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Author Notes: I remember the good ol' days when I felt fine with purchasing a cake from a store, or simply baking a single layer cake and throwing some frosting on it. But that was before I learned that truly delicious cake is a multi step process. Every great moist cake you taste usually has the secret step of some kind of drizzled syrup or soaking process and once you know that, baking becomes a fun, and very involved, process.
This salted caramel cake was something I made for my sweetie's birthday this year and I have a feeling it will be requested again. Brown sugar buttermilk cake soaked in homemade caramel sauce, then topped with cream cheese frosting, and a gooey caramel glaze! I sprinkled it with edible gold stars for a little pizzazz. Sure, it will take up half of your day when you should be cleaning the house, or wrapping gifts for aforementioned birthday, but it is totally worth it.
Adapted from Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis —Brita
Brown sugar buttermilk cake
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Prepare 2 9in cake pans by buttering, lining with parchment paper and flouring.
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars for about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl often.
- Mix in the vanilla.
- Add the flour and buttermilk alternating until just combined.
- In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and vinegar then add to the batter. Mix just until incorporated. Do not overmix!
- Separate batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans
- Bake about 20 minutes or until the top and edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean
- Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely
Caramel Sauce and Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed & room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 5 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- For the Caramel Sauce: In a very large, heavy saucepan or pot over medium-high heat, pour the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Whisk until melted. The sugar will clump up but will eventually completely melt. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the sugar has melted, stop whisking and cook until the temperature reaches 350 F degrees or the sugar has turned into an amber color and has a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat.
- Add all the butter and whisk until combined. This mixture will bubble up, but keep whisking until all the butter has melted.
- Slowly pour the heavy cream into the mixture and whisk until incorporated. Stir in the fleur de sel. Cool for about 10-15 minutes before using. Store leftovers in a jar with a lid and reheat before using again. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
- For the Frosting: In a medium, heavy pot, whisk together the brown sugar and 2oz of butter over medium heat until melted. Bring to a boil for no more than 10 seconds. Remove from heat immediately and pour in the heavy cream and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the remaining 3oz of butter and cream cheese until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl several times during this process. Mix in the salt.
- Turn the mixer to low and pour in a slow, steady stream the brown sugar mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on medium speed until completely smooth and incorporated. Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix on medium speed until smooth.The frosting will feel very soft – so refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes before frosting the cake.
- Once the cakes cooled, use a large skewer to poke holes across the top of the cake. Spoon a layer of caramel sauce over the top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Allow the caramel sauce to soak into the cake Once all the caramel has soaked into the cake, add a layer of the cream cheese frosting.
- Place the second layer of cake on top and spread another thin layer of frosting on top and sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until the "crumb coat" is set. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting and then top with a layer of caramel sauce on the top only pushing to the edge with the off set spatula so the excess oozes down the sides. Top with a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Refrigerate until ready to eat – but remove 15 minutes before serving.