05 June 2014

Caramel Frosting - Variation on Old-Fashioned Flour Frosting

Caramel Flour Frosting / www.delightfulrepast.com

You might think Old-Fashioned Flour Frosting is just for those times when you don't have powdered sugar on hand for the usual American buttercream frosting, as was sometimes the case for my Southern grandma who lived through the Great Depression (which, I'm told, is when this kind of frosting was invented).

But I like this frosting ever so much more than American buttercream, and it is just as easy. No eggs, no temperature monitoring, no complications. And no raw cornstarchy powdered sugar taste. The texture is amazing, soft enough to spread on the cake and firm enough for piping. Best of all, it uses less than half the sugar of the typical American buttercream and, though plenty sweet, is not cloyingly so.

There are different methods to make this type of frosting, but I've only ever made it this way and have found no reason to try others. Some people just cook the flour, salt and milk and then cream the sugar with the butter. I can't imagine how long I'd have to beat that to get the grittiness of the sugar out of it. Why not just cook the sugar with the flour and avoid any possibility of grittiness?

I was in the mood for caramel cake
--yellow cake with caramel icing--and decided to make it as cupcakes. Instead of my traditional caramel icing, I thought I'd try to come up with a caramel version of old-fashioned flour frosting. Instead of using granulated sugar, I used an equal measure of dark brown sugar. 

What are your favorite cupcake and frosting flavors?

Caramel Flour Frosting

(Makes enough for 8-inch 2-layer cake or 24 cupcakes)

1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.67 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I use Organic Valley 2% milk and unsalted butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 In heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, whisk together dark brown sugar, flour and salt. Gradually whisk in milk until mixture is smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens; it should be very, very thick. Remove from heat; leave the whisk in it and give it a stir from time to time (helps it cool and prevents a skin from forming) and let cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

2 In stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the cooled flour mixture (I have always added it in three additions, but I don't know if that's really necessary) and beat on medium-high until it all combines and resembles whipped cream. With my Cuisinart stand mixer, that's speed 7 for 7 minutes, pausing halfway through to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3 If you're going to be piping a border or anything, put a little of the frosting into a piping bag and refrigerate the bag while you're frosting the cake. For these cupcakes, I didn't even chill the frosting at all, just used it straight from the mixer.

4 Refrigerate cupcakes until about an hour before serving time. Refrigerate a cake until three hours before serving time; it should stand at room temperature for about three hours before slicing and serving.

48 comments:

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Ooooh! I just had a quick scroll through your nice foodie blog! Now I'm starving! I'd love to have a slice of that English muffin bread! So nice that you stopped by!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Jacqueline! I hope you'll stop by again soon.

Theresa said...

Well Hi there from Georgia! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your sweet comment! My oldest Granddaughter has been wanting a caramel cake:) Looks like a delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing the recipe and stop by again:)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Theresa, thank you! I served these last night to guests who had never had caramel cake before, and they were intrigued by the flavor.

ZipZip said...

Dear Jean,

Ooh, less sweet frosting, with excellent holding power when piped or swirled onto the cake or cupcake?

You won me over right away.

Next time we need a cake, this is the frosting for us.

Very best,

Natalie

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Natalie, thank you so much! I think the caramel flavor goes especially well with banana, carrot, and any kind of spice cake. Let me know how it turns out for you!

Jacquelineand.... said...

I'll have to try this with apple cake!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Ooh, yeah, that would be perfect, Jacqueline!

Mary said...

ohh this wounds so good - I LOVE caramel frosting!! what a great recipe!
Mary

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Mary, thank you! I hope you'll try it soon.

Amy at love made my home said...

I saw something similar to this on a US cooking show recently and was intrigued by it, I am even more intrigued now!! xx

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Amy! Which show was it? I rarely see any cooking shows (or any TV shows) because I don't have television. Shocking, isn't it?!

Quinn said...

I've never heard of flour frosting, but I don't like buttercream At All, so this is something I'd really like to try! No electric mixer, though...do you think just beating it by hand will make it anywhere near light enough?

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Why, why, why!?! Y? Caramel frosting. I’d managed to forget it. All these years, but now you’ve awakened those latent taste buds dedicated to the memory – the reality! Oh, Yum Yum. I need some caramel frosting. This is not going to end well. And your elegant, sensory, seductive prose is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. However, I have just enough integrity to be objective…5 cleavers!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Quinn, do you not have a little electric hand mixer? How about an old-fashioned non-electric rotary beater? I don't know if you could just beat this with a spoon for a long time. If you try it, let me know how it works for you. Or I might try it next time. It all depends on whether you have the "arm" for it. I no longer do!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Sully, I'm always so honored when you award me 5 cleavers! I'm not even a frosting lover, but I think I could just eat this stuff with a spoon!

Angie Schneider said...

I've never heard of or had flour frosting...it sounds and looks very delicious, Jean. You did a great job creating those beautiful swirls.
ciao,
Angie

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Angie! You make such lovely things, too!

belleau kitchen said...

This looks stunning!! I've never heard if this kind of frosting before but you describe it so beautifully I am intrigued. I'm due to make a cake this weekend so I may give this a go.

B Furlong said...

"Hoosier Cake with 'Gravy' Icing"
I found this recipe a few years ago in LOST RECIPES, by Marion Cunningham. It's a fantastic cake and a delicious icing. I was put off by the name -- gravy? -- but had come to detest icing sugar in any form so was willing to try something different. This was easy to make (but lots of beating!), easy to work with, and delicious to eat. I think the caramel twist would also be delicious.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Dom! Do let me know how it turns out for you.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

B, thank you. Yes, I find the name 'gravy' icing a little offputting, too!

Pat said...

This afternoon I cook chicken fajitas and now I'm in desperate need of something sweet :(

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

I know, Pat -- fajitas will do that! :D

Lucy Corry - The Kitchenmaid said...

Hi Jean! I've read so much about this kind of frosting and never been brave enough to try it. Is it really that good? I don't like what I call 'ordinary buttercream' (eg butter and icing sugar), and adore French/Swiss meringue buttercream (all that butter has to be good!) Which of those is this more like? Or should I just stop over-thinking it?!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Lucy, I had to laugh -- "over-thinking" is something I'm prone to do myself! Just do it, and then tell me which you think it is more like! It *is* really good.

Cranberry Morning said...

Check out my blog this morning, Jean. Your blog and mini cocottes are featured. :-)

Choclette said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I'm glad you did because I'm now excited to discover your flour frosting. Can't wait to try it now, though not sure how well it will work as I don't have a stand mixer.

Your cupcakes look beautiful.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Cool! I'll head over to Cranberry Morning right now!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Choclette, thank you! If you have an electric hand mixer, that should work. Let me know.

Lucy Corry - The Kitchenmaid said...

Ok, if you insist!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Good! I can be pretty bossy in the kitchen, Lucy!

Sippity Sup said...

I'm nearly incapable of making good frosting. I don't why. GREG

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Greg, a lot of great cooks have that "one thing" that eludes them! But try *this* frosting!

~~louise~~ said...

I know it is so wrong to call this a good old fashioned frosting but that is indeed what it is Jean and they just don't make them like they use to anymore!!!

I can just imagine the deliciousness:) I am now craving a cupcake!

Thank you so much for sharing and for stopping by my blog. I have returned from visiting my daughter from Idaho and will definitely be back at your yummy blog for more goodies!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Louise! I hope you'll try lots of my recipes and let me know how they turn out for you!

Charles said...

Well that's something I can say I learned today... I had no idea such a thing as "flour frosting" existed. What an ingenious invention - I like your idea of cooking up the sugar with the other things so it doesn't end up all grainy, and it sounds (and looks!!!) really good.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Charles! I do hope you'll try it soon and let me know your thoughts on it!

Amy at love made my home said...

Hi Jean, it was on Pioneer Woman - no doubt a very old episode as it is on over here and we are always very behind - she was making a red velvet sheet cake. Search her blog and you will probably find it as she has tons of recipes there! xx

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Amy. Just looked it up. She does it the usual sugar-with-butter way.

Alicia Foodycat said...

I've never even heard of flour frosting! I guess it is really like a creme patissiere? It looks wonderful!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Alicia, yes, you might say the first stage is rather like an eggless crème patissiere, but the finished product (after the butter is added) is not. It's definitely a frosting.

Kerri said...

I made this yesterday and the end result was phenomenal. I did have to tweak it, I'm afraid, as the end result was super super runny. I think I added 5 cups of powdered sugar...maybe more. But we all went crazy for it. Thanks!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Kerri, thanks! Glad you liked it. Can't think why it would have been runny, requiring the addition of powdered sugar, unless you didn't cook the flour mixture quite long enough. It needs to be cooked until very, very, VERY thick, almost unstirrable.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jean,

I just saw this! I am so excited. I love flour frosting on red cake and on white cake with lemon filling but this version is wonderfulwith a "Autumn flavored" cake!

I may even try working on combining this with parts of your Fresh Strawberry Frosting as I think the light, fluffiness would be wonderful with strawberries. I'll let you know how that worked!

I didn't realize this frostings origins and this is fun to know. Thank you for posting this.

Lily

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Lily, thanks so much for commenting! Yes, I love this frosting on "autumn flavored" cakes, like apple (or applesauce) or carrot. If you try this with the Fresh Strawberry Frosting, do let me know how it worked.

Anonymous said...

Can I substitute white granulated sugar for brown sugar? Love the recipe BTW I'm trying this with butter pecan cupcakes

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Anonymous, yes, you can use white sugar; but then you will just have regular white flour frosting *unless* you cook the sugar mixture until it darkens/caramelizes. It will be lovely on butter pecan cupcakes!

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