April 4, 2012

The Help’s Caramel Cake & The Book Club Cookbook {Naptime Entertaining}

Caramel Cake

Every so often I get a cookbook in the mail that stops me in my tracks. My infatuation with it could be for many different reasons, in the case of The Book Club Cookbook it is because I love reading. As you know, I am never at a loss for reading recommendations. Need some new great novels, memoirs, or cookbooks to read? I could suggest thousands. The Book Club Cookbook, as the name insinuates, celebrates novels of all kinds through food. The authors worked with popular novelists to decide which recipes would pair well with their work. The result is this clever book that is fun to cook from and would even to be a blast to use for adding food themes to book club meetings.

In the case of The Help, the authors worked with Kathryn Stockett to decide which recipes to develop for their book. As you might guess, Chocolate Pie (the clean version), and Minnie’s Caramel Cake made the cut. There are tons of recipes in this book I can’t wait to try, but I simply had to start with the caramel cake. I’ve been thinking about that recipe since the movie came out and couldn’t wait to give it a shot.

Thankfully, the cake was truly naptime cooking-friendly. The batter came together in a snap and the layers baked up soft and fluffy. The icing, however, was another story. It took quite a bit if finagling before I got it right. I won’t lie, it wasn’t super-easy like I had hoped it would be. I wrote a lot of tips below I suggest you read before you start making it. The good news is that the finished cake was a real stunner. My daughter nearly fainted when she saw it on our counter and my husband almost polished off half of it himself. It would be ideal for entertaining a crowd, even on Easter!


 Caramel Cake

adapted from The Book Club Cookbook


3 sticks unsalted butter (1 ½ cups) at room temperature
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the icing:

2 large eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light cream


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour 3 9-inch cake pans and set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the flour. Whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda and beat into the flour. Then add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat well. Divide the batter evenly amongst the pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched.

3. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn them out onto cooling wracks to cool completely.

4. To make the icing: Mix the eggs, butter, 4 cups of sugar, and the milk in a saucepan and warm over low heat until the butter melts. At the same time, melt the 1 cup of sugar in a medium skillet over medium-low heat until brown and runny. While the sugar is melted do NOT stir it. Make sure it is in the skillet in one even layer in order for it to melt evenly.

5. Once it is melted pour the brown runny liquid into the egg mixture. It will turn into a big brown glop, but just keep stirring it and turn the heat to medium-high. Use a candy thermometer and cook until the liquid is 235F (soft-ball stage). While it cooks it will sputter a lot so stir it vigorously with a long-handled wooden spoon so as not to burn yourself. The book says this will take 10 minutes. I found it came together at minute 9:45, so be patient, it takes a lot of work!

6. Remove the icing from the heat and add the vanilla. Then pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 5 minutes, or until it turns into a spreadable consistency. Again, this takes at least five minutes, so be patient! If it gets too thick then add the cream to thin it out a bit. Remove the icing from the mixer and ice the cake immediately before the icing hardens.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This is a rich cake and is delicious served with ice cream or whipped cream.

Naptime Stopwatch

30 minutes prep time, 40 minutes cook time

Naptime Reviews

How could this not be a hit?


More Naptime Recipes

4 Responses to “The Help’s Caramel Cake & The Book Club Cookbook {Naptime Entertaining}”

  1. Crystal@alovinforkful says:

    The cake looks delicious! I love the idea of a book club cookbook. I also love reading and I always find myself craving the type of food based upon what is sometimes in my books. 

  2. […] haven’t tried any of the recipes yet but the naptime chef made The Help‘s Caramel Cake and it looks pretty delicious if you ask me. Some of the other recipes in this book […]

  3. Kim says:

    I can’t find light cream in any of my stores, can I use something else?