Monday, April 15, 2013

Caramel Cake

Let's start by stating that I am not from the South. I have only been to the south twice: both to Florida and never once tasted a Caramel Cake. Therefore, I am not an expert on how Caramel Cake should taste. Or look. Or smell. I did, however, read "The Help" and have wanted to try Caramel Cake since then. Because it sounds delicious, even though I barely even like caramel.

I've been waiting for the proper time to try making (or to make an abomination supposed to be) caramel cake. I decided today was the day. Mostly because I've been craving donuts but figured this would satisfy my sweet tooth (I was too lazy to walk across the street to the gas station, but not too lazy to make cupcakes, go figure) and because I have a serious case of Senioritis. It's debilitating in terms of completing homework.

Anyway, I found the recipe via FudgeRipple via Pinterest (whose directions were meant to make two seven inch cakes; I halved that to make a reasonable amount of cupcakes). Also, instead of using only white sugar in the cake, I used 1/2 Cup of brown sugar and 1/4 Cup white sugar. I've mentioned before that I like brown sugar better, and I personally thought it went better with the overall thought of Caramel Cake. Also also, FudgeRipple uses cake flour; as a not-well-off college student, have AP do I used that.

These seemed like a lot of work. And it was actually really easy. Not counting cooling time/washing dishes time/finding all the ingredients time, it probably only took me about an hour from start to finish. 

 Cake Recipe:
Ingredients for about 12 cupcakes (I got 11 instead of 12).
  • 2 oz egg whites (I took this to be 2 egg whites)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  •  1.5 cup All Purpose flour (minus 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the egg whites, most of the milk (like 2/3 of the milk. I know it's a weird measurement, just eyeball it), and vanilla until the egg whites aren't goopy anymore. 
  3. In another bowl (medium-sized), combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Stir. 
  4. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix until you no longer have large pieces of butter. I found that using a hand-held pastry blender worked better than a whisk. If you don't own that, a fork would work as well. Also, I felt like I was making pie crust.
  5. Add the leftover milk to the dry ingredients and combine as best you can. 
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, in three additions. Make the additions as even as possible. Mix well after each addition, but not too much. After the second addition, it will look like super mushy oatmeal and you'll think you've ruined it. Don't worry, keep adding/mixing.
  7. The batter is slightly lumpy. 
  8. Scoop batter into the cupcake pan. I use one soup-spoonful in each and then go back with the remaining batter until they're all about even.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes. I know this seems like a wide range. I set my timer for twenty minutes and checked at 15; they were done perfectly, but your oven may be slightly different. 
  10. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Take the cupcakes out of the pan and place on  wire cooling rack to finish cooling.   
  11. I decided (after I took this picture) to poke some holes in the tops so the caramel icing could go into the cupcakes. If you do this, make sure you make the holes big and deep enough. I ended up using the end of a vegetable peeler (the old metal kind that isn't comfortable to hold). 
 Caramel Icing:
(makes more than enough for 12 cupcakes)

  • 1 cup brown sugar (the orginial recipe called for light, but I only have dark, so whichever you use is fine)
  • 1/2 stick butter 
  • 1/6 cup whole milk (I know you don't own a sixth measuring cup; I don't. I just eyeballed what was half of the 1/3 mark)
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup (I don't own real maple syrup, so I used pancake syrup. I know it's totally not the same. use whichever you have or eliminate it).
  •  Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar*
  1.  In a small bowl, measure out the powdered sugar.
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt butter, sugar, milk, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla on medium-low heat. Let it simmer, while stirring, until the sugar fully dissolves and is no longer gritty. No boiling.
  3. Remove from heat, let it cool for a minute so it is not unbelievably hot. 
  4. Add powdered sugar, in increments to avoid having it go everywhere. Whisk well after each addition. 
  5. If it looks like the powdered sugar isn't melting or dissolving, put the pot back on the heat for less than a minute. Keep stirring. 
  6. Spoon over the cupcakes, a little bit at a time. If you poked holes in the cupcakes, tap them a few times after adding the icing, to ensure it goes into each hole. Spread the caramel with the back of a spoon if you want a neater/smoother top.
  7. Once the caramel dried a little bit on the cupcakes, I still had plenty left over so I added another layer. 

 *This ends up being really sweet. Yes, I know it's caramel and caramel is really sweet by nature. If you want it to be less sweet, I'd recommend cutting the powdered sugar back by at least 1/2 cup. You need the powdered sugar to make the caramel thicken enough to spread/stay on the cupcakes, but using a little less would still work. Next time I make this, that's what I plan to do.

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