I’ve been told birthday calories don’t count, especially since this was my 25th and I can sense an imminent quarter life crisis. And, since this was my birthday week, I decided to go all out and make the most decadent (and laborious) cake for myself :).
This cake is very close to my heart. I have wanted to make this amber delight for a really long time.
I was inspired by a similar version of this cake (except with a butterscotch sauce rather than the salted caramel) from Elma’s a very long time ago. Making it now, reminded me of very fond memories.
I must admit, when I was deciding on which cake to make, I was facing a lot of competition from a Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting. Eventually, I gave in and settled for what I didn’t know at the time, would be the best cake I have ever made, hands down.
Without further ado, I did my research and found recipes online that I felt comfortable with.
So this cake, this very special milestone cake for a milestone birthday is a Brown Butter Sponge and a Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting with a rather generous Salted Caramel Drizzle.
The ingredients listed below are for a multi-layer 9 inch cake. I made a 2 layer 6 inch cake, so all I did was halve the ingredient below. And somehow everything worked out.
What you will need:
For the brown butter sponge
- 12 ounces salted butter
- 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsps of baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 2/3 cups of sugar
- 1 vanilla bean; split it down the centre and scrape the seeds
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 1/4 cups of milk
For the salted caramel sauce
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 180 grams butter
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 1/2 cup water
For the salted caramel frosting
- 12 ounces cream cheese; at room temperature
- 3/4 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
- 1 1/2 tsps of vanilla extract
- 2 cups of icing sugar
Brown Butter Cake
First thing’s first, you need to make the brown butter. If you are making the 9inch recipe, please make sure you have a heavy bottom, large pot for melting the butter. When I found this recipe, the author did not issue a very important disclaimer about how much the butter foams up before it turns brown – imagine over boiled milk. So once you have placed the butter in the pot, and turned on the stove, get an ice bath with a bowl ready to go. You will be needing the ice bath to cool down the brown butter once its done, but it is also very handy in case the foaming gets slightly out of hand and you need it pour the hot butter out.
Okay, now, for the brown butter – place the butter in the pot and turn the stove on. You don’t have to keep stirring, but you have to keep an eye on it for a. the foaming (be cautious) and b. to smell the nutty aroma once the brown butter is ready. The whole process lasts about 10 minutes. The milk solids in the butter will start to turn brown and solidify at the bottom of the pan. The minute it starts releasing a butterscotchy aroma, you need to take it off the heat and pour the butter into the bowl in the ice bath.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line two 9inch (6inch) pans with parchment paper and grease the sides generously.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Turn back to the brown butter, once it has cooled around the edges, place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk them together until creamy and fluffy.
Add in the vanilla seeds, followed by the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each addition. Beat in the whole eggs one by one until you the whole mix comes together and is well mixed with significant volume.
Fold in the flour dry mixture, and alternate with the milk, about three rounds of this process.
Once the mixture is folded in and there are no flour lumps, pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the centre is cooked.
Salted Caramel Sauce
So about the caramel, I absolutely loathe dry caramel. Not only does it have a horrible bitter after taste, its tricky to make, there is a high chance of the sugar crystalizing AND its far more temperamental than a wet caramel.
Note: Use a heavy bottom deep pot; the caramel will spit and foam.
Place the sugar and water in a pan. You don’t need to stir it, just swirl the pan once in a while, if needed. Keep an eye on the caramel. Now, many people have different preferences when it comes to the desired level of color/ burntness/ bitterness. I was very fortunate to get to the perfect color on my first attempt.
Keep the cream, butter and salt handy. Note: All the ingredients should be at room temperature; DO NOT add cold cream to hot caramel.
Once you get the perfect colour on the caramel, tip in the butter and stir till its melted through. Remove the pot from the flame and pour in the cream. Be delicate, you don’t want to splash hot caramel around. The mixture will foam and bubble furiously when you add both, the butter and the cream so be cautious.
Once the cream is mixed through, pour the caramel in a separate bowl and leave to cool.
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
For the frosting, all the ingredients must be at room temperature.
Start with whisking the cream cheese in a large bowl with the softened room temperature butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
Whisk in the salted caramel sauce.
One everything is well combined, sift in the icing sugar, small tablespoons at a time. It isn’t necessary for you to use all the icing sugar, you can adjust the viscosity and the sweetness of the frosting with the sugar, and that’s that.
Whip it up until nice and stiff.
Place Cake 1 on a cake board and lather the cream cheese frosting rather generously in the centre. Once its evenly spread, drizzle some salted caramel on top.
Place Cake 2 on top of Cake 1, and spread the frosting all over the cake. At this point, you may want to chill the cake in the fridge for an hour or so.
Decorate the cake with leftover salted caramel and some popcorn 🙂
Belt the cake with a nice cup of Ristretto Nespresso coffee. 🎂☕️