Buttermilk Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Buttermilk Cake is a slightly tangy, coarse crumb cake that is fairly easy to make. When topped with a creamy caramel buttercream, it makes a decadent dessert, ideal for any Sunday dinner table. It may not be the traditional Caramel Cake – but in my opinion it’s just a little bit better :)

Buttermilk Cake2

My only advice for successful cake baking – follow ALL directions. I know, this sounds like a no brainer. But if you read enough from-scratch cake recipes, you will encounter numerous steps that seem to be tedious (Do I really have to sift the flour? Yes!), superfluous (Do I really need to grease, flour AND line my pans with parchment? Yes!), or just plain inconsequential (My eggs don’t really need to be room temperature, do they? Yes, they do!). Trust me (I’ve made enough sub-par cakes…) if the recipe says to do it, then do it.

Butter Temp

The first important instruction for this cake – make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. In Christopher Kimball’s The Dessert Bible, he addresses what can go wrong with this cake – the most common mistake is using cold butter and eggs. Butter needs to be between 60 and 65F. Did she just stick a thermometer in the butter!? Yep, she did.

Along with following the directions, also try not to mix your cake too much. Mixing sugar, butter and eggs is fine. But once you start to incorporate the flour and leavening agents, keep the mixing to a minimum.

Another important factor to making a great cake is great frosting. No sense in going to the trouble of making a from- scratch cake if you don’t have something awesome to top it with.

I’ve searched high and low for the right frosting for this cake. I started with a traditional caramel icing – which literally pours off the cake. This is not what I want when I’m eating cake. I want fluffy and smooth….not caramel poured over top. I’ve tried cream cheese frosting (which is my go-to on most cakes) and I felt the flavors contradicted each other too much. Well I had this leftover buttermilk from making fish the other day, and I knew a buttermilk cake was in my future. So I set out to find a good recipe. I lucked out and found a GREAT recipe. Both easy to make and excellent taste. Easy Caramel Buttercream from Freutcake.com.

Caramel

Has anyone else notice that Salted Caramel is all the rage right now in food? Pinterest, Southern Living, Food Network…everybody is putting salt in their caramel. Ok, I admit, I do love a sweet-salty combo (French fries dipped in a milk shake, anyone? Oh, just me? Well ya’ll are missing out….) but I have shied away from the salted caramel trend. Probably because everybody else is doing it, and I like to go against the flow. But if everybody else IS doing it, then they must be onto something….and I should probably step aside from my ego and delve into the sweet saltiness!

Ready to Frost

A few notes about the frosting. First, maybe I cooked mine too long – because it got way too thick. Like, when I went to “whisk until smooth” it formed a crumbly ball. I just added a few Tablespoons of cream, and it smoothed right out. I also made it about an hour before I was ready to make to buttercream. The cranky, convalescing 3 year old was finally having her first nap in three days…I just didn’t want to risk waking her with the kitchen noises. The caramel firmed up some, but I just put it over a low burner for a few minutes. In no time it was smooth and ready to use again.

Buttermilk Cake

Buttermilk Cake

  • 2 1/3 C. Cake Flour (All purpose flour can be used, but the result will be slightly chewier)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 12 T. Butter
  • 1 1/3 C. Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 C. Buttermilk

Have ALL ingredients at room temperature (around 65F). Grease two 9-inch cake pans and cover the bottom of each with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Continue beating and slowly add sugar. Once sugar is all added, beat until light and fluffy (2 – 3 minutes). Add in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Scrape down sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add 1/3 of buttermilk and 1/3 of flour mixture. Beat on low until just incorporated. Add in vanilla and another 1/3 of buttermilk and flour. Beat until just incorporated. Add in last 1/3 of buttermilk and flour. Stir by hand until just combined.

Divide the batter between the two baking pans. Smooth out the tops with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Rotate pans 180 degrees after 15 minutes.

Allow cakes to cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert cakes and remove pans. Allow to completely cool on a rack before frosting (about 1 1/2 hours).

Cake recipe uses The Joy of Cooking measurements with The Dessert Bible‘s cooking method

Easy Salted Caramel Buttercream

Caramel

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt

In a medium sauce pan, mix sugar, cream and butter. Bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sea salt. (Be careful, it will bubble!) Cool to room temperature. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth.

Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and creamy.With mixer on low, slowly add powdered sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract & salt, beat for 3 minutes. With mixer on low, slowly add cooled caramel. Beat until all is incorporated.

Frosting recipe courtesy of Freutcake.

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