Be careful, you could gain 10 lbs just reading this.
Friday, May 7, 2010

Last December I read The Help.

It's an awesome read. If you haven't read it yet, you need to. Asap.

But anyway, one of the main characters--an angry, scrappy, and downright hilarious maid by the name of Minny--was famous for her caramel cakes around the town of Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's.

Caramel cake? I thought to myself inquisitively as I read it the first time. I never knew such a delightful thing existed! Well, it did exist, and I was determined to try a bite for myself. The only problem was that if I baked an entire cake for my family, Eric would eat a microscopic sliver, the kids might share a piece, and I'd be left to devour the rest, thereby committing myself to exercising morning, noon, and night for a year just to work off the calories.

So, when The Help was selected as our April book club pick, I jumped at the chance to bake a caramel cake for all the girls. These girls.

Awww...look at all those smiling faces. I sure will miss them.
**sniff, sniff**

I searched high and low for a truly authentic southern recipe, but most of them required a cast iron skillet (you don't say) in which to cook the caramel, and the idea alone of me trying to cook with a piece of equipment like that (sheesh, they weigh like 50 lbs or something) just spelled D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. So, any time I'm in any type of southern cooking crisis I turn to Paula Deen. You can't go wrong with Paula. In fact, her recipes should come with a "you'll gain 30 lbs in a month OR your money back" guarantee. And with 5 sticks of butter in this baby, she did not disappoint.

Holy cholesterol, Batman!

It was really a delicious cake. The frosting was a bit too sweet for me, but the cake and caramel filling were absolutely perfect. For those interested in attempting this caloric masterpiece at home, here is the recipe.

Bobby's Caramel Cake
For the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, or more if needed
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts, optional


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add granulated sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating 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 3 or 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.

For the filling:
While cake is baking, in a saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and milk. 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 pans as you prepare to stack and fill. Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate. Pierce cake layer with a toothpick over entire surface. Spread 1/3 of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again.

*Cook's Note:
You may want to insert dowel rods or toothpicks into the layers to prevent cake from shifting.

For the frosting:

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat with a handheld electric mixer 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. Just be sure to add cream is small amounts because you can always "add to", but you can't take away. Frost cake and sprinkle top with chopped nuts, if desired.

This is what Wyatt thought of his mom's first attempt at a caramel cake.

This was taken just moments before he was told he'd have to wait 24 hours before he could have a piece. The thumbs up turned into a big fat thumbs down in a hurry.

Anonymous Mina had this to say:

It was delightful! Thanks again for baking a wondering cake.

May 8, 2010 at 3:15 PM 

Blogger Starr had this to say:

LOVED the book! LOVE this post. Gonna get my girlfriends to read the book so I can replicate this night. :-) (I'm sure I can coerce one of them into making the cake.....)

May 8, 2010 at 8:20 PM 

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My Wine Personality:
For the most part I’m a chardonnay, as I consider myself to exhibit a somewhat sunny and mellow disposition (most of the time), but because I find a tremendous amount of joy out of showering my two kids with hugs and kisses, I also possess the subtle sweetness often found in a riesling. But don’t be fooled. I love a great outdoor adventure and am willing to try anything once. This occasional display of boldness is thought to match that of a cabernet, whereas my appreciation for nature suggests that I have an earthy component to my personality—very characteristic of a merlot. (more)


“Wine rejoices the heart of man and joy is the mother of all virtues.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1771