Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
It’s rare that you taste a cake with such an evocative flavor. It’s more than just fabulously good: it tells a host of stories, each one full of care and generosity. At least for me, because I grew up in a world where cakes like this were the most delectable way anyone could show support and love and concern. Rose works with my friend, Elizabeth Karmel, and though Rose has lived in Chicago for 50 years, the recipe was brought here by her Missisippi-born mother. You may have remembered seeing this cake in Saveur under the headline “World’s Best Caramel Cake.”
3 ¼ cups Swans Down Cake Flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine-grain salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups granulated white sugar
4 extra-large eggs or 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract plus ½ teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
3 ¾ cups granulated white sugar
2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flour mixture alternatively with milk and vanilla, creaming until smooth after each addition. Spread batter into three prepared 9-inch cake pans.
Bake until tester inserted into cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cook in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cook on rack. Let cook and frost with Caramel Icing when cool.
To make Caramel Icing: In an aluminum saucepan over high heat, melt butter and sugar and let cook until light brown, stirring constantly from the bottom—mixing sugar and butter together for about 10 minutes. Add evaporated milk and turn the heat to medium-low. Stir continuously and let cook—do not let it form bubbles or boil over—for an additional 1 hour and 50 minutes or until it gets gold brown in color and thick enough to spread. If you walk away, it will boil over. Set aside to cool.
When the cake is cool, frost all sides and layers with a generous amount of Caramel Icing. Serve immediately or let sit at room temperature and serve the next day.