Friday, July 8, 2011

Sweet and Salty Cake

So, if you remember a while back, in May actually, it was my birthday. My family kept asking me how I wanted to celebrate but I just kept telling them I didn't want to celebrate until all that pregnancy nausea was done and I could enjoy some really good food. (I know where my priorities are!)

So we decided to celebrate in June instead and have the family over for a pool party. I had been deliberating over three different cakes to make and finally decided on the Sweet and Salty cake from the Baked cookbook. I had recently checked the book out from the library and LOVED most everything in it. This cake is their signature cake as well as their most requested. That's what sold it for me! Well, that and the combination of sweet chocolate and salty caramel.

With a pound of both chocolate and butter, you can imagine that this cake is rich. But, it's not too sweet and the salted caramel sauce between the cake layers really balances out the flavors and brings it together.

I do have to say that if you've never made caramel or even candy, for that matter, the salted caramel sauce can be a little tricky. You may want to allow yourself some extra time to mess up the first batch, like I did, so you can make the second batch perfectly. One thing that I will suggest you do is calibrate your thermometer!! Living at different elevations will change the temperature at which your candy is ready.

Calibrating a thermometer is simple, just stick it in some water and watch it to see at what temperature it boils. Boiling point is 212 degrees F. My water boiled at about 200 degrees F; I live at nearly 5,000 ft. elevation. Since the sugar and water have to boil to 350 degrees F, I had to subtract 12 degrees F and stop it at about 335 degrees F. You have to be very vigilant, especially at the end because the heat starts increasing very quickly. It will burn and become too hard to work with.

With all that said, this cake was pretty time consuming, but also the most decadent cake I have ever made. It was really delicious, something you don't make all the time, but perfect for that special occasion.

Sweet and Salty Cake
For the cake layers:
3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking Powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

For the salted caramel:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. fleur de sel
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 cup sour cream

For the whipped caramel ganache frosting:
1 pound dark chocolate (60-70% cacao), chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

To assemble the cake:
2 tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for garnish

Make the cake layers
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbon-like, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment. (I made the cake layers the night before, wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and stored them in the fridge. Chilling the cake layers also helped put the cake together a little easier.)

Make the salted caramel
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de del. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved.

Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream mixture so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute. (See my note above about making the caramel sauce.)

Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake. (I also did this the night before as well.)

Make the whipped caramel ganache frosting
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat.

Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the caramel cool for 1 minute.

Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy.

Assemble the cake
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top. (I used a toothpick to poke holes in the cake so the caramel would seep in better.) Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting, then top with the second cake layer. Spread with caramel frosting and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fleur de sel. Then top with the third layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat (watch this video to learn how.) the cake and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

This cake will keep at room temperature in a cake saver for 3 days. If storing in the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

SOURCE: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito


  1. I know a lot of folks who don’t eat eggs (they’re allergic, for health reasons, or concerns about animal cruelty). Here’s an awesome site that gives tips on cooking and baking without eggs:

  2. I've seen this recipe in the cookbook too and it definitely caught my eye. Sounds like a real keeper.

  3. This looks to die for. Definitely going on my list. I need to check that book out of the library. I have been wanting to buy it now for a while. I always forget the library is an option!

  4. I almost forgot to say..Happy Belated Birthday!

  5. Thanks for the b-day wishes!

    The library is always an option when looking at cookbooks because if I bought every cookbook that I wanted, I'd be broke!

  6. OMG I am absolutely obsessed with salted caramel. I LOVE the mix of sweet and salty. This cake sounds a little complicated for me, but I can only imagine it is amazing!
    I wanted to let you know about my cookbook giveaway that is going on right now until July 16th. Stop on by to enter! Hope you are having a great week :)

  7. That looks completely decadent...very nice indeed!


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