baking for dummies 101

a lesson of what not to do in making a cake and caramel frosting
I am a big dummy.

Yesterday I slaved in the kitchen made a special cake for a coworker’s birthday. I saw a recipe for salted caramel frosting on Pinterest & knew immediately that I was going to make it. My coworker’s birthday was the excuse. Secretly, it was more about me making the cake than her getting a cake. Either way it worked out to everyone’s advantage.

You can find the salted caramel frosting recipe here.

I bought some Ghiradelli cocoa powder & it had a chocolate cake recipe on the back. I had all those ingredients in my house already so that was easy. I whipped it up pretty quick in my awesome orange KitchenAid mixer. Simply the best gift anyone has every given me! Thank you Mom!! The chocolate batter is pretty basic & oh so much better than the stuff you buy in the store. I am glad I made it from scratch. It was thick & rich with 2 sticks of butter & couldn’t spread out in the pans on it’s own. It taste yummy too. I think I like batter more before it’s cooked than after. That’s just me.

at school I won’t be able to lick this stuff up after I put it in pans–boo

choclate batter

batterinpans

I waited 30 minutes for it to cook. I literally just sat there. I was tired yesterday after running 6 & walking 1.75 miles that morning. I was also waiting for it to finish because I needed to go to the store to buy the ingredients for the salted caramel frosting. Speaking of which, do you say cara-mel or car-mel? I prefer to say cara-mel, but sometimes it doesn’t sound right so I use car-mel. Which is right? I think the latter is correct, but whatever. When I got back from the store, I set up to make the frosting. Whoopsie… um, recipe calls for cream cheese. Cream cheese? Where in the world in “salted caramel frosting” does it indicate that cream cheese is a part of that? Here in lies lesson #1. The most important one. Make sure you have ALL the ingredients before you start. Back to the store I went. (((sigh)))

5 times bigger than the easy bake oven ones I used to make

cookedcake

I have only made caramel once before. It was delish. This time it was a little different process. The first time I used brown sugar & this time it was white. I was waiting for it to turn a nice amber color & was texting a little as I waited. I waited  a couple beats too long. I removed it from the stove & it was super hot still cooking & then turned a reddish orange. As it sat there it became even more reddish and I knew I had blown it. Lesson #2. Never, ever, ever take your eyes off the caramel. I paid for my distraction. Cleaning the pan was a nightmare.

I had no idea it could look like this

burntcaramel

I set off to make it again. But, I was low on white sugar. I was about an eighth of a cup short. I was not going back to the store a third time! No. I decided to use brown sugar to make it up. This would be fine, but now, not super confident in my baking skills (yep, I will be attending the Culinary Institute of America in a couple months— what am I thinking???) I was worried I was going to burn it again. To top that off, I was using some brown sugar & now how am I supposed to tell when it’s an amber color when it starts off that way? Lesson #3. Don’t stray from the recipe unless you are a pro. I am not. Yet. Super cautious, I removed it a tad too early. Poured in the heavy cream & realized I needed to heat it up more. Somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to pull off a decent caramel.

goodcaramel

Time to let it cool & make the rest of the frosting. Which if you’ve read the first few of my posts, you know it’s probably my favorite sugary item in the world! It was just a beautiful whipped up icing.

simply gorgeous, I could eat the entire bowl

perfectfrosting

I was apprehensive to add the caramel. I wasn’t sure what would happen. I poured it all in thinking it was probably more than the cup the recipe called for (remember lesson #3?) The consistency was not as perfect as it just had been minutes earlier. It was way looser. Not stiff enough to frost my cake. I added more & more powdered sugar until I liked the consistency. A ton of it really, equaling a total of 5 cups for the bowl.

As I went to assemble the cake, I ran into another problem. All this time had passed since I had taken the cakes out to cool. Too much time. They were stuck on the bottom of the pan. Needless to say, with a bit of swearing added to it, I had to sacrifice a thin layer of the cake bottom & deal with a slew of cake crumbs. Lesson #4. Take the cakes out of pans sooner and cool on a rack. Or even better, line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper. I know this. Dumb mistakes. I was not happy with my baking endeavor thus far.

crumbs–does anyone really care?

crumbs

In the end, as I hope this tale isn’t boring you, the cake turned out – a little lopsided – as I did my best to pretty it up with a decorative frosting design & get it into the refrigerator to set up before the top slid off. After it firmed up, I sprinkled some dark chocolate shavings on top. An added disguise in my book.

drooping in back–again, does anyone care?

finishedcake

I brought it to work today & it was found delicious by everyone. I think it tasted like da bomb! Super yummy.The frosting was to die for. The cake was super moist. Packed with butter & sugar, so how can one really go wrong? Still, there is much to learn for me & I know I can do a better job the next time by preparing better.

seriously, da bomb!

sliced cake

you better believe I ate that whole piece-I worked hard for it!

eatenslice

The most important lesson for you is to MAKE THIS CAKE! You will not be disappointed with the end result, regardless of any minor mistakes. I wasn’t. The best part is, I have leftover frosting. You know what I will do with that–eat it! No cake needed!!

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