Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Vintage Southern Tea Room Caramel Cake

It's been a cake sort of week around here... not sure why, but the cake recipes have inspired me. This one just looks retro and cool. A buttermilk cake, topped with caramel... awesome.

The cake is incredibly quick to make, and mixes in one bowl, which is great, because the frosting takes forever. I do have a couple of complaints about the way the recipe is written... she doesn't specify cold or soft butter for the cake ingredients... I went with soft since I figured cold wouldn't mix at all. I think it was the right choice, but maybe cold would have produced a different texture. She also doesn't specify whether you should stir the frosting ingredients while they are heating, or leave them be. I stirred almost constantly at first, then got bored and only stirred intermittently after that. Again, what I was supposed to do is a mystery to me. *shrug*

In the end, the frosting/caramel ended up grainy and didn't spread very well. I think it was actually supposed to drizzle attractively over the top and sides of the cake, but mine didn't drizzle. And while the frosting/caramel actually tasted okay, the grainy texture was a distraction, and it actually seemed a bit overpowering for the delicately flavored buttermilk cake.
This certainly wasn't one of my worst experiences attempting to make something (pie takes the prize for that) but I wasn't happy with the experience. I'm sure everyone will tell me what a great cake it is, and I do know it tastes okay, but I was expecting more from this recipe, and I was disappointed.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into chunks
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp butter extract (optional)
1 1/3 cups warm buttermilk

Brown Sugar Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Generously spray two 9-inch round cakepans with nonstick cooking spray and place pans on large parchment paper line baking sheet.

In a mixer bowl, place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend ingredients. Add butter and blend to break up butter into dry ingredients to get a grainy mixture. Blend in eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, butter extract, and buttermilk to make a batter, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally to ensure batter is evenly blended.

Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake until cake spring back when gently pressed with fingertips, 30 to 35 minutes.

For brown sugar frosting: place all ingredients into a 3-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until mixture thickens and reaches soft ball stage (234F). If you don't have a thermometer, cook mixture 20 to 30 minutes until a bit of mixture seems to hold together like soft taffy when dropped on a cold plate. You can increase heat to make it cook faster, but slow and steady makes for better results.

Remove the frosting from heat and let it cool and thicken. You can whip half the frosting with a mixer on medium speed 2 minutes and then on high 1 minute to lighten. Use this to frost two layers of cake together, it will spread like frosting. Pour remaining slightly warm frosting over top of cake and let it drip down. This cake freezes well.


salivating jaw-slacking belly-aching said...

cake week! keep 'em coming!=D

sad juvenile bartender said...

liked the semi-raw brown sugar frosting...

caramel cake! said...

thought the frosting was too sweet, but i REALLY liked the cake itself...i was afraid the caramel would be too sweet, but it was just perfect.

Anonymous said...

i liked it more than i expected. i think a little less frosting would be ideal, but that's a minor quibble. this was a good cake.