- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting cake pans
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup half-and-half, plus a little more when frosting sets up
- Dash of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter and flour then line with parchment paper in two 9-inch cake pans for thick layers or three 9-inch cake pans for thinner layers.
Sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour and salt into large bowl. Add sugar and whisk until blended.
Combine butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over the flour and sugar. Whisk until blended.
Add the soda, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, and whisk until well blended and smooth. Pour batter into greased and floured baking pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking cake after about 15. Cake is done when tester comes out clean but be careful not to overcook. Remove pans from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn layers onto parchment covered racks to cool completely.
NOTE: You will have two pots going while making this frosting so have everything ready to go and have a large hot pad.
In large saucepan, place 2 1/2 cups sugar, butter, half-and-half, and a dash of salt. Cook on medium until almost to a rolling boil then pour in sugar syrup that you are making in another skillet. You can turn this pot on low while you’re melting the sugar in the other skillet.
At the same time, in a small skillet, place 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons water and stir. Melt the sugar on medium until it becomes an amber color. You don’t stir this sugar after the first time but you will need to shake the skillet and lift it off the burner every few minutes to help distribute the sugar and keep it from scorching. This is the sugar syrup that you will pour into the saucepan.
Once you pour the sugar syrup into the milk mixture, cook slowly on medium to medium-high, stirring constantly until soft ball stage or 235-240 on thermometer (thermometers may register differently).
Remove pot from heat, pour into a large bowl or the stand mixer bowl, stir in vanilla, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes
Whip on medium to medium-high speed or use hand mixer on medium and whip until the caramel becomes frosting consistency, 5-7 minutes.
If frosting sets too quickly or gets too thick or starts to separate, you can add a little additional half-and-half or milk.
Pour about 1/2 cup on top of each layer and the rest over the top of the cake. The frosting should run down the sides and you can spread it slightly with an offset spatula (dip in hot water.)