A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baked's Sweet and Salty Cake

Baked's famous Sweet and Salty Cake has been on my baking 'to do' list for over a year. Being a lover of salted caramel is what drew me in, but the fact that the icing/filling for the cake contains a pound of chocolate, a pound of butter as well as caramel is something that both enticed me and scared me at the same time. And that's just one component - there's still salted caramel that is used to soak the cake layers, never mind the cake itself. Even I struggled with the calories and I never say no to dessert.
So, when my sister's 40th birthday rolled around, I knew I couldn't ask for a better excuse to try this recipe out. If turning 40 isn't a good enough reason to abandon reason and good judgment and dive head first into vat of calories and fat grams, well...when?  And, yes, I realize it wasn't 'my' birthday and so the justification didn't apply to me directly, but I figured I could take one for the team.
I googled the recipe to see how other bloggers fared with this cake and the results did nothing but make the task seem all the more daunting. It seems that more people struggled with the assembly of the cake than not, but everyone said it was delicious, despite its less-than perfect appearance. Complaints of the layers slipping and sliding were the most common, and once I made the filling/icing, it was easy to see how this could be a problem. The filling starts by making caramel, pouring the hot caramel over a pound of chocolate, letting that cool, then adding a pound of butter. The end result is the most silky, decadent filling, but it's slick and far from sturdy, the perfect substance to make your cake layers slide. As my mix master was beating this filling, and I was diligently adding the butter, it started to sound like the filling had turned to soup. I became alarmed - and actually held back the remaining butter (about 4 tablespoons). It was already delicious - I didn't think we'd miss the remaining butter.
Also, having gleaned tips from several blogs that tackled this cake, I decided to put the cake in the freezer after icing each layer, to allow the filling to set up a bit before adding the next layer. This made the assembly easier, albeit more time-consuming, but I'm happy to report that I did not experience the same struggle of slipping layers.
I also held back on some of the fleur de sel that was sprinkled between each layer. The recipe calls for a whole teaspoon between each layer, which seemed a bit excessive to me when I measured out a teaspoon.
Instead, I eyeballed it, sprinkling it on until it seemed like enough, which amounted to roughly half a teaspoon. The cake had the perfect balance of rich filling, sweet chocolate and salt.
I can't stress enough how important it is to give the cake a 10 minute rest in the freezer before adding the next layer. 
The end result was worth the time and effort. But let's be clear, this is definitely a special occasion cake.
When making the cake layers, I decided to forego the recipe used in the Baked book. I've already found my fool-proof chocolate cake and saw no need to risk trying a new recipe when there were already so many other components to tackle. So, if you're going to attempt this cake, and I strongly recommend that you find an occasion to justify it, use a chocolate cake recipe that you already love. If you don't have one, use mine. The rest of the recipe is as follows.
RECIPE FOR SWEET AND SALTY CAKE
(adapted from Baked - New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)
Bake your favorite chocolate cake and use 3 x 8 inch circle pans. My favorite chocolate cake recipe can be found here.
For the Salted Caramel (used between the cake layers):
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. Fleur de Sel
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 cup sour cream
For the  Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting:
1 pound good quality chocolate (the recipe calls for dark, I used half dark, half milk chocolate)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup water
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:
1 to 2 tsp. fleur de sel (or to taste)
Directions for the Salted Caramel:
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved. Keep warm. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and corn syrup. Stir gently so as not to splash the mixture onto the sides of the pan. (Keep a wet pasty brush on hand to brush the sides of the pan should any of the mixture splash up, to keep from burning.) Cook until mixture reaches 350 degrees F. or until mixture is dark amber in color. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute. Add cream and mix until incorporated, taking care because the mixture will bubble up when the cream is added. Whisk in sour cream. Allow to come to room temperature, then place in fridge until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Directions for the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting:
Chop the chocolate and put into the bowl of a stand mixer. Set aside. In small saucepan, bring cream to simmer over low heat. Keep warm. In a medium saucepan combine water, sugar and corn syrup. Stir gently so as not to splash the mixture onto the sides of the pan. (Keep a wet pasty brush on hand to brush the sides of the pan should any of the mixture splash up, to keep from burning.) Cook until mixture reaches 350 degrees F. or until mixture is dark amber in color. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute. Add cream and stir slowly for 2 minutes, taking care because the mixture will bubble up when the cream is added. Pour the hot caramel over the chocolate, allow to sit for about 1 minute and then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool (for about 20 minutes or more) then transfer the bowl to the mixer and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment 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 until the mixture is fluffy. (If you find the mixture is too loose, place in the fridge for a few minutes and then beat again, which is what I did.)
Directions for Assembly:
Place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread about 1/4 cup of the salted caramel over the top. If you've refrigerated it, allow to come back to room temperature, or heat it slightly in the microwave until it's easily spreadable. Then spread about 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of fleur de sel over the frosting (I only used 1/2 tsp.). Place into the freezer for 10 minutes to set before proceeding. Once the filling has set, place second cake layer on top and spread with 1/4 cup of salted caramel. Add another 3/4 cup of frosting and sprinkle with salt. Place in freezer again until set. Add third layer, spread with caramel. Crumb coat entire cake with the frosting (a thin layer of frosting). Allow to set in the freezer. Frost the entire cake again with the frosting and garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Refrigerate the cake  until set but allow to sit at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Bookmarking this for my birthday cake idea!! Yum!

    ReplyDelete

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