Birthdays. They bring so much baking possibility. They also bring a ton of pressure. You don’t ever want to be the person that screws up someone’s birthday cake. I figure you can always go two ways with this: bake something you know or bake something you have always wanted to try.
I treat each birthday cake like a new opportunity. This time, do I want to do something new or known? For this birthday celebration I was commissioned with one thing and one thing only: Chocolate. I’ve made a few chocolate cakes before – especially one with tons of peanut butter – but I was thinking that I really wanted to try something new. So I searched high and low and pinned a million recipes that sounded worthy. I just wasn’t in love with any of them though. So the search continued until I found one that really hit home for me: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake.
Why this one? Well, lately I’ve been addicted to salted caramel. So really I just took my personal needs and decided that someone else’s birthday cake was going to be all about me. But also the other person because of the whole chocolate cake thing. Oddly enough I’m more of a vanilla cake person myself. So anyway, this recipe spoke to me. Except she used store bought salted caramel. Which didn’t speak to me. Nor did the recipe for caramel speak to me. So the search resumed! I was not about to be diverted just because of the sauce. Instead, it led me to Sally’s Baking Addiction – a blog I use over and over again. I picked this one because it seemed super easy and when you are making a cake, sometimes you just want the simplest way to get it done.
So I came home from work ready to make magic happen. I piled up my ingredients. Pulled out my cool new camera. Turned the oven on. It was going down.
Side note before I go into what you need and how to do it: I did pull out the butter, eggs, and sour cream during my lunch break so that these items would be room temperature by the time I got home to make the cake. The recipe did call for this so I wanted to be ready.
What you need for the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used light brown sugar here)
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks
1½ cups full fat sour cream
1/3 cup whole milk
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups hot water
What you need for the salted caramel chocolate frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter – very soft
4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
What you need for the salted caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
What to do:
- Preheat to 350 degrees. Spray three 9-inch round cake pans generously with nonstick spray or grease with additional butter.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl with a handheld mixer) combine both sugars, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low until you’ve combined this dry goodness.
- In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, milk, oil, and vanilla. It’ll look like a hot mess. At least it did to me.
- Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low until combined. Pour the hot water slowly into the mix (it’ll slosh around a lot) until combined. The batter will seem really thin, but it’s yummy!
- Divide the batter into the three pans as evenly as possible. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. While the cake is doing its thing you’ll want to start on either the salted caramel or the frosting. I decided to work on the salted caramel since I also needed it to cool in a timely manner.
- Grab a medium saucepan and put it on the stovetop with medium heat. Pour the sugar into the pan and constantly stir with a wooden spoon or a heat resistant spatula. (I used my GIR spatula).
- Sugar will begin to form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown liquid. It will be very hot. I don’t recommend testing with your finger.
- Once the sugar is completely melted, add the butter. It will rapidly bubble so just continue to stir until melted.
- Very slowly add the heavy cream – it will sputter – so continue to stir and ideally have an apron on.
- Allow to boil for about a minute. Then remove from heat and stir in the salt. I transferred it into some mason jars so it could cool completely. I stuck the jars in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the cooling process. You could even make the caramel the day before if needed.
- Wash off your stand mixer, if used for the cake, and get the paddle attachment ready. Add the butter and cream on medium-speed until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn to the lowest speed to mix into the butter. (The ingredients will fly everywhere if faster)
- Increase the speed to medium and add in the vanilla, salt, cream, and salted caramel.
- Taste!!! If it’s not quite right, add what you think it might be missing.
- Assemble the cake! Make sure the cake is nice and cool. If your layers aren’t even, trim the tops of the cake with a serrated knife. Move the first layer to a cake stand or wherever you’ll be keeping your cake. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top, then half a cup of caramel (or however much you want.) Repeat with the next layer.
- Top with the final layer of cake and put a thin layer of frosting. Add frosting to the sides of the cake – also a thin layer…basically your “crumb coat” and place in the refrigerator. I only left mine in there for about 15 minutes, but the recipe calls for an hour. I have no patience so…
- Once removed from the fridge, ice the cake with as much icing as your heart desires.
- Once frosted, pour the caramel on the top of the cake. Spread as desired. Mine made a nice little drip down the sides.
- Eat! It’s so good..