Baked Sunday Mornings: Sweet and Salty Cake

The recipe on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule for today is the Sweet and Salty Cake, three layers of chocolate cake with salted caramel sauce and whipped caramel-chocolate ganache frosting. I've made this cake and blogged about it twice before. My first attempt -- all the way back in 2009, and the first time I ever made a layer cake from the gentlemen bakers -- was less than successful. My second effort in 2012 was a significant improvement. When I realized it's been longer than six years since I last made this cake, I decided it was time to make it again.

Since I've already blogged about this cake before, I'm going use this post to share two pieces of advice for anyone who wants to make this recipe (and that I want to remember for the next time I make it!). The cake itself is straightforward and I've never had a problem with it. It's also the exact same chocolate cake recipe used in other Baked layer cakes, including the Wintermint Cake, Grasshopper Cake, Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache, and Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream.
However, I have had some serious issues with cake assembly. You spread salted caramel sauce on top of each cake layer before adding whipped ganache and stacking the layers, and I've had problems with the caramel being too runny and seeping out. So my first tip is is to level your cakes before spreading on the caramel. If the top crust of the cake is intact, the caramel tends to just sit on top and it can end up running over the edges of the layers and making a mess, especially under the weight of additional cake layers stacked on top. But if the cakes are trimmed to expose the soft crumb in the cake's interior, the cake will easily absorb the caramel. I used bake even strips around each of my pans and my cake layers actually had perfectly flat tops to begin with -- but I still leveled them, just to help manage the caramel sauce.
Second, I think this ganache frosting is the most tricky out of all of the Baked frostings. The recipe instructs you to make a caramel ganache (caramel + extra cream + chocolate), cool it to room temperature, and then whip it until fluffy. In my experience, this just creates a runny mess. I strongly recommend chilling the ganache -- either before whipping, after, or both. Otherwise, it's completely unmanageable. But with chilling, you get a nice spreadable consistency that will hold its shape, even when the cake is stored at room temperature (although I do think the cake benefits from a quick chill immediately after assembly to set the frosting).

This cake is worth the effort of dealing with the fussy ganache. I don't know why caramel-chocolate ganache isn't more popular -- it is insanely delicious. And whipping the ganache somehow gives you something that is airy and light while at the same time being intensely flavored with the perfect balance of salted caramel and chocolate. If you like salted caramel and chocolate, you will love this cake.

Recipe: "The Sweet and Salty Cake" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

Previous Posts About This Cake:
Other Great Layer Cakes from Baked (yes, this is a long list -- I think I have baked every layer cake in the four Baked cookbooks except for the German Chocolate Cake from Baked: New Frontiers):


Katrina Lexa said…
I confess to doing a little dance (only in my head) when my chocolate ganache buttercream turned out without me having to do anything "extra". Maybe it was just beginner's luck because I hadn't made the Baked ganache before? Now I feel way less confident about it!

I love the way you used your frosting to make such gorgeous decorations around the bottom and all over the top. Your cake is gorgeous!
Sally said…
THANK YOU for pointing out that it's the same chocolate cake! I want to make this cake for a baby shower, but hate cooking without weights, and sure enough it's the same cake as in the Wintermint cake in Baked Occasions, which includes weights. THANKS!
I'm with you 100% on the ingredient weights -- it's so frustrating to look at a recipe and realize that it only has volume measurements! Glad you were able to find the weights!
You truly have the magic touch to conquer this ganache!!
Sally said…
hi! I"m making this for a noon baby shower on Saturday - could I make this ahead of time? Any tips are WELCOME! Thanks!
Yes, you can! According to the recipe, the finished cake will keep in a cake saver at room temperature for 3 days (and if the room is not cool, in the refrigerator -- but let come to room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving).
Sally said…
Thanks! Do you think I could bake the cake layers the day before, or is it best do it all at once?
I think you could bake the cakes, cool them, and wrap them in plastic wrap the day before (and keep them at room temperature). Let me know how it works out!
Jordan said…
Do you think this cake can be turned into cupcakes? I am familiar with Baked's classic chocolate cake but have been wanting to try the sweet and salty version for a while. So I am considering turning it into cupcakes for my son's birthday. However, I am concerned that the salted caramel would be too messy and difficult to do on a cupcake. Is the caramel ganache frosting amazing enough on its own that it wouldn't be the end of the world to leave the caramel off? Thoughts?
I do think the ganache is amazing enough that you don't need the caramel -- but if you want to add caramel sauce, I would recommend removing the core from the center of each cupcake and filling it with salted caramel sauce (and then frosting over the caramel-filled cavity)... I think some/a lot of the caramel sauce would soak in to the cupcake, and so long as you warn folks that there is a liquid caramel center, people can manage a cupcake with a caramel sauce inside.