2000s Recipes + Menus

Caramel Cake

Makes9 Servings
  • Active Time:45 min
  • Start to Finish:3 hr
January 2008
While this little square cake may appear modest, its caramel flavor drew everyone in our test kitchens back for seconds and even thirds. Buttermilk lends a subtle tang and tenderizes the yellow cake, but it’s the sweet glaze that really makes this dessert special.

For Cake

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For Caramel Glaze

  • 1 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Equipment:

    a candy thermometer

Make cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
  • Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make glaze:

  • Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until glaze registers 210 to 212F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.
  • Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.
Cooks' note: Cake (before glazing) can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
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