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My Favorite Cake. Period.

I use the word “favorite” too often. But this time I think I mean it. This cake is the cake I make for myself. I don’t share it. I don’t bring it to work. I don’t even let Bryan have a slice unless he begs or I am feeling particularly enamored with him. It is everything I could want in a sweet. A moist buttermilk cake with a healthy crumb topped with a creamy caramel glaze. The cake is just the right amount of sweet. I’ve made this so many times and each time I fall in love with it all over again.

Of course even as I type this I am thinking of other favorite cakes, which I will eventually get around to sharing— but this is the most important. Make it for yourself and don’t share it with anyone.

GREEN CITY MARKET REMINDER: If you’re in Chicago, don’t forget that the Green City Market [1] is still up and running all winter long! Every other Saturday indoors at the Nature Museum. Lots of great vendors and plenty of chef demonstrations. Recent purchases include: yukon gold potatoes, pecans!, corn meal, goat cheese that looks like a rock!, honey infused with chili, and eggs, eggs, eggs! Get out there and support your farmers and food makers and make a political statement: we want organic local food all year! We care where our food comes from!

Caramel Cake (Gourmet, January 2008)


Caramel Glaze:

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line bottom with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, flip cake so it is right-side up and then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make glaze:
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.

Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

*** Confession time: I don’t sift the flour first. Instead, I just sift 2 cups of cake flour and call it a day. Bad, I know. But I feel like the lack of sifting is made up for by the 2 tablespoons of flour I am omitting, right?