Sensationally Sinful!

A few weeks back, a colleague brought in this cake for the staff that was absolutely delicious. I am a chocolate lover through and through and I when presented with an array of dainties or desserts, 90% of the time, I’ll choose a chocolate option. Of course, I love a variety of desserts, but generally speaking I’ll go for something chocolate. So, for me to say this, is a huge thing…..according to my taste buds this is one of the most delicious cakes I have ever tasted. It is very rich and the combination of flavours is really fabulous. I am not actually going to post this recipe, only because I followed it exactly as Alex Hitz instructed in his post on House Beautiful. To check-out this incredible recipe for Salted Caramel Cake, follow the link.

I won’t lie, this is absolutely the most fattening sugar laden concoction you’ll ever taste, but man is it worth it! The recipe suggests that it serves approximately 16, but I think you could easily serve more. I served 12 pieces of cake at the party and still have exactly one half of the cake left. I cut the pieces quite small as it is very rich and only a few had seconds. You could easily serve 20 with this cake.

Although there are more steps than the typical frosted cake, I didn’t find it too bad. Here is my advice, based on my experience:

    • Bake the cake the day before, cool it completely, cover and leave on the counter for frosting the next day.
    • The recipe suggests putting the caramel mixture in the freezer to cool for about 40 minutes. I think mine took about an hour and a half  before it was completely cooled. The bottom of my pot was still hot to touch after 40 minutes in the freezer.
    • Do a crumb coat and then pop the cake in the freezer for about an hour or longer.  A crumb coat is a thin layer of icing that covers the outside of the cake and catches all of the crumbs. This recipe makes a gargantuan amount of frosting which is fabulous. There is nothing worse than doing a 6 layer cake and running short on frosting. There is plenty of frosting to do a crumb coat, freeze and then do a final beautiful layer of frosting. I covered the remaining frosting and popped it in the fridge while the cake with the crumb coat was in the freezer. I’m not saying this was a mistake, but perhaps it wasn’t as smooth and creamy as it was before placing it in the fridge. I thought it would hold its shape a bit better as it was very creamy and I wondered if it might slide down the sides if left out. You can decide.
    • When I went to bake my cakes, I realized that I needed 3 pans. I have four, but they are 2 sets of 2 and the sizes weren’t exactly the same. I ended up calling my neighbour and lucky for me they had just purchased a set of three new cake pans, so I just used there set of three. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I think they inadvertently saved me a huge mess and intense frustration. (Thanks Kelli and Ian!)  I should know better, but I had a printed out version of the recipe from my friend and didn’t bother to read the reviews prior to making the cakes. I usually check out the reviews prior to making a recipe, as there are often good tips. Before posting this, I decided to see what others had to say and sure enough there was a theme in the reviews. Everyone loved the cake, but many had an issue with their cake batter spilling over into the oven and having to toss the cakes out . Yikes! The pans that I generally use were my moms and can be seen below on the left. They are not very deep and I can see how I would have had the same problem had I used those pans. Instead, I used pans similar to that on the right. Moral of the story….use deep pans!
    • More about the pans….I have never baked in deep pans like this and I instantly loved them. Not only did the cake not spill over, but instead of the baked cake having a huge dome on top where it rises during baking, the cake remained relatively flat across the top. At first, I was concerned that they weren’t rising, but then it hit me. In my shallow pans, the cake is forced to rise in the center because the sides are not tall enough to support the rising cake. In the deeper pans (about 3″, I think), the entire cake rises and the result is a more even surface. This is especially important when layering cakes as the stacked cakes are much more stable with a more even surface. I loved these pans and thought I might buy a set, but my neighbour insisted I just borrow theirs whenever needed. Love that idea even more as I don’t have to spend the money or store the suckers. Too bad they don’t nestle together like my old ones.
    • I placed three wooden skewers through the layers of the cake prior to my final coat of icing. I just find that it prevents any sliding when cutting the cake.
old 9" pan

Old 9″ pan with slider to help remove cake. Only about 1 1/4″ high.

9" pan

The 9″ pans I used.

This cake is a must try! It is absolutely worth the extra effort. I can’t say that it would be a cake I would make regularly as it is more work, more expensive and off the scale in terms of naughty, but it is the perfect cake to serve a large group and will definitely impress those with a sweet tooth.  Enjoy!

How To Salvage a Flopped Cake

Last night, I got home from work and had to muster up every ounce of energy I had to whip up a cake and pop it in the oven. We are having my dad over for Easter dinner tonight (Good Friday) and I’m making birthday cake for dessert. April 19th will be my dad’s 78th birthday! I decided to make a Chocolate Layer Cake.  This is one of my favourite recipes, and it always works! Except for last night. What a perfect time for a cake to flop – it coincided perfectly with another rare and untimely event – I ran out of flour! Yep, I was so relieved when I scraped up just enough flour from the jar to make the recipe in the first place. I literally have no more than a few teaspoons of white flour in the house and its Good Friday, one of the only days in a year when stores are actually closed for the entire day. I’m famous for having to “re-do” things, but I simply didn’t have the time or energy to pull it off this time. Instead, I thought of a creative solution to my predicament.

Birthday Cake Disaster:

I had whipped up a double recipe of my favourite chocolate cake recipe and popped it in the oven.I knew that a single recipe was not big enough for two round pans, but the double was a bit too much. I should have taken some of the extra batter and made a few cupcakes, but I was honestly just too lazy. I knew the cakes would need additional time, because of the additional batter, so I wasn’t surprised when the cakes weren’t cooked in the suggested 30 minute bake time. I have always felt that my oven is a bit out of sync and that the actual temperature is a lower than the setting. I sometimes set the oven a few degrees higher to compensate, but I was too tired to think of this.

After the first check at 30 minutes of baking time, I proceeded to set the timer in 5 minutes intervals to stay on top of things and not over bake the cake. I continued to bake and check regularly for what seemed like forever. I was totally exhausted and just wanted to go to bed. Finally,after what I am guessing was more than an hour of bake time, I tested the cakes and the poker came up clean – finally!  It was not until I went to remove them from the oven that I realized that the oven really didn’t seem that hot. Well, that’s because sometime between the original 30 minute timer and the time I removed them, I must have turned the oven “off” instead of the timer. Ugh! Within 10 minutes both cakes had sunk ~ one not so bad, as it must have had slightly less batter to begin with, but the other would have made a a great cake if the party theme was “sink holes”! I decided to cover them with a towel on the cooling rack and deal with it this morning. 

Steps to Recovering a Ruined Cake:

Starting over really was not an option as I had no flour in the house (like that has ever happened before!) I could have borrowed from a neighbour, but I feel like I have done that a few too many times already. It seems I am often over looking a necessary ingredient. So, I decided to proceed and see what the interior of the cakes looked like. My plan was to make a 4 layer cake by cutting the two round cakes in half. When I cut them open, I realized that one cake really was fine. It had only sunk slightly and was cooked all the way through. However, the second cake was basically a pile of mush in the middle with a ring of cooked cake around the outside. I came up with a plan. Here’s what I did:

  1. I used the bottom of the “good” cake as the base for the layer cake. I frosted this layer.
  2. I then took the “bad” cake and scooped out the center of both pieces.
  3. I took the cooked outer “ring” of cake and placed it on the bottom frosted layer. I frosted the top of the ring.
  4. I then took the other outer cooked ring of cake and broke it into pieces.
  5. I mixed the broken cake pieces with the remaining filling/frosting and filled the center of the ring.
  6. I then added the final layer which was the top of the “good” cake and completed the cake.

When all was said and done, I had to toss about 1/4 of the cake or the equivalent of one layer. My final cake is a 3 layer cake with this yummy filling in the middle. You can’t tell at all from the outside and no one would ever know this was not the original plan. (I don’t think my dad reads my blog, so I’m pretty safe.) So, Good Friday birthday dinner will take place after all!

bunny curls

This white chocolate bunny provided the chocolate curls needed for the finishing touches.

I had originally planned to post the recipe for this Mocha Cake and will eventually share it. It has a whipping cream frosting and I added white chocolate curls for a simple look. Just because things hadn’t gone so smoothly with this cake, I was sort of expecting to come up empty when I checked the crisper for white chocolate. I was only disappointed for a moment and then got a twinkle in my I remembered that my kids “smugly” informed me they no longer believe in the Easter Bunny. This ended up being a life saver! I didn’t even feel bad when I opened up the white chocolate bunny and sliced off the bottom of it for chocolate curls. I wonder if they’ll notice that the bottom of the bunny is missing and that the bag has been taped up?


Life Hacks I Love #6: Brown Sugar Saver

Don’t you hate it when you go to get some brown sugar for that special recipe and find it all stuck together and as hard as cement. Well, my mom taught me two little tricks that I along with many others have been using for years. Just add a slice of bread or a slice of apple to the sugar container/bag and it will help to moisten hardened sugar and keep fresh sugar in that moist state. However, I have found that the sugar immediately surrounding the bread/apple seems to get a bit hard and chunky and even discolours a bit. The rest of the jar is nice and moist as was the intent. I usually end up tossing that bit of sugar that has been effected. At one time I even purchased one of those terra cotta brown sugar savers and it worked great, but you have to soak it in water every once in a while to replenish the moisture in it. Somehow in this process, mine got tossed in the garbage.

The other day, I came across yet another solution for the hardened brown sugar ~ a jumbo marshmallow! What could be easier than tossing a marshmallow into a jar and the best part is that after over a week, there has not been any adverse effects on the sugar. It does the job perfectly. I can’t comment on how long it will be before I need to replace the marshmallow, but it certainly seems to do the trick.

You will notice that my brown sugar actually looks a little funny, almost two-toned in the picture. That’s because it is. I generally prefer the “golden” sugar that is a finer grain of sugar and lighter in colour, but my husband came home with the dark coarse sugar and so the two are intermingled in my brown sugar canister. (I used commercial sized pickle jars to make this set of canisters ~ here’s the link if you’re interested in checking out my Upcylced Pickle Jars.)

If you are in a hurry and you have found yourself face to face with sugar that has solidified into a brick, no worries as there is a quick fix as well. Just pop the sugar in a microwave-safe both with a damp paper towel, cover the bowl with a lid or plate and microwave for 20 seconds. The heat and damp paper towel help to transfer the moisture back into the sugar. Don’t forget to add a marshmallow to the remaining sugar to soften it up for future use.

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