Inevitably, with this blog and Baked Sunday Mornings, I will be required to remake Baked recipes I already made with great success. While I obviously delight in making my favorite Baked recipes all the time, there will come a few times where I will may end up cursing myself for not taking pictures of the finished product the very first, and more successful, time. This brings us to this week’s endeavor.
Like Matt Lewis, I’m a huge fan of bundt cakes. They’re simple, they’re yummy, relatively easy to mix together, and a little less fussy than layer cakes at times. The most difficult thing you may need to worry about with bundts is getting them out of the pan all in one piece, retaining the beautiful design of the pan on your cake in the bargain. I, myself, confess to many a bundt cake disaster – crumbly chunks of cake falling out of the pan, pieces of crust sticking stubbornly along the sides. It truly makes one want to weep! However, if you’ve greased and floured your pan well, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of making the recipe for this week’s assignment, Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting from Baked Explorations, for my family at Christmas. This divine, deep caramel-flavored cake was quite a hit – and with the snazzy caramel shards sprinkled across the top, it has the potential to be the showpiece of even the most humble get-together or potluck.
First of all, if you’re curious about the name of this recipe – burnt sugar? – wonder no more. If you have had caramel, you’ve had burnt sugar! There’s a magical alchemy to making the burnt sugar/caramel in this recipe, and that involves basically taking dry sugar, putting it in a saucepan and then heating it to the point when it turns into a thick, sticky liquid. Cook it a little longer and it starts to smell slightly burnt and turns brown. Carefully pour in heavy cream, stir it rapidly as it sputters, and voila! Delicious caramel – and the delectable base for this cake. If there is one thing those Baked guys do well, it’s caramel – and I’ve learned from them the best ways to make it – while making this recipe, their Sweet and Salty Cake, Sweet and Salty Brownies…the list goes on.
I would suggest being very, very careful when making caramel and dealing with hot sugar on your first few tries. When sugar reaches a boiling point, it is incredibly, INCREDIBLY HOT. Matter of fact, silly me – the first time I made this cake, I lifted the wooden spoon out of the boiling sugar and attempted to dislodge a chunk of it from the spoon. OUCH!!! I soon had an extremely painful, large burn/welt on my index finger. No fun! So, please, don’t be like me. Be very careful to avoid hurting yourself, and do everything you can to prevent the boiling sugar from splashing onto your skin.
Now… back to this cake. Well, you have only my word to take that my first endeavor with this cake was the BEST. This time around, I wasn’t as fortunate. I’ll be darned if I can figure out what went wrong.
I’m not sure if any of the other BSM bakers had this issue – it could be my crummy apartment oven again – but I had to bake my bundt cake approximately 15 minutes more than the 45 minutes the recipe called for. At 45 minutes, it was still jiggly in the center. Also, when I made this cake previously, it turned out a nice, deep golden brown like Baked’s – this time around, it had more of a blonde tint. My suspicion is that the first time I made it, I followed the recipe more specifically and let the sugar cook to a deep brown caramel color, and this time, I may have let it cook to a lighter shade of deep amber instead. Hence, a lighter-tinted cake.
My main issue – this time and the first time, if I remember correct – was the caramel rum frosting. It isn’t so much a frosting as a glaze. I wish I had a made a note in the book the first time to remind myself not to use all of the remaining burnt sugar liquid, or maybe scale back on the rum by 1 tablespoon (though I love the punch the 2 tablespoons packs). Baked’s photo in the book shows a nice, thick, creamy frosting that is nicely spread and ‘perched’ on top of the bundt, whereas I came up with a glaze that drizzles more down the sides and pools in the center. Much as I am not a proponent of adding more powdered sugar to make a thicker frosting consistency (it makes the frosting way too sweet), I ended up adding a total of 4 cups powdered sugar, believe it or not (the recipe calls for 2-1/3 cups), to thicken and bring it even remotely close to spreading consistency. The end result? Possibly an overly-sweet frosting, but with the kick of the rum balancing it out, it was passable. It kept this nice consistency – until I spread it on the completely cooled cake, whereupon it suddenly got thin again, curdled slightly, and started running steadily down the sides. Strange!
Regardless of how different my burnt sugar bundt cake was this time around, I cannot argue that it was still delicious. The ever stolid perfectionist in me tried to get past the devastating, sad appearance of the weepy cake to try a slice. The coconut milk ensures a nice, dense, moist crumb and the frosting, though troublesome, is wonderfully boozy with the rum – complimenting the cake well. While I far preferred the toasty taste and texture of my first venture, this cake was not altogether a complete failure. It was still edible, though with only a slight taste of caramel/burnt sugar. Also – be very careful with your caramel candy shards on top – some can be quite sharp. You may want to carefully pick them off with your fork before taking a big bite of cake. I would hate to imagine anyone cutting the roof of their mouth on one, or cracking a tooth!
Feeling a little experimental with your bundt cake baking? I will never discourage you from trying a Baked recipe – give this recipe a try… and if you have terrific luck with it the first time, savor it, enjoy it, and be sure to take a photo! I hope you will continue to have success with it, unlike me! If there is a ‘next time’ I attempt this, I think I will scratch the frosting – frosted bundts seem like a little ‘much’ to me anyhow, and this cake can stand on its own pretty well, perhaps dusted with some powdered sugar.