Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

Caramel Cake (05) by MeetaK

Hope you will allow these thoughts.

It's supposed to be a time for peace, family, love and gratitude. But there is hate and violence instead. Bombay is my birth city and while I left a long time ago the bond between us is special. It's like that first love or that first kiss - you never forget it.

The Oberoi Hotel - it's in my veins. My dad was part of the team that built that hotel. A few days old, my mother brought me to my first "home" in a suite on the 20th floor. Pictures of my first birthday, celebrated at the Oberoi Bombay, adorn the walls in my parents home. 

I remember the summer vacations in India. Now a teenage girl, I was a part of a chic Bombay crowd, who fondly teased me about my American accent when I spoke Hindi. For a few weeks in the summer I reveled in this boisterous city. I won't pretend that I know the city - I've been gone far too long - but my god! My heart bleeds as I see my first love being ripped apart like this.

I am not in Bombay but each gunshot, each blast I hear blasting from the speakers of our television makes me cringe. I feel anger at these evil people with no souls or remorse. And ask "Why?"

Thank you for allowing me to vent and share my thoughts.

I am glad I have this space, relieved that I can come here and take my mind off things or speak my mind if I choose to.

My distraction right now is this month's Daring Bakers challenge. Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity was our hostess this month with Alex and Jenny helping out. The recipe of choice was a signature cake by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. The caramel cake intrigued me as I have been on a caramel flavor high lately.

Caramel Cake (02) by MeetaK

The rules were simple: make the cake and the caramel butter frosting. Well those who know me will quickly realize where my predicament in this lies - the butter frosting. I do not mind frosting but will avoid it where ever I can. I prefer enjoying cakes and co. in their rustic form without the frills of frosting.

I made the cake last weekend and having skimmed past a few issues over at the members area of the Daring Bakers Kitchen, I picked up that there were some issues with the cake and that especially the frosting was a bit on the sweet side.

Initially, I thought I would leave the frosting out - make an excuse of being abducted by aliens right in the middle of the cake! But hey c'mon it's not my style. ;-)

Caramel Cake (06) by MeetaK

The entire challenge took me three days to make. I was a bit pressed for time this month and had to fit the elements of the cake as time was rationed out to me. So Friday evening found me making the caramel syrup. It had started snowing over the weekend and Soeren was anxious to go out. Snow ball fights and snowmen later I got back to the challenge on Sunday.

The cake itself was quite simple. I decided to keep the flavor of the cake hundred percent caramel. We had the choice of doing our flavor combinations, but I decided this was going to be all about caramel.

After reading Shuna's comment:

"But I will say this about flavours: you will hide and lose the subtlety of the caramel flavour in the cake and that's what this cake is about."

I knew I would be following the recipe to a T, without the addition of extra flavors.

After tasting the cake with a simple drizzling of the caramel syrup, I re-considered the alien abduction excuse. The cake was good - darned good, we all did not need the frosting.

Caramel Cake (01)be MeetaK

Monday and curiosity got the better of me. I examined the frosting recipe and found the brown butter concept appealing. I still had my special jar cakes and half of the whole cake, so I reduced the frosting recipe in half and decided to satisfy my curiosity.

I was glad I did give the frosting a second chance because it was quite good, sweet but good. I used a limited amount of frosting so it was not overpowering, but a delicacy. 

Caramel Cake (03) by MeetaK


Don't Forget

MM low-sugar sweet treats

This month the team over at the Daily Tiffin are hosting the Monthly Mingle. We are all looking forward and eagerly awaiting your ideas and creations to this session's theme - Low-Sugar Treats. Come on over and share your healthy treats.

The deadline is December 8th, 2008. See you there.


Recipe: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

(recipe courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon - Caramel Cake)

Printable version of recipe here.


142g unsalted butter at room temperature
280g granulated sugar
½ tsp/2.5 ml kosher salt
80ml Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
286g  all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon/2.5ml baking powder
240ml milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F/176c/gas mark 4.

Butter one tall (5-6/2 – 2.5 inch deep) 23cm/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.

Note: 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.


450g cups sugar
120ml cup water
240ml cup water (for "stopping")

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. 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
454g confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar, sifted
60-90 ml heavy/double cream
10ml vanilla extract
30-60 ml 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




Caramel Cake (04) by MeetaK

I loved the nuances of gold and rust this cake took as it baked in the oven. Cutting it was pure pleasure. It was spongy and moist - just how a cake should be, I thought. Although, we liked the cake as it is, the caramelized butter frosting in moderation gave it a creamy complementing flavor. It was a very different cake flavor-wise. I browned my caramel quite deeply, which gave the entire cake an intense caramel taste. It was exquisite.

Would I make this again?
This was a different kind of cake as the ones we have been doing in the Daring Bakers group. In comparison the caramel cake looks rather plain - but a bite of this caramel delight was so incredibly good that no layer cake can stand up to it. It's versatile too - if one wants - it can be easily be transformed into a layer cake. The cake rises very well and when cut horizontally one could add a layer of the frosting in between the cake. However, I liked it in it's simplest and purest form and will be making this again.

What did I learn from this challenge?
I did not experience any issues with the cake, the syrup or the frosting. The recipe is easy to follow and very straightforward, giving great results. The browning of the butter for the frosting was something new to me and I think if I ever wanted frills on my cakes I will use this method again. 

I thank all three hosts for this month's challenge. My Daring Bakers colleagues have made several variations of this cake so please do visit them for more ideas and inspiration.

You might like these past Daring Baker creations from WFLH:

Yule Log 01 PartyCake 10 framed OperaCake 02 framed
Yule Log - Bûche de Noël Perfect Party Cake Opera Cake

The Daring Bakers celebrated their second anniversary this month and I for one am glad to be a part of this exceptional group of talented bakers. I've learned so much in the past year and a half. My biggest thanks goes to Ivonne for convincing me to join the group and to Lisa for creating the Daring Bakers legacy and for all their hard work.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. What gorgeous cakes and delightful pictures! Very well done! I really loved that fragrant frosting...



  2. Lovely lovely pictures Meeta. I do agree that this cake is simply elegant and benefits from lovely miniature pots/shapes. My heart goes out to you and all people in Bombay, useless violence harming innocent people.

  3. I agree with you on the frosting....not really my thing, but applied sparingly like you did, I might give it a go!

    The bombings in Bombay is scary and so unnecessary!!!!

  4. I totally agree that it does not need frosting.... Well maybe a little bit doesn't hurt. Either the frosting or cake is great on its own, come to think of it.

  5. Wow, gorgeous and beautiful cake. The pictures and decorations are excellent as well.

  6. Mumbai broke my heart too Meeta. Your connections are much deeper than mine, but I stayed in the heritage wing of the Taj when I was expecting my daughter. Senseless violence, & scary that there seems no end to it!
    Glad for the beautiful distraction...the cakes are lovely, a visual treat Meeta. The frosting intrigued me no end, & I must say it turned out to be very very addictive!

  7. Wow wat a lovely pictures..cake looks gorgeous...Meeta , its really sad n terrific..we need Peace!!

  8. Hi Meeta, I'm sorry about the bombings. It's a terrible thing to have happened, especially when it involves memories of that special place.

    I love your photos though, and your website is very informative.

  9. everything about this cake makes me drool

  10. Lovely. I'm a big fan of those cute little jar cakes, it's perfect portion control :)

  11. A gorgeous rendition of the caramel cake Meeta. I mirror your thoughts on the crisis in India. Here in Canada we are hearing of Canadians killed and Canadians trapped but I know there are many countries in the world that are experiencing this same anguish..especially India.

  12. Beautiful Meeeta! Those little cakes in jars are adorable!

  13. I just enjoyed your presentation of this cake. And I agree I like it in its simple form.
    Btw, if aliens abducted you, I'm sure they'd take the cake along too.:)

    What's happened in Bombay is terrible. What does anyone achieve by killing innocents in any part of the world?

  14. Your cake looks lovely. I especially love the little ones. Great job!

  15. Whats happened is really sad.
    The cake looks lovely. Love ur pictures as usual

  16. your cake looks great! and nice photography :)

  17. Hi Meeta, What happened in Mumbai is unbelievably horrifying. I spent the first 2 years of my married life in Mumbai and the city holds a special place in my heart too.

    I ofcourse love your cake. I remembered you when I saw the persimmon in the markets some weeks back. They were awesome as usual.

  18. My heart goes out to you and everyone else touched by the violence in Mumbai. Your cakes are lovely, and I especially like the little jar cakes. What a great way to serve it!

  19. Of course Meeta, you are totaly allowed those thoughts! What is a blog, if not to vent? ...and I'm all heart with you... thanks for sharing your disarray.
    On an other note... hummm... is that a baba that I see? Oh! hide that baba that my soul could not bare to resist! Beautiful!

  20. Meeta, the whole world is crying over the tragedy in Bombay. I have never visited there but hope to go.

  21. Meeta,

    What are DBers for if not to support each other? I'm with you, my friend!

  22. my heart is also with mumbai. terrible what is happening...

    your cake, gorgeous meeta!

  23. India is my favorite country to visit. One reason was a complete feeling of safety. I am so sad about this.

    I agree with all your points about this lovely cake.

  24. Like you, I prefer cake without out icing, but this icing was the star of the show, in my opinion. Your cake looks so cute in those cake jars!

  25. Was away from my computer when I heard about the senseless violance in Bombay, but thought immediately of you and hoped that your family and friends were safe. Mindless hatred and violence are part of modern life, but the international friendships forged by groups like the Daring Bakers will conunteract some of that I think.
    You cakes are darling and photos, as always, the best. Sending you a hug, virtually.

  26. I'm sorry to hear about how you feel about Mumbai. We read and watch about the news almost everyday since it happened, but having such a personal connection with the place described, and then seeing it being torn apart like that...the feeling is just beyond words.

    Gorgeous cake!!I haven't made mine as something cropped up suddenly, but will finish it next week for sure!! I can't wait to taste it!!

  27. Beautiful cake, Meeta! And yes, the mindless killing of innocents really breaks ones heart.

  28. I was saddened about the news in Mumbai as well, and was lucky not to have any friends/family around there--I'm really sorry to hear it and can only imagine how aggravating it must be for you. :-/

    As for that cake, you did a beauty of a job with it, as you always do! I always love to see your version of the DB challenges as there's always some of my favorites (actually, I think it was you who got me started drooling over DB each month with that Boston Cream DB one roughly a year ago!)

  29. I'm glad that you shared your thoughts, Meeta - I too am devastated and angered by what took place. My heart goes out to all of those who lost dear family and friends.

    On a brighter note, that caramel cake looks MARVELOUS!!! As a caramel-fanatic, this month's Daring Bakers Challenge HAS to be my favorite thus far :-)

  30. Your cakes all look fab. I love the ones in the glass jars especially.

  31. Hi, Meeta,

    You have a great blog and I'm so glad I stumbled across it. Like another reader's post, I don't know how I did so and yet am so grateful to now receive the link and updates.

    We live in a global society and so many of us share your sentiments about the recent violence in India.

    Back to the recipe(s):
    I'm in the US and would so appreciate consistency in recipe measurements that also include those other than the metric system.

    Lastly, what is the name for your little glass jars that you used in this recipe? Are they a commercial/for sale item, or did you improvise?

    Hats off to you for your use of creativity and talent in this blog!


  32. Hey Lady, does your heading picture change with each post now? Your caramel cake looks delicately delicious my dear. Did you get the pecans I sent you? Love, moi.

  33. I'm loving the cake in those cute glass containers -- very festive looking! The frosting was so sweet! The salt helped, and so did the deep caramel. Warm hugs to you regarding Bombay's recent events. I have to hope for the good to surpass the bad.

  34. Beautiful and delicous.
    Love all the pictures as usual.

  35. i'm sorry your memories are being torn apart meeta. and you're right, why is the only possible response :(

  36. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Bombay attacks, Meeta. I've barely any connexion with the city myself, but I feel the attacks were on all of us who live and advocate a more tolerant, peaceful way of life. We're all Mumbaikars today.

  37. One of my good friends, Bina, is from Mumbai also and I have been holding her hand through emails and prayers these past few days. I know too well the feeling (my parents' apartment was destroyed by a bomb in Paris in the 80s) and the wrenching pain and anger in one's heart. I wish I could hug you and bring you some comfort, in any way shape or form.

    On another note: you did a beautiful job with this month challenge my friend!

  38. Very nice Meeta, I also prefered just a little bit of frsoting. We all hope for peace, my dear...

  39. Wonderful job.I agree use the frosting as accent. I thought of you with the whole Mumbai incident as I remember you mentioned growing up in hotels and the business. It's devastating. A friend of ours was supposed to head out there for business this week. Thank goodness he wasnt there at the time.

  40. Thank you for sharing your heart about all that is going on. Touching. Beautiful job on the cake.

  41. I love them in the little cups, that looks like much fun.

  42. Hi Meeta, lovely pictures...they sout out my name. :-P
    Btw I have officially become your blog follower now.
    Hope u drop in at mine..once in a while too :)

  43. Hi Meeta

    The cake looks lovely. I love the caramel flavour. Do you mind giving the measurements in cups ??

    There should be a global concerted effort to tackle terrorism and I am sure India will emerge stronger and resilient after these attacks. The fanatics will be defeated !!

  44. I agree that this cake appeared so seemingly simple, but turned out to be delicious and complex in flavor. The news of the bombings is terrible. :( Take care.

  45. wat an amazing lookin cake lovely pic.

  46. thanks you so much for all your touching sentiments and thoughts. i really appreciate this.

    the cake was a great challenge!

    CTG - thanks for your comments. on my links page you will find under "helpful links" two very helpful converters - convert-me and gourmet sleuth both do a good job. For this cake however, if you follow the link to where Shuna printed the recipe you will be able to get the ingredients in the US cups etc. measurements. The jars are from WECK and I often use these to store my jams, jellies, sauces etc. This tiem I improvised and used them as baking forms.

    Maya - the same here - on the links page (found in the menu bar just below the banner) you will find two helpful sites that will transfer all the metric measurements to imperial. Let me know if you need more assistance.

  47. Wondeful job on the cake Meeta and I'm very saddened too at what is going on in India right now. Why cant the whole world just bake and eat like all of us DBs....

  48. Hi Meeta

    Thanks , got it.

  49. Reading what you have to say about this cake being special (and the pictures!) I am going to try this soon! I can imagine the caramel icing with the browned butter being quite addictive!

  50. thats one yum cake Meeta..n I always love the frosting more than cake..:D
    God knows when I'l be able to bake mine..:(

  51. Meeta your words are perfect here and so correct - a terrible and sad time. That's the hotel my son and new wife stayed in a little over 18 months ago.
    The cake was wonderful and yes it was caramel and best to not fool with it. A little of the frosting was just right! Wonderful photos.

  52. Meeta your words are perfect here and so correct - a terrible and sad time. That's the hotel my son and new wife stayed in a little over 18 months ago.
    The cake was wonderful and yes it was caramel and best to not fool with it. A little of the frosting was just right! Wonderful photos.

  53. I love your little cups of caramel heaven, Meeta! I also did only half of the frosting and that made it perfect. I think it´s the browning of the butter, added to the complexity of the caramel syrup and the bit of salt that takes this frosting to the next level, since I usually don´t like buttercream frostings either.
    And I´m really sorry about what happened in India, it´s one of those things that one can never make sense of, and I´m sure it must be much harder for you having been born there and having that many links to the city. Let´s hope they kind find the culprits, and, even more importantly, the world starts walking towards a better place in terms of hatred and violence, it´s just nonsensical.

  54. I was up half the night listening to the news of Bombay. I was saddened by the news and can't imagine how it is for those with real connections to the area.

    Your cakes look great btw. I love frosting but I like to keep it light so to avoid those crazy sugar crashes.

  55. Beautiful cakes - I especially love the ones in jars!

    My heart goes out to you and the people in Mumbai. I know the pain and horror of watching, from afar, an unimaginable violence unfold on a place of such personal significance.

  56. i love the mini-cakes in a jar!
    Like you, I made a brown caramel syrup to get the maximum of flavor and I also preferred the cake plain and simple!

  57. There is so much hatred out there. Crimes like the ones in India rip at the fabric of humanity. I, too, feel it deeply.

    Your Db Challenge looks lovely. I too found the frosting too sweet for my taste but the cake was fabulous. I love your presentation!

  58. Ah, very smart Meeta, using a small amount of the frosting instead of covering the entire top. An excellent way to temper its sweetness!

  59. thanks again everyone for your lovely comments!

  60. Meeta, I so understand your feelings!

    The challenge is so beautifully executed!

  61. Much in the world these days just does not make sense. But thank goodness you had this cake to distract you! Your cake turned out beautiful, with and without the frosting.

  62. Meeta, my heart goes out to the people of Bombay. I'm glad you were able to find some solace in November's challenge, and that you enjoyed the end result. Your cakes are breath-taking. Thanks for baking with us.

  63. Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, Yummy!! I think this cake is possibly the best thing I've ever tasted. It is rich and sweet and kind of sinful-tasting. And it's pretty easy to boot!


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