Just a handful of cakes left to go for the Heavenly Cakes bake-along! This week it's Karmel Cake, which uses a caramel made with brown sugar for flavor.
The caramel process is straightforward: boil brown sugar, milk, and a little butter to soft ball stage, remove from heat, and whisk in more milk. That gets cooled before moving on to the rest of the cake.
Then the recipe proceeds as a usual butter cake, mixing the dry ingredients, adding the butter and the caramel, beating for structure, then adding eggs and vanilla in 2 additions. It's baked as a single layer.
Mine took about 30 minutes, and dipped in the center during the last 10 minutes or so of baking. The texture seemed fine, maybe a thin denser layer at the bottom--I don't really know why my center decided to sag there at the end.
The suggestion was to serve it plain, or with coffee cream. I went with coffee cream, or really just coffee-flavored whipped cream as I skipped the gelatin stabilizer and just softly whipped the cream, coffee extract, and sugar.
Taste results: sister-in-law: not sure I can taste the cake for the coffee cream. It is nice and moist. Nephew: really excellent cake: nice texture, really like the crisp crust, very moist. Young niece: good cake. Older niece declined cake as she wanted power carbs--she's in crew, and there was a regatta the next day.
I enjoyed the cake, but agree with the general opinion that it doesn't have much character. I don't get any caramel taste, for instance, even carefully eating only cake and no coffee cream. Nice texture, moist, yes, but not a standout. It would indeed do fine without accompaniment, but it's sort of a plain 'snack cake'. A couple of days later as I distributed pieces around the office, I tasted the crumbs and got some brown sugar/caramel flavor, but it was faint. The office cake-testers agreed.
So: did the coffee cream overwhelm the delicate caramel taste? Did I need to go buy the recommended muscovado sugar (which I'd used before and been unable to tell from regular brown sugar)? I would have liked to love this cake, as a big caramel fan, but it just underwhelmed me.