Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sour Cream Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

For the wedding I went to last weekend I was asked to bake a cake for the reception. Not the cake, I am happy to say. The bride wanted a dessert reception, so about a dozen of us each selected a cake to bake from a list of flavors the wedding coordinator provided us. Many of the flavors sounded a bit daunting to me or even downright cryptic (no clue was given to what a One-Two-Three-Four Cake might be. Do you know?) so I opted for the most normal sounding flavor left, Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting.

I've eaten spice cakes of course, but I can't remember ever making one before. And I have never had, let alone made, caramel frosting. Not having been given any recipes to work from I decided to turn to Betty for help. Betty Crocker, that is. I like to think that Betty and I are on a first name basis; she has helped me through many a kitchen dilemma. When I get stumped, I often ask myself "I wonder what Betty has to say about this?". So I pulled out my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook and she didn't let me down. Recipes for both spice cake and caramel frosting were recorded within her tome of wisdom. Bingo!

Not wanting to make something for the first time that would be for the actual reception, I baked a trial run cake a few days before the wedding to work out any kinks. Good thing I did, too. I discovered that merely greasing and flouring is insufficient to release the ornery little things from their pans (I highly recommend the addition of parchment paper) and that trying to take the cakes out of the pans before they are completely cool results in disaster. Also the frosting, as written, wasn't quite enough to cover a layer cake. All in all, I left out a few things and tweaked some others, so the recipe below is mostly Betty's.

On the day of the wedding my worst fear was that no one would eat my cake and that I would have to take it home, leaving me two whole cakes to somehow get through (the trial cake was still on my kitchen counter). Fortunately the reception goers did their part and I was able to take an empty cake stand home. Success! We have been enjoying my first run cake all this week, so I can heartily recommend the following for your fall dessert pleasure. Happy baking!

Sour Cream Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting
from the Betty Crocker Cookbook
serves 16

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 large eggs

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3/8 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round pans and then line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat all cake ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter evenly into pans.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pans on wire rack, about 1 hour. Remove cake from pans.

To make the frosting, melt butter over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat to low. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Beat with spoon until smooth and spreadable. If frosting becomes too stiff, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Place one cake layer, rounded side down, on serving plate or cake stand. Place 4 strips of waxed paper underneath cake around the edge of plate. Spread about 1/2 cup frosting over the top of the first layer. Place second cake layer, rounded side up, on frosted first layer. Coat side of cake with a very thin layer of frosting to seal in crumbs. Continue frosting the sides and top of cake. Carefully remove waxed paper strips. Serve and enjoy!

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