As you all know, the bundt bakers group has a different theme each month and July’s was caramel. When our group founders, Anuradha of Baker Street and Lora of Cake Duchess, announced it, my first thought was that apples go well with caramel and my second thought was that I don’t know how to make caramel. I knew it involved sugar and heavy cream and butter and violent looking bubbling in a pot. I flashed back to all those Challenge shows on Food Network where they try to make sugar sculptures and the announcers warn that a hot sugar burn is incapacitating. Um…maybe I’ll sit this month out?
But then I realized that I cook sugar all the time when I make simple syrup for drinks and it’s not scary at all. Plus, I don’t easily walk away from a challenge. So, I made the apple bundt cakes (minis this time) and gathered all the ingredients for the caramel. Some recipes call for lots of butter, some for only a little. I read that it doesn’t matter as long as you have a good fat to sugar ratio and the fat can come from either the cream or the butter. I cooked the sugar, removed it from the heat, poured in the cream, got the expected violent bubbling, stirred it and…it seized up! Damn! I had a pool of runny liquid and a large, solid mass floating in the middle of it.
What now? Going on instinct alone, I put it back on the stove, on a very low heat, and stirred like mad for quite a long time. It was working, though, and the solid mass was getting smaller and smaller. I did add a tablespoon of butter just to give it a good glossy finish, the way I do with savory sauces, and a good hit of sea salt since salted caramel is much better than regular caramel. And…I had caramel! Really, really tasty caramel. Much better than anything I’d ever tasted from a jar.
Later, I researched where I’d gone wrong and found that my cream was much too cold compared to the sugar. The temperature difference caused the seize and, in future, I should heat my cream. So, learn from my mistake, heat your cream and make this sauce. Pour it over this cake or any other cake or on ice cream or just grab a big spoon because this stuff is goooood. Enjoy!
- 1 Stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 Cups sugar
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla
- 3 Eggs
- 1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
- 1 Teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Cup sour cream
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- 1 Golden Delicious apple (or your favorite), peeled, cored and diced
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 1 Cup sugar
- 1 Pint heavy cream, warmed
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and beat together until creamed. Beat in the vanilla and the butter followed by the sour cream. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and slowly beat into the batter. Gently fold in the apple pieces. Butter and flour 6 mini bundt pans and divide the batter equally into each. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing the cakes from the pans.
Make the sauce by melting the sugar in a pot over a low to medium flame. Do not stir. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove it from the heat and add the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up. Return to a low heat and stir vigorously until all lumps are gone and the sauce is a light golden brown. Finish with the butter and sea salt and remove from the heat. When the cakes have cooled, pour the caramel sauce over each cake and serve the remainder on the side. This recipe makes 6 mini bundt cakes but may be doubled to make one, 12 cup, bundt.