Wow, so did you know that today is the one-year anniversary of me starting up this little-old blog? Hard to believe! This year has flown by more than any year I can remember. It makes me feel old to say that! Anyway, bigger and better things are getting closer on the horizon, I can feel it, and this has helped steer me in the right direction! Thank you to all of you who read my ramblings and comment on my culinary escapades! I didn’t even realize that today was the one-year anniversary until I logged onto WordPress and they had sent me a notification telling me so!
I actually didn’t make this cake to celebrate the anniversary, I had made it late last week to take to a July 4th party at my boyfriend’s parents house! I was kindof of a Happy July 4th/Belated Father’s Day cake because busy schedules haven’t allowed us to get to over there to celebrate that day until last Friday!
I’m sure you all know that I ADORE Rose Levy Beranbaum and her cookbooks. She has an amazing wealth of knowledge and I learn so much by reading and baking from her cookbooks (YES I sit down and READ cookbooks, don’t judge me! LOL). I recently picked myself up a copy of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes which I can’t recommend enough! It has such unique recipes in it and I can’t even tell you the inspiration to get up and bake I feel when I flip through it! So I got up the morning of July 4th and decided to bake a cake to take to dinner. A prerequisite was that I must have all of the ingredients on-hand since I was running short on time. This cake has a soft texture, smooth crust and is infused with home-made caramel which you make, cool and then mix into the batter. It is not an overwhelming caramel flavor, just the right balance to make this a perfect slice with your evening coffee. Even more so because you make a creamy, dreamy, stabalized coffee-whipped cream to top it with toasted pecans folded in for good measure! There is gelatin in the whipped topping which allows for a longer shelf-life. You can skip that if you must but I must warn you that the topping will deflate much more quickly. Although, the cake may not last all that long, especially if you have hungry guests, so it may not matter that much.
I have an important note about this cake to share, however. I made it and served it all on the same day which I think was a mistake. The cake was good at our get together but when I have a slice leftover the next day is was really, really good! The flavor had deepened and the texture had become slightly more dense and moist. So do yourself a favor, make the cake itself the day before then the next day when you plan to serve it, make the topping and serve it! I think for these reasons, the cake itself would be an excellent candidate for freezing if you wish to have an easy dessert on hand!
I had some extra caramel sauce in the fridge from some other project so I drizzled that ontop of the whole thing with some additional toasted, chopped pecans for a really stellar presentation! You can use any store bought caramel sauce to do this if you wish, or make extra caramel for this recipe and hold some to the side before you add in the additional milk before cooling (the additional milk would make it too thin for drizzling). Another idea I have for this cake would be to poke holes all over the surface of the baked cake and then brush a thin layer of caramel over it before frosting! Mmmm…
Caramel Cake with Coffee-Pecan Whipped Cream
(Slightly adapted from “Karmel Cake” in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by: Rose Levy Beranbaum)
Ingredients for the Caramel:
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 ¼ cups milk, divided
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups cake flour or bleached all-purpose flour, sifted
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Ingredients for the Topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream, cold
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. coffee extract (or instant espresso powder)
- 4 tsp. water
- ¼ tsp. powdered gelatin
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
- Additional caramel sauce to drizzle for garnish, if desired
- Additional toasted pecan pieces to sprinkle on top, if desired
Directions for the Caramel:
- To make the caramel, have ready a 2-cup or larger heatproof glass measure, coated with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium heavy saucepan, with a silicone spatula, stir together the brown sugar, ¾ cup of milk and the butter. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
- Stop stirring and boil until an instant-read thermometer registers 238 degrees, the soft ball stage. Tilt the pan to get enough depth for an accurate reading. It will take about 10 minutes or more to reach this stage, and the mixture will look slightly curdled and then smooth out a bit.
- When the sugar reaches temperature, immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a prepared glass measure to stop the cooking. You should have 1 cup. If less, add cold water to equal 1 cup.
- Gently whisk in the remaining milk. Don’t worry if some of the liquid crystalizes on the bottom, it will dissolve during baking.
- Place the measuring cup on a wire rack and allow the mixture to cool until it is no longer warm to the touch. It will take about an hour, but to speed cooling, it’s fine to set the glass measure in a bowl of ice water. If desired, stir the mixture a few times while cooling in order to equalize the temperature.
Directions for the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the lower middle position of the oven.
- Spray the inside of a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan with baking spray (or grease and flour it). Then line the pan with a round of parchment paper and spray again with baking spray.
- To make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla until just lightly combined. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, baking powder and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and cooled caramel. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 ½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.
- Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
- Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cake so the top side is up. Cool completely. For best texture and taste, place in an air-tight container and store overnight. Make topping, decorate and serve the following day.
Directions for the Coffee-Pecan Whipped Topping:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the cream, sugar and espresso powder if using in place of the extract, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Chill in the stand mixer bowl and also chill the mixer’s beaters along-side.
- In a 1-cup heatproof measuring glass, place the water and gelatin. Allow the mixture to soften for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a small sauce pan with water ½-inch high to a simmer over medium heat. Set the measuring cup in the simmering water after it’s 5 minutes of softening time. Stir occasionally until the gelatin is dissolved.
- Remove the cup from the water and cool the mixture to room temperature, about 7 minutes. (If holding longer, cover to prevent evaporation). The gelatin needs to be liquid but not warm in order to proceed.
- Remove the mixer bowl from the refrigerator and whip with the chilled whip attachment, starting on low speed and gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens. When traces of the beater begin to leave marks in the cream, add the gelatin mixture in a steady stream, whipping constantly. Add the vanilla and coffee extract (if using, otherwise you already added the espresso powder earlier, remember?) and whip just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. Finish whipping by hand another minute or so to prevent over mixing.
- Gently fold in the pecan pieces.
- Swirl the cream onto the cooled cake.
- Drizzle with additional caramel and/or sprinkle with additional pecans if desired.
- Will hold at room temperature for several hours or in the refrigerator overnight.