Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake
I decided to whip up an easy bundt cake to take to my in-laws' house not too long ago. My hubby's birthday is today (Happy Birthday, darling!), and so I figured it would be nice to have a cake that everybody could eat together, since he wouldn't be seeing any extended family on the actual day of. I knew I could turn to my Baked Explorations book for something that would be tasty and easy, but would still appear elegant and fancy enough to qualify as birthday cake.
This one is a real gem. It's listed in the book as Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting, but since I left out the rum mine is simply a caramel frosting. The cake is a simple one, but it is dressed up with the addition of a burnt sugar mixture, which is divided in half and added to both the cake batter and the frosting. A basic hard caramel candy topping is made on the stovetop, broken into pieces, and arranged on top of the frosted cake, dressing it up nicely. The book lists the topping as optional, but I totally think it's a must here.
I think I may have made my burnt sugar liquid a little, well, less burnt than I was supposed to. You're instructed to heat sugar in a saucepan until it melts and turns a dark caramel color. I thought I did that, but the resulting liquid (which is a blend of the melted sugar, heavy cream, coconut milk, and lemon juice) turned out an off-white color. The cake, which contains half the liquid, is a pale yellow color, while the picture in the book clearly shows a dark brown, almost chocolate-looking cake. However, I honestly don't think it mattered to anybody because the cake was positively scrumptious.
One little note about the frosting, though: I think it needs extra confectioners' sugar. The recipe calls for 2 1/3 cups, but I would venture to say that closer to 3 cups is called for here. When I attempted to apply the frosting to the cooled cake, I encountered a problem. The frosting ran, avalanche-style, down the sides of the cake! Because it's a liquid/confectioners' sugar blend, it eventually did set up for me, like a glaze, although I had to refrigerate it overnight to make sure everything stayed put. After that, it was firm and it stayed that way. The hole in the center of the cake was filled with extra frosting, since it had pooled down there before settling. Again, it did not affect the taste at all, but I just thought I'd issue a warning in case anybody tried to make this! It's worth the steps, and it's not complicated at all. Just perfect to take along to a party!
Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Frosting
adapted from Baked Explorations
makes 1 (10-inch) bundt cake
For the burnt sugar liquid:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
Approximately 3/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
For the bundt cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
(2 1/2 sticks) cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Burnt Sugar Liquid (see above)
For the caramel shard topping:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
About 1 tsp. water
For the caramel frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar (or more, as needed)
Burnt Sugar Liquid (see above)
Make the burnt sugar liquid: 1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, slowly melt the sugar. Use a wooden spoon to stir it continuously to ensure even melting. When the sugar turns a dark caramel color, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stream in the cream while continuing to stir (don't worry if mixture starts to clump). Return the pan to medium heat and stir until completely combined; cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring.
2. Transfer the burnt caramel mixture to at least a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup (like Pyrex) and add enough coconut milk to make 1 1/4 cups liquid. Add the lemon juice. Whisk to combine, divide the mixture in half, and set both portions aside.
Make the bundt cake: 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray; alternatively, butter it thoroughly, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 5 more seconds.
3. Retrieve one of the reserved portions of burnt sugar liquid. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the burnt sugar, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again for 10 seconds. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a small sharp knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.
Make the caramel shard topping: 1. Place the sugar in a small saucepan. Add enough water - it takes approximately 1 tsp. - to make it the texture of wet sand. Cook on high heat until the sugar turns amber. Pour the caramel onto a half-sheet pan lined with nonstick aluminum foil. Let cool. Break the cooled caramel into small shards and use them to decorate the frosted cake.
Make the caramel frosting: 1. Put the butter, vanilla, confectioners' sugar, and remaining portion of burnt sugar liquid in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.
Assemble the burnt sugar bundt cake: 1. Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the crown of the Bundt in a thick layer. Top with caramel shards. Let the frosting set before serving. The cake will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.