I’m not dead, I swear!
I know, I know, I’m an incredible slacker, but it’s finally time for an update! I have a few things that I need to address and then I’ll get down to business with my Daring Bakers stuff (because that’s really all anyone cares about)!
First off, I know I was super excited about joining Tuesdays with Dorie. I know I bought the book as an excuse to bake more. I know that I got lucky because they closed off membership. I know, I know that I should really be more active with it, but I’m just so busy with school that if I actually do want to bake on the weekends, then it’ll be something I’m craving and not a TwD recipe that I have to make.
I did, however, attempt the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie over break, thinking it’d be my amazing contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, but I failed miserably at it. I’ve never had a fancy for any type of pie so it was my first time every bothering to make one. The recipe sounded so simple; the hardest part was making the crust, which really wasn’t all that complicated (it tasted amazing by the way). However, when I took my pies out of the oven they weren’t, let’s just say, the most appealing things I’ve ever seen. Frankly, at least to me, they looked kind of disgusting, but my dad assured me that it was just funky because the sugar crystallized a bit on the top. No biggy, right!? Not quite.
I thought it’d be smart to have a taste test and although they tasted alright (the vanilla was a bit overpowering), they just weren’t worth it. My pies lacked the nice smooth, silkiness of a pumpkin pie and were strange and crumbly. Oh well! At least I can say I’ve made pie before!
Now, does this explanation mean I’ll make an effort to attempt more TwD recipes? Probably not. The recipes chosen for this month are actually appealing to me, but who knows how many I’ll get around to. (Plus my sister makes like thirty bazillion sugar cookies in December so I doubt I’ll be trying any cookie recipes)!
Secondly, I have a lot of recipes I’ve tried, taken amazing pictures of, and started posts on. I’ve just been too lazy to actually complete them. I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m going to try and them up because I’ve made lots of yummy things should definitely be shared with the world!
Okay, now for the only thing people probably care about, my cake for November’s Daring Bakers!
The fantastic hosts of this month, Dolores, Alex, and Jenny, chose Shuna Fish Lydon’s signature Caramel Cake, which was published in Bay Area Bites! Shuna, of Eggbeater, is a pastry chef that has been baking and cooking professionally for over 15 years. Along with this cake challenge, they also gave us the option to attempt Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, which I would have loved to try, but I wasn’t about to buy golden syrup because I’d probably never use it again.
Now I must admit that I was a little intimidated by this challenge because I had never been successful with caramel in the past and am still not after making this cake. I actually almost didn’t even make this cake because I was so frustrated after failing FOUR TIMES at making the caramel syrup that I didn’t want to bother with it anymore. My first attempt became hard as a rock when it cooled. On my second try I was overly cautious and didn’t use enough heat, which caused all of the water to evaporate, leaving me with crystallized, white sugar. For my third try I turned the heat back up, but this time I cooked it for too long and it ended up being burnt. Sadly, after burning it, I foolishly repeated the mistake from my second attempt again.
After wasting eight cups of sugar I was ready to give up, but figured, “Hey I’ve come this far! What’s two more cups?” and decided to give it another go. This time I needed to be ready! I needed to have a clear vision of what I was supposed to be looking for while making the caramel syrup. I am a very visual person when it comes to baking and the recipe provided obviously didn’t include any pictures so I took it upon myself to watch multiple caramel tutorials on youtube. Let me tell you, they were incredibly helpful! I’d definitely suggest watching some for anyone that has trouble with caramel.
Most people seemed to stick to the basics when it came to this cake and didn’t get too fancy, but since I’m not much of a light frosting on light cake type of person I felt that my cake needed some chocolate. Between my cake layers I added dark chocolate mousse covered in a blanket of caramel syrup and then cheated by frosting the cake with a different caramel buttercream. The frosting we were required to use was more like a brown butter frosting and I absolutely hate how that tastes so I wasn’t about to use that. Finally, I poured a dark chocolate ganache over the cake and also piped it around the top and bottom.
In the end was this cake everything I hoped for? Not quite. I obviously have not yet mastered caramel and I think my syrup was a bit underdone because it didn’t have that amazing sugary goodness that caramel usually has. However, I wasn’t about to try again and my lame caramel syrup definitely caused the cake to lack flavor. Between you and me, the beautiful caramel syrup you see dripping down the sides of the cake in my pictures was secretly the kind you get at the store. I felt like the cake needed it added because it had absolutely no caramel flavor to it at all.
Overall my sad little cake was nothing to write home about and less than a fourth of it was eaten before being thrown out. From reading everyone else’s posts about how amazing this cake was I’m sure it was meant to be great, but it frustrated me so much that I doubt I’ll ever try it again. I’m so bitter towards this recipe that I’m not even going to post it. Instead you can go to Shuna’s post on Bay Area Bites or visit the DB blogroll and read the many posts about it.