by Sara Lilian



Every year for my daughter’s birthday, she chooses the type of cake she wants. I have always made my children their birthday cakes, but she always chose a different cake each year and I knew that soon I would face a “challenge’ cake – this was the one! The caramel icing is what worried me only because I had never made it before. I will tell you now that it is not difficult, it is simply different.

When I finished the cake, I stood looking at the cake feeling relieved, happy, and thinking that it looked absolutely delicious! She squealed when she saw it and she loved the cake – we all loved the cake. Since I now felt confident, I vowed to make the cake again. The icing is unlike any other because it is not fluffy, it is thick, dense, and divine.

I find this recipe to be even more special because it is a cake that usually we would have enjoyed only at a restaurant…for a special occasion. Now I can make it at home and we can enjoy it anytime of the year.



The Cake

1 cup butter (2 sticks) – softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs – room temperature
3 cups flour self-rising
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla

Caramel Icing

4 cups sugar
2 cup buttermilk
1 cup Crisco – or preferred solid vegetable shortening
1 cup butter
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract


For The Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease or butter three (3) 9-inch cake pans and then dust the entire greased area with flour to lightly coat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until fluffy, then add the sugar and cream for about 5-6 more minutes.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, and combine well after each.

To the butter mixture, mix in the flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. After each ingredient addition, mix just until incorporated.

Add vanilla and beat well.

Divide evenly among the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let pans rest for 5 minutes. Then, turn the cakes out of the pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Prepare the Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then ice cake.

For the Icing

In a cast iron Dutch oven, or other heavy pot, mix all ingredients – Except for Vanilla – and place over medium heat.

Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pot so you can monitor the temperature carefully.

As the ingredients heat to a simmer, stir with a wooden spoon to keep ingredients moving in the pan.

Cook to softball stage 235º – 245º on a candy thermometer

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and ready to spread. If using mixer, once your icing has reached the softball stage, whip the icing until it holds to the whisk when you stop the mixer.

• When icing the top of the cake: To get a smooth texture, dip the icing spreader in warm water and then smooth the icing.

• To make it easier to assemble the cake with icing: once the cakes cool, wrap each cake in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will help the cake to hold together while you layer the icing.

• Chill the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set the frosting before serving.

• STORING THE CAKE: Loosely cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

• DECORATION: Toasted pecans neatly placed on the top is a lovely addition.

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