I like simple cakes. Don't get me wrong, I like layer cakes topped with fluffy buttercream too any day of the week. But sometimes simplicity really works. This is one of those cakes. Now don't let me lead you down the path assuming simple refers to preparation vs presentation because with this cake there is a bit of boiling sugar to deal with at the onset. But from then on out it is smooth sailing. Top a slice of this gorgeous caramel cake with coffee-infused whipped cream and you have an elegant yet humble dessert.
This recipe hails from Rose's Heavenly Cakes - a cookbook that has become a new favorite for me around here and a go-to one when in the mood for cake. It has a vast variety of recipes that range from anything from oil-based cakes to light and delicate genoise. The latter half of the book focuses on smaller cakes (even cupcakes are featured) and finishes off with wedding cakes. Speckled throughout the book are stunning photos and tips that every baker should know and put to good use during their baking adventures.
Named after Rose's friend Karmel, this cake caught my attention because of the caramel flavor infusion created as a result of adding a boiled-down mixture of brown sugar, milk and butter. I adore the idea of homemade caramel sauce and the addition of the sauce to the batter really brings out the sweet flavor I love. The cake itself is not "gooey" in any way, shape or form which is surprising given the caramel addition. I prefer it served still a bit warm from the oven. If you need to store it overnight, wrap it in cling film. Ensure to raise up the wrap on top of the cake with toothpicks though because the top of the cake will start to get tacky as it rests and the cling film will pull off the top crust.
This is a perfect cake for any night of the week or even as a finale to a light lunch. Rose recommends serving it with coffee whipped cream (which I did ) but this is also lovely topped with a scoop of rich and creamy vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of your favorite butterscotch sauce.
So without further delay, let's get baking!
*source recipe: Karmel Cake, Rose's Heavenly Cakes
WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup light brown sugar, preferrably Muscovado
1 1/4 cups milk, divided
2 tablesoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour or bleached all-purpose flour, sifted into measuring cup
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
SPRAY 9" round cake pan with cooking spray and cover base with parchment paper
SPRAY parchment paper with cooking spray (spray with the addition of flour is recommended)
SET oven rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
HAVE a 2-cup or larger heatproof glass measure, coated with nonstick cooking spray.
IN A MEDIUM SAUCEPAN, with a silicone spatula, stir together the brown sugar, 3/4 cup of milk and the butter.
BRING the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
STOP stirring and boil until an instant-read thermometer registers 238 degrees, the soft ball stage.
TILT the pan to get enough depth for an accurate reading. It will take about 10 minutes or more to reach this stage, and the mixture will look slightly curdled.
WHEN sugar reaches temperature, immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a prepared glass measure to stop the cooking. You should have 1 cup. If less, add cold water to equal 1 cup.
SCRAPE mixture into a medium bowl and gently whisk in the remaining milk. Don't worry if some of the liquid crystallizes on the bottom, it will dissolve during baking.
PLACE the bowl on a wire rack and allow the mixture to cool until is is no longer warm to the touch. It will take about an hour, but to speed cooling, it's fine to set the glass measure in a bowl of ice water. If desired, stir the mixture a few times while cooling in order to equalize the temperature.
IN MEDIUM BOWL, whisk the eggs and vanilla until just lightly combined.
IN BOWL OF STAND MIXER fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, baking powder and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.
ADD the butter and cooled caramel.
MIX on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
RAISE the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes.
SCRAPE down the sides of the bowl.
STARTING on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.
USING a silicone spatula, scrape the batter ito the prepared pan, and smooth surface evenly with a small offset spatula.
BAKE for 25 to 35 minutes or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
THE CAKE should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
SERVE with sweetened whipped cream infused with some instant espresso powder. Or feel free to serve any way your heart desires !