BEST-EVER CARAMEL CAKE recipe from Kitchen Parade
Time to serve: Cake tastes best the day after it’s made
Serves 12 or 16 or even 20
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.
- 3 cups cake flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 300g
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
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.)
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.