November 2010: Third Slice
Caramel Cake to the Rescue
My family knows to ask before they slice. With a mom who bakes cakes for a living, you never know when the cake at our house is for the camera, a signing, or a new book.
We learned the hard way – I would bake a perfectly glazed chocolate chip cake, let it cool, then come back to the kitchen to find an Elmo fork embedded in the side and a chunk missing. Brownies are vulnerable, too, and they’re still not safe to leave alone in our kitchen. Through the years I’ve made signs, resting on the side of the cake, like “do not eat” or “slice and no allowance,” so little by little my family has learned to ask.
When I baked this caramel cake recently, they begged for a slice but the mean mom in me said, no, that the cake was a feast for the camera and the subject of my next newsletter. This is a recipe that I had been asked to share. It isn’t in any of my books, and in fact, it was just something I came up with last spring before my son’s 12th birthday. I love how cream cheese makes a cake moist and a cake mix batter more substantial, so I added an 8-ounce container of whipped cream cheese to my usual yellow birthday batter. It was a hit.
For the Monday photograph, I cut off a few fat slices for the camera and my kids after school and tucked the rest of the cake into the freezer. I can’t tell you how smug I felt with that cake in the freezer. But the cake’s stay there was short for within hours my friend Judy emailed to say a college freshman was in critical care at the hospital and his family from New Orleans needed lunch and consolation. I removed the cake from the freezer, sliced it in half and took it to the hospital. The next day my daughter came home unexpectedly with a friend from college. I served them, what else, but my caramel cake.
Which brings me to the point of this story in that the more I bake I realize it’s not so much the cake, but the people you feed. This cake was not meant for the camera – it was meant to make people happy, like the brave young man who is now recovering from surgery, and his grateful dad who wants this recipe.
A Word from Workman
We’ve got some new and exciting things coming to CakeMixDoctor.com this fall! Just in time for your holiday gift list, Anne is launching both her brand new line of cake mix and her latest book, The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free!
Look for The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, Anne’s first foray into the world of gluten-free baking, on QVC the week of Nov. 15, and in stores everywhere early this December. Or click here to pre-order. Pick it up before the holidays to make delicious gluten-free treats for office, school, or church gatherings that everyone can enjoy. Or, gift it to someone you know with a Celiac friend or family member so the holiday will be their most delicious yet!
Be sure to check in at CakeMixDoctor.com for tour updates and more information–we’ll also be introducing fun and fresh changes to the site in the weeks to come!
Beginning in December, Anne will be signing her Gluten-Free book in her hometown of Nashville, TN, then after the first of the year she is off to Portland, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Austin, Dallas, Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, WI.
First up are these scheduled signings:
December 11, 2010
The Mall at Green Hills
2121 Green Hills Village Drive
Nashville TN 37215
December 18, 2010
1:00 – 3:00pm
West Nashville Costco
6670 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN 37209
February 2, 2010
1005 W. Burnside
Portland, OR 97209
February 3, 2010
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
February 4, 2010
6:00 – 7:30 pm
The Woodmark Hotel
1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033
Cake Mix Doctor Returns! on QVC Nov. 3
Looking for holiday entertaining ideas that are stress-free and fun? I will be on air with host Mary Beth Roe in the 9 a.m. (ET) hour Wednesday, Nov. 3 to share easy sheet cake recipes and Bundts from my books, all great recipes to bake during the upcoming holidays. And in fact, the whole day at QVC is called the Joy of Entertaining with a simple, stress-free emphasis.
Anne’s Cake Mix
This year has been a year of firsts – my first book on gluten-free cake baking – and also my first cake mixes, designed with Cake Mix Doctor readers in mind. I asked you several years back what you would most like in a new cake mix and you said – natural flavor, from-scratch taste, ease of preparation, and no additives, preservatives, and trans-fats.
My Yellow and Chocolate mixes came off the production line last week. The first offering of these mixes will be on QVC the week of Nov. 15 (more details on the time and day to come next week). For QVC, three mixes will be packaged with a new frosting cookbook. Stay tuned to the website, and also on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
What Can I Bring for Thanksgiving?
We’re about the enter peak season for What Can I Bring? The time of year when you are asked to bring a dish to a holiday get-together or possibly Thanksgiving dinner. It can be a scary thought to bring food if your host is some awesome cook. But believe it or not, good cooks are always welcome for the added help of someone else cooking, plus good cooks always love to taste a new recipe.
My advice? Bring your specialty, be it a cake, pie, amazing appetizer, or salad.
What to ask other folks to bring when you are hosting the big turkey-day meal? Those time-consuming sides like sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, and mashed potatoes. Focus on roasting the turkey and cleaning the house. That is enough!
What to bring if you are a guest and your host gives you no direction? An unexpected appetizer, a classic apple pie or crisp, a dessert with pumpkin that is not a pie such as a pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin layer cake with cream cheese frosting.
And what to bring when the host insists you shouldn’t bring a thing? A basket of local apples, flowers, wine, a Thankgiving poem, prayer, or story to share, or just your grateful and pleasant self!
Anne’s New Favorite Caramel Cake
So many friends have been asking for the recipe for Caramel Cake I baked on my son’s 12th birthday. So I’ve decided to share it with all of you. This is an incredibly moist cake, and I love what the cream cheese offers – richness and structure. Down South we are a bit obsessed with caramel cake and that is because this cake can sit on the counter or at the picnic or the tailgate and not wither in humid weather. It looks festive all fall and looks great in winter, so it’s just a great year-round cake.
Anne’s New Favorite Caramel Cake
Vegetable oil spray for misting the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package (18.5 ounces) Duncan Hines butter recipe golden cake mix
¼ cup sugar
1 container (8 ounces) whipped cream cheese
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup warm water, or until smooth
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1) Place a rack in the center of the oven and set the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist two 9-inch round or square cake pans with vegetable oil spray and dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.
2) For the cake, place the cake mix, sugar, cream cheese, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium and blend until the batter is smooth, 1½ to 2 minutes. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Place the pans in the oven side by side. Bake until the layers are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 35 to 40 minutes.
3) Remove the layers to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, and invert the cake layers once, and then again, so that they rest right-side up. Let the layers cool 20 to 30 minutes. Prepare the frosting.
4) Immediately, while the frosting is warm, place one layer on a cake plate or cake saver and ladle a generous spoonful of the warm frosting over. With a long metal icing spatula, spread it out. Add more frosting as needed, and smooth it out. Place the second layer on top, and ladle generous spoonfuls of frosting on the top, spreading it out while warm. As the frosting cools, it will thicken up. Dip the icing spatula into the frosting and pull out just enough frosting to apply to the sides of the cake. Repeat until the sides are coated with frosting. Repeat the process adding more frosting to the cake sides, going around the cake once again. Use clean and smooth strokes. If the frosting hardens during the process, place it back over low heat and stir until it softens. Add a little more milk if needed. Slice and serve.
1 stick salted butter (if use unsalted add a pinch of salt)
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup milk, plus a splash of cream if you have it
2½ cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
While the layers are cooling, prepare the frosting. Place the butter and brown sugars in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir and cook until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, stir, and bring the mixture back to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Add about 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until the frosting is smooth. Add up to ½ cup more sugar if the frosting is too thin, but not so much so that it thickens and hardens.
Caramel Frosting Secrets
As I share this cake and my caramel frosting recipe, I know many of you struggle to get caramel frosting on the cake perfectly. As it goes on warm, it is not as easy to worth with as a buttercream, and without a doubt, practice makes perfect. But here are some tips to prevent the frosting from hardening before you can spread it all on the cake:
- Measure out the confectioners’ sugar before you begin. Sift out any lumps.
- Don’t add all the sugar at one time, holding back ½ cup and only adding it if the frosting seems too thin.
- Or, add a splash of heavy cream to the frosting ingredients after you added the milk. This makes the frosting creamier and a little easier to spread.
- If the frosting begins to harden, add a splash of milk to the pan, and place the pan back over low heat and stir until it is smooth enough to spread.
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