Poured Caramel Cake 16.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post

Oct 12, 2018

This yellow sheet cake is the kind typically brought to Southern gatherings and flavorful enough to serve plain. The caramel is something chef Carla Hall has worked to perfect over the years -- silky soft and sticky, and pourable without being too runny.

Make Ahead: The plain cake can be covered and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. Start the caramel while the cake is in the oven.

16 - 20

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 16-20 servings; makes one 9-by-13-inch cake

  • For the cake
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) room-temperature unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups flour, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • For the caramel
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk


For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use some butter and then flour to coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or dish (Pyrex).

Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.

Combine the 2 cups of flour, the sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on low speed until well blended. Add the oil (low speed); once that is evenly distributed, add the butter a tablespoon at a time, beating until fully incorporated. The mixture will have the consistency of coarse sand.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stop to scrape down the bowl. On medium speed, gradually add the buttermilk mixture, beating to form a smooth batter.

Pour into the pan; bake (middle rack) for about 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; let the cake cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the caramel: Place the butter in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is half melted, add the sugar and salt. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is dark golden brown. It will look grainy and the fat will separate from the sugar, then come back together. Remove from the heat.

Carefully, gradually whisk in the evaporated milk; the caramel will initially bubble up. Use the spoon to dislodge any bits of sugar stuck to the bottom of the pan; keep whisking until all the sugar has dissolved.

Return to the stove top, over low heat. Cook for about 1 hour, whisking often, to create a smooth and creamy, richly colored caramel. Let cool, stirring occasionally.

Pour the barely warm caramel over the cooled cake (in its pan). Let the caramel set before serving.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration” (Harper Wave, 2018).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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