Southern Caramel Cake
This traditional Southern caramel cake is perfect for when you want layer cake, and you'd like it fast. It's light and fluffy under the sweet caramel glaze, which hardens at room temperature and shatters gently with every bite. The glaze comes together quickly, thanks to the dark brown sugar, which already has that deep caramel flavor you’d get from cooking down granulated sugar. A little heat, butter and buttermilk give the icing body. The final cake is like a soft drop biscuit under a sweet caramel sauce, and it's just as good out of the refrigerator as it is warm.
- Serves: 10 persons
- 1cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened, plus more for greasing the pan
- 3cups/375 grams self-rising flour, plus more for preparing the pan
- 2cups/400 grams granulated sugar
- 4eggs, at room temperature
- 1cup/240 milliliters buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 2packed cups/440 grams dark brown sugar
- ½cup/120 milliliters buttermilk, at room temperature
- ½teaspoon kosher salt
- 3cups/305 grams sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1Prepare the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two (9-inch) cake pans. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.
Step 2Add eggs, one at a time, and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add about a third of the flour and mix on low speed until combined. Add about half of the buttermilk and continue to mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to add flour and buttermilk in the same way, beginning and ending with the flour.
Step 3Add vanilla and combine fully, making sure not to overmix.
Step 4Divide batter evenly between pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.
Step 5As the cake bakes, make the icing: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk to combine. Bring to a gentle boil over medium and let the mixture bubble for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Carefully and slowly add the buttermilk (it will bubble up), stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a full, rolling boil. Remove from heat and add salt. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Step 6With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted confectioners’ sugar, mixing until smooth, then add vanilla extract and mix to combine. The icing should look glossy and pour easily from the bowl.
Step 7While the icing is still warm, spread about 1 cup icing on one cake, then top with the second cake. Use the rest of the icing on the top and sides of the cake. The icing will set up as it cools. If the icing starts to harden, microwave the icing in 10-second intervals until smooth. (You can also make the icing up to 3 to 5 days in advance, and keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.) Serve immediately.