Caramel or Burnt Sugar Cake

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CARAMEL OR BURNT SUGAR CAKE by Sarah Phillips © 2012 Sarah Phillips baking911.com
Makes two 9 x 2-inch layers or one 13- x 9- x 2-inch cake. 
For this tutorial, we baked the cake in one 13- x 18-inch sheet pan for our Festive Caramel Mini-Cake Petits Fours Recipe Tutorial

Food styling and photos by Kelly CA © Sarah Phillips baking911.com

I'll never forget this recipe my mom made from her Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook from 1950, that I now have. Caramelized sugar, also known as burnt sugar, flavors this delicious cake that I still make for my own family which is always a big hit. It reminds me of fall, even though I make it all year round. I think I have frosted it with just about every type, such as my Seven Minute Vanilla Bean Icing or the Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial. But, my favorite is the Caramel Icing Recipe included here.
CAKE RECIPE HELP

INGREDIENTS

Caramel Syrup (makes about 3/4 cup)


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

Diluted Caramel Syrup:
1/4 cup cooked Caramel Syrup
3/4 cup COLD water

Caramel Cake


2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups sugar

3 large eggs 

1 cup diluted caramel syrup; from recipe above  
1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Caramel Icing
about 1/2 cup Undiluted Caramel Syrup; from Step I
about 1/2 cup heavy cream plus more, if needed to adjust consistency
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

INSTRUCTIONS

STEP I: MAKE THE CARAMEL SYRUP

1. Caramelize the sugar: Melt sugar in a heavy pan over low heat, stirring constantly. 
SARAH SAYS: This takes about 8 to 10 minutes until the sugar is melted to a golden brown syrup.






2. Remove from the heat. Add slowly the BOILING water while stirring constantly. Be careful steam from pan does not burn your hand. 




3. Stir over low heat until sugar lumps are dissolved to make the cooked Caramel Syrup.

Make the Diluted Caramel Syrup for the cake:
1. Carefully pour 1/4 cup Caramel Syrup into Pyrex heatproof measuring cup.


2. Add 3/4 cup COLD water to make 1 cup Diluted Caramel Syrup needed for the cake recipe. Stir and set aside to cool before using in the recipe.

3. Reserve remaining, almost 1/2 cup, Undiluted Caramel Syrup (not mixed with water) for the Caramel Icing, Step III. 

STEP II: MAKE THE CAKE


1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
(If using dark, nonstick baking pans or ovenproof, Pyrex glass pans, be sure to reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees F).

2. Prepare the baking pan(s)
Spray two 9- x 2-inch layers or one 13- x 9- x 2-inch cake with nonstick oil or you can line each greased baking pan with a greased piece of parchment paper.
NOTE: For this tutorial, we baked the cake in one 13- x 18-inch sheet pan

Here's how to line  two 9- x 2-inch greased pans with greased parchment paper:
a. Place one pan on top of a piece of parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil. The lead is nontoxic.
Cut out the round of parchment paper following the pencil marks as a guide.


b. Spray the baking pan with nonstick cooking oil.


c. Place the parchment round in the bottom of the pan.


d. Spray the top of the parchment round with nonstick cooking oil.



e. Repeat the process with the other pan. Set both pans aside.

NOTE: For this tutorial, we baked the cake in one 13- x 18-inch (jelly roll) sheet pan. Here's how we prepared it:
1. Place the pan on top of a piece of parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil. The lead is nontoxic.
Cut out the parchment paper following the pencil marks as a guide.
SARAH SAYS: You can also trace the parchment paper
a. Prepare the jelly-roll pan by first greasing.


b. Then, line with parchment paper or a nonstick liner. Grease, again.


3. In a medium bowl, after measuring, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.


4. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on low until softened. 
(If the butter is cold, it will warm quickly from the beaters - taking about 60 seconds).

5. Add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until the butter is lighter in color; do not beat until really fluffy. The butter and sugar mixture will be somewhat grainy in texture looking.


6. Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula. 




7. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition.


Then add the vanilla.


8. After the eggs have been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the mixture for 2 minutes. (If the eggs are cold, the batter will curdle slightly. It's ok. It will come together as the batter warms from the beaters.) Set the kitchen timer to help you keep track of the time. The mixture will become fluffy and aerated.


9. With the mixer on LOW speed, add the flour mixture in 3 equal portions, alternating with the 1 cup Diluted Caramel Syrup in 2 equal portions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Add the flour and liquid ingredients in increments quickly; do NOT wait in between additions too long as you don't want to overmix the batter.




10. After completing the last addition of flour, stop the mixer, and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.


11. Then, let the mixer run for 30 seconds on LOW. STOP the mixer. Do NOT overmix.

12. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer. With a large rubber spatula, give the batter ONE or TWO quick folds to incorporate any stray flour or milk left at the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then, STOP!


13. Divide the batter in the prepared baking pans (should fill 1/2 full) and lightly smooth the tops.
NOTE: For this tutorial, we baked the cake in one 13- x 18-inch (jelly roll) sheet pan.




14. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (for 2 9- x 2-inch pans) or until the top feels firm and gives slightly when touched and will shrink slightly from the side of the pan. 
The cake will be slightly browned. If you insert a toothpick in the middle and remove, there should be a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter.
The cake takes 35 to 45 minutes to bake in a 9 x 13 x 2-inch cake pan
NOTE: For this tutorial, we baked the cake in one 13- x 18-inch (jelly roll) sheet pan. The cake takes 17 - 20 minutes to bake.


15. Remove cakes to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes (for 2 9- x 2-inch pans). Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula or sharp knife, taking care not to scratch the cake pan. 
Invert onto cake rack and place upright to cool completely. Be careful, the cakes are delicate when warm.
For a 9 x 13 x 2-inch cake pan, let the cake cool in its baking pan.
NOTE: For this tutorial, we baked the cake in one 13- x 18-inch (jelly roll) sheet pan. Let the cake cool in its baking pan.

To unmold using one 13- x 18-inch sheet pan:
1. When cake has cooled in its pan, unmold it. To do, put a piece of parchment on top of it, then put a large cooling rack on the parchment and flip the cake over.
Peel off the parchment paper that was lining the pan.


STEP III: MAKE THE CARAMEL ICING AND ASSEMBLE THE CAKE 
Make the Caramel Icing:
Makes 2 1/2 cups
1. Add enough cream to the remaining almost 1/2 cup Undiluted Caramel Syrup, from Step I, to equal exactly 1/2 cup. Reserve the remaining cream to be able to adjust consistency at the end.

2. Heat the cream / caramel syrup mixture together with the butter in a saucepan under low heat.

3. Transfer the mixture it into the mixer bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium until cooled.
Add in vanilla and salt.



4. Slowly add in powdered sugar at the side of the bowl while beating on low. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low until a fluffy icing is achieved.
SARAH SAYS: Afterwards, we beat in 2 more tablespoons cream to adjust the icing's consistency so it was spreadable.


Assemble the cake:
NOTE: For this tutorial, we baked the cake in one 13- x 18-inch (jelly roll) sheet pan.
See how we assembled the cake in this recipe tutorial: Festive Caramel Mini-Cake Petits Fours.

STORAGE

The cake layers store nicely. They can be stored at room temperature for about 3 or more days. The cake layers freeze well for about a month or more. Keep well wrapped.

The cake frosted with the included Caramel Icing Recipe does not need refrigeration. It can be stored at the cool side of room temperature for a few days or frozen for a month or more. Thaw in its wrappers at room temperature.

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