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New Old Fashioned Caramel Cake

Yesterday, I needed to take a meal to someone who had undergone heart surgery. The person couldn't have spices, chocolate, citrus, much salt, nuts, or a couple of other things. I settled on a turkey shepherd's pie--kind of like a chicken pot pie with a mashed potato topping instead of a rich pastry crust. Along with the main dish, salad, broccoli, and rolls, I wanted to take a simple dessert for the patient and his family. But what to make without spices, chocolate, citrus, or nuts that would be good, comforting, and a treat but not too unhealthy? I settled on a caramel cake. Nonetheless, I considerably revised my recipe--which called for about a pound of butter and loads of sugar. Don't get me wrong. A cake is a cake, and it includes a lot of sugar and fat. Nonetheless, my revised version limits both sugar and fat to the treat level rather than the over-the-top excess rung. Using cake flour provided a light, tender cake, and caramel and butter extracts gave the cake smooth, rich flavor. The frosting was tricky. Usually, caramel frosting, like the cake, requires a significant amount of butter and cream. No can do. Instead, I used a half a stick of butter and browned it to intensify the flavor. I also used a little dark brown sugar to heighten the caramel taste. Finally, I put the frosted cake under the broiler for a few minutes, causing the frosting to bubble and caramelize a bit. The finished cake has a rich caramel taste, crunchy frosting, and smells heavenly.

New Old Fashioned Caramel Cake

Caramel Cake -- Makes Two 8-inch Square Cakes


3/4 cup of canola oil

1 cup of low-fat milk

1 2/3 cups of sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of butter extract/flavoring

1 teaspoon of caramel extract/flavoring

3 cups of cake flour

3 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour two 8-inch square cake pans (or use cooking spray that has flour included in it). In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter extract, and caramel extract until well blended--3-4 minutes. In another bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the liquid mixture, whisking the batter just until all the flour mixture has been incorporated and the batter is barely smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake the batter for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Don't over bake the cakes, or they'll be dry. Remember, too, that they cakes will go back in the oven after being frosted.


1/2 stick (4 ounces) of butter

1/2 cup of dark brown sugar

1/3 cup of low-fat milk

1 teaspoon of caramel extract/flavoring

3 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and let it continue to cook until it turns a light golden brown. Watch the butter carefully, because it will turn quickly, and you don't want it to brown too much. It should be a light, not dark, brown. Add the brown sugar and whisk it with the butter for a couple of minutes. The sugar and butter won't blend well, but that's okay. Add the milk carefully, while whisking. The mixture will bubble a bit. Just keep whisking. Turn the heat to low. Whisk in the extract. Add the confectioner's sugar gradually, whisking all the time, until the frosting is smooth. Quickly pour and spread the frosting over the cakes. It will harden quickly. Don't worry about being artistic here, just cover the top of the cake. Heat the broiler and put the cakes under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, watching them carefully (that means almost constantly). The frosting will bubble a little and form little brown spots. That's good. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool. The frosting will harden up and form an almost candy-like crust on top of the cake.

New Old Fashioned Caramel Cake

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