Classic Southern Buttermilk Caramel Cake...with a twist

Classic Southern Buttermilk Caramel Cake

caramel cake

Caramel just seems to go with autumn.  Think caramel apples or Halloween caramel candy.  This buttermilk caramel cake is a VERY rich cake!  But oh-so-good.  There are quite a few steps but it really isn't all that hard.  It's perfect for a special occasion.  The traditional caramel cake icing is made partly in a cast iron skillet and is difficult to master.  This version uses a buttercream and easy caramel sauce.

Buttermilk Cake Recipe

The Buttermilk Cake is a Southern Living recipe that I changed up a little bit.  Here is how I made it.  You will need:

1 cup (205 g) hi-ratio shortening *
2 cups (396 g) sugar
4 large eggs (room temp)
2-1/2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups buttermilk (room temp)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

*I get hi-ratio shortening at a cake supply store.  You can use regular vegetable shortening or butter but your results will not be quite the same.

Beat the shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar, beating well. I generally let this go for 4-5 minutes.  You will notice a definite change in the creaminess of the mixture.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Combine the flour, salt, soda and baking powder.  Turn the mixer on low speed.  Add to the shortening mixture - alternating with the buttermilk.  Start with the flour mix (adding 1/3) - then add half of the buttermilk - then another 1/3 of flour- then rest of buttermilk - then rest of flour mix.  Between each addition, let the mixture come together but do not overmix or the cake will be tough.

Stir in the vanilla extract and pour into 3-8 inch pans that have been prepared.  You can either butter and flour them or use parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes OR till toothpick comes out clean.  Once done, let cool in pans for 10 minutes then turn out and let cool completely.

It is important that the oven is preheated and that your eggs, buttermilk (and butter if you are subbing out the shortening) are at room temperature.  If you don't have time to bring them to room temp, here is a trick you can use:

Place your buttermilk and eggs in warm water.

Caramel Frosting

For the Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream, use your favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream and use dark brown sugar instead of granulated sugar and use caramel flavoring instead of vanilla extract.  Here is a link to the recipe that I use - Woodland Bakery's SMBC.

Use the buttercream to frost between the layers and crumbcoat.  Put the cake in the refrigerator to chill the frosting for about 20 minutes, then you can give it a final coat of buttercream.  Put it back in the fridge for the final drizzle of caramel sauce.  The buttercream needs to be very cold and firm because the caramel will be quite warm when you pour it on the cake.

Caramel Sauce

The Caramel Sauce recipe comes from Sussie's of Mississippi, a bakery that I believe is not in business anymore.  The recipe was published in Taste of the South magazine.  I have halved it.

***Warning***  Caramel Sauce is very hot and may bubble up.  It will burn!  Please be very careful.  

You will need:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. white corn syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients.  Cook over low heat on stovetop, stirring until ingredients are dissolved.  Cook mixture until it reaches around 220-225 degrees.  Take it off the heat and stir periodically until it is cool enough to pour on your cold cake.

If you do not want to make your own caramel sauce, use a pre-made bottled caramel sauce or butterscotch.  This cake was made with Dark Brown Sugar in the caramel sauce and produced a very dark color.

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