You could say, I guess, that it was love at first sight. I don’t tend to feel instantly head over heels for anything, much less kitchenware, but this cake plate, which I spotted at a great little antique mall in LaGrange Saturday, might be an exception.
It’s made of milk glass, that opaque substance resembling the color of creamy milk, which is so pretty to look at, and matches a set of plates I’ve been forming, if slowly. It’s also in mint condition, heavy, with decorative etches beneath the plate and on the top of the stem.
And earlier that morning, I had just been saying how much I’d love to find a pedestal cake plate made of milk glass, minus heavy fluting or bows, but the right size for a nine-inch round – in other words, this exact item, and there it was, staring at me from its perch at the bottom of a shelf.
After returning to the booth three times in the space of an hour – first alone, then with my brother, then with my mom.
I managed to unknowingly criticize the price just loudly enough for the owner, who was there rearranging his items, to hear me. He was very gracious, and we left with this, purchased for me as a gift by my mother the negotiator.
When I got home, as you can imagine, I had to bake a cake.
So I went through the starred posts in my Google Reader and remembered a recipe for caramel cake posted over at Lottie + Doof, in which Tim calls this his all-time favorite, the one he doesn’t like to share.
Now, I don’t know what your thoughts are on the subject of love at first sight, at least upon the reading of this post, but you’d be wise to hold your final opinions, at least until trying this cake. As for me: first there was the cake plate; then there was the cake, and in both situations, I am smitten.
Essentially, this is a simple, slightly dense yellow cake, which emerges from the oven soft and lightly golden. But what makes it so delicious is the homemade caramel glaze, a mixture of brown sugar and corn syrup and whipping cream, sweet and syrupy, perfect for soaking into the base.
Rather than buttermilk, I used sour cream, which is a reliable stand-in for cakes like these, and rather than an eight-inch square pan like the recipe originally called for, I chose a nine-inch round (remember my cake stand!).
My only trouble was with the glaze, which seemed more like an icing for me and didn’t solidify as much as I’d expected.
But what’s most important is its taste, which was wonderful, like sticky, caramel monkey bread in a proper cake form, the perfect dessert for Easter lunch.
It’s like a reminder that love at first sight can still happen, at least when it comes to perfect milk glass pedestal stands and the sticky-sweet caramel cakes that go on top of them.
*On candy thermometers: Mine broke halfway through the process, which is a shame since I just bought it! That could account for some trouble I had with getting the glaze to the right consistency.
I ended up letting it cool a little in the pan before pouring it on top of the cake, and even then, it seemed to run off the top and into the rim of the cake plate, which led me to spoon the sides of glaze back onto the top for a few minutes, while it began to set.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.