buttermilk-wheat cake with caramel glaze.

buttermilk-wheat cake with caramel glaze.

I’m pretty much a sucker for any treat that involves the words “caramel” or “caramelized.” I can’t help myself. Whether it’s chocolate with caramel, or caramelized onions, or coconut-caramel cookies, or anything topped with caramel sauce, I’m fairly certain to be on board. So when I was sifting through the annals of Lottie and Doof and came across this favorite cake of his, my culinary interest was immediately piqued.

And, as luck would have it, as I was pondering my next foray into the world of cake, I had on hand a fair bit – a ton, actually – of whole-wheat pastry flour that was sent to me by the good folks at the Missouri Grain Project. The Project is a worker-owned collective that mills grains grown at the Terra Bella Farm, also in Missouri. Although Lottie and Doof’s recipe doesn’t call for any type of wheat flour, I thought a mixture of this nice, flavorful pastry flour and regular ol’ cake flour would create a nice, nutty-but-still-fluffy finished product. So how about you come along for the ride, eh?

mixing fixing futzing etc.


Simple things are so heartening, which is definitely part of the allure of this particular concoction: a fluffy buttermilk cake topped with a simple caramel sauce. No layers, no fussy frosting, no surprises or twists. The lack of complications was also inuring to my benefit as Kenan and I were due at a small gathering in the evening, and I had decided to undertake this little escapade at the last minute. So I started in the late afternoon, measuring and laying out ingredients: flour, bakings powder and soda (granted, that is certainly not correct, but I like it), butter, sugar, salt, eggs, and buttermilk. I sifted together the dry ingredients, creamed the butter and sugar, added the eggs, and then mixed in the buttermilk and the dry ingredients. The only adjustments I made to the recipe were to use a bit of brown sugar in addition to white, as well as the aforementioned partial flour substitution. When everything was mixed together and ready to rumble, I poured the batter into a cake pan and popped it in the oven. And it baked up really, really beautifully. The wheat flour seemed to impede the rising a tiny bit, but the cake still turned out quite fluffy and soft, and had turned a gorgeous, nut-brown color. I was very excited to eat it, but, like a good bringer of treats, I kept my sweet tooth under control and refrained from tasting until I had brought the cake to the party.*

Once my cake friend had cooled off, I started on the glaze, which is also deliciously simple. I heated some sugar, cream and a pinch of salt in a saucepan until they reached candy temperature and poured the sauce over the cake. By the time we had walked over to our friends’ apartment, the glaze was set and the cake was looking shiny and sticky and very tempting.

* Okay, actually, I may have “accidentally” shaved a tiny, teensy bit off the top just to make sure it wasn’t, like, poisoned or something, but you can keep a secret, right?

oh my goodness.


Waiting for cake-eating time was excruciating. First we chatted and caught up with our friends, and then we ate dinner, and then there was the obligatory holding period in which everyone (or at least me) was wanting to eat cake but not quite ready to own up to it. But then, finally, it was time for dessert. And, I have to say, holy handbaskets, this cake was really, really good. Seriously. I absolutely understand why the dude over at Lottie and Doof says he doesn’t share it with anyone: it’s fluffy and chewy and not too sweet and, most importantly in my opinion, there’s just something that feels cozy and heartening about it. I was also really pleased that I had decided to use some wheat flour; it added just enough of character and body to spice things up a bit, taste-wise. So thank you, Lottie and Doof, for alerting the world to the existence of such cakely deliciousness.

And you can partake in the aforesaid deliciousness, too, you know, just below the fold.

fantastic buttermilk cake with caramel glaze


buttermilk cake with caramel claze.
(adapted from Gourmet, via Lottie and Doof)

cake flour 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon
whole-wheat pastry flour 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon
baking powder 1 teaspoon
baking soda 3/4 teaspoon
salt 1/2 teaspoon
unsalted butter, pliable but still cool 1/2 cup (1 stick)
granulated sugar 3/4 cup
light brown sugar, packed scant 1/4 cup
vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
large eggs, at room temperature 2
well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature 1 cup
caramel glaze
heavy cream 1 cup
light brown sugar 1/2 cup
light corn syrup (optional; I didn’t use any) 1 tablespoon
salt pinch
vanilla extract 1 teaspoon

for the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a square of parchment paper cut to fit exactly and then butter the parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the work bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium speed until pale, light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Keeping the speed a medium, add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the buttermilk until just combined (don’t worry if the mixture looks granular or curdled). Remove the bowl from the mixer and, working with a wooden spoon, add the flour in three additions, mixing just to combine after each addition.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles (note: I didn’t do this, and things turned out okay, but you should give it a shot). Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a wire rack, removing and discarding the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Flip the cake right-side up and cool completely, about 1 hour.

for the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed 1 1/2 quart saucepan over medium (not high) heat, bring the heavy cream, brown sugar, corn syrup (optional), and salt to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil over medium heat until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on a candy thermometer (the glaze should be thickened, but not hard), 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

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


photos by the unbearably wonderful Kenan.

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9 notes

  1. Auntie KIm says:

    My sweet Cate! I’m so glad that I finnaly ventured farther into cyber space and found this wonderful place! I come here often ’cause it always makes me smile. I made messy cookie cake last week, I hadn’t had it in over 8 years, I found out the hard way that if you want to double it do not put it in a 9×13! That is unless you are curious as to what cream cheese flowing like lava looks like. It did scrape off the bottem of the oven fairly easy, much to my delight. I love ya little girl! Keep up the good work . I’ll be watching and baking vicariously through you!
    Auntie Kim

    p.s. May I ask a personal question? How do you feel about………. ginger snaps?

    • girlcate says:

      Hi, Auntie Kim! Oh, it makes me so happy that you were making messy cookie cake, even if it didn’t turn out perfectly. it’ll only be better next time, right?

      And as far as gingersnaps are concerned, I love them! I will get cracking on a recipe and get it posted here soon, for sure!


  2. Cousin Annie says:

    Along with Auntie Kim, I, too, am intrigued by gingersnaps. And by this buttermilk cake with carmel glaze! I’ll have to track down the whole-wheat pastry flour and give it a whirl. Why is it that I love any baked goods that include buttermilk?


    P.S. “Bakings powder and soda” made me chuckle.

    • girlcate says:

      Well, Annie, the reason you love baked goods with buttermilk is simply because they’re the best ;). Did you end up getting to give the cake a try?


  3. emily says:

    Delicious!!! I want to hear more about the Missouri Grain Project — and also bend your ear about ideas of things to make with my own Missouri wheat flour! Clearly we need to hang out soon, what with all this chatting we have to do.

    • girlcate says:

      Well, I would be happy to tell you all about the Missouri Grain Project, and about whole wheat pastry flour, and other delicious baking things. But you’re so hard to pin down! When are you free in the near future?


  4. yvonne says:

    hi cate ^_^.

    i love your blog. it’s absolutely wonderful and makes me so hungry!

    i found your site through kenan; we’re friends from college. keep baking and sharing! i’ve listed your site as one of my faves and share it with others. xo


    • girlcate says:

      hey, yvonne!

      sorry it’s taken me so long to respond; i’ve been off doing other, dumb, not ‘blog-related stuff. i’m so thrilled that you like the site! we have a really good time putting it together. i’ve added your site to my ‘blogroll, too, and i’ve really been enjoying browsing through it. i’m super excited to try that chocolate apple pie recipe: two of my favorite things in the world, ever.

      hope things are well – look forward to reading more of your stuff!


  5. Barbara Green says:

    Old old friend of your Aunt Yemmie….i lived in santa rosa til 2001, moved to Maryland..Your aunt has been to visit a few times..just had long ph conv with her..since she and i are both on recovery list..me..open heart surgery..told me of your site..great job..everything looks so yummy…

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