Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“If you came to me with a face I have not seen, with a name I have never heard, I would still know you.
Even if centuries separated us, I would still feel you.
Somewhere between the sand and the stardust, through every collapse and creation,
there is a pulse that echoes of you and I.

When we leave this world, we give up all our possessions and our memories.
Love is the only thing we take with us.
It is the only thing we carry from one life to the next.”

—Lang Leav

Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

My parents have been married for 29 years today,
and they have been best friends for even longer than that.

They have given me everything I have and taught me (most) everything I know.
Everything practical, at least.
Importantly, my parents have both taught me patience and forgiveness and understanding—each in their own unique way.
It takes patience to cultivate a relationship with someone that can last as long as theirs has.
(There has to be a Modern Love column about this…)

I can’t help but marvel at how much longer they have known each other than I have known them (or they, me).
How much better they must know one another than I know them, and in such a different light.

Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

29 years, 4 kids, 3 (4?) cities, 2 dogs, 2 cats, x gray hairs

I feel as though a year is this significant passing of time—I feel like my own relationship has grown and matured and deepened in color in just a handful of months…
I cannot fathom 29 years.  It is a testament.
It is humbling and a reminder that good things are worth working and waiting for.
I am so incredibly proud to be the product of my parent’s marriage.
I am so incredibly grateful for my parents love and dedication, to one another and to their family.
No one said it was easy, but I think they’ve done a damn good job.  Not that I’m biased or anything.

Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This drippy, caramel-drenched cake was a true delight to make, decorate, and eat.
I’m posting it very late (I made this in… April?) because it’s a goody and it needed something special to be shared with.

And yes, while my parents can’t try this cake, even if I had made it yesterday, this way, they know I’m thinking of them while they get to spend their day relatively unbothered by their pesky daughter—I’ll let them have this special day mostly to themselves, I guess.
(Read: was I texting my dad at 2:30 AM last night?  Maybe…  Was he super thrilled?  Uhhhh. No. Did he respond? You betcha. Fewer annoying texts today, I promise. Love you Daddy!)

Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

The sum of this simple cake is much greater than the parts.
Just three components—all basic ingredients that you probably have in your pantry at this very moment—and a cake worthy of any celebration is born.

The base is my go-to, perfect vanilla cake, with a soft, dense crumb, wonderfully buttery, eggy, and sweet.
It’s paired with fluffy, tangy cream cheese frosting, sweet and uncomplicated and classic.
The whole thing is completely Pollack’ed with lashings of dark amber caramel hit with a generous dose of sea salt.
The cake is topped off with almond sanding sugar and gold luster dust, for a sparkly, starry finish.

I love cream cheese + caramel, because I find the sweetness and tanginess of the cream cheese is tempered by the complexity of the caramel.
A bite of this cake is soft and creamy and unfussily delicious.
You can’t go wrong with this much salted caramel.
You just can’t.

Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy anniversary, guys.
You’re my favorite humans—I love you!

Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Cream Cheese and Salted Caramel Cake
makes 1 3×6-inch layer cake

for the cake:
113 grams (1 stick) butter, soft
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
150 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

for the caramel:
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
30 grams (2 tablespoons) water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
90 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

for the frosting:
170 grams (6 ounces) cream cheese, soft
220 grams (1 cup) butter, soft
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
360 grams (3 cups) powdered sugar
60 grams (1/4 cup) half and half, as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

to decorate:
almond sugar
gold luster dust

Make the cake: grease and flour 3 6-inch round baking pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat butter on high speed for 3 minutes, until completely fluffy and no lumps remain.
Add the salt and sugar and beat for 5 full minutes; the mixture should be very light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and the egg yolks and beat for another 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the buttermilk and vanilla extract; gently stir with a spoon until about half is incorporated.
Add in the flour and baking powder and stir until incorporated; beat for 30 seconds on high to ensure homogeneity.
Spread the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool completely.
To make the caramel, heat the sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt together over medium heat, whisking at the beginning just until they dissolve.
Stop stirring and allow to caramelize into an amber color (about 5 minutes), then remove from heat and quickly whisk in butter and cream, being careful of the splattering.
Whisk until completely smooth, then allow to cool before using.
To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed with the salt for 4 minutes.
Add in the powdered sugar and stir on medium speed while adding in the half and half and vanilla slowly (half and half as needed).
Beat on high speed until very fluffy and light, about 5 minutes.
To assemble the cake, stack layers with a thick coat of cream cheese, drizzling each with caramel as you go.
Decorate the top as is, dusting with gold luster dust and sprinkling with sanding sugar, if desired.

23 thoughts on “Stardust

  1. Hi Rachel, I just love your blog, every post is so inspiring. So I made this cake today, added strawberries and strawberry glaze before the icing bit to put a Canadian twist on it for Canada Day. It’s delicious! But definitely not as pretty as yours, ha! I have I hard time with icings…they always seem to curdle on me. I’ve never added cream to an icing before, so it was a little on the liquidy side so I added more icing sugar to thicken it up. It was good, left it on the counter which I suppose I should have popped it into the fridge, and it softened a bit more making it super hard to pipe. So-I didn’t really have that much time to wait, I put it in the fridge for 5 min, not that much better but ok. Assembled it all and it looks as though its gotten lumpy and curdling with he caramel on top. It’s just not pretty… What is my icing problem? Maybe I whip it too much after it reached a good consistency, maybe I whip it too fast? (both cheese and butter were soft room temp to begin) Maybe I should refridge or shouldn’t refridgerate it? I just don’t know the scientific answer-but I have make quite a few batches of buttercream in my time and usually if I add something other than butter and icing sugar-it curdles… Hope you can help, I’m making the pavlova for my moms bday next week. Will let you know how it goes!

    1. Ashley, I’m so glad you tried the cake! Adding strawberries to the icing is a big change because of the acidity and juiciness… it makes it very likely that the icing will curdle. Whipping it too much is not an issue, generally, but adding other ingredients not called for in the recipe can be! It depends what you want to add to the buttercream. My advice would be to find a recipe for the flavor buttercream you want to make and follow it closely! And never be afraid of using the refrigerator if your icing is too soft. It won’t hurt it! Let me know how the pavlova goes xx

  2. Can I just tell you how very much raw emotion you evoke in me through your writing?!! Wow, just… Wow!! I was drawn to your site through Pinterest and couldn’t have been more delighted to discover your gift of words; I almost missed it as I initially headed right for the recipe you posted, but thankfully my eyes wandered upward and found myself reading “it gets better” and moments later sobbing from deep within as it has been a year and a half since I lost my dad… And, yes, it gets better. Somehow. And then almost as soon as the tears came, I found myself giggling out loud as you unfolded that delicious recipe…

    And so I had to read some other posts of yours and i just feel so tickled and blessed to have discovered you:).

    Your beautiful words are food to my soul:). Looking forward to diving into your past posts and keeping up with your new ones. Thanks for sharing your gifts with the world!!

    Claudia (wife, mama, baker, dreamer)

    1. Claudia – Wow. I am so incredibly flattered and excited to meet a fellow baker and dreamer. Thank you so much for your kind words! You are precisely the kind of reader with whom I hope to connect in this little space xx

  3. Rachey,
    This was a lovely tribute. Your dad and I were really touched. Thanks so much.
    Now come home and make us this cake!

  4. Dear Rachel,
    I was house hunting in Ithaca this weekend with my 5 year old daughter and I met your wonderful mom, Serena! Your mom told me about your blog and, wow, I am utterly inspired by your delicious creations & writing…as an art curator and foodie (I also work in P.E. in NYC) I adore the phrase “The whole thing is completely Pollack’ed with lashings of dark amber caramel hit with a generous dose of sea salt.” Can’t wait to attempt a few of your wondrous creations.

    1. Elizabeth, I shall have to thank my mom for sending you here! Glad to have you as a reader, as we sound like kindred spirits–thank you for your kind words! Hope you found Ithaca as enchanting as we Ithacans do… xx

  5. Hi Rachel! I just discovered your blog and I positively love it. Your work is so beautiful – both photography and recipes. I also love your style and writing; you definitely have a new follower! 🙂 This cake looks incredible and sounds incredible. Congrats to your parents for being married so long <3

    1. Beeta, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so grateful and glad to have wonderful readers like you 🙂

  6. I’m so excited to try this recipe but I’m curious what brand of luster dust you use? Looking online I’ve seen that some of the reviews complain about a metallic taste or of it being unsafe to use on cakes. I just want to use a brand that will not affect the taste of my cake but will still give it the amazing sparkle that your photos show. Thanks so much!

  7. I’m so excited to try this recipe but I’m curious what brand of luster dust you use? Looking online I’ve seen that some of the reviews complain about a metallic taste or of it being unsafe to use on cakes. I just want to use a brand that will not affect the taste of my cake but will still give it the amazing sparkle that your photos show. Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. Megan, I use Wilton brand. I think the key is to go a little light on the luster dust. Just a little goes a long way in regards to sparkle! And I have never noticed a metallic taste, and I’m pretty sensitive to that kind of thing (i.e. aluminum in baking powder…). Best of luck, let me know how it goes xx

      1. Thanks a bunch! Sorry, I’ve got one more question – 6 inches seems a bit small for a baking pan. Is this an English measurement or is it a common size? How would the cake turn out if an 8 inch pan was used? I guess this cake might be smaller than it looks in the photos?

        1. 6 inches is a fairly common size—nearly all my cakes are this size as I don’t always have a crowd to feed! If it’s made in an 8 inch pan you will only have 2 layers, but no adaptations need to be made and your layers will still be plenty thick!

  8. i was very excited about this cake. and while i had no expectations it would be this pretty i hoped the taste would make up for it. unfortunately i was disappointed by this cake. if you use regular sized pans the cake will be slim. no problem. i decided i was just make the recipe twice and have four layers. i paused at the instructions for the addition of the cream into the frosting. in my gut i knew it should have been slowly added AS NEEDED but perhaps not all of it. the frosting turned into a runny tasty mess. no amount of additional powdered sugar, cream cheese, corn starch or refrigeration helped it. there was no way that frosting was being piped anywhere. putting the cake together the runny frosting plotted its escape to the edges, never to return to the center again…leaving an interesting thing going on here. four layers of cake with runny frosting. now perhaps it could have been salvageable had the cake actually been good. but it was dry. the salted caramel was amazing though.

    1. Kia, I’m sorry to hear that the cake didn’t turn out as hoped! Unfortunately, when you make the recipe in regular sized pans, the baking time needs to be drastically decreased (I often find by 10 minutes, which is an eternity in the oven!) to compensate for the decreased thickness of the layers. As far as the frosting goes, the wet ingredients can be unpredictable beasts depending on how fast you stream them in, which has all to do with the emulsion being formed; I found I needed the 1/4 cup listed plus a splash. However, I fixed the directions to better reflect that it should go in slowly (and as needed). So sorry that you had to have a bad experience in order for me to fix that instruction. xoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *