brown sugar spiced cake with browned butter frosting and caramel drip / this is 28
This is 28. I don’t normally share much personal stuff around here, but today is a little different. Scroll to the bottom if you’re just here for the recipe!
27 was such a crazy, crazy year for me and my family, and held so much loss in the 365 days it was around. Our family farm was dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic fire that had destroyed our country market and cold storage right at the start of our harvest season, we spent the Winter recovering and preparing to rebuild, my grandpa passed away from terminal cancer, and my grandma followed him exactly one month later unexpectedly. We spent the Spring and Summer months working tirelessly to get our new building finished and approved, and were able to do so just a couple days before opening for the 2018 season! There are so many other losses of family and friends that I won’t mention here, but needless to say, my tank is feeling a little empty. Experiencing such a prolonged time of mourning and stress has taken its toll, and I’m honestly feeling quite burnt out. Ironically, all I want to do is bake and share recipes 24/7, and I think it’s a coping mechanism because I don’t know what will happen when I actually have time to rest and process. November is the light at the end of the tunnel though, and I’m looking forward to a slow Winter of healing.
And yet, among all the heartache and emotional exhaustion, there has been so much good here. The love and support that came from our friends, family, and community has been overwhelming. I’ve had friendships strengthen and flourish as I’ve been held up and encouraged, even when I haven’t had the energy to be that great of a friend in return. Through it all, I feel as though I have found my voice, and a new confidence in who I am and the value I hold. I am determined to live this life to the fullest for as long as I have!
That being said, I dearly hope for a much better year ahead than what lays behind.
And….enough of that. Let’s talk cake. This is probably one of my favourite combos (other than chocolate of course…haha). It’s a brown sugar spice cake paired with a browned butter swiss meringue frosting. Heaven. And it wouldn’t be complete without a salted caramel drip of course!
brown sugar spice cake
yields: three 6-inch layers
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
to make the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 6-inch cake pans (you can use two 8-inch pans instead, or simply make into a sheet cake - cooking times will vary - cook until an inserted toothpick comes out clean).
In a large bowl, cream together the sugars and butter for 3-4 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and milk on low speed.
In a medium bowl, sift together all of the remaining dry ingredients. Add half of the dry mixture to the wet, and mix until almost combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, especially the bottom. Add in the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.
Divide the batter between the pans (I use a kitchen scale to weigh each one to make sure they’re even). Bake for 30-40 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. I cook all three pans at once, and rotate them within the oven every 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. Prep the frosting while they cool. Or, wrap the layers securely in plastic wrap, and place in the freezer until you’re ready to use. I often make my cake several days or weeks ahead of time!
to frost the cake
Once the cakes are completely cool, use a large serrated knife to carefully level each one so that the layers are even and flat (and eat the tops of course!). Place cut side face down onto the cake plate, and use a cookie scoop to add one or two scoops of frosting. Smooth out, and repeat for the next layer. Apply a thin, crumb coat of frosting around the entire cake, and leave it this way if you want a naked cake (similar to what I did!), or place into the freezer for 10 minutes to set. This makes frosting the cake much easier!
Apply the final layer of frosting, either using a large offset spatula to smooth the sides, or swooping the frosting for a more rustic look.
add the salted caramel drip
If you want to add a salted caramel drip to your cake, make the caramel well beforehand so that it can cool completely before using. If your caramel is coming from the fridge, let it come to room temperature or carefully warm it up a little. Use a spoon to perform a little drip test on the back of your cake. The goal is for the caramel to drip down the cake but not all pool at the bottom. If it’s too warm and runny, it will all run off. If it’s too cold and thick, it won’t drip properly, or you’ll get lots of lines in the caramel from where it’s hardening.
I usually drip onto a cold cake, so this will have an effect on the caramel as well. Once you have the right caramel temp, place in a piping bag with a small tip, or simply cut a small hole, and start dripping. I like to vary the lengths of the drips by adjusting the amount of caramel that I squeeze onto each one. Play around and have fun!
Add on sprinkles, flaked salt, or flowers.
When adding flowers, I simply place down plastic wrap where they’ll lay, and wrap the ends of the flowers with floral tape, and occasionally floral wire or wooden skewers to help get the shape I want.
The gorgeous flowers I used are from my dear friend Jen’s flower farm called Gray Acres! She’s located in Langley, BC, and offers floral u-pick and wholesale buckets of flowers in the summer months!
browned butter swiss meringue frosting
recipe slightly adapted from: Style Sweet Ca
1/2 cup egg whites (from about 3 to 4 large eggs)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups browned unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract - *use the clear stuff if you want to keep your icing super white!
**Note: Butter must be browned and allowed to come back to solid form at room temperature before beginning the rest of the recipe!
To brown butter:
Place butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pot occasionally, and cook until a nutty smell is present and butter has started to brown. Use a light coloured saucepan so that you can see it easier. This will take several minutes as you cook off some of the water present in the butter, and it will get foamy. Remove from heat when done, and allow to come to room temperature.
To make the frosting:
Fill a large sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a gentle boil. Place a mixing bowl on top to create a double boiler. Make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl!
Place sugar and egg whites into the mixing bowl, and whisk together. Keep mixing occasionally as the mixture heats so that the egg doesn’t cook. Heat until it reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. This ensures that your egg whites are cooked and safe to eat! The sugar should also be completely dissolved and not grainy at all.
Remove from heat once 160 degrees F is reached, and mix on high for 5-10 minutes with a whisk attachment. This creates the meringue, which should be white, shiny, and hold medium stiff peaks.
Switch to a paddle attachment, and add in the butter one tablespoon at a time on low speed, mixing thoroughly after each addition. *Make sure butter is at room temperature or it won't incorporate properly.
Mix in vanilla extract. Turn up beater speed, and mix until it's nice and smooth. Use immediately to ice your cake, or place in the fridge to store.
*If your icing turned soupy at any point either: place in the fridge for 5 minutes and try again, as your butter may have been too soft; OR: just keep mixing! This icing can be a bit finicky, so don't panic.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature, roughly chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream - room temperature
1 tsp salt
**you must get all of your ingredients prepped before you start. room temp butter and heavy cream combine better with the hot sugar.
*use a larger saucepan than you think - the mixture foams a lot when you add in the butter and cream, and you don’t want it overflowing.
In a medium-large saucepan, combine sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, and don’t stir! The sugar will start to simmer slightly, and you can give the pan a bit of a swirl if it seems to be cooking unevenly. If you stir, it can cause clumping, and the sugar may cling to the sides of the saucepan. Keep heating the sugar until you start to see a light yellow colour, swirling the pan occasionally. This part will take a while, so be patient!
Continue cooking the sugar until it’s completely melted, and has reached a dark amber colour. Whisk in the butter and stir rapidly. The mixture will foam violently, so be careful! Once the butter is completely melted, stir in the heavy cream. Again, the mixture will foam. Keep stirring and allow the mixture to cook for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool on the counter for half an hour, stirring often to help release the heat, and then move to the fridge. The caramel sauce will be thing when hot, and will thicken as it cools. Keep in an airtight container for a couple weeks!
Find a video tutorial for making caramel sauce on my instagram highlights here!!
happy cake making!