I’m on a bit of a caramel buzz at the moment. It started last week when I made sticky buns with caramel sauce. As I was lavishly licking the left over caramel out of the pot I realised how much I really enjoyed its rich, buttery taste.
A fun fact about caramel – no one really knows how it got its name! In her piece ‘Comeback Caramel’ in the food journal Gastronomica, Samira Kawash outlines:
As for the word caramel, the OED is uncharacteristically vague on the origins of the term. It is traced to France, but questions persist about its reference. Theoretical etymologies attach it to callamellus little tube or reed, or to cannamella, the Latin term for sugar cane, but these are only theories, and not very persuasive ones. OED concludes, somewhat tersely, “origin uncertain.”
The OED’s lexicographers do not mention a more promising (but likely apocryphal) derivation attributing the name to one Count Albufage Caramel of Nismes, France. Tantalizing references to Count Caramel appear (and disappear) in the 19th century, most famously in William Jeanes The Modern Confectioner (1861; also known as Gunter’s Modern Confectioner). The Count is credited with first describing the final stage of sugar boiling just before the sugar would begin to darken. Although Count Caramel sounds more like a character from Jim Henson’s workshop than a bona fide member of the French aristocracy, something in the account rings true.
On Saturday, I got an opportunity to make more caramel sauce. A work colleague of mine, Anika was hosting a pot luck dinner. I originally intended to make Stephanie Alexander’s Mediterranean orange cake but I forgot to put one its crucial ingredients (almond meal) on the supermarket list.
As an aside, forgetting things was a bit of a theme during the weekend. I managed to leave one half of my shoes in the work lobby (it fell out of my bag). Then on Saturday, when I was leaving to run errands I had to go back home four times because I had forgotten various items I needed. Sigh!
But anyway, back to my orange cake. Thankfully, The Cook’s Companion had another orange cake recipe which I had all the ingredients for. I’ve previously made this cake for a small gathering Analiese hosted once. It was a bit of a disaster. Previously, I had reduced the number of eggs from four to two thinking that it wouldn’t affect the final product too much. I was very wrong. The cake was very crumbly.
Like, crumbs everywhere
Worst of all, one of Analiese’s friends who she had invited, had been on a contestant on New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker and I was paranoid that he might be silently judging my poor cake effort. I felt like having a small card to accompany the cake to explain why I had removed the egg (Analiese’s allergies) and hence the crumbliness of the cake.
This time when I made the cake, I used all four eggs and it turned out fine. It did crack on the top a bit which means I should have used less baking powder and lowered the temperature on the oven. Oh well.
Making the orange caramel sauce for the icing was my favourite part. I adapted the Joy of Cooking caramel sauce recipe. Instead of using water, I used orange juice and added some orange zest. It took a bit longer for it to boil but it turned out pretty good. The acidity of the oranges added a nice ‘cut through’ to the sweetness of the caramel. I drowned the cake in the sauce so it looked like a cake version of crème caramel.
I’ve called this recipe Orange and Caramel Drunk cake because I feel like the cake looks like it has over indulged on the sauce. Go home cake, you’re too drunk.
Orange and Caramel Drunk Cake
Adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion
250g softened butter
1 ½ cups caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100ml orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
250g self-raising flour
Orange Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
8 table spoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces1
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 22cm cake tin
Mix sugar and orange zest in a bowl. Add butter and cream the mixture. Add eggs and orange juice. Add flour and fold mixture together until the flour is incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. Spoon into tin and bake for 50 min. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before icing.
Orange Caramel Sauce
Add orange zest, orange juice and sugar to a small saucepan. Slowly heat up and stir the sugar and water until all the sugar has been dissolved. Bring it up the boil, cover and leave to bubble for 2 minutes. Keep your eye on it or else it will burn! The mixture should become a lovely amber colour. Take it off the heat, add the butter and mix until it has been dissolved. Stir in cream and mix. If sauce is lumpy, place over low heat and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and salt. On a lined baking tray, pour caramel sauce so it covers most of the tray.