Sunday, November 7, 2010

Caramel Cake

It was my turn to pick the book for book club in October and I chose The Help by Kathryn Stockett. In the book, one of the characters named Minny makes a delicious and indulgent caramel cake. And since I identify with food so much, I set out in search of the perfect recipe to serve the ladies when they met at my house for book club. I served it on the pretty vintage luncheon trays with matching teacups that my mother-in-law found for me- wish I had taken the time to take a picture of those! I love when I get a chance to use them. The cake was sinfully delicious- I think you'll love it! (Sorry the pictures are so lame. I'm always in such a hurry these days!)

BEST-EVER CARAMEL CAKE recipe from Kitchen Parade

Hands-on time: 1 hour with regular attention throughout over 4 hours
Time to serve: Cake tastes best the day after it’s made
Serves 12 or 16 or even 20


(Vanilla Cake only)
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Total time to make & cool: 2-1/2 hours

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter three 8-inch cake pans. Cut three rounds of parchment for the pan bottoms. Butter the parchment and then flour the pans. Tap out the excess flour. If you have just one mixing bowl, you might want to whip the 3/4 cup of cream that's called for late in the cake recipe too.

  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a bowl, gently whisk the milk, egg whites and vanilla until just combined.

In standing mixer, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt for a few seconds.

  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoons, warmed to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole milk

Add the butter and milk to the flour mixture, blend at low speed til blended, then medium speed until smooth, about one minute. Beat in the milk-egg white mixture in three batches.

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks in another bowl

With a spatula, stir in about a third of the whipped cream, then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Divide the cake batter among the three pans, smoothing the tops. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, peel off the parchment, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

Once cool, place five or six strips of waxed paper around the perimeter of a cake plate or cake stand, then place the bottom layer in the center, covering up about an inch of the waxed paper strips. (Why the waxed paper? To protect the plate from the Caramel Icing as it drips down the sides.)


This icing uses no powdered sugar! It is thickened by the caramel itself and sets to a firm but not hard cake frosting.
(Caramel Icing Only)
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total time to mix and ice: 90 minutes
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk

DISSOLVE THE SUGAR In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup and milk, then cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Keep warm while continuing.

  • 1/2 cup sugar

MAKE THE CARAMEL In a large, heavy saucepan (my four-quart Dutch oven worked perfectly, the caramel swells a lot as it cooks so be sure to use a large enough pan), sprinkle the sugar over the pan’s bottom. Cook over moderate heat, swirling occasionally, until an amber caramel forms. (For more caramel flavor, let the caramel get quite dark, just be careful not to burn the sugar.) Carefully pour the warm milk mixture over the caramel (careful, it will sizzle). Cook over medium high, stirring, until the caramel dissolves (this will take awhile, just keep stirring, scraping up any caramel bits from the bottom of the pan). Now, this will be hard but STOP STIRRING and cook until caramel registers 235F (the soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 30 minutes. (During this time, the caramel should bubble fast and will swell to nearly fill the saucepan. If it doesn’t, gradually increase the heat until it does.) Remove from the heat.

  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cream

ADD RICHNESS & COOL Stir in the butter, vanilla and cream and stir until the butter melts. Strain the caramel into the bowl of the standing mixer, let cool 15 minutes.

  • 1/4 cup cream

BEAT UNTIL CREAMY Beating the mixture at medium speed, slowly add the cream. Continue beating the mixture until light and creamy, about 15 minutes. Work quickly from this point on, the icing will begin to harden.

FINALLY! ICE THE CAKE Set one cake layer on a plate, pour enough icing over the layer to cover the top, leaving about a quarter inch around the perimeter for the icing to squeeze out. Top with the second layer, cover with icing. Add the final layer and pour the rest of the icing over the top, letting it run down the sides. Working quickly, use a knife or offset spatula to spread the icing gently around the sides. Check the sides carefully for complete coverage, patching later will be obvious. I used only about 2/3 of the icing, it was plenty.

If you like, transfer some icing to a squeeze bottle and squeeze out a design on cake’s top. I used a V pattern for the outer ring, then a U pattern inside it, then dots in the center. Much to my surprise, from the top, it looked like a sunflower! Go crazy!

LET ICING SET Let the cake stand for 2 hours before to allow the icing to set. If serving the next day, refrigerate overnight but return to room temperature before serving.


jayne said...

Did you like the book?! I loved it. I just wish I had your cake to eat while I discussed it!

Ashley said...

That looks way yummy but looks like a LOT of work! Too bad I don't have a maid to make some for me! :)

Did you enjoy The Help? I LOVED it!

Katherine said...

Jayne- I loved it! Thanks for the recommendation and for letting me borrow it. I'll get you the book back soon.

DeGooyer Family said...

This is so funny: this was our book club book for October, too! LOVED the book. And I've been waiting for a yummy caramel cake recipe to come my way - THANK YOU!

Natalie said...

Looks awesome!-- I think I'll read the book and make the cake!

Meredith said...

LOVE IT! I chose that book too. And guess what i made...haha. It was sinfully delicious. Wish you were in my book club.

Jane said...

Yum! I loved that book and I wanted to have some of that cake when I read it. I think I need to treat myself to this recipe, thanks for sharing. (Have you read Saving CeeCee Honecutt? I read it right after the help and loved it equally.)

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