Thursday, August 13, 2009

Choose Caramel Cake

I've spent my whole life wanting to write--and I'm not doing it. Not even here, where all it takes is a tiny segment of time out of each day. So I'm surprised and sad to find that it's been weeks since I've posted, and my beloved blog has become one more weight in the big 'should've' bag I'm dragging around behind.

1. Add this to my list of things to do (again): LOSE the 'should've' bag. Ugly, heavy, and NOT an attractive accessory.

2. While I'm at it, stop being sad that I haven't worked on my novel for more months than I'm willing to admit out loud and just start writing again. Before all those words and images crammed in my skull explode out and make a yucky mess.

3. Share this today:
Yesterday I baked a really good Old-Fashioned Caramel Cake for a friend's birthday. I've been wanting to try one for a while, and was having a hard time deciding which of several recipes I'd ferreted out to use. Yesterday I finally had a chance, and the choice of which recipe was dictated by the ingredients I had on hand. So, despite the 90+ degree heat (FABULOUS weather at the moment! VERY happy) I baked the following for our dear friend Jane. Maybe the heat was appropriate, as Jane is also approaching 90... bless her.

I first met Jane in 1992, when I'd just bought my little house in Pacific Grove. Every minute I was home (which wasn't often in those days--I got sent to Liverpool, England "for a week or two" and ended up spending most of the next three years overseas) I'd be out working in my first, VERY OWN garden. Once or twice a day I'd see Jane and her husband Cliff walking by, a lovely elderly couple, hand--in-hand. It was enough to renew my faith in humanity, and in love. One day she stopped to compliment me on the work I'd been doing, and I learned that my first house had once been THEIR first house. And that in that house, more than fifty years earlier, their son had been born.

Years later, my mom moved to town and was immediately greeted by her new neighbor across the street...Jane. When my mother brought up that her daughter lived nearby, Jane informed her that she already knew me--I was living in her old house! They've become fast friends in the ensuing years.

Happy Birthday, Jane! Glad you enjoyed your cake :)

Old-Fashioned Caramel Cake

2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsps water
1 1/4 tsps salt, divided
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
2 tsps vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs

Grease and flour the bottoms of two round cake pans.

To make the caramel sauce, in a medium saucepan, mix together brown sugar, butter, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat (234 degrees) until soft ball stage. Remove from heat and and stir in evaporated milk and vanilla; cool.

In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining teaspoon of salt. Blend in shortening, milk, and 2 cups caramel sauce. Beat thoroughly approximately two minutes. Add eggs and continue beating another two minutes. Pour into pans and bake at 350 degrees 35 to 40 minutes. Cool before frosting.

I used the frosting from another recipe--it sounded yummy, and was.

Caramel Frosting

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1 14 oz. can Eagle Brand milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and
bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool until fairly thick. Makes enough for filling between layers and frosting sides and top of cake. (Repeatedly dipping your knife or spatula into a glass of hot water will make spreading the frosting easier and give it a smoother finish.)