Salted Caramel Cake

I eat a lot of cake and cookies–more than most people, I would say. I usually prefer chocolate cake or my inner-child-love of funfetti. This time, I let my husband loose on a new bundt cake focused cookbook and he selected a salted caramel cake. Caramel is usually an “ok” flavor for me but it isn’t something I lay awake at night thinking about.

Or, at least, it used to be something I didn’t crave. Now I can’t stop thinking about this cake. It’s the most delicious cake I have ever made–and perhaps ever eaten. It is super dense, moist, and has the deepest, smoothest, luscious caramel flavor. Add the icing on top? I may never want another cake again.

This recipe is a bit involved to start with since you have to make the caramel syrup first. I’m not very familiar with sugar work, so I was a little intimidated. Like most things, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I had feared. On the upside, you’ll end up with at least a cup or so of extra syrup. Add it to coffee, or just roll around in it.  

 It took quite a long time to develop the color on the sugar but, it went pretty quickly once it did have some color. The directions here were a little vague–I was supposed to stir the water in and cook until the syrup “thickened” but how much? As it turns out, not much at all. The syrup will still look quite watery in the pan (it maybe would have passed the line on the back of the spoon test) but will thicken tremendously as it cools to a very thick molasses like consistency.

The batter for the cake was easy and, except for the caramel syrup, was all basic ingredients. Then the scary part: preparing an intricate bundt pan. I hadn’t used this football stadium shaped pan before and there were so many nooks and crannies! I feared for my poor little cake but followed the melted butter/flour mixture worked in with a pastry brush technique. Then, I crossed my fingers and poured the batter in the pan.

VICTORY! I knew when I pulled the cake out of the oven I was in pretty good shape as it was pulling away from the pan.

…and turned out!

I let it cool completely then added the frosting (similar to a basic buttercream with caramel syrup added).

Next time, I will flip the cake out onto its final resting platter rather than giving it more time on the rack to cool. It was very difficult to move without breaking and its not like I was trying to preserve a crisp crust or anything like I do with bread. I’ll also ice it differently when I use this pan again since you can’t really tell its a stadium. Oh well.

This cake was AMAZING. My nephew who doesn’t really even like caramel loved it. I will probably double this recipe next time and make a larger bundt cake with it since everyone was sad when the cake was finished.

Salted Caramel Cake
Makes a 6-cup bundt pan size cake.

Caramel Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp fleur de sel (or other fancy salt)

In a small saucepan with high sides, mix the sugar with 1/2 cup of water and stir until combined. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe down the sides of the pan to prevent crystalization of the sugar. Cook over high heat until it turns a dark amber color. DO NOT STIR THE PAN. Swirl the pan occasionally to ensure even coloring. When the sugar is dark amber, carefully pour in the remaining 1 cup of water. The caramel will bubble up and sizzle, so stand back. Reduce the heat and whisk the caramel mixture until somewhat thickened. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding.

Caramel Icing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons caramel syrup
pinch of fleur de sel
1-3 tablespoons heavy cream to get the consistency frosting you want

Whisk the butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, syrup, salt and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in a bowl until well blended. Add more cream as needed.

Caramel Cake:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup caramel syrup
1 cup whole milk

plus more butter and flour for the pan

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare the pan by brushing with melted butter, then flour. Work into all the nooks and crannies with a pastry brush.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium to cream until light and fluffy. Add vanilla then the eggs, one at a time until combined. With the mixer on a low, gradually add the caramel syrup and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and beat until blended.

Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top and bake until done. The guideline in the recipe for a standard shaped bundt pan was 45-55 minutes but my stadium pan was done in 35. Watch your cake carefully and make liberal use of your cake tester!

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto your platter. Drizzle with the frosting and eat!


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