Saturday, 29 November 2008

Daring Bakers do Caramel !

In the words of our host this month.

"We’ve spent two months exploring the savory side of baking...

Now that it’s November and the holidays are upon us, we’re bringing sugar back to the party. In fact, this month sugar is the STAR of the party.

Our leading lady this month is Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( and her signature caramel cake."

Our host of the month is Dolores ( ably assisted by Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food ( With gluten free advice from Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

The original form of the recipe can be found here ( … he-recipe/)

Shauna warned that she thought the recipe would be hard to get to work as gluten free but I found just the opposite and even had one friend say she thought I'd cooked the gluten version when I presented her with a cupcake as the texture was so good. The flavour is pretty good too and even thought we were allowed to flavour it if we wished I am glad I went for the basic caramel as it is a great subtle flavour.

I used unbleached golden granulated for the caramel syrup which resulted in a wonderfully fully flavoured syrup which I have had on icecream and even used to make a sponge pudding since. I have also made a second batch and steeped spices in it to get a lightly spiced christmas syrup. As you might be able to tell I'm a convert to making caramel.

One thing I did notice when making the two batches is that the amount you wet the sugar in the first place makes a very noticeable difference. The first time I wet it just enough to count as 'wet sand like' and it took a while for it to melt to liquid but from there rapidly caramlised and thickened well. The second time i added a bit more and it melted down faster but it was much harder to tell when it hit the right consistancy so I would err on the side of less water in the first stage..

And please do take the warnings about using a high sided pan and standing well back to add the water seriously.. being splashed with hot sugar is seriously unpleasant thing, I like my skin to stay intact and I'm sure you do too.

I opted to make most of the cake up as cupcakes because gluten free cakes are hard to cook through well if you make big ones so for a first try at a recipe cupcakes often work better. These worked very well indeed. The texture was moist and dense without being stodgy ( you can see it in the picture of a slice from the small loaf tin cake I also did) and I am seriously considering trying variants on it for other cupcakes as it rose better than most other recipes i have tried and as i said earlier a friend even thought they had gluten in. I think the high levels of liquid in the recipe is a positive advantage for gluten free baking because most gluten free flours absorb more liquid than wheat flour and recipes often fail due to not enough liquid.

We liked the frosting too though it is very sweet for us brits, we don't do much in the way of frostings traditionally on most cakes, perhaps a bit of icing on a cupcake or some buttercream in a victoria sponge but not the piles of frosting I see on american cupcakes. That said we did like it and the salt is a definite must. Without it all you got was tooth achingly sweet, with the salt the flavour came out and it almost tasted coffee flavoured. we decided it would be a perfect icing for a coffee and walnut cake and as i still have a tub full of frosting in the fridge I may be making one before christmas.

You can find many other versions of this by following the Daring Baker link in the side bar, many of them will also be doing the optional challenge of caramel sweets too. I ran out of time this month but want to try these before christmas and if they work they may well end up in some people's christmas presents as the ones I've seen on the group forum look great. If you would like to join us for the monthly challenges and are willing to commit to doing the challenges every month (you can drop a couple a year but must do the rest) then go to the forum and join up. I have found it a wonderful way to try techniques I would not normally come across or get the nerve to try and have found some real gems this way which have helped me learn to bake gluten free better.

Caramel sponge pudding using the caramel syrup.

Oh and as a final note.. I have decided when I do get a new camera it needs to have manual focus, so many of the pics I'm taking are perfectly in focus just not the bit I want in focus particularly the macro shots.



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 of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder
(i used 1 to balance the Gf flour)
1 cup milk, at room temperature

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)


  1. These are GF? Wow! The loaf and the cupcakes look delicious! I like the idea of the sponge pudding with caramel syrup on top!

  2. Oooh... a caramel convert! And I'm so pleased you had success with converting it to gluten-free. Thanks for baking with us this month.

  3. Wow gorgeous Gluten free, sending a link to my friend, who has a whole house of GF family members. They look spectacular.

  4. Congrats on a successful challenge and GF too! You go girl! I loved this cake myself. I did cupcakes too!

  5. I'm impressed those were gluten free! My husband and I can relate to you Brits, we don't like a lot of frosting either. Every time we get cake or a cupcake we scrape off the frosting to have just a smear of it on our piece.

  6. Wow! Your cupcakes rose beautifully and that swirl of frosting is quite irresistible. Fabulous job on the challenge!

    How interesting... I had no idea that my miserable failures of GF cakes might have been due to a lack of liquid. I may have another go and foist some GF cupcakes on some friends.

  7. Congratulations to a successful gluten free challenge. They look gorgeous.

  8. How great that it worked so well for you. The warning sounded a bit daunting

  9. Your cupcakes look wonderful - and they are GF?!? Awesome!

  10. WOW, so impressive for hat's off to you :) I bake vegan and that has it's own challenges, but I think it pales to the GF baking challenge. Your cupcakes look beautiful too - I can't wait to try cupcakes!

  11. I'll echo everyone else that said 'those are gluten free?'. They look amazing. :)

  12. I found this challenge awesome Gluten Free as well! Beautiful job!

  13. I'm always impressed at how people can turn a recipe gluten free. Well done!

  14. One of these days I am going to take up the Gluten-free challenge. Looking at the way yours turned out has helped encourage me to this end!

  15. those look beautiful. congrats on such a DB success!

  16. You did a fabulous job on your caramel cake. My family preferred it unfrosted as the frosting was really way too sweet.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  17. Perfect cupcake domes! They look wonderful.