Saturday, 29 November 2008

DB 6: The Sweetest Thing

I'm the first person to admit that I've been a bit of a failure on the Daring Baker front these past couple of months, if by 'a bit of a failure' you mean 'totally absent'. The thing is, there's a certain amount of insanity involved in DB challenges, and what with living with a load of new people here - I can't help thinking that if I stand in the kitchen all afternoon with my camera on timer, attempting to take pictures of myself flipping pizza dough when Asda sells frozen pizzas for 60p each, I'm going to get some very odd looks.

I am used to odd looks. I thrive upon odd looks. But when I moved out, my mother's advice to me was not, 'be yourself', but 'maybe don't be yourself too much, just for the first few weeks'. You see where I'm going with this.

I'd been worried that real life would force me to hand in my Daring Baker badge and gun (only kidding, we don't get badges), so a cake-centric challenge this month was a huge relief. People will let you get away with a lot of odd looks if you buy them off with cake at the end of it. Just to be on the safe side - and also because I wasn't, to be honest, hugely excited by the recipe as it stood - I decided to throw dulce de leche into the equation (explanation for those ignorant of this miracle: you know when you boil a can of condensed milk and your kitchen explodes, blah blah? Dulce de leche is the milk caramel you are rewarded with at the end. Worship it).

Rather than blow up the kitchen (people always get a bit narky over that, I'm damned if I know why) I'd stumbled across a technique for making dulce de leche in the microwave that sounded loads quicker & safer, so I decided to try that.

Technically I tried it twice, because, uh, the first time I ate all the results before I knew what'd happened. Ahem.

Dulce de Leche in the Microwave
Can't remember where I found this method, sorry.
1 400g can condensed milk

Empty the can into a large glass bowl, and cover with cling film. You can either keep a tiny bit uncovered to prevent excess steam build-up or cover it fully and punch a few holes in the top with a pair of scissors; I had more success with the latter.

Microwave on medium power (I used level 5 on a 10-level appliance) for 2 minutes. Remove, stir with a wire whisk, and recover. Cook on medium for 2 more minutes. Remove, stir with a whisk, recover.

Then, in increments of 2-1/2 minutes, cook (on medium power) for another 10 minutes, stirring between each interval. After the first two stirs, you'll notice that the milk bubbles and foams up as it expels moisture. Then, with each stirring, the milk will be thicker and more caramel colored. If after the 10 minutes, you like the color and consistency, stop! If you'd like a thicker sauce, continue cooking in 1-minute increments for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from the microwave, and let cool before packing in a glass jar, or use right away as a topping for ice cream.

Onto the cake itself - and I'm sorry, I just wasn't blown away by it. It wasn't a very demanding recipe (what came over you, DBers?!) but apparently a popular one. Nn. Sure, it was nice - I adore the frosting - but the cake itself was pretty plain, with unneccessary caramel-making steps that didn't add much to the flavour; call me uncivilised (and admittedly I had trouble browning the butter; is that what we used to call burning it in the old days?) but it just tasted like a plain sponge to me. Without the dulce de leche filling, there wouldn't have been much special about it at all. That said, I didn't exactly have trouble eating it, and the frosting is killer (there should have probably been more of it, but, uh, it had to sit in the fridge a couple of days, and mysteriously depleted).
Caramel Cake recipe here.

I would say: if you fill the cake with dulce de leche, I recommend adding a little cream or milk to it to soften it a little (so it's a little gooier/runnier) - mine was really too thick to be a cake filling, but it only occured to me afterwards that I should have done something more with it. Le sigh.

November's Daring Baker Challenge comes from a recipe by Shuna Fish Lyndon, as chosen by DB host Dolores with co-hosts Alex (Brownie of Blondie & Brownie) and Jenny of Foray Into Food. Thank you!


Chocolate Shavings said...

Your cake looks great!

Laura Rebecca said...

Ooh, such a good idea to fill a caramel cake with dulce de leche! Yum!

Dragon said...

I find people who get the odd looks are the most interesting ones in the bunch. Don't ever change. Lovely cake!

Laurie said...

Love the dulce de leche! Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

Yeah for dulce de leche in your cake! Great job!!

Abitofafoodie said...

I'm disappointed to hear that this didn't taste great - it looks and sounds divine. But then again I am a caramel fanatic. Love the microwave tip for the dulce de leche!

Anonymous said...

your cake looks fantastic, I'll definately be trying dulce de leche next time I make this cake

Clumbsy Cookie said...

You really took caramel cake to another level with the dulce de leche! I liked that microwave technic!

Anne Coleman said...

Perfect! I love dulce de leche, so I'm with you on that end. I definitely will try the much-quicker micro method.

Anonymous said...

why oh why did I just go back and read most of your blog posts?
and your livejournal posts?
and then my leavers book?
I am now very hungry and miss you like mad.
I think I'm a masochist.
I just text you about this and you thought I was drunk.
love you much
p.s. that cake is blatant foodporn, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Love the use of dulce de leche.. Gotta try that microwave technique sometime.

Lot-O-Choc said...

Mm tasty! Bet the dulce de leche in the cake was sooo good!! Wish Id thoguht of that idea hehe.

Lori said...

You must have a soul, right. I think that guy is in love with you. ha

Anyway. The cake was difficult but the caramel making was the technique I liked. I love your dulce de leche idea as well.

Cakelaw said...

Fab looking cake - I am sure that if your new roomies had any doubts while you were making this, they overcame them on the sight of this cake. Thanks for the microwave dulce le leche method - I am scared of the traditional can-boiling methid.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I must say I AGREE with yout tittle: "the sweetest thing" (ever). ;-)

thank your this microwave technic, dulce de leche is sooooooooo good...

Anonymous said...

Ooh thank you so much for your tip about Dulce de leche in the microwave. I want to make some as Christmas gifts as it's hard to get in Australia and testing the microwave vs oven would be very interesting indeed!

Your cake looks lovely, I love the gorgeous dark caramel shade of your icing!

Rosie said...

Your cake looks stunning Indigo.

rosie x

Finla said...

The cake looks delicious

Anonymous said...

my aunt made a caramel cake for thanksgiving and i fell in love with it. then i saw this post and now i'm tempted to try it for myself! yours looks amazing!

Ingrid_3Bs said...

Yum, your cake looked delicious! I'm certain I would have gladly eaten it with no complaints.

Marysol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marysol said...

I think I shall quit posting until after I've had my first, or second cup of coffee.
To reiterate most of my previous comment,

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who'll sit with a jar of dulce de leche in one hand, and a spoon in the other and make a meal of it. I'm kidding. I don't use a spoon.

At any rate, your DB challenge is worthy of an award.

Indi, if you're up to it, I have a little something for you.

Joie de vivre said...

It looks like your cake was a grand success!

Dolores said...

Dulce de leche in the microwave?!? Will you marry me? :)

GREAT addition to the cake (though I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the end result a little better).

Thanks for baking with us.

Boracay hotel said...

very wonderful

Anna said...

That's hilarious...that's the same advice my family gives me whenever I leave the house. "Sometimes you have to pretend to be normal" is a mantra they keep trying to push on me :) I still make my dulce de leche in a can on the stove, so I guess I'm reckless, but your version looks interesting too, I just might give it a try. Thanks!

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Anonymous said...

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