Meet our writers

 

Go60 YUM - articles about food and the joys of dining
YUM articles - The enjoyment of food

YUM Contest Winner

My Grandma's Caramel Cake*

By Charlotte S. Guthrie
Rate this item
(0 votes)

*CONTEST WINNER: This caramel cake she made on special occasions was one we all liked. Grandma never used a recipe; if you asked her for it, she’d say it was a bit of this, a dash of that and a handful of something else. Still, her proportions seemed always to be correct.

My grandmother died at the age of 96 several years ago. I always remember the smell of food when we visited her. She was brought up learning you fed company three meals a day — and that didn't count her delicious peanut butter cookies that she kept in her mom’s old cookie jar. The cookies were always waiting for us when we went through the door: first, kiss grandma, then head for the cookie jar.

Grandmother seldom escaped the kitchen. She lived in an old house that Granddaddy built by himself. The fireplace was a two-way  –  it opened on one side to the living room and the other side to the kitchen. In the winter, Grandma would back up to the fire, lift her dress high enough that you almost saw her underwear, and stand there until her backside got warm. Then, it suddenly dawned on us that it was a year-round habit Grandma had. Even if the fire was out — or it could be the hottest day Louisiana had ever seen — she would still back up to the fireplace and pull up her dress.

This caramel cake she made on special occasions was one we all liked. Grandma never used a recipe; if you asked her for it, she’d say it was a bit of this, a dash of that and a handful of something else. Still, her proportions seemed always to be correct. A few years before she died I insisted she let me measure everything out as she was putting ingredients in the bowl. She laughed at me but that was my way of resurrecting the recipe. I make the cake a couple times of year. It always reminds me of Grandma's kitchen and the fun I had when she would let me cook with her.

 

Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

3 cups self-rising flour, sifted

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Filling

1/2 cup butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Frosting

1/2 cup butter

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream, or more if needed

1 box (16 ounce) box confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy, then add granulated sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time and beat well after each addition; add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed.

Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 4 inches above counter dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

While cake is baking combine butter, brown sugar and milk for filling in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pan as you prepare to stack and fill. Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate.

Pierce cake layer with toothpick over entire surface. Spread 1/3 of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer then repeat process; top with last layer and repeat process again.

As you stack layer together, stick with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting.

FROSTING: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar and cream; bring to a boil and transfer to mixing bowl.

Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla; beat until it reaches a spreading consistency. At this time it may be necessary to add a tablespoon of heavy cream, or more, if frosting gets too thick. Frost cake and sprinkle top with pecan or chopped nuts, if desired.