Afternoon of the Cake Plate Reunion
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Plate Reunion
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Jaap, Anna
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La Belle Cuisine
Caramel Frosting

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“Bring a cake to the table, and you’ve instantly created an occasion.
It’s with cakes that we mark off and celebrate the milestones as we
pass through life – from birthdays to weddings and anniversaries.”

~ Richard Sax, in 'Classic Home Desserts'

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La Belle Cuisine


Bill Neal's Caramel Icing

This may well be the definitive version. After all, Bill Neal's Southern
is considered an authoritative work, and Southerners are
Very Serious about Caramel Icing/Frosting...


Satsuma Tea Room's Caramel Icing

Then again this recipe, featured in the April 1996 issue of Gourmet (crowning a luscious Blackberry Jam Cake), has a very definitive ring, as the recipe begins
by actually caramelizing sugar. I do question the use of margarine rather than
butter, although perhaps there is an excellent reason.
During my recipe research for this collection, I have found several others also specifying margarine. My preference, however, remains butter. Just call me prejudiced...


No collection of caramel frosting recipes (you have noted, by now, that most Southerners tend to refer to this confectionary delight as "icing") would be
complete without a buttermilk version. Here is a great one, from what I have
come to consider an heirloom cookbook. It is a hometown cookbook, but not
in the way you might suspect. It is not simply a "community cookbook";
rather it is a cookbook written by an esteemed freelance writer who was a
native of Jackson, MS (my "hometown" for many years). Mrs. Cheney was fortunate enough to have counted Eudora Welty among her many friends,
and to have the Preface to her cookbook penned by none other that this
fellow Jacksonian and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author.


Becky Voght's Caramel Icing
Southern Hospitality Cookbook

by Winifred Green Cheney, 1976, Oxmoor House, Inc.


“Easy to make and a delight to eat.”

1 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipping cream

Combine buttermilk, sugars and soda in a large saucepan. Stir over
medium heat until sugars are dissolved; then allow to boil without
stirring to soft ball stage (238 degrees F.) If you do not have a candy
thermometer, have a cup of cold water handy; drop a tiny bit of boiling
syrup into the water. When syrup can be gathered up in fingers into a
soft ball that will almost hold its shape, it has reached the soft ball stage.
Add butter, remove from heat, and cool 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat
until thick and creamy. If mixture becomes too heavy, thin it with a little
cream until it is the right consistency to spread. If icing gets too firm
while spreading, dip knife into very hot water and it will help
considerably. Yield: icing for 2 (9-inch) layers.


The sheer simplicity of this recipe appeals to me. It appears as the topping for
Poppy Seed Cake in the West Coast section of this excellent cookbook. And,
you will note, it is referred to here as "frosting".

Caramel Frosting

Glorious American Food

by Christopher Idone, 1985, Random House


2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter

In a heavy saucepan bring sugars and cream to a boil, stirring constantly. When sugars are dissolved, stop stirring, place a candy thermometer in
the syrup, and cook the mixture until it almost reaches the soft ball stage
(232 degrees F.) Remove syrup from heat and add butter, stirring until incorporated. Set aside to cool. When syrup is lukewarm, beat with wire
whisk or electric mixer until thick and creamy. Hold the frosting in a
warm water bath while icing the cake.


A slightly different, delicious twist on the classic:

Almond Caramel Frosting
for White Buttermilk Cake

Gourmet Archives

3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup Amaretto
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,
cut into bits

In a heavy large saucepan combine the brown sugar, milk, Amaretto, and butter. Bring the mixture to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, and cook it until it reaches soft ball stage, or candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees F.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and beat it with an electric mixer until it cools
and reaches spreading consistency. If the frosting becomes too hard to
spread, beat in 1 teaspoon hot water.


And, last but not least, for those days when you are in a time crunch
( or when the humidity is too high to count on the success of an
authentic caramel frosting):

Becky’s Quick Caramel Icing

1 stick plus 2 tablespoon (10 tablespoons)
unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

In a small saucepan melt the butter over moderate heat, add the brown
sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the milk in a stream, whisking, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool completely.  In the bowl of an electric mixture beat together
the brown sugar mixture and the vanilla.  Add the confectioner's sugar in
batches, beating, and beat the icing until it is light and fluffy.
On a cake plate arrange 1 of the cake layers, spread the layer with one-
third of the icing, and top the icing with the remaining layer.  Spread the
top and side of the cake with the remaining icing.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Classic Frosting Collection
Let them eat cake...with frosting!
Perfect Chocolate Ganache

Index - Cake Fillings and Frostings
Index - Cake Recipe Archives
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