Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake

This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe was for the “Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum (or whisky, in my case) Frosting”, from Baked Explorations.  The cake starts off with slowly melting sugar in a sauce pan, until it is a deep brown color, and then mixing in heavy cream, coconut milk and lemon juice. Half of that caramel liquid is added to the cake batter, while the other half is reserved for the icing.  The cake is a pretty standard variety bundt mix, starting with creaming butter and sugar, adding in eggs, and then alternating flour and the rich caramel liquid. The batter was delicious. I was hopeful that the lemon and coconut would be key flavors, but I didn’t really taste anything but caramel. Definitely make sure that you throughly grease the bundt pan, I had a bit of a sticking problem. Luckily I was able to gently reassemble the parts that stuck to the pan, and cover the cracks with frosting. 

The icing was a bit tricky however, to the point that I kind of think that the recipe for it should be re-worked completely. I would recommend starting with the powdered sugar, butter and booze, and slowly adding in the caramel liquid until you reach your desired consistency. Using all of the reserved liquid results in a very thin mess, nothing like the beautiful frosting shown in the cookbook’s photo. I also wasn’t too thrilled with the way that the icing tastes. It is overwhelmingly sweet, the powdered sugar takes over any hint of whisky, caramel or butter. It might be better to baste the cake with a bit of whisky and caramel sauce, and then perhaps drizzle some melted caramel on top.

I skipped the optional caramel shards. I honestly didn’t think that they looked that great in the cookbook photo, and I’m not a fan of hard candies like toffee. One of the other bakers recommended taking care while eating them because some were quite sharp. That made it sound even less fun, I may think of myself as an adventurous cook, but that doesn’t extend to risking injury while eating.

Overall we weren’t crazy about this recipe. I wish I had added some pecans to the batter, it would have added a nice crunch. Ours also didn’t turn out anywhere near as dark as the photo in the cookbook. I’m not sure if I could have caramelized the sugar any longer without it burning to the bottom of the pan. This cake sounded really enticing, but I don’t think I’d make it again. 

 Baked Sunday Mornings

Whiskey Pear Tart

Recipe

This week’s recipe is the Whiskey Pear Tart from Baked Explorations. I have a long standing love for pear tarts (and whiskey, though that is much more recent). Growing up I had the privilege to frequent an outstanding french restaurant and patisserie  called La Chatelaine,  which taught me just how good fruit tarts could be. I was delighted to discover that those delicious confections are not terribly hard to make, and are wonderfully pretty.

This recipe turned out beautifully, and tasted amazing. However it was not the easiest recipe to do, with a lot of steps and a lot of time waiting for things to chill. The flavor was delicately almond, with a touch of vanilla. I didn’t really taste much whiskey at all. I used Jameson, because it’s our favorite and we always have it in the house.  The recipe starts off with an overnight soak of canned pears in a mixture of whiskey, lemon juice and vanilla. I kind of suspected that one 15 oz can wouldn’t provide enough pears to cover the tart, so I bought extra just in case. I also made the dough for the crust the evening before so that it could chill overnight.

I had a bit of trouble with the dough, when I put all the ingredients together in the food processor I just ended up with a sandy mess. I had to add a bit of water to get it to adhere together. I’m also not entirely sure where my rolling pin is, we just moved and I’m still in the process of figuring out where all of my cooking gadgets have gone. I ended up MacGyvering it by using a stainless steel water bottle, which luckily worked just as well.   I decided to roll out the dough using waxed paper, because that’s how my mom taught me to do pie dough, and it’s a technique that’s always worked well for me.


The filling was very easy to make, and the tart was a cinch to assemble. I’m glad I had those extra pears on hand because the tart was really improved with more fruit on top.  When it came to making the glaze though, I tend to read instructions like “Boil until you have about 3/4 of a cup” as nonsensically impractical, and instead just boiled it for “awhile.”  The finished tart was excellent,  so much so that we polished it off the same day. I would definitely consider making it again.  In fact I think that the crust and almond filling would lend itself to other kinds of fruit toppings, like strawberry, depending on what is available.

Baked Sunday Mornings