This is a simple and straightforward cake you can make with store bought caramel if you’d like, but the caramel sauce recipe is fairly easy and straightforward too, and once you realize how easy it is to make, you’ll not want to use store bought caramel sauce again.
You can also double the recipe and use them to make a caramel layer cake by pairing it with a caramel flavored buttercream.
caramel cake (adapted from this recipe)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
for the caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons of water
1/2 cup half and half, hot
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8” round cake pan and line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
Make the caramel first if not using store bought caramel sauce. Place the 3/4 cup sugar into a saucepan with the lemon juice and 3 Tablespoons of water. Stir with a clean finger to ensure all the sugar is moistened by the water and turn heat to medium high and let it heat until it starts to turn amber. This will take several minutes. Swirl the saucepan to help the color be more consistent throughout the sugar.
When color reaches a darker amber, remove from heat and carefully pour the hot half and half into the sugar while also stirring constantly with a whisk. The mixture will bubble and steam ferociously so make sure you have a whisk with a long enough handle that your hand won’t be along the path of the rising steam. Keep whisking and eventually it will stop bubbling and steaming.
Add the butter, vanilla and pinch of salt to the caramel sauce and stir until dissolved and mixed in. Set aside to cool to warm before using. If you need to cool it more, transfer to a glass bowl and place in the refrigerator.
In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices, if using, and stir with a whisk several times.
Beat the eggs on high using a handheld electric mixer with the beater attachments and gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar until the eggs are paler and thicker. Add the vanilla extract and beat again until it gets thick again.
Sift half the flour mixture over the cake batter and fold it in, then add the second half of the flour mixture until blended in. Don’t overstir but make sure the batter doesn’t have dry streaks of flour in it.
Remove about a cup of cake batter and transfer it to the bowl with the caramel sauce and stir until blended in and one color. Add this back to the rest of the cake batter, but do not stir it in too much so that there are still noticeable streaks of the darker batter that contains the caramel sauce.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the cneter of the cake comes up clean and without wet batter or crumbs. Remove cake from the oven and leave cake in the pan for about 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan to cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar on top if desired. Cake lasts several days in an airtight container at room temperature.