Yesterday was my sister Julie’s birthday so I made her a Brown Sugar Penuche Cake. It’s her favorite cake. It’s also my mom’s favorite cake as well as a long list of others in our family. The moist, light Brown Sugar Cake filled with the rich, sweet Penuche Filling and Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) is a sure pleaser.
In our family, we call this Caramel Cake, but there really is no caramel in this variation so I did not want to be misleading. Even so, this cake has a very caramel-like flavor that is warm and appealing.
The Penuche Filling is really what puts this cake over the top. If you have not had penuche, it is like brown sugar fudge with a firm texture and buttery sweetness. If you do not like foods very sweet I suggest you skip this filling and fill with extra Brown Sugar SMBC. This filling is ultra sweet and not for the faint of tooth, but it’s so delicious!
This cake is lighter in texture than some of my other cakes which provides nice contrast to the dense filling. Here are some of the features of this Brown Sugar Cake:
- Using oil as the primary fat keeps the cake moist and allows for nice volume.
- A little butter aids texture, provides flavor and allows for some aeration.
- Extra egg yolks help emulsify the batter which helps with rise and moisture and the yolks add flavor.
- Brown Sugar increases the cakes moisture.
- Sour cream adds moisture and flavor without weighing down the cake.
The Brown Sugar SMBC has only the change in sugar from traditional SMBC, but the brown sugar adds great depth of flavor. It is a perfect compliment to the cake. Starting this buttercream in the microwave makes this icing super fast to make.This cake is wonderful as it but you could also modify its basic form by adding spices, chopped apples, pears or peaches or fold in some chopped nuts. If you truly would like a caramel cake you can also replace half of the brown sugar with caramel sauce that is homemade or purchased.
I hope you have fun with this cake and embrace its inner sweetness!
- 12 ounces (340 grams) brown sugar-1 ½ cups
- 5 ¾ ounces (163 grams) granulated sugar-generous ¾ cup
- 2 ounces (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces weight (113 grams) vegetable oil- ½ cup
- 2 large eggs plus 3 large yolks
- 14 ounces (396 grams) all-purpose/plain flour-2 ¾ cup
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 8 ounces (wt.) sour cream
- ¾ cup whole milk (6 ounces vol./0.18 grams)
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 4 ounces (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter
- 8 ounces (1 cup/227 grams) brown sugar-1 cup
- 5 tablespoons (75 milliliters) milk
- 14 ounces (397 grams) powdered/confectioner’s sugar-3 ½ cups
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces (227 grams) egg whites from whole eggs or a carton
- 16 ounces (454 grams) brown sugar-2 cups
- 16 ounces (454 grams) unsalted butter softened but not warm-2 cups
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C) and spray three 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
- Beat brown sugar, sugar, butter and oil on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and then beat for 1 minute. Sprinkle in dry ingredients and mix on low until moistened. Add sour cream, milk and vanilla and stir on low to combine then increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.
- Pour batter evenly into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Rotate pans half way through baking time. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Fill the cooled cake with Penuche Filling and frost the cooled cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream or buttercream of choice. Enjoy!
- Heat the butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat in a medium sauce pan; stir and cook until the mixture boils over the entire surface and appears lighter in color. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. I often use my emersion blender to smooth the icing out. Let cool slightly before filling cake but not too much or the filling will become solid.
- Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl; Make sure the mixture is well mixed so the sugar can protect the eggs from cooking. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 2-4 minutes on high in 30 second intervals whisking well after each 30 second heating. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 f/72 C. Pour the syrup into a cake pan or shallow metal bowl (straining the mixture if any lumps are present) and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it is cool.
- Meanwhile, beat the butter in a mixer for 2 minutes on high until the butter is lighter in color and aerated. Add the cooled syrup in two additions to the butter beating 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds until smooth; use immediately.
- You can store this buttercream at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.