ISO Frosting That's Fluffy: Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

My friend Dorothy mentioned caramel as a possibility for her birthday cake this year, so I decided to make the "Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting" from Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love. This cake has two layers of butter cake, with salted caramel sauce baked into the batter, covered in caramel frosting. You're supposed to make the caramel sauce by melting a cup of sugar, two tablespoons at a time, until you get a deep mahogany liquid; adding heavy cream and cooking until any hardened caramel is dissolved; and finishing off the caramel with a little salt. I melted all of the sugar at once and it worked out fine.

To make the cake, you cream butter and sugar; add eggs; and alternately add the sifted dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and salted caramel sauce thinned with water. I divided the batter between two 9-inch parchment-lined pans to bake. I let the cakes cool completely, leveled them, and then made the frosting. You heat a mixture of dark brown sugar, butter, and salt to a boil; whisk in heavy cream and bring to a boil again; take the mixture off the heat and add vanilla; transfer the caramel to a mixing bowl and beat on low speed while gradually adding powdered sugar; beat until pale brown and cooled to warm; gradually add more butter; and beat until light and fluffy.

You have to use the frosting immediately and it was still slightly warm when I started assembling the cake. At first, the frosting was soft and easy to suave. The photo in the cookbook shows the cake covered in fluffy swirls of ecru frosting. But as I continued to work with the frosting, it stiffened up like fudge, to the point where I couldn't swirl it and I decided that the easiest way to try and rescue the cake was to use the heat from my hands to try and smooth the frosting as much as possible. Hence the odd appearance of the cake in the photo below.
I didn't love the way this cake looked with the monolithic but bumpy-textured coating of frosting, but it looked much better after it was sliced. The cake had a golden yellow crumb inside and sliced beautifully. The frosting was very sweet and I couldn't finish all of the frosting on my slice -- but not everyone else at the dinner had this problem. I also didn't like the candy-like texture of the frosting; I definitely prefer a fluffy, soft frosting. I just can't seem to get this type of caramel frosting right. I had a previous experience with a different caramel cake recipe where a similar type of frosting ended up being way too runny.
This cake was fine, but I wouldn't make it again. Dorothy and I both agreed that the Antique Caramel Cake that I made for her birthday in 2013 is a much better caramel cake -- it has a springier crumb and an amazing cream cheese frosting. Then again, I can't discount the possibility that I would have liked this cake a whole lot more if I done a better job with the frosting. One of these days I hope to get caramel frosting right!

Recipe: "Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting" from Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.

Previous Posts:
Previous Birthday Cakes for Dorothy: White Génoise with Raspberry Cloud Cream (2017); Bananas Cake 2.0 with Cream Cheese Frosting (2016); Whipped Brown Butter and Vanilla Birthday Cake (2015); Lemon Mousse Cake with Fresh Raspberries (2014); Antique Caramel Cake (2013); Grasshopper Cake (2012); Restaurant Eve Cake (2010).