caramel cake on milk glass plate

You could say, I guess, that it was love at first sight. I don’t tend to feel instantly head over heels for anything, much less kitchenware, but this cake plate, which I spotted at a great little antique mall in LaGrange Saturday, might be an exception.

It’s made of milk glass, that opaque substance resembling the color of creamy milk, which is so pretty to look at, and matches a set of plates I’ve been forming, if slowly. It’s also in mint condition, heavy, with decorative etches beneath the plate and on the top of the stem. And earlier that morning, I had just been saying how much I’d love to find a pedestal cake plate made of milk glass, minus heavy fluting or bows, but the right size for a nine-inch round—in other words, this exact item, and there it was, staring at me from its perch at the bottom of a shelf.

After returning to the booth three times in the space of an hour—first alone, then with my brother, then with my mom—I managed to unknowingly criticize the price just loudly enough for the owner, who was there rearranging his items, to hear me. He was very gracious, and we left with this, purchased for me as a gift by my mother the negotiator.

caramel cake

When I got home, as you can imagine, I had to bake a cake.

So I went through the starred posts in my Google Reader and remembered a recipe for caramel cake posted over at Lottie + Doof, in which Tim calls this his all-time favorite, the one he doesn’t like to share.

Now, I don’t know what your thoughts are on the subject of love at first sight, at least upon the reading of this post, but you’d be wise to hold your final opinions, at least until trying this cake. As for me: first there was the cake plate; then there was the cake, and in both situations, I am smitten.

Essentially, this is a simple, slightly dense yellow cake, which emerges from the oven soft and lightly golden. But what makes it so delicious is the homemade caramel glaze, a mixture of brown sugar and corn syrup and whipping cream, sweet and syrupy, perfect for soaking into the base.

slice of cake

Rather than buttermilk, I used sour cream, which is a reliable stand-in for cakes like these, and rather than an eight-inch square pan like the recipe originally called for, I chose a nine-inch round (remember my cake stand!). My only trouble was with the glaze, which seemed more like an icing for me and didn’t solidify as much as I’d expected.

But what’s most important is its taste, which was wonderful, like sticky, caramel monkey bread in a proper cake form, the perfect dessert for Easter lunch. It’s like a reminder that love at first sight can still happen, at least when it comes to perfect milk glass pedestal stands and the sticky-sweet caramel cakes that go on top of them.

Caramel Cake
Adapted from Gourmet, January 2008, as seen at Lottie + Doof

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 cup sour cream

For caramel glaze:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Equipment: a candy thermometer

Preheat the oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 9-inch round cake pan and line with a round of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (At this point, you may also want to sift the cake flour, which I almost forgot to do.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy; then beat in vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, add in the sour cream until just combined. Add the flour mixture in three batches, stirring each until just combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until lightly golden, when a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make glaze:
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, brown sugar, corn syrup and a pinch of salt. Boil until the mixture reaches 210 to 212 degrees F on the candy thermometer*, about 12 to 14 minutes. Add in vanilla.

Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

*On candy thermometers: Mine broke halfway through the process, which is a shame since I just bought it! That could account for some trouble I had with getting the glaze to the right consistency. I ended up letting it cool a little in the pan before pouring it on top of the cake, and even then, it seemed to run off the top and into the rim of the cake plate, which led me to spoon the sides of glaze back onto the top for a few minutes, while it began to set.

Also note from original recipe: Cake (before glazing) can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Risa

    I love the cake plate and the cake! Great find.

  2. kickpleat

    The cake plate is beautiful and that cake looks amazing!! I’m bookmarking this for sure.

  3. Jacqui

    i, too, fall in love with kitchenware. it’s the kind of love that never hurts.

  4. Lisa

    Well, my husband’s birthday isn’t until August, but I already know what I will be making. Thank you.

  5. Jessica

    OMG that looks amazing! Almost light and decadent at the same time. So good.

  6. Alejandra

    I loved this post! And that cake stand looks gorgeous. And, well, you just can’t beat a soft yellow cake with a lovely caramel icing, can you?

  7. finsmom

    YUM! This looks incredibly delicious!!!
    Cant wait to make!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. E.P.

    That cake looks and sounds divine! When I’m in a baking mood, I will have to give it a shot.

  9. ingrid

    That cake stand is a beauty! Lucky you that your Mom was there to negoiate & purchase it for you! :) Your cake sounds yummy too!

    Did I ever tell you that I made your sugar cookie cake? I linked back to you. It was a good one.

  10. Shannalee

    Risa – Thanks! I still get happy looking at them.

    Kickpleat – You’ll love it!

    Jacqui – Love the way you put that. SO true.

    Lisa – My birthday’s in August, too! Hope he likes this!

    Jessica – Yeah, that’s exactly how I’d explain it: light and decadent at the same time.

    Alejandra – No, you can’t!

    E.P. – I hope you’re in a baking mood soon… the rainy days in Chicago have been good for that, but I’ll admit I’ve been more prone to relaxing and spring cleaning.

    Ingrid – Thanks for telling me about the sugar cookie cake! I had remembered seeing your post and thought I’d commented, but I just went over and saw it didn’t go through (or I imagined it, either way). Glad you liked it!

  11. Pingback: this life we have | food loves writing

  12. rachel

    I was bummed about not having Easter this year, but your pictures make up for it! wow that cakes look so yum :) and I think the above asparagus recipe is so worth trying next time I go shopping…mmmm..

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