This cake, I am so very sorry to say, is not for the novice baker. Had I made this cake when I had less experience under my love handles it would have undoubtedly ended up smashed against the kitchen wall. There would have been much throwing and flinging. It would not have been pretty. Those of you with a genetic predisposition for fits that involve throwing: consider yourself warned.
You can find the recipe for The Epic Cake here (Feel free to watch the video if you need a visual, and if the sound of Martha's voice doesn't cause you physical pain. Yeah, I said it.), though I think it is important to remember that it comes from this book—one of my all time faves.
Now. Let's break this down into three obvious parts: The Cake Layer, The Caramel Layer, and The Frosting Layer.
The Cake Layer:
I was singing the praises of this as a basic cake layer with every piece I ate. I thought the crumb was nice and the flavor delish. On the other hand, my dear friend—and expert baker—Katie, baked this same cake and declared it to be dry and crumbly. Dear Katie, I have no idea why that happened. Don't you live in a place where nothing ever dries out? I hope you give the cake a second chance. If it happens again I recommend banishing it from your repertoire.
I cut the leavening by half (altitude! are you getting sick of hearing me mention that? well too bad, I'm not going to stop) and I watched it closely when it was getting done. I tend to bake my cakes for less time than book recipes call for. The best time to start paying attention is when you can smell the cake and you might notice it barely pulling away from the sides.
The Caramel Layer:
Four times. FOUR TIMES I had to make this freaking caramel. If you're lucky and don't burn the sugar repeatedly you will only have to make it twice. One batch goes in between the cake layers (drool) and another batch gets incorporated into the frosting (double drool).
The caramel sauce is salty and rich and burns really really easily. Keep a constant eye on it and remember that candy recipes are written for sea level. If you don't live at sea level you won't need to get your sauce as hot as the recipe says to.
Also, I would recommend squirreling away a little of the sauce instead of putting all of it on the cake. That excess sauce can then be eaten with a spoon. Late at night. By yourself. Just sayin'.
The Frosting Layer:
You guys, this frosting is not screwing around. It has a pound of dark chocolate and a pound of butter and it knows how to use them. It whips up like a dream and spreads nicely. I LOVE THIS FROSTING. Make it and be brave. And adored by all.
You assemble the cake by layering cake + caramel + frosting + cake + etc. Yes. The instructions say to sprinkle a bit of salt in between each layer but I chose not to do that. I was worried that my caramel sauce was already too salty and wanted to play it safe. I deeply regret that decision. Remember, if you're going to make this cake, you have to be brave. Oh, and use the fancy schmancy salt.
Okay! Are you so ready to make The Epic Cake? I know you can do it. It's going to be great.