Today is my 21st birthday! I do have to say just how much I love birthdays. People around me fill up with positive energy, the sun shines a little brighter, and I reminisce about younger years. As cliche as that all sounds, it is true. It is a time to be appreciated and there isn't anything wrong with that. Some people may think it is conceited to say, but it is healthy to recognize your strengths and to accept that the people around you see them too and are grateful for you.
That's why as I grow older I have learned to see how flaws can produce beautiful things. I have been enormously frustrated in my sporadic posting because even if I have planned and try my best to prepare, some days just don't work out and that is alright. There are many more hours to put into the kitchen and there are always more words to write.
So here is today's post, my birthday cake. Trying to come up some new cake flavor I haven't tried, but keeping unique texture and simplicity in mind was harder than it seemed. I came across a few websites saying Southern Caramel cake was good, but too sweet. I took to my kitchen to create a "lighter" version of this heavy, sugar tooth cake. And yes, I did make my own birthday cake because it is way more delicious than anything store bought!
This Southern Caramel cake differs from its predecessors in that it has not only less sugar, but also uses brown sugar. Brown sugar is wonderful at impersonating that caramel flavor. I threw in some pumpkin pie spice to get a real depth of flavor going on. Sea salt is a necessary ingredient to get those sea salt caramel dreams flowing. The frosting is very subtle in sweetness with its honey and cream cheese accent flavors. The caramel on top is what takes this once too sweet, bland cake to amazingly over the top and fun! Give a try and let me know how it goes!
SOUTHERN CARAMEL CAKE WITH LIGHT HONEY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
// CAKE MIX //
- 2 sticks of softened butter
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds or 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of milk (I used almond milk)
// FROSTING //
- 3 cups of heavy cream
- 4 ounces of softened cream cheese
- 1/4 cup of honey
// TOPPINGS //
- 1/4 cup of salted caramel sauce, recipe found here
- Assorted fruit (kiwi, strawberries, and blueberries)
- Crushed nuts (pistachios)
- Drizzle of honey
- Preheat the oven to 350'F. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in one egg at a time. Whisk in the spices and vanilla and set aside.
- In another medium bowl, sift the baking powder, seas salt, and all purpose flour together.
- In alternate third additions, start adding the milk to the butter mix. Once combined, add in a third of flour. Keep alternating until both the milk and flour are entirely mixed in.
- Spray two round cake pans with cooking spray. Divide the mixture evenly into both pans. Smooth the batter out and place in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool before frosting.
- While waiting for the cakes to cool, you can begin making the frosting. Place the cream cheese in a small bowl. Microwave for 10 seconds or heat on low until slightly warm and runny. Add the honey and tablespoon of heavy cream. Whip this together with a whisk until lump free.
- In a large bowl, whisk the heavy cream till it is very stiff. You almost want to slightly over whisk it compared to whipped cream to ensure that it is extra thick and sturdy. Whisk in the cream cheese mixture.
- To begin decorating the cake, lay down the first layer of cake. If you find that the cake is stuck to the pan, try using a fork to lift it up slowly. If that doesn't work, hold the pan 4 to 5 inches above an open flame. The heat should warm up the pan enough to lift it up. Use caution when using this method!
- Plop approximately 1/3 cup of frosting on top of the layer. Smooth this out evenly along the top. Keep repeating the layer and frosting until you reach the last layer.
- To create the naked cake look, drop approximately 1 cup of frosting on the top of the cake. Smooth the frosting along the top allowing the extra to slide down the sides. Take frosting as you need it and smooth it around the sides. I like to not use too much so you can see the cake through the frosting. I tend to use a thick layer on top and thin layer around the sides. The trick is not to be too picky about the look. Keep working until you feel it looks good, but try not to over think it.
- The actual decoration is up to you. I first drizzled some extra honey along the whole top of the cake. Then added some fruit to one side with crushed pistachios sprinkled over top. I finished off the cake with caramel draped over the sides and top.