Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Easy Caramel Cake

It's a blizzard in DC!  It isn't very often that we get to say that and it is a HUGE deal that it's happened more than 1 year in a row.  People are totally freaking out!  But that doesn't mean we can't have cake!

I have become the official birthday cake baker in my office.  And also when people have big anniversaries with the company.  I've been going through lots of sugar lately.

I never make the same cake twice.  I've made a big variety since I started baking for everyone in September.  I never made the same cake twice!

First, I made the best chocolate sheet cake ever with the best frosting I've ever had courtesy of tasty kitchen.  Not too sweet and really good - but the frosting was hard to make.  Then the white chocolate cake that was supposed to have the best frosting I've ever had on it, but due to a major disaster (the frosting broke) all of the frosting had to be thrown out and it was instead covered with store bought lemon curd and toasted coconut.  Still, it came out really good and was enjoyed by all (even my coworker who hates coconut).  Then, for said coconut-hater's birthday, there was a chocolate meringue cake that despite being unable to open the hazelnuts and therefore omitting them AND accidentally using unsweetened chocolate, was the biggest hit to date.  Lots of emails in the following days asking for the recipe.  And, although it looks very impressive with the meringue on top, it really wasn't that difficult!  Most recently, for a 5th anniversary with the company of my coworker who makes the best korean pork I've ever had, there was a lemon loaf cake.  I halved the recipe and only made one.  It was very yummy but I was too lazy to force all of the syrup into it so it was a little dry.

And now, for another coconut hater, I decided to try an Easy Caramel Cake that Perry's Plate just posted last week.  And it really was easy!

The frosting made a lot more than I needed to cover the cake.  My roommate and I ended up taking spoons to the extra and now I have a bit of a tummy ache.  But that frosting was goooood!

Everyone in the office seemed to like it.  People did think it was a little sweet (gee, it only had like 3 BOXES of sugar in it) but still enjoyed it.  Even the big boss happened to be in town and popped into my office to say he enjoyed it.  I think it would be the perfect cake for a kid's birthday party! (especially a kid who wasn't a huge chocolate fan)

Easy Caramel Cake

For the cake:
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and softened

For the frosting:
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar, sifted

To make the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla in a large measuring cup (or small bowl). In a large bowl (or the work bowl of a stand mixer) mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until only pea-sized pieces remain. Pour in half of the buttermilk mixture and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Slowly add the remaining buttermilk mixture to the bowl and beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool the cakes for about 10 minutes, the turn out onto wire cooling racks. Allow them to cool off completely, about 1 hour.

To make the frosting: Heat 8 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan, 4-8 minutes. Whisk in the cream and cook until a ring of bubbles reappears, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Allow frosting mixture to cool slightly (about 5 minutes), then transfer to a mixing bowl (or work bowl of a stand mixer). With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium, and beat until the frosting is pale brown and just ward, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 4 T of butter, one piece at a time, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

To assemble the cake, Place one cake round on a cake stand or platter. Spread 3/4 cup of frosting over the cake, top with the second layer, then spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Serve.

Makes about 12 servings.

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