I love surprising, contrasting flavor combinations. Pour me a jalapeno-passion fruit martini, hot chocolate laced with chili powder, or a handful of chocolate covered pretzels any day and I will be quite pleased. I love being surprised with each bite or sip and discovering new combinations that I never would’ve dreamed would work well together.
So, it’s not a surprise that the words “salted” and “caramel” in the same sentence generally cause me to jump with joy. (When they are mixed, also, with the word “chocolate,” I enter my red zone, a scary, yet delicious place that we’ll have to discuss another day.)
The most incredible salted caramel combination that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying was the ice cream at Molly Moon’s in Seattle last summer. That stuff was crazy. It was the most creamy, delicate, vibrant flavor of ice cream I’d ever had. The caramel and salt were balanced perfectly, toying almost hyperactictively with each other, and the flavors exploded, together, with each spoon full. I somehow managed to give Scott a taste without putting him into a head lock when he asked if he could try it. (I’m notoriously bad at sharing. Ask my mom.) I remember reaching the end of that cup of ice cream and wanting to turn back and go for seconds, but after a roasted onion sandwich at Paseo for lunch that day, and then the ice cream, there wasn’t room for much else.
It seems that the salted caramel combination is pretty popular these days, but I’ve found that it’s not always done properly. At its best, the combination is a welcome revelation, but the rest of the time, it sort of tastes like there might be maple syrup hiding beneath the surface or, worse, there is barely any detectable salt present. That’s a real shame.
When I acquired a bundt pan recently, thanks to a Williams Sonoma gift card from my grandparents (thanks!!) I wasn’t sure what to make in it first. Chocolate cake? Pumpkin? Sweet potato?!?!And then I saw a recipe for a salted caramel bundt cake, and my search was over.
This cake has an inherently subtle sweetness and elegance that makes it very approachable. It’s the sort of thing you can walk over to and taste a bite of, without feeling like you’re going to overwhelm yourself with decadence. The caramel is smooth and silky on top of the moist cake, and the salt is a little surprising at first, popping through the sweetness of the caramel, reminding you, in a not-so-subtle way that it’s there.
Baking the cake itself is a relatively straight forward process and doesn’t require all that much work besides dropping ingredients into the stand mixer and whirling away. The one bit of advice I can offer here is that you should try your best not to over mix the batter. It’s perfectly light and fluffy when mixed properly, but as soon as you go a little too far, you run the risk of making the cake too dense. Stop mixing the batter a few seconds before all of the dry ingredients are combined with the wet. Then finish it off carefully by stirring with a wooden spoon.
I didn’t use a candy thermometer to make the caramel and it turned out just fine despite this being my first time experimenting with it. The key to the caramel is to keep whisking and to not be afraid of it. (It’s bubbling, AHH!!!!!!!) As long as you’re on top of it and paying attention to it, the sugar will melt with the butter, form a luscious, thick caramel, and then you’ll remove the pot from the heat and gently mix in the cream. (Don’t do as I did, though, and be tempted to to stick your finger in the caramel pot once you think it’s cool. Ouch. Beginner’s mistake.)
I could hardly notice the faint burn in my finger when I sat down to take a bite of this cake, though. It was certainly worth the trouble.
One Year Ago: 5-minute tomato sauce
Salted Caramel Bundt Cake
Yield: 10-12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crème fraîche
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the caramel glaze:
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
Sea salt (I used sel gris, which I had on hand.)
For the cake:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spray a bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray or grease it with butter. Lightly flour the pan after you’ve greased it, just to further prevent sticking.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture has paled in color a bit and is creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition, and then add the vanilla, mixing well to combine. Drop in the crème fraîche in ¼ cup increments, mixing well each time you add more.
4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 small batches, mixing until barely combined after each addition. After you add the third and final bit of flour mixture and beat it until barely combined, use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to finish the mixing and get any flour that got caught on the side of the bowl. Try not to over mix the batter.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter with a rubber spatula, making sure the batter is distributed evenly in the pan.
6. Place the cake into your pre-heated oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick pricked into the center of the cake comes out clean.
7. Remove the cake from the oven once it’s done and allow it to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes until it has cooled enough to handle it, then transfer the cake to a rack and cool for another hour.
For the caramel:
1. Pour the sugar into a medium sized sauce pan and heat on the stove over medium-low heat, allowing the sugar to melt, whisking often. This will take about 3-5 minutes
2. When the sugar becomes slightly sticky and golden brown in color, add the butter and whisk quickly and constantly. Once the butter and sugar are well combined, which will take about 5 minutes, remove this mixture from the heat.p>
3. Add the cream to the pot with the caramel and stir well until the caramel is thick and creamy. Pour the glaze into a bowl and set aside to cool a bit.
4. Pour the caramel glaze over the cake (the glaze can still be warm when you do this, but it shouldn’t be burning hot), and sprinkle with sea salt.
From The Tasteful Life