If you are not from the South, but saw the movie "The Help" the caramel cake was mentioned several times during that movie and there was even a brief glimpse of a huge 7 or 8 layer caramel cake, which to most of us who have made one or eaten one, seemed really excessive, because eating that much caramel icing on anything would probably put even a non-diabetic into a sugar coma. I might like to try ...lol. It was very pretty though as caramel cakes go, because they are not always the prettiest of the southern cakes, but if you know what one tastes like, you don't care.
Here is what you will need for the butter cake and the caramel icing:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 cup milk
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cream ( I used half and half and it worked fine)
1/4/ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. of powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare 2 round 9" cake pans by spraying them with nonstick spray that has flour in it or greasing and flouring the pans. I like to cut a piece of parchment or wax paper to fit in the bottom of each pan and also spray it as well and the inside of the pans. This really insures the cakes not sticking.
Beat all of the ingredients, adding in the order listed for about 30 seconds scraping down the sides of your bowl. Do not over mix as it tends to make your cake dry. After it is all well incorporated beat at high speed for about 2 minutes. Pour evenly in the prepared pans.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake or the cake will be dry. Check them at 30 minutes. Let them cool for about 5 minutes before turning them out, then allow to cool completely before icing.
Once the cakes have cooled, prepare the caramel icing.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan on the stove and dissolve brown sugar in it. Add the cream and salt. Bring up to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and beat in the confectioner's sugar and the vanilla. You need to use an electric mixer for this. If it seems too thick add 1 Tbs. cream at a time until it's where you want it.
Immediately stack and frost cake. You have to move fast, because this icing will start to thicken. It's best if you keep it on some low heat or over a pan of hot water as you work with it. If it starts to get too thick to work with heat it, add a dash of cream, just not too much.
You can sprinkle the top with chopped pecans or walnuts if you wish. We usually don't, but the nuts do make it pretty and can cover a multitude of sins if you have trouble with getting the caramel icing smooth.
Southern Caramel Cake!