Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: November Challenge

Once again another Daring Baker's Challenge. This month was hosted by Delores at Chronicles of Culinary Curiosity, Alex at Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo, and Jenny at Foray into Food. For the month of November the challenge was to make Shuna Fish Lydon's (at Eggbeater) signature Caramel Cake with Caramelized butter frosting (as published on Bay Area Bites).

The cake turned out quite delish, and was a huge hit for my Father In Law's Birthday. I believe next time I will use a pan a bit deeper than a standard 9" cake pan, as I had quite the mess while baking (I was glad I had a sheet pan under it as it overflowed a bit). I also had the help of my two cats, as they decided to walk on my covered cake while I took a shower before frosting it. Thanks Winston and Katrina. The cake was a huge hit, and hopefully I can make it again sometime. Thank you to the hosts and to Shuna for a great November challenge.


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

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.

Sift flour and baking powder.

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. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

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.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix 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 smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

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


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

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

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

Note: 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

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Easy Taco Casserole

Since we now have a ton of hamburger in our freezer it was definately on the menu for this week. I found this recipe for Easy Taco Casserole on Allrecipes and thought it sounded like something J could whip together without me home (I was walking dogs at the Humane society with my Little). J had it started just before I got home and I finished it up....the Hamburger from our 1/4 cow is super ultra lean...which is awesome and makes the deal we got on it even better. The recipe was pretty good, though I would use taco seasoning instead of just chili powder next time.

Easy Taco Casserole

1 pound ground beef
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 cup shredded Colby cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 cups shredded lettuce

In a saucepan, brown ground beef; drain. Add salsa, mayonnaise and chili powder; mix well. In an ungreased 2-qt. baking dish, layer half of the meat mixture, chips and cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. Just before serving, top with tomato and lettuce.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bought the Cow

Well, we officially have a 1/4 side of beef in our freezer downstairs! We did pretty good, averaging $2.10/lb for organic raised beef. We have steaks, roasts, ground beef, stew meat soup bones ribs and who knows what else... I won't have to buy hamburger for we now have 46lbs of it ;)