19 December 2012

Caramel Cake - Book Review and Giveaway - Basic to Brilliant, Y'all

When the ever-charming Virginia Willis sent me her Basic to Brilliant, Y'all for review, I couldn't decide which recipe to make first. Of course, the Mini Country Ham Cheddar Biscuits caught my Southern-on-my-father's-side eye. And the Southern Salad Macedoine. And lots of wonderful seafood dishes. Then I came to page 252 and my Southern grandmother's cake jumped out at me! 

The version in Basic to Brilliant, Y'all is the one Virginia's grandmother made. It's a three-layer cake, but since my grandmother made hers with just two layers, I used only two. It's always nice to have a layer in the freezer for a rainy day, isn't it!

Never much of a candy fan, I've never bought a candy thermometer for my well-equipped kitchen. But my trusty Splash-Proof Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer works beautifully for this; no need for a thermometer that clips to the pan, but you will need a thermometer.

Besides wonderful recipes, each with an optional "brilliant" touch to add to the "basic" recipe, you will find lots of stories about the author's Southern childhood and her time in France. 

The drool-worthy pictures by photographer Helene Dujardin next to Virginia's delectable recipes make this book hard to read without getting hungry!

Dede's Burnt Caramel Cake

(Makes three 9-inch layers)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature, well beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Burnt Caramel Icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with waxed or parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. Sit together the flour and the baking powder.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture [and the wet mixture] to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating between the dry and wet ingredients in three portions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean and the cakes start pulling away from the sides of the pans, about 25 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Invert onto the rack to cool completely.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cardboard cake round. Spread with the still-warm frosting. Repeat with remaining layers, placing the final layer bottom side up. Working quickly, use a small off-set spatula to spread the icing gently around the cake. Let stand for 2 hours to allow the icing to set before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Burnt Caramel Icing

(Makes about 2 cups)

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed to loosen
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

In a heavy cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 cup of the sugar over medium-high heat. Stir until dissolved, then do not stir again; simply shake the pan occasionally until the mixture reaches the caramel stage, 320 to 335 degrees, on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, combine the remaining 2 cups sugar, the butter, and the cream. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

When the sugar reaches the caramel stage, immediately pour it into the cream mixture and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, 232 to 240 degrees. Remove from the heat; add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Place on a rack and set aside until just cool enough to touch, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until creamy, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the bowl of icing in a bowl of warm water to keep it loose and fluid while frosting the cake. If it starts to set too firmly, you may need to add warm heavy cream to loosen it.

Recipe reprinted by permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress them Up for Company, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. Photo credit: Helene Dujardin © 2011. For more information visit www.virginiawillis.com.

That's the "basic;" you'll have to buy the book to get the "brilliant"!

Basic to Brilliant, Y'all Giveaway

One winner will receive a copy of Basic to Brilliant, Y'all from Ten Speed Press. All residents of the continental United States (apologies to my international readers) who enter before 11:59 pm Eastern time Wednesday December 26 will be put into a random drawing. Two additional ways to enter below - three chances to win! Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday December 27. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday December 30, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Buy It Now Basic to Brilliant, Y'all is available online at Amazon. 

To enter the contest, please:
  • post a comment below (and please include your email address in the body of your comment); also, it would be gracious to post a comment on the author's blog.
Two additional ways to enter (for a total of 3 chances):
  • follow @VirginiaWillis on Twitter and post a comment below that you have done so.
  • follow @delightfulrepas on Twitter, tweet about the contest by copying and pasting the following: Entered to win a copy of Basic to Brilliant, Y’all @delightfulrepas http://delightfulrepast.blogspot.com #cookbook #giveaway - (AND post a comment below that you have done so.)
Disclosure: The book for this giveaway is being provided by Ten Speed Press. I was given a copy of Basic to Brilliant, Y'all for review, and all opinions shared are my own.


Brooks said...

Hi Jean, You have to know I'm planning to make this Caramel Cake, yes indeed! To know the recipe is from Virginia Willis makes it that much sweeter. The photo of your cake shows you've served the recipe well and the review of her cookbook. Lucky you for the opportunity to do so. Speaking of lucky, perhaps some may come my way through your giveaway... I've tweeted about it, followed Virginia on Twitter, and visited her blog to say hello. Thanks for sharing the recipe and for a chance to receive of copy of the book. cakewalkr[at]gmail[dot]com. Season's greetings to you & yours!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Brooks!

Cranberry Morning said...

That is truly the first time that the adjective 'burnt' sounded delicious to me!

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Jean, I think I'll just have to put you and Virgina on the Naughty list this year---Y'all do too much to tempt us all. Time to fix dinner because I'm drooling at the thought of this caramel cake. Two layers or three...who cares as we suck it down! Tasty thoughts as usual!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Yes, Judy, 'burnt' doesn't usually seem that appealing. But you just have to be careful when boiling the sugar to not go *too* far or it wouldn't taste good at all.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I love that, Sue, being put on the Naughty List! It's not too naughty though if you have just a skinny little piece. I think you could serve about 24 with it.

Anonymous said...

Virginia Willis is such a fabulous cook, writer, person. Love her!

Amanda Thompson said...

Heck Yeah!! I've been on a salted caramel kick lately, so I bet burnt caramel would be just as yummy!!


Brooks said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about the giveaway for this wonderful cookbook!

Kelly said...

I would love to win. My grandmother used to make caramel cake every December for my brother's birthday!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Kelly, grandmothers can be powerful influences, can't they!

GingerG said...

Haha Love the title of this book! Would love to win it!

GingerG said...

follow virginiawillis on twitter! (gingergisi)

GingerG said...

follow delightfulrepas on twitter and tweeted!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Ginger, I know! And her first book was called Bon Appetit, Y'all!

Starla said...

My mother-in-law told me about Bon Appetit Ya'll but I hadn't heard of this new one. Sounds great!


Starla said...

I follow VirginiaWillis on Twitter via @StarlaOlson


Starla said...

I follow DelightfulRepas on Twitter via @StarlaOlson


Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

“Drool-worthy.” Well, I never needed an excuse before…I just walked around drooling, you know? But you’re right, right, right – this does have me salivating like a Pavlov dog! Caramel and cake sounds counterintuitive to me, but once you’ve eaten one – and this one looks like a humdinger – it makes perfect sense. Don’t know that I have the guts to try the recipe (frosting, yes), as I’ve just never been able to pull off that kind of baking. Anything with the word “caramel” in it is also problematic. I’m still working on dulce de leche…

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, I'd be willing to write out some more explicit instructions for you and actually talk you through it, if you get ready to tackle it! Keep drooling!

Angie's Recipes said...

The caramel icing sounds and looks fantastic, Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Angie, it was actually quite easy to make!

Unknown said...

Recipe looks great and Basic to Brilliant looks fabulous! Thanks for heads up on twitter. There is ALWAYS room for one more cookbook on my shelf: bba (at) abelintermedia (dot) com.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Barbara! Yes, I can always find a spot to squeeze in one more cookbook or kitchen gadget!

Michelle said...

I love Virginia Willis! She is a true Southern gem! My husband loves, loves, loves Carmel Cake and this just may find its way onto our Christmas Eve table!

Thanks for hosting a GREAT giveaway!

Michelle said...

I just realized that in my previous comment I didn't include my email (duh...) BellaMichelleSC@gmail.com

Also, I tweeted about the giveaway at https://twitter.com/SouthernSmdays/status/282531632907431937

And I hope you don't mind but I am featuring your giveaway on my Monday Giveaway Spotlight on my blog on the 24th!

Merry Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful celebration! Just found your blog via Twitter and I can't wait to read more.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Michelle, glad to meet another Southern belle! I'm part-time Southern (father) / part-time English (mother).

Michelle said...

From me again (BellaMichellesc@gmailcom)

I am following you & Virginia on Twitter!

Laura said...

First of all Merry Christmas!
Secondly, yes and yes!
Please enter me in the giveaway.
I am off to find out if I have the ingredients for the Caramel Cake in my pantry.

White Spray Paint


Yenta Mary said...

A gorgeous cake and a fabulous new book? What a treat to visit today (though, of course, it's always wonderful to stop by to see you!). Have a lovely and happy holiday ... :) yentamary at gmail dot com

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Laura and Mary, thank you! I do so appreciate my readers!

TONY said...

Caramel cake sounds delicious. I enjoyed your commentary leading up to the recipe. Food should come with a good story!!!

It looks like a Victoria sponge except with caramel instead of strawberry jam.

You will be pleased to know I was teaching a maths lesson with a class a couple of weeks ago. They were also doing the Victorian period in history so for their homework I thought I would combine mathematics with history. I gave them a recipe for a Victoria Sponge which used metric measures. For homework they had to convert the measures to Imperial (Victorian measures) and then make the cake. They all brought me a slice of their cakes.I had Victoria Sponge for my tea break for the rest of the week. It also provided the opportunity for some mother daughter, father son quality interaction. Everybody was happy.

Have a great Christmas, Jean.

All the best,

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tony! And good job with the maths lesson - that's one way to get lots of cake! I love Victoria sponge - http://delightfulrepast.blogspot.com/2011/04/victoria-sponge-english-teatime-classic.html

Debby said...

Thanks for visiting me at COzy Blanket. I'd love for you to come back. What a lovely blog you have.....I will be back. I am a bit afraid I will gain waeight reading your posts. Happy Holidays.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Debby, thank you! I think I've gained a few pounds since I started blogging!

Sippity Sup said...

Visions of sugar plums dance in my head. Merry Christmas my friend. XOGREG

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Greg! I know 2012 was a good year for you (your book), but I hope 2013 will be even better! (And keep away from the sugar plums, they'll rot your teeth!)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

*Giveaway Winner Announced* - The winner, by random drawing, of the cookbook is Amanda. Amanda, as soon as you send me, delightfulrepast at aol dot com, your name, address and phone number (required by shipper), Ten Speed Press will ship the book to you. Congratulations!

If I don't hear from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday, December 30, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from among the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

This was fun - my seventh Giveaway in 2012! Don't miss the next one!

In the meantime, follow me on Google and Twitter (@delightfulrepas). You can even use the Follow Me By Email button in the right column.

Unknown said...

I love caramel cake! I had a friend who's mom made one at least once a month when I was younger... haven't had it since then actually. Must make this very soon!!!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jenn, you are going to love it! That caramel is really something special.