Wordless Wednesday: Caramel Topped Challah Cake

Imagine French toast (or challah kugel or bread pudding), but as a cake, with caramel sauce . . . .

Caramel Topped Challah Cake
You can tell from two prior Wordless Wednesday posts that I am fond of caramel (turtle cheesecake and banoffee pie). Besides being infused with pure caramel flavor, this cake has two added virtues: (1) it is dairy-free; and (2) it uses up last week’s leftover challah. The first time I had a version of this cake, it was part of a Shalosh Seudos spread. The hostess later explained the basic method of making this cake, and I figured it out from that. I was told that you can also add crushed pineapple, but I haven’t tried that yet. Basically, this is a cross between a challah kugel and flan. My hostess was Parisian, and I think this is a French Jewish thing. I certainly haven’t seen anything like it in any local cookbooks. The only dessert recipe I have seen that sort of reminds of it is this semolina cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

8 ounces challah (about half to two-thirds of a large challah)
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
apple, peeled and minced
1 tsp. vanilla or vanilla sugar
1/4 cup raisins, preferably soaked in rum or some other liquor or liqueur
for caramel topping: 1/2 cup sugar

Grease an 8″ pan and set it by the stove. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now, prepare the caramel. Take the sugar and put it in a medium saucepan. Pour on enough water to wet the sugar (if you add just a little, the sugar will caramelize faster and you have to be more watchful; if you add a lot, it can take much longer to get to the caramelization stage, so be patient). You can add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like (it help prevent recrystallization), but it isn’t crucial. Heat the pot over medium heat, with the cover on. Lift the lid to check the progress regularly. The sugar should melt and start to get foamy.

When the sugar is dissolved and is starting to foam as it bubbles, take off the lid and watch for the color to change from clear to yellowish. Don’t stir at this or any earlier point. Agitating can cause crystallization. When the sugar starts to color, it can get dark at one spot faster than another. If that is starting to happen, gently swirl the pot to spread the caramel color more evenly throughout the sugar.

When the sugar is a  golden color, turn down the heat and get ready to pour the caramel into the pan. You can let the caramel color just a bit more, almost to the color of a penny, a reddish gold, but not darker. Pour the caramel (careful! The sugar is incredibly hot and can cause very bad burns) into the greased pan. It should cover the bottom evenly. Set this aside while you make the cake batter.

Remove the crust from the challah, tear the challah into bits and put the pieces in a medium bowl. Pour water over the challah to thoroughly soak it. Squeeze out and drain off  as much excess water as possible. The challah pieces should cohere into a doughy lump. Add the sugar, vanilla, eggs and fruit. Mix well to evenly combine. You should now have a thick batter.

Spread the batter over the now cooled caramel in the pan. Bake the cake at 350 degrees until the top is golden and springs back when you touch it, about a half hour. Place a plate on top and carefully flip the pan over so that the cake turns out onto the plate (of course, be careful and use potholders because the caramel is hot). You can serve this warm, room temperature or cold.

Note about the caramel: It gets hard when it cools, but it doesn’t stay hard. After being in the refrigerator for a while (and that is where you should store this cake), the caramel dissolves and gets liquidy.

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8 Responses to “Wordless Wednesday: Caramel Topped Challah Cake”

  1. Vicki Says:

    Here’s My WW

  2. Couldn't be parve Says:

    This sounds great! If only we had challah leftover!

  3. Liz Says:

    That looks yum!

    My entries:
    Moms…Check Nyo

  4. Prag Says:

    great idea, I always think that caramel should be used more.

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