I loved this cake! I’ve never made a true caramel cake before (or caramel syrup), and I was very pleased with the results. The salt that’s added into the caramel frosting gives it an extra kick and makes you seem addicted to the sweet and slightly salty combo. The cake is rich and moist, and you’ll have plenty of leftover caramel syrup to decorate your cake, pour over ice cream, or whatever else you like! This caramel cake was much easier to make than it seems; it only took me about 2 hours total. I hope you all give it a try!
To begin, make your caramel syrup. Combine your water and sugar in a sauce pan.
Turn the heat on the highest flame and cook until it turns a dark amber color.
There we go. At this point, pour in the water to stop the caramelizing. BE CAREFUL! This stuff will jump all over the place. Make sure you have on long sleeves and are prepared to dunk your hands in ice water if any caramel gets on your skin.
There you go.
Now time to make the cake.
Combine your flour and baking powder.
I creamed together the sugar and butter because I read the recipe too quickly, :). But please, cream the butter first, add the sugar, and then beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs, then the flour/milk/four/milk/flour combination.
Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
While the cake bakes, make your frosting.
First, brown your butter (this should take about 5-8 minutes).
Pour the browned butter through a mesh sieve and into a small bowl. Set aside to cool. My camera’s batteries died at about this point, so I couldn’t take pictures of the frosting being made. It’s simple, though; basically, just beat together the butter and powdered sugar, then add the caramel, milk, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy (5-8 minutes).
After your cake has fully cooled, frost and decorate as you like! I topped mine with butterscotch chips, some caramel sauce, and raw sugar (because this cake clearly needs more sugar).
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup caramel syrup*
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 2 Cups granulated sugar
- ½ Cup water
- 1 Cup water for "stopping" the caramelization process
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 16 oz. powdered sugar
- 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream (I used 1% milk and the frosting was still amazing)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup, room temperature
- kosher or sea salt to taste (I used about ½ teaspoon kosher salt, maybe a pinch more)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter/grease one round 9x2 cake pan (I used an 8x3 round).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth.
- Add the sugar and salt and cream together until light and fluffy.
- Slowly pour the room temperature caramel syrup into the bowl.
- Scrape down the bowl and increase the speed on the mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Scrape down bowl again and beat the mixture until light and uniform.
- Sift flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.
- Turn the mixer to its lowest speed and add one third of the flour mixture.
- When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time.
- Add another third of the flour mixture, then the other half of the milk and finish with the flour (this is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making; it is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter).
- Use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure the batter is uniform.
- Place the cake pan on cookie sheet or ½ sheet pan. Set your first timer for 30 minutes, rotate the pan, and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days unrefrigerated.
- *Caramel syrup recipe follows
- In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand.
- Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.
- Turn on heat to highest flame.
- Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
- When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is VERY dangerous, so have long sleeves on (SERIOUSLY!) and prepared to step back. (I started by pouring a few drops of water in at a time until the temperature reduced enough for me to pour the rest of the water in)
- Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. (Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it)
- **For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.
- Cook the butter until browned slightly.
- Pour it through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl and set it aside to cool.
- Pour the cooled brown butter into a mixer bowl.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more (I used the full 16 oz), add a bit of the cream/milk and caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste. Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
- **To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with a spoon/fork until smoothed.