Friday, August 20, 2010

Burnt Sugar Cake

I’m staring at the pictures of this cake and I am trying to think of something to write. I want to give you some insight into the cake making process or give you a reason why you should make this cake, but it all seems so unnecessary. I mean look at it. I just don’t know what to say. Do you really need a reason?

Burnt Sugar Cake. I just can’t think of anything that sounds better than that. I love the smell of caramelizing sugar, that sweet burnt smell, it is just intoxicating. So imagine a cake made from caramelized sugar syrup. It is over the top decadent.

In fact, believe it or not, I had to tone down the richness of the cake (and the burnt sugar icing) with a chocolate ganache glaze. (Honestly, it needed the bitterness of the chocolate to cut down on the richness of the caramel flavour…I’m not just making up an excuse to add chocolate.)

I have seen this cake pop up on a number of sites but the original recipe comes from Nancie McDermott’s Southern Cakes. This cookbook is full of amazing cakes, but this one it probably my favourite. It is a dense moist cake and the flavour really stands out. It is so much better than a basic white cake. So take a good look and then make it yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Burnt Sugar Cake

from Nancie McDermott's Southern Cakes

for the caramel syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water

Heat the sugar in a heavy skillet over a medium-low heat until the sugar melts into a clear brown caramel syrup. Resist the urge to stir until the sugar has begun to melt.  Watch carefully as the sugar can quickly change from deep brown to burnt. Gradually add the boiling water, pouring it down the sides of the pan. Be very careful as it will bubble up.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the water combines with the syrup and becomes a deep brown. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. You will end up with about 1 3/4 cups of caramel syrup.

for the cake:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1¾ cups sugar
4 eggs
½ cup Caramel Syrup

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two nine inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the paper again and dust lightly with flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate small bowl stir the vanilla into the milk.
With your stand mixer or with an electric beater, beat the butter and the sugar at high speed for 2 - 3 minutes, until soft and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Pour in half a cup of the caramel syrup and beat well. Add a third of the flour mixture and about half of the milk, beating at a low speed, until just incorporated. Mix in another third of the flour and the rest of the milk. Finally, add the remaining flour.
Divide the batter between your prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out the cakes into the wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Icing

3¾ cups confectioners sugar
½ cup Caramel Syrup
¼ cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 4 tablespoons milk

Combine the confectioners sugar, the caramel syrup, butter, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and easy to spread. Add a little more sugar if it is thin, and a little more milk if it is too thick.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup

Place the chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a small bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add pour over the chocolate and light corn syrup. Whisk until smooth.
To assemble the cake:

Place once layer on a cake plate.  Spread with a layer of the caramel frosting and a little of the ganache.  Place the second layer on top. Spread the top with a layer of the caramel icing and pour the ganache over the top so that it runs down the sides.


  1. This cake looks so good. Can I hire you as my personal chef? I wish I liked cooking and baking as much as you do (well, and that I was actually good at it!)

  2. You never need a reason for cake! :) Looks fantastic!

  3. Hi Allison!

    This recipe sounds so great and the photos are so enticing!
    I shared this post with our Redpath online baking community, it just looks so good, I know others will be happy to read the post!
    If you ever would like to share other blog posts or photos with us, please do!

    We're also running a Cake Boss contest. Buddy is coming to Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 11th and you can win tickets! We have more details in the link above.

    Happy baking! :)

  4. I agree, looking at your photo is more than enough cause to bake that cake.

  5. Oh man this looks delicious! And your photographs are beautiful! Everything here looks great!
    I recently launched my own blog, I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you think! :) Thanks!


Please feel free to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

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