What I'm Listening To

Search my site




Birthday Sweet Tooth

This past Saturday was Adam's birthday. (Yay, happy birthday!) His birthday always gives me an opportunity to do some nice things for him, surprise him with presents, make him whatever food he wants. I love doing nice things for people I love. Is there really anything better?

We flipped through one of my cookbooks and he picked one out that sounded different and looked pretty darn tasty. Then we settled on dinner and drinks, and the menu was planned! I didn't take pictures of all the courses for you because I'm not neurotic and I like to actually enjoy everything rather than document every minute of it, but we got pictures of the important item!

I'll gloss over the Caesar salad I made, which was actually kinda fun because I used my vegetable peeler on a wedge of Parmesan to make fancy shavings. And I'll skip ahead past the lasagna too, even though it was glorious and made with a unique combination of Italian chicken sausage and cream cheese instead of ricotta.

No, let's jump right into the real main dish: Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping:

It's called a skillet cake because the primary method for making it is in a cast iron skillet, though you can use other methods if you don't have one.

Look at those glistening walnuts as the caramel slowly drizzles down the sides of the cake .... mmm ...I can almost taste it again. 

What's funny is that once the praline cools down completely, it sets into what I can only compare to a donut glaze. So while part of me wants to have a slice just out of the oven with oozy caramel, the other half of me wants to wait until the glaze sets because really, it's win-win.

I probably would not have chosen this cake for myself and, even a year or two ago, I might have wrinkled my nose at his choice because I've never been a huge walnut fan. 

But I, too, can mature with time, have grown to appreciate walnuts more, and actually found this cake rather appealing.

Ah, birthdays. Thank goodness they're calorie-free!

Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping

From Joy the Baker Cookbook


For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C. buttermilk

For the topping:

  • 3/4 C. packed brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C. heavy cream
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. roughly chopped walnuts


Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cast iron skillet and set aside. (Alternatively, you can use a 9" can pan.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or manually, though this will require lots of elbow grease), beat butter and sugar together until well incorporated and lighter in color, about 3 minutes. Add egg and yolk, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture. Then, add the buttermilk and, when the flour is just combined, add the remaining flour. Keep on low until almost all the flour has disappeared, then finish incorporating the ingredients manually with a spatula. Spoon batter into prepared skillet (or cake pan) and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is cooling, combine brown sugar, butter, cream and salt in a medium pan over medium heat. Bring to a soft boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts. Let sit for 20 minutes to firm up a little.

When ready to serve, pour praline topping over cake. 

Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Copyright 2004-2021 Elizabeth Shiver