Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

I expected to be a little more refined by this point in my life. To have moved on from the struggling 20s to a sense of being more settled, having matured and grown up. Instead, I find the bar is still far out of reach and while I keep trying, I swear someone is moving it further and further away.

Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Icing - poet in the pantryThose who know me are well acquainted with my bad luck with automobiles. It’s nearly epic, actually. The whole 5ish years I was a stay-at-home mom, I drove a 1998 Chevy Blazer that was riddled with … quirks. First the wipers grew a mind of their own, selecting their own speed and often refusing to be stopped by a mere flick of a switch. A bit of recall work should have fixed that nuisance but, alas, it returned. Then the air conditioning went. The leather seats I loved became pretty darn uncomfortable in the summer, but it was manageable. I didn’t grow up with air conditioning–it can hardly be called a necessity. When the heat went, I had to remember to dress warmly and plan to pull over periodically to de-ice the windshield, if necessary. Most of my trips were in town, so it didn’t matter much, but driving to school and back could get interesting at times. I was pretty annoyed when the 4WD went, and the fix that was supposed to fix that didn’t work, but hey, I had some flexibility. I just wouldn’t drive if the roads were bad. The Blazer was paid for–it didn’t owe me a thing.

When I returned to the work force we decided to replace the Blazer with a more reliable mode of transportation. My Christmas gift that year was our first car loan in years on a 2005 Volkswagen Beetle with less than 90,000 miles. It was Sundown Orange and it was a dream by comparison. At least, until the transmission started acting up. By the time I had had the car for 7 months, I could no longer drive it. Once the car was well warmed up, the transmission got jumpy and it wasn’t exactly safe to drive. Stuck between a rock and a hard place–having the loan to pay but no extra money to replace or repair the transmission–it found a shady spot in the driveway to hunker down and I was back to driving the Blazer.

Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel IcingBy the Fall, my husband needed replacement transportation. Enter my grandfather’s 1992 Geo Metro Convertible. It was as basic as a car could be with hand-crank windows, a tape player, and little noise reduction padding. But it was free, so it was the right price for me. By the end of October, with winter looming and no desire to drive a rear-wheel drive vehicle 40 miles round-trip every day, I started driving the Geo. It was a small victory in that it was the first time I had driven a standard transmission since my partial paralysis to my left leg–it scared the hell out of me at first, actually–but I grew used to it and drove it the next 6 months.

All the while, the Beetle remained, a constant reminder of how the best laid plans don’t always work out the way we expect.

Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel IcingThis June, a co-worker replaced her 1997 Subaru Outback Wagon and offered it to us, free. It came with rust holes in the rear wheel wells and the caveat that it may not last 6 months, but it didn’t cost me a thing other than the registration. And right now, that works for me. It has air conditioning. It has heat. The wipers work the way they’re supposed to. And the seats are my favorite–leather. It may not be flashy, and today the exhaust fell apart on the way to work, but it works. It gets me there and back. Which is more than I can say about Clementine, that damn Bug I want to squash in my driveway.

While I may have a questionable vehicular past, it has taught me much, too. Tolerance. Appreciation. When your gas gauge can’t be relied upon, your tripometer is your best friend. Always stash a rag somewhere safe under the hood. If you smell something sickeningly sweet, you better check your coolant. That when your engine is overheating, you need to check the radiator for leaks, add water to the coolant tank, as needed, and blast the heat to draw the hot air away from the engine–at least for a few miles, til you can get it looked at. If you turn the key and the car doesn’t start, you can tell by the sounds if it’s the battery (and possibly the alternator) or the starter that’s the problem. There are certain places jacks go if you have to change a tire. (And scissor jacks should be outlawed!) Rain-X should be handed out with all cars–but most especially with those that have schizophrenic wipers. I can check my own oil and have to, often. I can add more, too.

Butermilk Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel IcingNo, this is not the glamorous life I had hoped to lead by this age, but it’s not such a horrible thing. I don’t have a fluffy, Angel Food Cake existence, but there is salted caramel from time to time, and we eat cake, too, even if it’s a little more dense. It’ll be okay. There will be time for that later, right?

5.0 from 2 reviews
Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Icing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon fleur de sel (flaky sea salt)
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (sifted, if you want to avoid lumps)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour (or coat in baking spray) a 10-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar, beating until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes).
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the first before moving on to the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture, starting with the dry and ending with the buttermilk in 3 additions.
  7. Spread in the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then place a cooling rack over the top and invert the pan, releasing the cake onto the rack. If it doesn't release immediately, let it cool a little longer. You may need to loosen the sides with a butter knife.
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar, and cream.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  4. Sprinkle the fleur de sel over the surface and turn the mixer onto 7 or 8 for 2 minutes.
  5. Turn off, add the confectioners' sugar, and whip again for another 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
  6. Place some wax paper or aluminum foil under the cake, still on the rack, and pour the glaze over the top of the cake (I spooned it over the top, adjusting to try to get an even coating).
  7. Let sit for 2 hours before serving.

Here’s how you can be a part of Bundt-a-Month:

  • Simple rule: Bake us a Bundt using caramel
  • Post it before July 31, 2013
  • Use the #BundtaMonth hashtag in your title. (For ex: title could read #BundtaMonth: Caramel Swirl Bundt)
  • Add your entry to the Linky tool below
  • Link back to our announcement posts

Here are this month’s caramel creations from the other Bundt-a-Month bakers:

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    • baker street on 10 July, 2013 at 2:38 am
    • Reply

    oh carrie! your pictures are just stunning! love the idea of salted caramel glaze on a simple buttermilk cake. thanks for baking along. 🙂

    1. Thank you, An! And thank you for inviting me to bake along with you!

    • Aya @sukarah on 10 July, 2013 at 4:19 am
    • Reply

    Your bundt looks great. I really want to stick my fork into it! Great work with this month’s theme.

  1. Whoa, Carrie! You have been through the car wringer! I love that you have kept your sense of humor and optimism through it all. That shows a great deal of maturity so maybe you have reached your goal after all.

    Your Bundt is beautiful! I need to try your glaze recipe next time because it looks exactly like what I was trying to achieve: drippy sweet perfection.

    1. If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry. Right? I didn’t even get into the destruction my own kids masterminded on our cars. That could be a whole other post!

      Usually I’m glaze-inept, but this one was the perfect consistency. Do let me know what you think of it!

  2. I love simple, buttermilk cakes. And, of course, salted caramel speaks for itself. Most of us don’t have the lives we pictured we’d have but…we probably have more than many. 🙂

    1. We make the most of what we had… sort of like salted caramel on a simple cake. But you’re right: there are plenty who have even less.

  3. I could really go for this for my breakfast right now!!! Looks so moist and delish.

    1. Breakfast…lunch…dinner. It’s all good!

  4. I hope you never get past the bundt cake and salted caramel phase, even if angel cake gets added – this is a great phase 🙂 Quite the car stories!

    1. There is a time and a place for angel food cake–but I’m perfectly content with cakes like this one. 🙂

  5. This cake looks amazing! All that caramel icing has my mouth watering! I’m sorry for all your car troubles. At least you have good stories to tell.

    1. And that’s the take-away–the cars may not be ideal, but they’re great fodder for stories.

  6. I’m glad the Subaru is working out! Car trouble can be a costly pain in the rear for sure. Now, for that gorgeous bundt cake, oh my!!!!!

    1. The only things that costs more in the long run than car maintenance are children. 😉 Thank you!

  7. Oh my goodness, through all your car troubles at least you’ve certainly learned a lot. I learned a lot just reading this post!! Great info and hopefully you will have a smooth ride in the future with a future vehicle. And this cake looks amazing! Love buttermilk anything and well, you just cannot go wrong with salted caramel.

    1. I could teach classes on basic car maintenance and cake baking. It could be a new series. 😉

  8. Oh my gosh, Carrie…..I think I can hire you as my car mechanic at this point! Look at all you’ve learned! I’m having some funky karma with my car, my refrigerator and my air conditioning! I swear, mechanical problems are hovering over me like a big black cloud! But at least we have CAKE! And yours looks phenomenal! I so wish I could have a taste of this! : )

    1. Funny thing–for a short while when I was 18, I actually considered training to become a mechanic! Who knew back then I’d need some of that knowledge even now. 😉

  9. Carrie,
    I loved reading this post. . learning about your car trials and tribulations. . but hey, wow! look at how much you know now!? Wow! I was all proud of myself for opening my hood and filling up the wiper fluid. HA! anyways. . loved this and gorgeous bundt cake!

    1. I am the queen of turning a bad situation upside down and seeing what I can take away from it. I have to be! Good for you–most people don’t know their way around cars at all. My father jokes that my brother’s hands are on backwards. 😉

    • Jenny on 10 July, 2013 at 5:37 pm
    • Reply

    Wow Carrie!! That is some terrible car luck!! 🙁 On the other hand, CAKE!!! 🙂 That looks delicious!!

    1. It’s a good thing I can drown my sorrows in cake, right? It’s certainly more affordable than a new car!

  10. Yum! I made a similar cake this month and yours looks wonderful– wishing I had some of your icing to drizzle on cake, ice cream or anything right about now!

    1. It’s kind of hard to not cross ideas a bit with caramel as the theme, but yours is just lovely. And brown butter–YUM! That’s gilding the lily right there!

  11. The tape player made me laugh. And girl, you do know how to repair your own car by now, most women never do! Next time, just be sure you have a few pieces of this outstanding bundt cake. Mmm..salted caramel, love it. It will make waiting for the tow truck much sweeter!

    1. I wonder how many have never seen a cassette player… 😉 Cake makes everything better, especially with salted caramel!

  12. I think butter milk makes cakes taste very moist. Love the addition..

    1. Buttermilk is becoming a favorite ingredient in cakes–it does add so much moistness. Thank you!

  13. This looks soooooo good. Way better then a new car. Air conditioning or not.

    1. New cars are over-rated, right? They’ll just break down and wear down over time. Cake will always be good. 😉

  14. What an ordeal dealing with all those car troubles. At least you have learned from it and are much more knowledgeable about cars than most folks your age or younger these days.
    And so true that at least there are delicious cakes like this one to take our minds off the daily troubles like car problems and such.

    1. Life never works out the way we plan, but we get what we need from it, right? 🙂 Cake makes everything better. Thank you!

    • J Timothy Quirk on 12 July, 2013 at 9:16 pm
    • Reply

    It is a bundt-endly clear I need to try to make a bundt one of these days!

    1. You don’t want to be the bundt of any jokes–just do it! 😉

  15. This looks so lovely and dense. The combination of both the cake and the icing look delicious. Great entry for this month’s theme.

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