Here’s goes nothing. It’s the first #BakingWithBeth recipe challenge – a traditional southern caramel cake.
Picking out the first recipe was easy, as I wanted to go with a family recipe. One that reminded me of growing up in the South. A caramel cake does just that.
When I was little, we’d go down to South Georgia to visit my cousins and great Aunt Merle. They lived in Cedar Springs, which is where both my maternal grandparents, GG and G-mama, were from. Aunt Merle lived in the house that she and G-mama grew up in on their farm in Cedar Springs. Her house was the central hub of all get-togethers and family reunions.
We’d pull up in front of her house and be greeted by Aunt Merle at the screen door. Usually followed by the chaos of all my cousins. Technically, it was the back door, which kept true to the old Southern expression, back door guests are best!
Through the screen door, you arrived in the kitchen where Aunt Merle and Annie Mae were typically cooking and fixing something. I remember helping out shelling peas. A lot went on in that kitchen. I had my first cup of coffee in Aunt Merle’s kitchen when I was around four or five. It was mostly milk and sugar and a touch coffee. I guess us youngsters wanted to act like the adults. Ha!
Aunt Merle’s dining room was just off the kitchen and she would always have a cake on the buffet. More often than not, a piece of the cake would’ve already been eaten and two pieces of white bread would be placed on either side of the cut cake, held in by toothpicks. I never really understood or questioned it as a kid. Recently, I saw an article about how white bread helps the cake retain moisture and my first thought was of Aunt Merle and her cakes!
Caramel cake was one of the more popular flavors served. A cake so popular in our family that G-mama ate an entire caramel cake herself the night before she went into labor with my mom. Perhaps the sweetness passed down through the generations. 😉
Before attempting my first, I wanted to go directly to the source and ask Annie Mae about her caramel cake recipe. Annie Mae is 93, so it’s a safe estimate to say she’s been making this cake for at least seventy years. This past Monday, my mom and I went down to Cedar Springs to visit her and my cousins.
When you’ve been making something that long, most of it is just second nature. Plus, older southern recipes have some peculiarities. For instance, in Aunt Merle’s version of this cake, it calls for a “hunk” of butter. Thankfully Annie Mae did give me exact amounts, however, the methods she told me were a little loose, particularly on making the caramel icing.
My caramel was a bit runny and this is something I’ll be revisiting soon. Thick or not, it’s really delicious! I hope I did G-mama, Aunt Merle & Annie Mae proud!
Thanks y’all for joining in on the first #BakingWithBeth recipe! You’ll find the recipe below. Let me know how yours turns out. Cheers!
Have y’all ever made a southern-style caramel cake? Let’s compare caramel icing tips! How do y’all make it?
- 226 grams butter, unsalted (2 sticks)
- 440 grams sugar (2 cups)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 each large eggs
- 245 grams buttermilk (1 cup)
- 280 grams Swan cake flour (2 cups)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 110 grams sugar (1/2 cup)
- 330 grams sugar (1.5 cups)
- 245 grams milk, 2%
- 38 grams butter, unsalted (1/3 stick)
- 1 TBSP Karo syrup
Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at the time. Alternate buttermilk and flour. Divide evenly between three 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 325 degrees F (163 degrees C) for 20-30 minutes. Check the cake at 20 minutes, but bake for no longer than 30 minutes.
Take 110 grams of sugar in a skillet over a low heat until the sugar melts and turns a golden brown. You’re making a dry caramel, so move the sugar around in the pan as needed so it doesn’t burn. In a heavy boiler, put 330 grams of sugar with the milk, Karo syrup and butter. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring mixture to a boil. Off the heat, pour the dry caramel into the sugar milk mixture. Put back on a medium-low heat and stir until the combined. Be careful of the sugar seizing up while you’re combining the two. If it does, keep stirring until mixture is combined. Cook until 226 degrees F (108 degrees C). Transfer to a large bowl over an ice bath and mix with a hand mixer until creamy. Reserve until ready for cake.
Spread caramel in between the layers and slowly pour over the top of the final layer until it drips down the sides. Spread evenly. Serve & enjoy!
- The next time I make this, I might take the mixture to 114 degrees C (238 degrees F) to see if that helps thicken up the caramel.
- I added my dry caramel to the sugar/milk mixture on the heat and it did seize up on me. I kept stirring and it all came together again to become smooth.
- You can use glucose instead of corn syrup. It helps to prevent the sugar from crystalizing.
- Other recipes use more butter in their frosting, so I’m going to look at adjusting this as well!