Fun and Confusion with Caramel

From time to time, Mother Duck and I enjoy baking new things.  Well, to be more accurate, we don’t always enjoy the process of baking, but we certainly enjoy the results.  One recent recipe we decided to try was a caramel dobos torte, a twelve-layered cake with caramel buttercream, the recipe for which came from British baker Mary Berry.  Now there’s a nice name if there ever was one.

First of all, I’ll just tell you guys now that we had no intention of actually making twelve layers.  That’s a bit too fancy for us.  Though we had actually halved the recipe, no, we did not plan on making six layers, either.  Rather, we were perfectly content with two layers because cake is cake, no matter how many layers it has.  And yet, even now, we were getting ahead of ourselves because the first step of the recipe was creating homemade caramel.  This is something we had never done before, and it felt like a monumental task indeed!

A pan of molten death!

All we needed to do was put sugar and a little bit of water in a saucepan and heat it up, stirring regularly, until the sugar dissolves and turns into a sugary liquid.  After that, you turn up the heat and…in theory, you watch it caramelize.  But ours didn’t.  Instead, it turned into a gloppy mess of wet sugar, kind of like porridge.  Utterly confused, we turned to other corners of the Internet for advice, and we learned a few extra details that really helped us out.  Once the sugar dissolves, this is what you need to do.  Turn up the heat as high as it will go, then take a step back and watch the magic happen.  Don’t stir.  Don’t heckle the sugar in any way.  Just stare at it.

We’ve done it! We’ve turned sugar into gold!

Once you know what to do, making caramel is a pretty simple affair, if not a little scary, as we watched the liquid sugar create large bubbles like a cauldron of hot boiling magma!  After several minutes, it began to turn yellow, followed by a lovely golden color.  Once our caramel had reached the correct shade of yumminess, we took it off the heat, added some cream, and admired its beauty.

Our caramel cake, which is super professional looking for sure

The cake was a pretty simple affair.  Again, we made two layers using two circular pans.  And we totally disregarded all the other steps involved, such as adding the hazelnuts and the like.  There are only so many directions I’m willing to follow when making food.  After this, we mixed our caramel into some softened, whipped butter in order to create our frosting, and before you know it, we had a two-layer caramel cake!  How was it, you might be asking?  Um…

It was okay.

You see, the frosting didn’t taste much like caramel, so we added a bunch of this caramel topping you put on ice cream that we had in the fridge.  After that, it tasted more like caramel, but even then, the frosting was a bit too buttery.  And the cake is rather dense, leading us to believe that it really needs to be twelve thin layers in order to be enjoyed properly, not two thick ones.  Nevertheless, it was still a pretty fun experience, and now we know how to make our very own homemade caramel!  Now caramel apples will always be within our grasp….

A slice of our cake, ready to be halfheartedly nibbled

A Caramelized Duck

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