Saturday, November 2, 2013

Caramel Layer Cake

     This is a simple cake that I should have made a long time ago.

     Caramel cake is a classic Southern dessert, and I think that, as a borderline Southerner, I have been deprived of the privilege of eating this cake up to this point.

     I made this cake for my mom's birthday last weekend.  We also had colorful candles and Oreo ice cream!

     (My mom isn't turning 5, by the way.)

      I've been looking for a good caramel cake recipe for a while. The recipe I used was from the Galley Gourmet, and the cake did not disappoint.  The cake is a simple vanilla cake with a tender crumb, and the icing is the phenomenal part. Sure, it's really sugary (caramel is, after all, cooked sugar), but don't let that stop you.  Enjoy the full glory of it.

     I made a 2-layer cake to save time, instead of the 3-layer cake the recipe suggested.  You can use whatever cake pans you have.  Making the caramel sauce is really easy, but be careful and take it off the heat when it is golden brown or else it'll burn really quickly.

Caramel Layer Cake

Serves 10-12
Recipe adapted from The Galley Gourmet


For the Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups self rising flour 
1 cup whole buttermilk, or 1tbs vinegar plus 1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Caramel Frosting
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup hot heavy cream
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners' sugar
For Finishing (optional)
Toasted pecans


Make the Cake. Preheat the oven to 350* F.  Butter and flour 2 or 3 9" cake pans, and line with parchment or wax paper. 

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Alternate adding 1/3 of the flour with adding 1/2 of the buttermilk, and then stir in the vanilla. Divide the batter between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove the cake and let it cool completely.

Make the Caramel Sauce. Place the water and corn syrup in a small bowl and whisk until the syrup is dissolved. Place the sugar in a medium saucepan, and add the water, stirring just until everything is moistened. Heat over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved (it will start bubbling) and increase the heat to medium-high.  If sugar crystals form on the side of the pan while you're cooking, brush them off with a wet pastry brush. Cook without stirring until the mixture is golden brown, no longer.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the cold butter, stirring until melted. Slowly stir in the heavy cream, then stir in the vanilla and salt.  

Let cool for at least one hour or refrigerate. Set 1/3 cup aside to pour on the cake after frosting it.

Make the Frosting.  Place all the caramel except 1/3 cup in a large bowl with the softened butter (make sure the caramel's cool or the butter will melt). Cream until smooth, and then gradually add the confectioners sugar, beating until fluffy.

Assemble. Spread the frosting between layers and top and sides of the cake layers.  Drizzle with the reserved caramel sauce.  Garnish with toasted pecans.