It seems like it's been quite a while since I made anything with caramel. It's not that I was consciously avoiding it, but I realized that the last time I attempted it was when I had my difficulties with the microwave caramel sauce back in October. (I'm happy to report that my hand is all better--you can barely tell where I burned it.) I decided to revert to my old way of making it on the stovetop, and definitely won't go months without making it next time. So what exactly prompted me to start caramelizing sugar again? A cake. And what prompted me to make the cake? A new pan! It's a Christmas present of sorts--I spent some of my Christmas money (thanks, K&L!) on a very cute little 6-cup Bundt pan. For the record, it's possible that my collection is getting a bit out of control, though Mary still has me beat.
The new 6-cup pan is in the back, between the Heritage pan (left) and Kugelhopf pan (right)
Speaking of Mary, I have her to thank for the cake inspiration. Back in November when she was celebrating National Bundt Day with her latest round of 30 bundts in 30 days, Mary also did a giveaway. She invited everyone to bake and post a cake on National Bundt Day, and then drew a name to receive a copy of Cake Simple, a book full of bundt cakes. I was the winner! The book is from Christie Matheson--if the name is familiar, it may be because she also worked with Joanne Chang on the Flour Bakery cookbook.
Since I was eager to use my new pan, I started by looking through the recipes that called for a 6-cup pan. (There are also recipes for 10 or 12 cup pans, as well as a chapter on minis.) The one that immediately caught my eye was the recipe for the Salted Caramel Bundt. First you make a caramel syrup, which is used in the cake and in the glaze. The cake itself is made with the creaming method, and comes together pretty quickly. There's almost too much batter for the pan, but it worked out okay. My cake took about 45 minutes to bake.
The verdict? This was pretty tasty! The cake is really moist. I didn't really care for the texture of the glaze, so I may change that up a bit next time (no cream, I think), but it did add to the caramel flavor. As I was making the cake, I thought that the method (using the caramel syrup in the batter) seemed really familiar. Then I realized it was because I've made the cake before in a different form--this Caramel Cake with Browned Butter Frosting.
I'm sure I'll be sharing more recipes from this book in the future, but for now, here's the recipe for the Salted Caramel Bundt.
Salted Caramel Syrup
1/4 cup (60 grams) + 1/2 cup (120 grams) water
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon fleur de sel or other sea salt
Put the quarter cup of water, the sugar, and the corn syrup in a small saucepan with high sides and mix until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pan with a lid for about 2 minutes to allow steam to clean the sides of the pan. Remove the lid and cook the mixture, watching carefully, until the sugar turns a dark amber color. Swirl the pan so that the sugar will color evenly. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the remaining half cup of water--the mixture will bubble up furiously, so stand back. Put the pan back over medium heat and whisk to dissolve any hard bits of caramel that may have formed. Whisk in the salt, remove the pan from the heat, and let the syrup cool to room temperature before using in the cake or glaze.
Salted Caramel Bundt Cake
2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons (about 140 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup (about 90 grams) salted caramel syrup
1 cup (240 grams) whole milk, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour the inside of a 6-cup Bundt pan or spray it with baking spray (I use Pam for Baking).
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl until combined.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly add the caramel syrup and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour), beating just until the flour is incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted midway between the outside of the pan and the center post comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a rack and let it cool completely.
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (115 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons caramel syrup
large pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth and pourable. Add additional cream to thin the glaze if necessary (I actually thinned mine with more caramel syrup, too). Drizzle over the cooled cake.