Klutzing Around With: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Hello again! Sorry for the delay in posting-I recently got a new job and moved out of state, putting a serious dent in my free time. With big changes can come mixed feelings, which to me means comfort food. And what better comfort food is there then cake? Specifically, birthday cake! So let’s klutzy around with some decadent, chocolate-y goodness.

The Recipe

My dad’s birthday was in January and to celebrate, I decided to make him a cake-this Salted Caramel Cake from Baker by Nature, to be exact. I made him cupcakes last year, but this time around I wanted to go with a full blown cake to celebrate the occasion-and test my skills with my first three layer cake!

Making the Cake

Processed with MaxCurve

For the chocolate cake, I used:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (not packed)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups light sour cream
  • 1/3 cup non-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups hot water

For the salted caramel chocolate frosting, I used:

  • 2 cups Sweet Cream unsalted butter (4 sticks, 16 ounces), VERY soft
  • 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Smucker’s Salted Caramel Sauce

For the garnish, I used:

  • Flaky sea salt

For equipment, I used:

  • An oven
  • Parchment paper
  • 3 cake pans
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Stand mixer
  • Medium bowl
  • Hand mixer
  • Cooling racks
  • Serrated knife
  • Spatula
  • Cake plate and cover

To kick things off, I preheat the over to 350 degrees F and cut out three, 9-inch round segments of the parchment paper to line the cake pans. I spray the pans with the nonstick cooking spray, then place the parchment paper in corresponding pans and spray them again. This winds up being…a tad difficult. The parchment paper does not want to conform to the pan, so I make it work as well as I can and hope for the best.

After that, I set the pan aside and combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the stand mixer bowl. I then mix the ingredients on low until thoroughly combined. Of course, the dry ingredients blow up in my face and make a mess. Sigh. Some day I will figure out how to fix that.

Next, I pull out a medium bowl and combine the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, milk, oil, and vanilla extract, mixing with the hand mixer until completely combined. I then pour in the hot water and continue mixing until everything comes together, which takes about a minute. The batter is, as warned, extremely thin at this point, almost soupy. Getting it into the pans is going to be an adventure.

And what an adventure it was. I attempt to evenly dole out the batter between the three baking pans, but with the parchment paper still not cooperating and the difficult batter texture, it’s not completely even. I do my best and stick the pans in the oven for 30 minutes.

While I wait for the cakes to bake, I decide to get started on the frosting. After cleaning the stand mixer, I use it to cream the softened butter on medium speed until smooth, which takes 2-3 minutes. I then shut off the mixer and sift the powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. I turn the mixer back on at the lowest speed and mix until the dry ingredients are adsorbed by the butter, which takes around 2 minutes.

After this is done, I increase the speed to medium and add in the vanilla extract, salt, heavy cream, and salted caramel, beating everything together for 3 minutes. By this point, the timer has gone off and the cakes are finished. After letting them cool in the pan for 10 minutes, I remove them from the pans and transfer them to the cooling rack.

IMG_3811.JPG

…these are possibly the ugliest cake bases I’ve ever seen. I am so sorry, Dad. I hope smothering this in frosting hides how hideous these cakes are.

While I’m panicking about ruining my father’s birthday with ugly cake, I wait for them to cool completely so I can frost. Once they have finally cooled down, I take a serrated knife and trim the edges of the cake to make it a bit more even. Now it’s time to assemble.

To pull everything together, I put the first layer onto the cake plate. I spread a thing later of frosting on the top, then add 1/2 cup of caramel sauce; I then top with another cake layer, add another layer of frosting, and another 1/2 cup of caramel. Finally, I add the last cake later and cover the plate, leaving the cake to set in the fridge for an hour.

I’m having an issue, though-the layers seem to be sliding. I wonder if I didn’t leave them cool enough. At the 30 minute mark, I go back and check to make sure the layers have stayed together. As I feared, the cake is extremely lopsided, but it’s now cool enough that I readjust and it appears to finally come together.

After the hour mark, the cake is set and I remove it from the fridge to add the final frosting later to the top and sides of the cake using the spatula. I sprinkle the top with sea salt and we’re done!

The Final Product

IMG_3820.JPG

Thank goodness for frosting, because this cake is not nearly as hideous as I was worried about. And as for timing…

cake

Between everything baking and cooling, this cake takes almost 4 hours to complete, almost double what the recipe said. This was definitely a labor of love reserved specifically for birthday extravaganzas.

The Verdict

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So was this almost 4 hour cake worth it? The answer…yes! Despite the time commitment and the lack of aesthetic, this cake has a great balance between chocolate, caramel, and salt that is almost overwhelmingly decadent. And is it decadent-we all have to take tiny pieces because while delicious, this cake is INCREDIBLY filling. But it’s worth it-Happy Birthday, Dad!

Ingredients/Directions

For the chocolate cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (not packed!)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups full-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (you may also sub in melted coconut oil)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups hot water

For the salted caramel chocolate frosting:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks, 16 ounces), VERY soft
  • 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (more if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons salted caramel sauce

Garnish:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups salted caramel sauce (please see post for more on this)
  • Flaky sea salt

Instructions

  1. For the chocolate cake:
  2. Preheat oven to 350°(F). Cut out three 9-inch round segments of parchment paper to line your cake pans with. Spray each pan generously – sides and bottom – with nonstick cooking spray, then place the parchment paper cut out in the bottom of the pans and spray again. It’s important to make sure every bit of pan and paper are sprayed so your cakes don’t get stuck. Set pans aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, combine both sugars, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. Use your hands to break up any large clumps, if needed. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, milk, oil and vanilla extract; mix until completely combined. Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low until just incorporated. Pour in hot water and continue mixing until completely combined; about 1 minute. The batter will quite thin.
  4. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the pan before removing from pans and transferring to a cooling rack; cool cakes completely before frosting.
  5. For the chocolate frosting:
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the softened butter on medium-speed until completely smooth; about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer off and sift the powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on the lowest speed and mix until the sugar/cocoa have been absorbed by the butter; about 2 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium; add in vanilla extract, salt, heavy cream and salted caramel; beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting appears a little too thin, add a little more confectioners’ sugar; If your frosting needs to be thinner, add additional heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  7. Assembly:
  8. Using a serrated knife, carefully trim the raised top of each cake, making each one an even, level surface. Transfer 1 layer to a large plate or cake stand. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top, then add a 1/2 cup of caramel; top with another cake layer, and repeat, thinly spread it with a layer of frosting, then adding a 1/2 cup of caramel. Top final cake layer and place cake in the fridge to set for 1 hour. Once set, finishing frosting the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slice and serve, or keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

*Notes*

Cake may be baked up to 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Unfrosted cakes may be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months. For best results, follow the recipe as written.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. j4tayl says:

    Thanks Rachel, the cake was awesome – best birthday cake I ever had!

    Like

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