“Little Moments” Burnt Sugar Cake with Salted Caramel Browned Buttercream Frosting


Brad Paisley sure does have some good songs. “Little Moments” is a song where Brad sings of loving all those cute little imperfections of his lady. To him it’s the little mistakes that makes him love her all the more, and he reacts by burying her in a warm hug. Sigh.

“Well that’s just like last year on my birthday
She lost all track of time and BURNT the CAKE
And every smoke detector in the house was goin’ off
And she was just about to cry until I took her in my arms
And I tried not to let her see me laugh
Yeah I live for little moments like that”

Many years ago, my brother offered his house so that we could go to our friends Joyce and Scott’s wedding- Rob and his roomies were gone for the weekend. At 2 am we were awakened by Rob’s car alarm going off as someone had done a smash n’ grab on his truck. We called the cops, got a report, and taped his window shut. After sleeping only 2 hours that night, I decided to go out to get some breakfast, when I backed into a minivan, smashing his rear doors in completely. I fled the scene on foot to find a pay phone to let Himself know. The cops found me crying in the phone booth at the other end of the shopping center. We filled out the second police report of my day. I went back to Himself and told him what I had done, when he took me in a big hug and said, “that’s why we have insurance because I knew when I married you, you would crash all our cars.” The story gets worse from there, when in between our friends’ wedding and reception I ended up in the ER. Not so much a “Little Moment” day, but Himself has been with me in all kinds of moments, each with a big warm hug.

Going with the line in the song “burnt the cake,” I decided to make a Burnt Sugar Cake, because burning stuff on purpose is so much fun. The color is a rich rusty hue, the cake has a light and fluffy crumb, the burnt sugar flavor shines, and the frosting speaks entirely for itself. One Delicious Cake.

Burnt Sugar Cake with Salted Caramel Browned Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients for Frosting:

2 T. sweet cream butter

4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup sweet cream butter
1/2 cup caramel topping sauce, like Smucker’s Brand
5 T. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. sea salt crystals

Instructions for Frosting:
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter and cook until browned. It will be deep golden brown with brown solid bits in it. Watch, this burns quickly. Set aside. In your stand mixer, mix powdered sugar and butter until a soft crumb forms. While the mixer is running, pour in caramel topping, and mix well. Mix in cream, vanilla, browned butter, and salt until well blended a fluffy. Cover and set aside until ready to frost the cake. This can be made the day before, stored in the refrigerator, and brought to room temperature before using.

Ingredients for Cake:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup hot water

3 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

12 T. sweet cream butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 eggs

Instructions for Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small heavy bottomed pan, over medium, stirring continuously, melt sugar until it turns dark brown, and begins to bubble up. Once it begins to bubble up, remove the pan from heat, and very carefully and slowly, pour in hot water. **You are pouring water into a liquid that is hotter than it’s own boiling point, take caution, go slow, it spatters! Be sure to wear an oven mit on your pouring hand to prevent burns. Stir in water until smooth. Let cool while you make the cake batter.

In a stand mixer, mix flour, 1 cup sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add butter and mix until a fine crumb forms. In a bowl, whisk together vanilla, buttermilk, and eggs. While mixer is running, slowly pour egg mixture, alternating with burnt sugar mixture until all ingredients are incorporated. Mix on meduim speed for 30 seconds. Pour evenly into three greased 9 inch cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until center springs back when touched. Let set in pans for 5 minutes before removing. Run a knife around each cake and flip onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely. Place one cake on a pretty cake plate and frost with 1/3 of the frosting. Top with second cake and frost with 1/3 frosting. Top with last cake and frost with remaining frosting, making pretty swirls. Cover and keep in a cool place. Serves 10-12.

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What’s your “Little Moment”?


  1. FOODalogue
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Loved your little story! So creative to wrap your experience around a recipe. That's looks pretty good too!

  2. Sheila
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    This must be really good and moist with both hot water and buttermilk in there. Lovely pictures!

  3. Mimi
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    Great story! My mom used to make burnt sugar cake, it really is wonderful, or at least that is how I remember it.

  4. oneordinaryday
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    I just love three layer cakes – they make such a statement! So pretty and sounds delish.

  5. grace
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

    brad paisley is magnificent, and so is this cake! loved the story, robin sue. 🙂

  6. Zane and Van
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    Brad Paisley… oh we love him! We love that you mentioned him in this post. The cake is gorgeous!

  7. Fallon
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

    That cake sounds amazing. I like how you simply just layered on the frosting instead of making it all pretty around the curves. Regardless it will get all eaten up!

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