Monday, October 1, 2012

Caramel Cake


This past week has not left me with a lot of time for cooking or baking at home, a fact you’ve no doubt noticed since I went 7 days without updating Screw Your Diet. Well, Saturday’s veal chops were the first step to getting things back on track here, and now I have something sweeter for your baking pleasure – caramel cake.

This is not an especially difficult recipe, and it isn’t as overpoweringly sweet as it looks. You will, however, be making caramel from scratch and that can be a tricky process. Just be sure you have a candy thermometer and that you use a small or medium sized sauce pan instead of a large one like I did. Kind of defeats the purpose of the thermometer if the liquid is too shallow to measure! I eyeballed it and got lucky, but I wouldn’t advise you take that risk yourselves.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Difficulty: Moderate
Active Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Prep Time: About 3 hours
Special Equipment: Candy thermometer, stand mixer
Serves: About 10 – 15

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (You can make cake flour at home by adding 2 tablespoons of corn starch for every cup of flour. Just put the cornstarch in the measuring cup before scooping the flour on top of it.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (I used dry buttermilk mixed with water – 4 tablespoons of the buttermilk for one cup of liquid)


Caramel Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



(Begin with the cake)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9 x 9 inch baking pan, then line it with parchment paper and butter that as well. Set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. (Optional, depending on whether you’re using powdered buttermilk or liquid) In a separate bowl, add 4 tablespoons of powdered butter milk and 1 cup of water. Mix until powder is fully dissolved. Set aside.

4. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until it’s fluffy, then add vanilla. Add one egg and continue beating until well combined, then add the other egg and repeat.

5. Beat in the buttermilk at a lower speed until just combined. It will probably look curdled, but that’s normal.


6. Add the flour to the mixture in 3 separate batches, beating each batch until just combined before adding the next. Do not overmix – the resulting batter should be fairly lumpy.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.


8. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 35 – 45 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan, discard the parchment, and cool on the rack directly for 1 hour.


(When the cake has cooled, begin caramel prep)

9. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir the cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Boil for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the temperature registers 210ºF - 212ºF on the thermometer, then stir in vanilla. 


10. Place the cake in a shallow baking pan lined with wax paper, then pour the hot caramel on top, allowing it to run down the sides. Cool for 30 minutes, then serve. Can be stored in an airtight container at room temp for a few days.


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