A classic vanilla dessert gets a major makeover with this decadent Crème Brûlée Cake!
Crème Brûlée Cake, aka the cake that almost killed me. Literally. I’m exaggerating (a bit), but it could have gone very, very badly. Typical me, doing stupid shit without researching it first. Clearly I need to be monitored at all times.
I had a general idea of how I wanted this Crème Brûlée Cake to look. Namely, I wanted to do the caramel sugar shards around the outside to represent the “brûlée” part. Caramelized sugar doesn’t stand up too well to moisture, so I knew that doing a thin layer on top or in the middle would quickly dissolve, so this was my solution.
I hadn’t done sugar work since pastry school, so I needed to test out my vision for the shards to see if it would work. I caramelized some sugar, poured it out over a couple sheet pans lined with silicone mats, let it cool a bit, then broke it into shards.
Except that the silicone mats left funny little ripples on the shards and I wanted them clean and clear. Sigh. Redo.
So once again, I caramelized some sugar, but this time I lined the pans with tin foil instead. This was a bit trickier to pull off of the sugar afterwards, but the results, overall, were nice and smooth and clear.
In my experience, I knew this sugar likely wouldn’t last until the next day, which is when I was finishing the cake, but I hoped that I could maybe still use it (aka, be lazy and not redo it a third time). I laid the shards neatly onto parchment and hoped for the best.
Next day rolls around and I go to check on the shards. They had gotten sticky, which I had expected, but what I hadn’t anticipated was that they would stick to the parchment. UGH. When I peeled them off they were cloudy in the parts that stuck. This was clearly not going to work.
If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know that I’m a bit of a lazy baker. That’s what this blog should have been called. I know it might not seem like it, with the elaborate cakes that I make, but I honestly don’t like to do things more than once. I did NOT want to redo this sugar for a third time.
So, I had the bright idea of heating up the sugar shards to see if I could melt away the cloudy sections. I tried a hair dryer first (true story, and not the first time I’ve used one in the kitchen), but that didn’t work, so I grabbed my kitchen torch. A quick test showed that it was a success (woohoo!) except that my torch was out of fuel… maybe you can see where this is going.
Ryan had refilled it for me before, but I hadn’t really paid attention. How hard could it be?? I should have done like 30 seconds of research on it, but I told you I was lazy. So I went ahead and refilled it directly over the sink and then tested it immediately after. Both of which you are NOT supposed to do. Butane gas sinks apparently, so they say specifically to NOT fill it over a sink. They also say to let the gas settle for 1 minute before using.
I’d like to say that the next few moments were a blur, but I remember it vividly and likely will until the day I die. As I lit the torch, the entire sink (that was now filled with butane gas) lit up in a flash of flames. As did my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. LOL I kid you not. I didn’t realize it at the time. At first I was all like WTF just happened and then I smelled burnt hair and ran to the bathroom in a panic.
Thankfully, everything was just singed and I still had my eyebrows in place. My eyelashes were noticeably shorter though. Thank God I was wearing glasses! My knuckles got badly burned too, even through I was wearing latex gloves and didn’t notice at the time. One of the blisters took a full two weeks to heal and hurt like hell the entire time whenever I tried to bend my finger.
I’m laughing about it now (kinda), but it was honestly terrifying. Not so much the explosion itself, but the thought of what could have happened and my own stupidity. What if the whole torch exploded in my hand? Or lit the entire place on fire?? UGH. I try not to think about it. I have not touched that torch since, and likely won’t for a good little bit.
Needless to say, I redid the god damn sugar. I should have just done that from the start and saved myself time, stress, and hair damage. It does not pay to be lazy, people!
Anyhow, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the drama that is my baking life and learned a lesson or two.
Head on over to The Cake Blog for the recipe and details of this Crème Brûlée Cake!