As beautiful as this cake is on the outside, it’s even more beautiful inside. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t snap a pic of it. This cake was made for Maddie’s 16th birthday and to be honest, I was pretty intimidated at the thought of making it. But, if you break it down like I did and view it as just really three parts – the cake, the icing, and caramel sauce, it actually comes together fairly easily.
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cup cake flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the salted caramel sauce:
1/2 cup salted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
For the frosting:
1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center of the oven. Spray anti-stick baking spray on bottom and sides of three 8″ x 2″ round cake pans. Cut a piece of parchment to fit into each pan and press into the bottom.
2.) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a medium-sized bowl and whisk together.
3.) Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and oil in a separate bowl. Stir and set aside.
4.) In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and mix slightly just until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed until it is fluffy and light in color, about 5 minutes.
5.) Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture. Do not add another egg until the one before is completely incorporated.
6.) Add one-third of the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and mix until it is incorporated. Add half of the liquid ingredients and mix until incorporated. Continue in this manner, adding half of the remaining dry ingredients before adding the rest of the liquid ingredients. Add in the last of the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is incorporated.
7.) Using a scale, weigh the entire batch of batter. Then measure out the batter into three equal batches, pouring each one into a separate prepared cake pan.
8.) Place on center rack in oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9.) When cakes are finished baking, remove from oven. Run a knife along the sides of the cake to separate it from the pan. Allow to cool in the pans for half an hour. Then, turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
10.) To make the caramel sauce, place the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the milk. dark brown sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla, and salt.
11.) Stir slowly so the mixture does not come up the side of the pan. After the mixture starts boiling, lower the heat. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
12.) When the mixture has thickened slightly, pour into a heat-proof container. Allow to cool completely before removing 1/2 cup and setting aside to use later.
13.) To make the buttercream, add 1/2 cup of butter to a mixing bowl and mix just until smooth. Keeping the mixer on low, add half of the powdered sugar and mix until it is fully incorporated. Add 1 1/2 cups of the caramel sauce and mix until it is incorporated. Then add remaining powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until frosting is light and creamy. This should take about 5 minutes.
14.) Start assembling the cake by placing one cake layer on the surface you will serve the cake on (currently, I just use a wood cutting board). Place the buttercream frosting into a resealable bag and push towards one end while twisting the top to form a piping bag. Snip the corner.
15.) Pipe a border around the edge of the bottom layer of cake. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of caramel sauce on top of the first cake layer.
16.) Pipe dots of buttercream onto the caramel sauce and then gently spread to disturb as little of the sauce as possible. Repeat with the next layer by laying it on top, creating a border, spreading caramel sauce, and piping frosting on top of sauce.
17.) Once all three layers have been placed, turn the cake looking for gaps in the frosting and fill them in. Then, spread a thin layer (the crumb layer) over the top and sides. Place the cake in the fridge for half an hour to allow everything to firm up.
18.) Then, being very generous with the frosting, place a big dollop on top. Spread a thick layer around before continuing with the sides. Continue to scoop frosting (I use an off-set spatula for this), place it where needed on the cake, and spread, until you have as much frosting as you like.
19.) If desired, pipe small ‘buttons’ along the bottom of the cake.
20.) Serve and enjoy!