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Homemade Caramel...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone!


I am new here and tried 'searching' for the answer to my caramel questions, but did not find it.  I will keep looking but thought I would try my own post and see what help I can find!


I am not a professional bakery or pastry chef by any means, but am currently working at my first baking job as a baker's assistant.  I learned to bake at my Grannie's knee and felt somewhat ready for this job.  It is just the head baker and myself in a small bakery at the grocery store by my house.  We live in a small town, so there is not much help with these questions, so hopefully some of you on here can help me out - it would be much appreciated!


We make caramel rolls (aka sticky buns) at our bakery for the restaurant across the street, and they are a big hit!  Nice and big and fluffy, just like my Grannie made me growing up!  The other girl I work with, the head baker, came up with the recipe and it is a great one!  The only problem the restaurant has with them, is they want an ooey gooey CHEWY caramel, more than the current one (which I think is quite tasty already)!  We have been trying caramel recipe after recipe and they keep asking us to try again and we are at a loss!  :(  We are about to break down and just make caramel from sweetened condensed milk, but really would like to find a good homemade caramel recipe instead!  


We don't bake our rolls in the caramel as a lot of bakeries do, but we want to make a soft and chewy caramel to spoon on top of the rolls when they are warm out of the oven, but does not completely melt away.  Does anyone have any ideas that could help us?  The only problem we have is that we do not have a great supplier of baking supplies in town and our candy thermometers always seem to go missing after a few days of having them in our possession (and getting a replacement requires a trip to a different town), so we can't really do the whole "boil to softball stage" based on temperatures.  :(  We would prefer that, but it just doesn't seem to be for us I guess.  We don't have a ton of time to keep checking the stage of the caramel by dropping pieces into ice water either - we do stay busy baking for the grocery store, the restaurant across the street, and a few other places in town - so we are looking for a recipe we can test based on some timing (by minutes) and then tweak once we try it on our stoves since we know times can vary.  Any help?


If this helps, this was our last recipe we tried and it failed to even caramelize for us!  :(


2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


We boiled all except the vanilla til it was a rolling boil, then reduced it to a simmer and cooked it for 45 minutes and had no thickening or caramelization!  :(  We had found the recipe on a blog we have used before, but this one was a no go.  We are willing to tweak this recipe or try another!  We are looking for enough caramel to cover a hotel pan of caramel rolls!


Thanks CT Fourms!  :)



post #2 of 9

Hi Tay!

There are as many caramel recipes as there are leaves I am sure! =)


I am not sure what your previous recipe was that they are wanting to revamp -if you could pass it along that would help out greatly. What is it that you are wanting as an end result (what is it that they want to revamp).


I am no professional baker, yet have worked with some very awesome caramel recipes -designed for different end results.


For a gooey caramel -an important factor includes the sugar stages you want as you mentioned. Without a candy thermo you can still achieve this but every time someone makes the caramel -there could be variation -so if you can live with that or even better yet set specific cooking times according to the equipment you have specifically in house - then that should eliminate most variations.


I use a simple caramel for this type of product - 4 ingredients , 5 if you include the love.

Try a small batch and see if you like it.

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

Lots of love


Bring the first 3 up to a boil over medium heat. Test your timing as to what would come up to soft ball stage - then add the vanilla. If you like the results- record the timing to hit soft ball on your specific equipment. If it works for you then you can simply double or triple the recipe according to how much caramel you need. Because of the use of the brown sugar - it returns a lovely rich flavor and texture. It's my personal preference over white sugar for gooey - that's just my preference though. The great thing about most caramel recipes is that you can introduce different flavor profiles - pink himalayan sea salt, different extracts, seasonal spices like star anise, cardamom etc.


Your final food cost should actually work out better for you as well - not that this should be a final factor of course yet important component to any business.


As far as the recipe you posted goes - I have personally never used milk in my caramel sauces -instead raw heavy whip cream - 36% so I am not to sure how that finishes. Nor have I played with molasses in caramel sauce (interesting flavor profile though but not 100% sure of the science behind bringing them up to a boil as such and it's final results) - sparks an experiment in the future though!! Thanks for the post.



post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks DusteeP for your feedback!  Well, I took your recipe into work and we tested it out, but since I last posted the restaurant is now asking us to bake the sticky buns in the caramel sauce again, and while your recipe was super tasty, it kind of melted into the sticky buns while baking and there was not a lot to "drip down" the sides of the buns when we flipped them out.  I do admit that it could have been my and the other bakers fault, but we are just so frustrated finding a caramel that works!  We were planning on just spooning the caramel on top of the sticky buns after they were baked so that we could stop having the problem of the rolls "tearing" apart when we flip them out.  Only about half the buns tear, and sometimes only a top part gets stuck in the pan, but other times more does.  We spray our pans well with pan spray and then pour in our caramel sauce, then place the cinnamon rolls on top of the sauce and bake them.  Is there a better way to do this?  After we had the same results with your sauce, we tried yet another one and this one is the best yet.  We usually only get about 1 tray of every 5 trays have the tearing issue anymore, but is there anything we can do to stop this problem?


Thanks for your help!



post #4 of 9

Hey Tay!

The recipe that I gave you is a finishing/stand alone caramel. If you want to cook the rolls right in the "caramel" that's an easy enough fix -all you want to do is make a simple caramel that will actually come up to temp while cooking:


1 part brown sugar:1 part butter -that's as simple as it gets. You just put those together over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Pour that in the bottom of your pan -then add your buns. You can add extra cinnamon and or vanilla in the "caramel" mixture for that added flavour kick. i think the challenge your team may have been having is using an actual caramel sauce.

Make sure you invert them after baking and letting stand for about 3-5 minutes -don't let them cool down in the pan 100%. That will ensure you get the buns out of the pan and then you can scrape ll of that gooey caramel that's still in the pan on top of the buns while it's still warm

Buns sticking together problem - if I am understanding you correctly - the buns come out of the pan o.k but are not coming apart nicely? If that's what you mean - when you make up your batch of rolls - you've rolled out the dough, brushed it with butter (leaving about a 1/2" border as plain dough so it seals up nicely) and sprinkled with your in house brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Then roll them up - brush the "log" with melted butter - then cut them and put them on the brown sugar and melted butter (caramel) in the pan. By butter the rolls before you portion cut them -that prevents them from turning into a giant mass of cinnamon sticky buns. After you have inverted them out of the pans, let them cool for a bit more -a few more minutes and then just gently apart. 


Let me know if that's what the problem was and if that helped you out. If not, let me know specifically where you are  having problems with them "tearing".


I am so glad that you clarified. Using a "regular caramel" recipe in the pan will generate the results that you have been having.


I would love to see you have some success with these once and for all!!


Again -let me know!



post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

DusteeP, you are so awesome and I appreciate your help so much!  I am not able to get on here as often as I'd like due to work schedule with the holidays, but I do check back and appreciate all of your help!  


So originally, we were doing a basic caramel like you mentioned, just brown sugar and butter (with a teaspoon of vanilla as well), but it was not becoming a soft caramel when we flipped it out, it would become much more solid and when reheated almost hard.  We have been having luck with a new recipe though, and while it is really tasty, we are not having luck cooking it up in big batches, which we were hoping to be able to do so we would not need to make caramel so often. 


This is our currently recipe:


6 cups granulated sugar

2 1/4 cups softened butter

2 Tbsp salt

2 cups heavy cream


We melt the sugar in a pot and stir it only to keep it from burning as it caramelizes.  We then add the salt, stir it in, then remove it from heat and add the butter.  We stir that in as best we can, then add in the heavy cream.  We stir that in (and it sometimes "seizes") and then put it back on the heat and cook it down to the thickness we want.


While the end recipe comes out quite tasty, we are having a problem making a batch bigger than this one, and while it sounds like a lot, we would love to just be able to double this recipe at minimum, but when we do a larger batch, the caramel "seizes up" (that is what my head baker says when it happens) and we have to wait foreeeeever for it to re-melt in a sense.  It is just very time consuming and only make enough for a few days of caramel rolls and we'd like to get so we only make caramel once a week if possible.  Any ideas to help prevent the "seizing" issue we are having?  We would love to keep using this recipe if possible, it is quite tasty, but it is becoming a pain to make when we are busy during the holidays right now.


As for the buns "tearing" issue, that was not quite what I meant, but again thank you for trying to help!  We have tried flipping our caramel rolls straight out of the oven (within one minute of it coming out of the oven) to waiting for about 3-4 minutes before flipping them out, and no matter what we do, the part of the caramel roll that is on the bottom of the pan (the "top" once flipped out) still sticks to the pan - usually the caramel has baked into the roll and so the sticky dough sticks to the pan.  When this happens, when we flip the pan and lift it off, the "tops" pull apart and tear off of the rest of the caramel roll.  We have also tried putting in more caramel, but it just tends to boil over as baking.  Also, we do spray the pans very well, and while it helps, we cannot really spray it much more or it just pools in the bottom of the pan with the caramel.


I hope that description helps explain the tearing better.  Sorry I am not very good at my descriptions.





post #6 of 9

Hi Tay!

Yes tis the season for all of us in the culinary world! I usually jump on here when I have time between jobs too!

Great that you have found the caramel recipe that works for you!!!! For the seizing have you tried warming your cream up? The seizing happens from the temperature change from the really hot caramel and then adding a way different temperature cream - try heating it up -do not boil. That should help you out! It will still thicken up but shouldn't seize on you so that you can't muscle your way through it. For your large batches use a heavy duty brazier if you have it - a larger pot that's more shallow -maybe only 6 inches tall but 18" diameter. With caramel as such, you want a wider stirring surface opposed to a big deep pot; unless you have Hercules on shift that day! LOL


Sticking - try spraying the pans -line with parchment - then spray or rub the parchment with butter -then pour the caramel sauce on the greased parchment and do your usual routine. When they come out of the oven, tip them out straight away and peel back parchment while still hot for easy removal. The parchment should be your saving grace. Let me know how that works for you! You could also try cooking them on a high level in your oven if your ovens heat source is coming from the bottom. Sounds like your caramel is really caramelizing the buns to the pans. Give the parchment a go and let me know.

Sometimes it's much easier to physically see a process to determine where there may be a step that could use tweaking. I hope that by adding the parchment into your process will really help you out.





post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have finally gotten the caramel buns to work!  The parchment paper and spraying it did the trick and now things in this department are running smoothly (for now)!  :)  Thank you thank you thank you for your help DusteeP, you are awesome!!!  


We are having a pie issue now though, perhaps you can help?  We are having an issue with the bottom pie crust on our blueberry-raspberry pie getting soggy.  It really only happens with this pie and we cannot seem to fix it!  We have tried par-baking our bottom crust, pre-baking fully our bottom crust, brushing the crust with egg whites, and brushing the crust with corn syrup, and nothing is working!!!!!!!  :(  Is there any way to fix this issue?  We cannot change the pie filling, it is one of the restaurant Chef's favorites, so we can do nothing about that.





post #8 of 9

Hi Tay!


Many, many, many congratulations on the success of the sticky buns!! Hurray! I am so happy that the parchment did the trick!


For your blueberry-raspberry pie - can you give me some details, prep method, filling details, how you are currently baking them, topping them, etc. If you want to private message me with the details so that your famous pie details do not get posted - that would be great. Then i can take a look at what some possibilities are.


Talk soon!!

post #9 of 9

We make sticky buns here at my club, and I would consider baking them upside down in the caramel or whatever you come up with,


But if not you can make a very tasty and natural mock caramel glaze


Make a simple syrup

Melt butter and stir in brown sugar, mix in simple syrup to desired consistency 

Try adding some chopped pecans for texture as well




If you do want to make them upside down make the same syrup mix

spray the bottom of a muffin pan with A LOT of spray

take your danish dough and place in pan

cook to golden brown 350 works for me

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