to try it. It was interesting – it had an unusual texture. I didn’t add all of the powdered sugar, and I found that no amount of the caramel syrup was going to give me the smoothness I was hoping for, so I ended up adding a fair amount of heavy cream. Even then, the frosting was kind of dry and greasy at the same time. I couldn’t seem to spread it on the cake; I ended up using my fingers to pat it down.


The cake was great. A nice fluffy, even texture, with a flavor reminiscent of my favorite pound cake. The frosting wasn’t bad, although it just didn’t seem quite right. Still, I’m glad I took the time to make this cake, and I’m glad I was a member of the Daring Bakers for the previous year. It was a fun and valuable experience.


Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting (adapted slightly from Shuna Fish Lydon for Baking Bites)

Makes 12 servings

Caramel Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1½ cup water, separated

1. In a small stainless steel saucepan with tall sides, mix ½ cup 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 dark amber and smoking slightly.

2. Very carefully pour in remaining 1 cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about.

3. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers.

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

Caramel Cake:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup Caramel Syrup (recipe follows)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. Sift flour and baking powder.

2. 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. 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. 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.

3. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or half-sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Caramelized Butter Frosting:
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

1. Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

2. 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 or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner’s sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste. (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.)



  1. I’m sorry you won’t be sticking around for more DB challenges, but hopefully you’ll stay with TWD? I’ve had to give away so many of my baked goods, it’s not even funny. Your cake looks wonderful, and I hope you enjoyed it!

  2. Your cake looks wonderful! I’m sorry that you’re not going to be a Daring Baker anymore because I will miss reading about your take on the recipe. I definitely understand your reasons though, because it can be very hard to get through baking so many assigned recipes sometimes.

  3. I plan to stick with TWD. I’m hoping the baking gets more under control through self-control (as in, don’t make cookies if there’s no one to eat them) and quitting DB.

  4. Well I’m glad you tried it. It is adorable, I love the pattern on top.

  5. Beautiful cake! We will miss you in the Daring Bakers, but I know what you mean about feeling overwhelmed with too many desserts. I’ll still come by to see your TWD efforts! 🙂

  6. Mmm. We only have one slice of pie left in the fridge, then we’re out of baked goods. This cake looks like a fun treat.

    It would be good to try caramel again. I like to make it for butterscotch pudding and had no problems until the day I managed to ruin two batches in a row AND burn myself. Sigh. That pudding is so good, though.

  7. Beautifully accomplished challenge Bridget! You have a way of turning simple in elegant with the blink of an eye! Bravo!

  8. pinkstripes says:

    Your cake looks gorgeous. I’m sorry you’re bowing out of the DB, but when it starts feeling like work and obligation and not fun you shouldn’t do it anymore.

  9. What a way to go, then 🙂 I’m glad at least the cake was great! Even with the frosting difficulties, you managed to make it so neat and pretty!

  10. Caramel cake?? Can you bring two better things together? This sounds amazing, and the photos are gorgeous.

  11. Lovely job on the caramel cake. Too bad there are just to many recipes to eat. Sorry to hear that you will no longer be part of DB.

  12. Beautiful job… and I’m sorry that this is your last DB post. However I do look forward to all your future creations and droolworthy photos 🙂

  13. You know, I am thisclose to dropping out of DB as well, it’s just getting to be a bit much. After all, when it becomes a chore, and not fun, I agree, it’s time to step out.

    I’ve gotten so many great recipes from you, I’m just glad to hear you’re not dropping out of the blogosphere!

  14. I’m glad you joined us for the year too. Though I’ll miss your daring baker posts I’ll certainly follow along on your other food adventures. Thanks for baking with us in November!

  15. This is an amazing cake. I am glad I found it!!
    I made it and this is my post:

    Thanks for the lovely recipe!