My beautiful Nan was turning 90 and my mum put me in charge of the cake. I knew there was going to be quite a few people so I opted for a layered cake. Anyone who has ever met my Nan would know that 'caramel is her favourite', I couldn't tell you how many times she has told me! So without any question I decided on a caramel cake.
I found this recipe on Gourmet Traveler and gave it a go. I knew I wanted to dress it as a semi naked cake, but with the amount of cream cheese frosting they detail below, it was only just enough for that - I would suggest making more than they list. The cake was really nice and was a great hit - none was left over! Despite the amount of sugar and butter that goes into it, it really isn't overly sweet - which was great. The crumb tastes like the crumb on Golden Gaytimes - sooo good!!
The instructions were easy to follow just watch the cooking for the caramel cream - by the time I thought it was dark enough and took it off heat, it kept cooking and eventually burnt so I had to do it again - so take it off heat before it darkens! The only other thing I would suggest is that you really don't go skimpy on the layers of cream cheese, caramel sauce and crumb between the layers, its what gives it moisture and flavour.
140 gm brown sugar
140 gm raw caster sugar
120 gm softened butter
300 gm (2 cups) plain flour
80 ml (⅓ cup) buttermilk
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Brown sugar crumb
Cream cheese frosting
For salted caramel, stir sugar and 100ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove sugar crystals and boil until dark caramel (7-8 minutes). Remove from heat, carefully add cream (hot caramel will spit), then add butter and 2 tsp sea salt flakes and swirl to combine. Cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container until required. Caramel will keep for up to 5 days.
For brown sugar crumb, preheat oven to 170C and line an oven tray with baking paper. In a bowl, rub butter into dry ingredients and ½ tsp sea salt with your fingertips to form coarse crumbs, spread on prepared tray and bake until golden brown (6-8 minutes). Cool completely, then store in an airtight container until required. Brown sugar crumb will keep for up to 5 days.
Keep oven at 170C and butter and line three 18cm-diameter cake tins with baking paper (see note). Beat sugars and butter in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (6-7 minutes), scrape down sides of bowl, then beat in eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl between additions. Add flour and buttermilk alternately in 2 or 3 batches, beating to just combine, then mix in vanilla. Combine vinegar and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl, stir into batter, then divide among cake tins and bake, swapping and turning tins partway through cooking, until golden brown and a skewer inserted withdraws clean (25-30 minutes). Cool in tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Trim tops flush with a serrated knife.
For cream cheese frosting, beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale (4-5 minutes), scrape down sides of bowl, then add cream cheese and beat until fluffy (6-8 minutes).
To assemble, place a cake on a tray, spread with cream cheese frosting to 5mm thick, drizzle with a little salted caramel and scatter with a layer of brown sugar crumb. Repeat layering, finishing with last cake, then spread remaining cream cheese frosting over top and sides of cake with a hot palette knife. Refrigerate until required.
Serve cake with warmed salted caramel and extra brown sugar crumb for scattering.
Hope you enjoy!