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The Best Caramel Cake

The Best Caramel Cake

The Best Caramel Cake - a moist homemade vanilla cake, filled with layers of homemade caramel sauce, covered in a caramel buttercream frosting and drizzled with more caramel sauce.
Course Cakes/Dessert, Dessert
Cuisine Southern Inspired
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 16 or more servings
Author Barry C. Parsons

Ingredients

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter cut in small cubes
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 cup whipping cream

For the Vanilla Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk you can use undiluted evaporated milk for extra richness if you like.

For the Caramel Frosting

  • 3 1/2 cups to 4 icing sugar powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • tbsp a few milk

Instructions

To prepare the caramel sauce

  1. You will want to prepare the ingredients and have them at the ready. Timing is very important in a good caramel sauce, so having the butter and cream ready at the crucial point is critical to the success of your sauce. You will also want to be very careful when preparing caramel sauce; when the sugar syrup hits the right stage to add the butter and cream it will be over 300 degrees F so it is important to take particular care. It is also very important to use a proper sized pot. Although the recipe only makes about 2 cups, you will need a 2 1/2 to 3 quart/liter heavy bottomed saucepan because the sugar syrup will foam up considerably and produce a considerable amount of steam when the butter is added and again when the cream is added.
  2. These safety tips are not meant to deter, it's just good advice to make these sorts of things when you can take the time without distractions and give it your full attention. A successful caramel sauce is also one that has been given careful attention. With a little practice you will be a caramel ace in no time.
  3. Begin by mixing the sugar and water in a large saucepan. NOTE: I use a large saucepan of about 3 quarts or larger because the sugar foams up when you add the butter and cream so make sure you have a large enough pot.
  4. Boil the sugar and water over medium heat until the mixture begins to turn a light to medium amber color. The real skill in making caramel sauce does come with experience and knowing the point at which the color is perfect. Good advice for beginners is that it is better to be a little too light in color rather than a little too dark because too dark a caramel can often taste a little burnt. It is very easy to burn this mixture which can happen very quickly once the proper color is achieved, so have your butter and cream at the ready, as timing is crucial for this recipe.
  5. Do not stir the boiling sugar, this can cause it to crystallize. If you find the sugar starts to crystallize, use a pastry brush to brush water around the inside edge of the pot as it boils. You may have to do this several times. Carefully swirling the pan occasionally is also helpful to avoid crystallization of the sugar.
  6. When the color is right, quickly add the butter and stir quickly until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat immediately and pour in the whipping cream, stirring constantly until the sauce is uniformly smooth. Cool completely.

To prepare the Vanilla Cake

  1. Grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the app purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the butter sugar and vanilla extract well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly beat in the vegetable oil.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. I always add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions. It is very important to begin and end the additions with the dry ingredients.
  7. Do not over mix the batter. As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, pour into the two prepared 9 inch cake pans.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To prepare the Caramel Frosting

  1. Beat all ingredients together until smooth, fluffy, and a spreadable consistency.
  2. Use a couple of tablespoons of milk to begin and add more if need be or of it becomes too thin, just add a couple more tablespoons of icing sugar at a time.

To construct the cake

  1. Cut the two layers into 4.
  2. Reserve about 2/3 cup of the caramel sauce (1/2 cup for the frosting and the rest to drizzle on top of the cake.)
  3. Divide the remaining caramel sauce in 3 parts and use it to fill the three inner layers of the cake.
  4. Frost with the caramel frosting and drizzle with any remaining caramel sauce.