Sunday, December 12, 2010

Making Lemonade with Caramel Cake

When your hot water heater breaks on Friday night, you know it's going to be an awesome weekend.

We're talking boiling pots of water to wash dishes.

Skipping a shower...or two (I shudder as I type this.).

And lots of confusing discussions about brands, prices, and energy savings on a large appliance you know little to nothing about.

Like I said: Awesome weekend.

However, even in life's "lemon" moments, there's always room for more lemonade, right?

Today's taste of lemonade: Birthday Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting to celebrate Adam's 27th. This Caramel Cake wasn't just the bright spot of the was to-die-for delicious. I'd give up another week of hot water for more of this Caramel Cake.

On second thought, no I wouldn't. But the cake is truly decadent and totally 27th-birthday-worthy.

Ultimately, things are looking up. We got showers at my parents' house today (I never thought I'd be so happy to see a bottle of shampoo). A new hot water heater is being installed tomorrow. There's been plenty of tree-decorating action (see cheesy picture below). And there's another slice of Caramel Cake waiting to be devoured later tonight.

Don't be fooled: My sister and I decorated the tree--we just dragged the men in for the picture.

Today was all about the lemonade :)

Birthday Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting
(recipe adapted from James and Martha Pearl Villas' recipe in Birthday Cakes cookbook)

This was my first Caramel Cake, and I will definitely not be looking for another recipe--it was perfect! The only caveat I must mention is the baking time: this cake called for three 9 inch pans, but I only used two. After 30 minutes of baking, I basically stood by the oven with the oven light on and waited until it appeared done to take it out. So, be cautious with the baking time and check back often for done-ness!

Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 - 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 - 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 nine inch baking pans with cooking spray and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat in the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

3) Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (as previously mentioned, the baking time is approximate, so check back often after 30 minutes for done-ness).

4) To prepare frosting: Melt the butter over low heat in a saucepan. Add the brown sugar and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Beat in the confectioner's sugar until well-blended. This frosting is very thick--in the world of icings, this was a consistency that's new to me. Work quickly when frosting the cake to prevent crumbs from mixing in (I lightly warmed some of the frosting in the microwave to keep it soft while I frosted the cake).


  1. bummer about the hot water heater... not a good way to spend your weekend. but this cake looks like a great celebration! happy birthday to adam!

  2. Oh god, I'm so sorry to hear that your water heater went out - I hope that the installation is painless.

    With the storm yesterday, I was SO thankful that we didn't lose power/internet/heat.

    p.s. It is SO rare that you find a recipe and it's just ready-to-go. It's probably caramel cake time for all of us :)

  3. Adam is one lucky man! :) Happy b-day to him!

  4. awww happy birthday to adam!!!

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  5. Now is not the time for the hot water heater to be breaking down. You handled that a lot better than I would have. :)

    That cake does look delicious! My husband loves caramel cake, so I may have to make this for him.

  6. Boo on the water heater! At least there was cake though :)

  7. I never even think of the water heater when I think of appliances that could break! Eeek! I totally think you handled it better than I would. Though I haven't had a piece of that caramel cake :) Not sure I'll wait for something to not go according to plan to make this one :) Glad all is getting back to normal!

  8. Amazing. I'm excited to try this. Let's hope somebody is having a birthday sometime soon.

  9. Sounds decadent! Sweetness refined! And what a way to make of a bummer day!

  10. oh my gosh! What an awful thing to happen! I'm glad you still were able to look at the bright side though!! Cute picture! :)

  11. How horrible! At least there was a delicious birthday cake to brighten the day! It looks sooooo good and the recipe is just calling my name. Happy Birthday Adam! :)

  12. Happy belated birthday to Adam! I hope your water heater gets installed without a hitch today!

  13. what an awful time of year for the water heater to break! On the plus side, the cake looks great :)

  14. OY... our power was out this summer, too- in the hottest week of the year!- and it was hell. Sorry about your water heater :-(

    That cake looks absolutely delish! Ari would love that one, too. Happy birthday to Adam!

  15. the cake looks so good.... happy birthday to the birthday boy:)

  16. My Brother in law recently had his water heater break -- he, his wife and daughter were without hot water for Thanksgiving weekend -- boiling water and adding it to cold to take a bath, etc. Sounds terrible to me :(

    But good job on the cake! It looks wonderful!

  17. Happy bday to the luck man :) LOVE the family pic. You and your sister look a lot alike

  18. Stories like this make me happy to not be a homeowner! It really sucks that you guys had to go through that. :( That cake really does look like a happy ending, though. It's gorgeous! I've never had caramel cake, but know I'd love it. Happy (belated) Birthday to Adam! That family pic is adorable. :)

  19. That looks like a delicious cake! Ahh... homeownership!