Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vanilla Cake with Caramelized Pear and Salted Caramel Buttercream

This past Sunday was Mother's Day, and of course every mom needs something sweet to help celebrate. Normally you'd probably buy a cake or a dessert, but since baking is one of my favorite things to do, I decided to treat my family to a yummy cake. And since I have a little boy who turns four in about a month, this was a perfect opportunity to practice working with fondant before making his special birthday cake.
I bought a cake book by Sweetapolita a couple of weeks back, and I have been day dreaming about her recipe for caramelized pear ever since. I had never baked with pear, but the sound of pears and caramel in a cake just sounded divine to me. 
This white cake is layered with a home made salted caramel sauce, that is folded into a vanilla butter cream, and topped with caramelized pear. In every layer. Yeah. This cake is something else. The pears bring a lovely texture to an otherwise smooth cake, and because of the salted caramel, it doesn't get overly sweet. It's a perfect marriage.

Now, color blocking might seem hard, but really, all you need is time and patience. Mostly patience. First you have to decide what colors you want the cake to have. You can use more colors than I did, but I wouldn't recommend using less than five, since you want to make sure you're not repeating the color pattern too much.
The next step is rolling out the fondant relatively thin, and using a ruler and a pizza slicer, cut long strands both horizontally and vertically. I used the ruler's width for the squares, because that way I didn't have to measure, and it also made making the triangles easier. For the triangles, I simply put the ruler diagonally over many squares and cut them in half. Easy peasy.
Now to the fun part. Cover the whole cake with white fondant. Using a small paintbrush, put a little water on the place you want the first square to go on the cake. The water will act like glue between the fondant and keep the squares in place. Then just add on squares and triangles as you go. Be creative!
I started at the very top of the cake, just to make sure I got a fine line and that there wouldn't be any gap. If the squares wouldn't have lined up perfectly at the bottom of the cake, I had planned on making a fondant ribbon to cover the gap. The cake I used as an inspiration actually uses ribbon. (One thing I would do differently though, would be to pay more attention to the crumb coating to make sure the top of the cake is completely flat with sharp edges, since it will give the cake a more dramatic look.)

You will have both salted caramel sauce and caramelized pear over after making this cake, but trust me, it's a good thing. The pears will work wonderfully on top of pancakes, French toast or even oatmeal. And the caramel sauce is perfect to use on top of ice cream or a warm apple pie. Or you can just eat it by the spoon full. It's that good.
Vanilla Cake
from Wilton
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
4 egg whites
Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare five small 6 inch pans with vegetable pan spray.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk; beat until just combined. Divide evenly into prepared pans.
Bake 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on cooling grid; remove and cool completely before icing.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons (90g) salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

  1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  2. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
  3. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  4. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
  6. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
  8. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
3 - 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch salt
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

For the vanilla buttercream recipe instructions, see this post.
Caramelized Pear Filling
from the Sweetapolita Bake book, page 100
6 firm D'Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the pears with the lemon juice.
  2. In a medium skillet set over medium-low heat, melt the butter until bubbly. Add the pears and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears begin to break down and soften, 3-4 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Add the mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture had caramelized, the liquid has thickened, and the pears are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. transfer to a jar. (The pears will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.) 
från Wilton
5,3 dl mjöl
2 tsk bakpulver
1/2 tsk salt
113g smör, rumstemp
3 dl socker
1 tsk vaniljextrakt
1,8 dl mjölk
4 äggvitor

Salt Karamellsås
från Sally's Baking Addiction
200g socker
90g saltat smör, delat i 6 bitar
120ml grädde
1 tsk salt
Karamelliserade päron
Ur boken Sweetapolita Bake book
6 D'Anjou eller Bosc päron, skalade, urkärnade och finhackade
4 tsk färsk citronsaft
2 msk osaltat smör
2 msk farinsocker
1 krm kardemumma
1 krm kanel
Nypa salt
Vaniljsmörkräm Frosting
från add a pinch
220 g smör, rumstemp
7-9 dl florsocker, siktat
2 tsk vaniljextrakt
nypa salt
2-3 msk grädde