I was so excited when I heard of November’s Daring Bakers challenge – not only was it a real, honest-to-goodness fiddly multiple step recipe for something cake-like and gorgeous – but it was PURE SUGAR. No fruit, whole wheat, nuts to get in the way of every aromatic melt-in-your-mouth slice, hurray! (okay, my body started sending off little siren alarms with every bite, but it was worth it… sooooooooooo worth it)

It all starts with a big pot of caramel syrup, which becomes like magic flavour goo that’s added to the batter and the frosting. The browned butter frosting. I had heard you could brown Earth Balance and last Saturday was the day that my hopes were confirmed – it does brown and turn also quite magically delicous! Seriously, this frosting is my answer to buttercream, way more depth of flavour and the texture’s like… creamy fudge, yee-um. Part of the appeal may have been the happy accident of using mediterranean-style olive oil Earth Balance instead of buttery spread. Olive oil and caramel makes perfect sense to me. And to my tongue. :)

Other modifications… I don’t think I paid a speck of attention to how much salt was supposed to go in this thing and just sprinkled away until it tasted like a salted caramel I’d like. I didn’t make the butter caramels that could go with this because I ran out of sugar, cream and butter (ha!), but I did make a little batch of Fran Costigan’s vanilla wafer cookies with fig jam sandwiched inside. I’m still savoring each tiny nickel-sized piece… I think I’ve been making coffee just as an excuse to eat them. :D

I also used flax goo instead of eggs (the method where you soak whole flax seeds in water and then strain the thickened liquid out), but next time I’d definitely go for tofu or soygurt instead – flax was way too gummy.

See? A wee bit dense. Mismeasuring the milk had a lot to do with that, too. (try 1/4 cup too much – it makes a difference!) But I learned a lot about cakes (like, also I should trim them), and I’m all of a sudden really curious about veganizing other omni desserts, because da-amn…. the flavour on this one was just heavenly… and I really want another sticky sticky piece… I guess I’ll just have to try again in the noble name of science. :)

[ Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting recipe courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006 … he-recipe/ ]

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