Gigi’s Fabulous Caramel Cake

One of the things on my 30 before 30 list is to make my grandmother’s caramel cake. Now, you may think baking a cake is a simple task and not worthy of a four-year countdown, but this is no average cake. (Okay, actually the cake is pretty easy. The not-so-average part I’m talking about is the icing. It take major skills [and for me multiple hands on deck] to help pull off this rich, caramel icing.)

But y’all, the end result is totally worth it.

I remember my grandmother making this cake every holiday growing up. I would sit at her kitchen bar watching her would whip up the caramel on the stove and manage to perfectly ice the middle, top and edges of the two-tiered cake. I wasn’t that impressed until I saw failed attempts by my aunt, mom and cousins and then marveled at how perfectly Gigi managed to ice it (sorry guys, no one can make it as pretty as Gigi could — me included!).

This year, Gigi wasn’t able to make it to our Christmas so I decided to honor her at our family gathering with caramel cake for dessert. It didn’t turn out as pretty as I wanted, but everyone there said it tasted exactly like her’s so I’m calling this a success. :)

Fun fact, my step aunt is a professional chef and published the recipe in her book Southern Cakes. Look for it in the next Williams Sonoma you visit and see if you can find “Gigi’s Fabulous Caramel Cake”. :)

Gigi’s Fabulous Caramel Cake

3/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
7 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Combine butter and milk in a small sauce pan and cook until the butter melts. Let cool. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beat well at high speed until smooth and thick. Stir the dry mixture, egg mixture, milk mixture and vanilla together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Pour batter in to prepared bake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool.

In a sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat so that the frosting oils and bubbles gently. Cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Beat the warm icing until it thickens. Place a cake layer, top side down, on a cake stand or plate. Quickly spread some icing over the top and cover it with the second layer, top side up. Ice the top quickly and then spread the remaining icing over the sides. If the icing become too hard to spread, warm gently over low heat add a spoonful of evaporated milk and then scrape and stir well until the icing softens enough to spread again. Dip a table knife in very hot water to help soften and smooth icing out once it is spread.

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