Monday, December 1, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge November

This month's challenge comes from:
Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe ( … he-recipe/)

And hosting this month:

I'm late in posting due to a weekend of missing internet access. Oh well. Better late, then never?

I admit that I let out a long sigh when I saw that this month’s challenge was yet another cake with buttercream frosting. I’ve made so many cakes since joining this group and well, I like cake as much as the next person but I’ve never enjoyed buttercream frosting in any form. It has a mouth feel of biting into a stick of butter for me. So to say I was a tad bit disappointed might be an understatement. But you know, I joined this group so I could bake more and learn more. And well I had done those two things so being a part of Daring Bakers is well worth mastering buttercream!

This month’s challenge was a caramel cake with a brown butter frosting. I saw that there was a homemade caramel syrup that had to be made and immediately that was where I’d tweak the recipe just a bit.

I had a new bottle of Bittermen’s Bitters that had been created just for my clothing shops. It was cleverly titled the “Sexy Freudian Slip” and had the essence of ginger, lemongrass, anise and hot peppers. What I wanted was a bitters that not only worked as something edible but also something wearable as personal scent. And did it succeed? It did! It’s a lovely earthy little perfume that is rather interesting and a bit musky and spicy. Plus it helps to make damn fine cocktails too!

So I decided to shake some drops of my “Sexy Freudian Slip” into the syrup once it cooled. Upon tasting the syrup, the flavor of the bitter really came through very nicely and I was surprised how well all those flavors went with the caramel syrup. It was quite a tasty little creation and I imagine it might be fun to use as a sauce for vanilla ice cream. It would definitely keep your guests guessing what you used to flavor the sauce!

Once the syrup was done, I moved into making the cake. I didn’t have a cake pan that I thought would be deep enough so I made two cakes instead of the instructed one. I cut down the baking time but I still think I might have overcooked the cakes a little. I considered soaking them in something to moisten them up, but personally, I felt that to do so would have been cheating a bit. However, the dry cake might have more to do with my crappy electric oven. Cakes never seem to cook well in my oven. Sadness!

Once the cakes were done, into the frosting. And here is usually when I sigh deeply and think “oh yet another buttercream.” But this recipe was different! And actually really kinda cool. Browning the butter was kinda like a fun science experiment. Who knew that butter contained so many solids? I strained the butter filtering out most of the lumpy solids but some of them did get into the frosting. The frosting was ridiculously easy and came together quickly. I took a quick swipe at the bowl mostly to test the consistency. As I started before, I hate buttercream so I wasn’t expecting to like what I was about to taste.

And what a complete shock I was in for! The frosting consistency was a bit more tender that most stiff buttercreams I’ve tasted plus browning the butter gave a really kinda complex flavor to the frosting. It was in short, freakin’ delicious! Sadly, the flavored caramel syrup taste didn’t come thru at all but the frosting was still an interesting and tasty creation. I was quite pleased with it. And definitely will be making the frosting again. Who knew that browning butter would make such a huge difference in taste?

The next day, in time for Thanksgiving dinner, I assembled the cake. I toasted coconut and pecans to put between the layers with the frosting. And began frosting my cake. The frosting was a bit firmer due to time in the fridge overnight. I had to nuke it for a couple of seconds to get it pliable. My finished product:

I think that the cake came out a little too dry as a result of my two cake solution or perhaps due to my oven. The short term eating solution? Cutting a slice of cake and pouring a bit of milk on top of it. It sounds odd but it’s really good and solves the dryness isse. Besides who am I to throw away cake?!? The frosting was kinda this amazing thing and I wasn’t about to throw that out! Sadly, even though the “Sexy Freudian Slip” shined through in the caramel syrup, the flavor was all but lost in the final product. Perhaps I could try soaking the baked cakes in the syrup next time?

Overall, this cake definitely will take some tweaking from me to get it right! But it’s definitely a keeper and I’m thrilled that I had a opportunity to make it. And this praise is coming from someone who was not thrilled at having to make buttercream, so you know this sh_t is the tight!!!


Christina said...

Your cake looks lovely! I love the look it has with the coconut on the outside. The Bitterman's Bitters sounds really interesting. So cool that you can wear it and use it for eating stuff!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

Gretchen Noelle said...

YEah! You ended up liking the frosting. One word...addictive! I love the sound of toasted coconut & pecans between the layers. Great job!!

Leah said...

Thanks Christina! The Bittmen's Bitters is good stuff and one day everyone will be able to buy their very own bottle ;)

Gretchen, addictive is the correct word for that frosting! I had no idea that browning the butter would result in something like frosting crack. Unreal!

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