Friday, November 20, 2009

Cake Slice - Burnt Sugar Cake

This is my second month as a member of The Cake Slice Bakers and this month it was all about sugar. Since I have a major (and I mean major) sweet tooth I was quite excited when I found out that the cake for this month was a lovely sounding Burnt Sugar Cake from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott. However when I discovered that we had to melt sugar to make the burnt sugar syrup I have to admit that I was a little scared. The last time I made toffee the pot had to be thrown away after - I made a mess of the whole thing. Well luckily this time my pot (well frying pan) came out of this baking session alive and more importantly the cake was fantastic. The burnt sugar syrup has an amazing rich toffee flavour, the cake was lovely and moist and the icing although a little grainy from the icing sugar was good too. If I make this cake again I will replace the icing with swiss meringue buttercream and then I think the cake would be perfect. So if you do want to bake this cake I would suggest making up a batch of vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and then adding the burnt sugar syrup to taste - that would be delicious!

Oh and if you are wondering, my icing was melting since it was 44 C (111 F) here when I baked the cake - so I decided to go with the flow and just let the icing dribble down the side of the cake. Well that is my excuse and I'm sticking with it!

Burnt Sugar Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
  1. Heat the sugar in a cast iron skillet or another heavy bottomed pan with high sides. Heat over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts into a clear brown caramel syrup. It should be the colour of tea.
  2. Gradually add the boiling water, pouring it down the sides of the pan so that if the syrup foams and bubbles up, you should be protected.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the water combines with the syrup and turns a handsome brown syrup.
  4. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Store the cooled syrup in a sealed jar if not using right away (I stored mine for 3 days).

Burnt Sugar Cake (from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1¾ cups sugar
4 eggs
½ cup Burnt Sugar Syrup (recipe above)
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans (I baked mine in 2 6 inch round cake pans and a 12-hole muffin tray lined with cases).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and stir with a fork to mix well. Stir the vanilla into the milk.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer at high speed for 2 – 3 minutes, until they are well combined. Stop now and then to scrape the bowl down. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well each time. Pour in half a cup of the burnt sugar syrup and beat well.
  4. Add a third of the flour mixture and about half of the milk, beating at a low speed, until just incorporated. Mix in another third of the flour and the rest of the milk. Finally, add the remaining flour.
  5. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched gently in the centre and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan (for some reason it took 40 minutes in my oven - maybe because I couldn't preheat - due to little miss Zoe crawling around).
  6. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Burnt Sugar Frosting

3¾ cups confectioners sugar
½ cup Burnt Sugar Syrup (above)
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 – 3 tbsp evaporated milk or normal milk (I used normal milk)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the confectioners sugar, the burnt sugar syrup, butter and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl now and then to bring the ingredients together.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk and continue beating until the frosting is thick, soft, smooth and easy to spread. Add a little more sugar if it is thin, and a little more milk if it is too thick.

To Assemble

Place one layer, top side down, on a cake stand or serving plate.

Scoop about ¾ cup of the frosting onto the cake and spread to the edges.

Place the second cake layer over it, top side down (I put mine bottom side down for that homely feel/look).

Frost the sides of the cake, and then the top until it is evenly covered (as you can see mine was sort of more drizzled).

Now cut yourself a slice and if you have any leftover syrup pour a little on top - because there isn't enough sugar already :P

In the words of Mat...

"It just tastes like sugar,
it's a sugar cake
and there's nothing wrong with that."


Paris Pastry said...

Ooh that drizzle looks so yummy! I had the same thing happen to me with toffee once. I haven't been brave enough to try it again!

cookies and cups said...

It looks beautiful, and I'd say since it tastes like sugar, it was a success!!

Anonymous said...


Tracey said...

oooh. what lovely photographs you take!

Jo said...

Great job on your 2nd cake and it looks great with the frosting drizzling down the layers of the cake. Great clicks as well.

rachel said...

gorgeous ly done...and love how the frosting flows over..

Kim said...

Love, love, love the frosting oozing over the edge! Great pictures of your cake!1

Sandi Oh said...

Your pictures look great, and I love the frosting too!

Leslie Limon said...

LOVE how the frosting is drizzling down the cake. Excellent job!!!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! Now why didn't I think of that, just a beautiful pour of frosting over the cake. It looks so much better than my uber-messy attempt at frosting! Can't wait to see next month. :)

Miss Dot said...

Haha! Well said, Mat!

As for your drizzled frosting, I think it looks perfect! Had you not said anything I would have thought that was your intent all along. 111 degrees??? HOLY COW THAT'S HOT!!

Porthos said...

OMG This cake looks AMAZING!!! I love the drizzled icing look and would have thought that was deliberate. Well done you for even considering baking in the Adelaide heat wave :)

Katie said...

Your cake looks fantastic, very tall and moist. I agree it was very sweet. Well done for conquering your fear of caramel!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

I think caramelizing sugar sends a lot of people (including myself) into a bit of a panic. But your cake looks absolutely lovely. I especially like your photo of the sugar by itself.

Rose said...

YUM! you are such a great baker, it looks delicious.


Chantel said...

Yum! This looks so good. I'm affraid if I made it, I would sit there and eat the whole cake in one go!

Gala said...

Sounds yummy, love that you're adding pictures of the baking process.

Ingrid said...

MMmm,mmmmm, nothing wrrong with that at all. I think the cake looks great with the burnt sugar "glaze". :)

Holy smokes! Is it hot there or what? And here I've been complaining about it being in the hot and HUMID 80's here!

alissa said...

haha to quote elf...
"you really like syrup dont you?
"does syrup have sugar in it?
"then YES!"

Allison said...

I think your frosting looks good all melt-y. It makes the cake look more rustic :)

Monica H said...

I love your drizzly icing- your cake turned out great! And I agree with you about the icing. A SMBC would be awesome on this cake.

oneordinaryday said...

I think it looks great with the frosting oozing down like that. Very nice. I kind of fizzled out of cake slice this month. My in-laws were arriving for Thanksgiving and I was volunteering a lot at my kiddos' school. I just couldn't get the time together to do the cake. Hope they are a forgiving group!!!