Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rose's Famous Caramel Cake

Rose's Famous Caramel Cake
Surely Rose is a better woman than me for making this cake so often she become famous for it.  Rose Deshazer-White was (is?) a longtime South Side Chicago resident, this recipe appeared in the Chicago focused issue of Saveur magazine.  It is a delicious and impressive cake, but it is definitely a Special Occasion Cake.  First, it takes awhile, not the recipe to whip up for an impromptu gathering.  Secondly, it is a big, decadent cake; a little sliver is plenty.  You'll want a crowd to eat it up. 
Or maybe it would be more specific to say it is special occasion frosting.  It cooks for a long time, and needs just enough babysitting so you can't really be otherwise very productive.  The cake is pretty straightforward; a light, delicate-crumbed, buttery vanilla cake, made using a standard creaming method.  It would be quite nice with a fudge frosting, or even sliced strawberries and fresh whipped cream.  Heck, I was pretty happy eating the plain trimmed tops.      
I will also confess, caramel is something I struggle with in the kitchen.  It requires strict precision in technique and temperature.  A little cool and the caramel will be soft, too hot and it will be brittle.  Caramel waits for no cook, you must work quickly and carefully.  A caramel slip doesn't just burn, it brands the skin.  But not to dissuade you!  Maybe caramel isn't your white whale, it could be pie crust or soufflé or custard.  We all have something that doesn't come easily. 
This special occasion was a few weeks ago, the Second Annual Charity Auction BBQ.  The employees at the company where Adam works (Jellyvision - super cool company, check 'em out) contribute prizes, the employees bid on the prizes, and the funds raised go to charity.  Adam (and I) contributed BBQ (pulled pork and brisket), sides, and dessert.  Last year we brought the food to the winner's house, the same person won this year (and was pretty clear he would win again next year) and we hosted at our house. 
Try this for your next special occasion.  Drop me a note and post a photo of the finished product.  And let me know, what is your culinary challenge?

The cakes before leveling.
After adding the evaporated milk.  Stir stir stir! 
Be sure your pot has plenty of room for the bubbling mixture.
Add the milk very slowly and carefully, it will foam vigorously. 
The mixture is smooth, now to get it up to temperature. 
Almost there.
Off the heat, stir stir stir!
Frank during the dinner party.   
The reward for your efforts, time to eat Rose's Famous Caramel Cake!
Rose's Famous Caramel Cake
From Saveur Issue #105 
Makes one large cake

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3¼ cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6¼ cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
1¼ cups milk
16 tbsp. salted butter
2 12-oz. cans evaporated milk
1. Heat oven to 350°. Making sure all ingredients are at room temperature, grease two 9" round cake pans with 1 tbsp. unsalted butter; dust with 1½ tbsp. flour, tap out excess, and set aside. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. Beat remaining unsalted butter and 2½ cups sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 batches, beating smooth after each addition. Divide batter between pans. Bake until golden, 30–35 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes; remove cakes; let cool completely. Slice tops off cakes to level them.
2. To make icing, cook remaining sugar and salted butter in a pot over high heat, stirring constantly, until light brown, 7–8 minutes. Carefully stir in evaporated milk; reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring constantly, until smooth, 8–10 minutes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until icing registers 240° on a candy thermometer, about 1½ hours. Remove from heat; beat with a wooden spoon until thick, glossy, and spreadable, 20–25 minutes. (A dollop dropped on a plate should ooze only slightly.) Ice bottom layer of cake; top with second layer and ice the outside. Chill cake until set.

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