As a result of the restaurant being closed for New Year's, I've had the opportunity to catch up on my food magazines. I just recently received the January issue of Gourmet, it's a nice issue, this month they featured Southern food. Which I find to be comfort food, specially in winter, so after reading the magazine from cover to cover I set out to make the caramel cake. The caramel cake I usually make is a two layer cake filled and frosted with caramel. Quite a production to make and one that cannot be made on a very humid or rainy day because the caramel will never set. When I saw the very simple cake they featured I could not wait to try it. The cake is very light and the caramel has just the right amount of sweetness.
The cake is light and the caramel is just drizzled on top. I followed the recipe almost exactly, this is the link to Epicurious in case you have a recipe box at the site and want to save it. It is definetely a keeper, the only change I made was I continued to drizzle the caramel that runs off the cake as it hardened a bit. I also made holes in the cake with a fork so the caramel would soak in. The cake itself is nice, I will use it again even without the caramel; it baked evenly and has a nice grain.
A little note on measuring flour: The recipe instructs to sift the flour before measuring, make sure you do this. I measured the flour out of the box and sifted it into a bowl, then placed a piece of parchment paper on the counter and measured it into the sifter again, I added the baking powder, soda, and salt and sifted over the paper. Then I make a sort of cone with the parchment and dump the flour into the mixing bowl. The reason I tell you this is because I was surprised at how much flour (about 1/2 cup) was left over after I measured the second time. I would not have expected the difference between 2 sifts and 1 to be that large. The extra flour would have kept the cake from being as light, so be sure to not skip that step.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
For caramel glaze
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.
Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. ( I continued to spoon the glaze than ran off the sides over the cake). Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes
note: Cake (before glazing) can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.