The Tuesday Treat: Caramel Cake

For an explanation of The Tuesday Treat, see here.

Caramel Cake, adapted from Gourmet

I wrote about this cake last year, calling it “simple and sweet,” and the same description still holds. It’s simple. It’s sweet. And it’s utterly lovely. A buttermilk-infused white cake with a gentle yet sturdy crumb bolsters a thick swath of rich caramel frosting. I served this cake with raspberries and fresh mint tea for a dinner party, but ate leftover slices plain with a cup of strong coffee and liked them just as well. You could try a bit of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream here, too, but I kind of like sticking to the idea of ‘simple and sweet.’ It’s summer. Take it easy.

For cake
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For caramel glaze
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
candy thermometer

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan (I used a 7-inch round 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, 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 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.

Put rack with cooled 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.

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