Um, this is a humble-looking cake.

That’s a polite way of saying, “Look, I know this cake is ugly.” It’s brown cake on a brown cheesecake with some brown caramel drizzled on top. It has holes where I poked it with a toothpick. It’s kinda crooked. Whatever. That’s okay.

I’ve been thinking about ugliness and prettiness a lot lately. I teach 7th graders, and the issue comes up often with them. Sometimes they explicitly address it, but more often, I see girls meticulously adjusting their hair in a window, rolling their shorts up a little shorter than their parents would allow, reapplying perfume and lip gloss in the hallway, making passing comments about the importance of mascara to their friends, and joining in a group gripe session about what shoes they can and cannot wear at school. The pull to be pretty is incredibly strong.

These are not those teenage girls you see in movies, either — those vain, flighty girls who have never seen the inside of a novel. They aren’t stereotypes. These girls are brilliant, fun, athletic, witty, strong, independent. They’re all those great things — and they still feel the pressure. Does my body look like everyone else’s? Do my clothes seem stylish? Do I need to wear makeup? Does my outfit look all right? Even as they’re boldly marching to their own drum, they’re hearing the one that TV shows, movies, magazines, and the millions of sexualized images contained therein beat for them every day. The one that says: “You don’t look quite right. You should buy something to fix the problem.”

(Before we go on, I should warn you that the rest of this post could be triggering to those with eating disorders.)

I’ve never been a man, so I can’t speak for them. But as a woman, I can tell you that there’s a naked, humiliated discomfort that creeps up through your chest sometimes when you look around a room. It’s cold and withering. Suddenly you want to wiggle your pants a little lower, adjust your shirt, slick your tongue across your dry lips, smooth any frizzies in your hair, suck in your tummy, push your shoulders back.

As we get older, we practice resisting the serpentine siren song of self-hatred. We engage in positive self-talk. We tell ourselves that strong is the new skinny. We decide to think of food as fuel, not an emotional tool. We support body-positive advertising campaigns. We stop counting calories or weighing ourselves if those things present a problem. We try to resist fashion trends that perpetuate the cycle of objectification (even though “everyone’s wearing them!” — sigh). We do this for ourselves and for our daughters, hoping that they grow up with a mindset of self-love and a measure of comfort with their own bodies.

But it’s still hard. And from what I remember and what I hear, it can be even harder for adolescents.

I won’t harp on this next point. It’s not some dramatic reveal; it’s my life. It’s a fact about me, just like it’s a fact that I love my dog and would drive miles out of my way for a fountain Coke Zero. It just happens to be a fact I don’t particularly relish discussing. I’ve thought about telling you for months — every time someone asks, “How do you stay fit eating all that cake?” — and now I’m just going to, because there’s no shame in saying what I’m about to say: I’ve struggled with disordered eating since high school. My mindset about food and my body has never been healthy — and there’s a gap between my self-image and my physical reality that causes a lot of emotional distress for me. Lady Gaga just acknowledged this same thing to destroy the shame and stigma attached to the issue, and to blow the issue wide open.

I’ve obviously known about my own issues for years (and addressed it in appropriate ways), but hearing the occasional student discussing calorie counts, hearing about people who have been targeted because of their weight, hearing a student say the really scary F-word, and seeing the body-anxiety people are admitting to on Lady Gaga’s website makes me realize: it’s time to get angry (this article contains some offensive language).

I’m angry that anyone decided they could turn my physical appearance into an emotional game to earn more money. I’m angry that they create illusions to manipulate us (slathering heavy makeup onto rail-thin girls; pouring them into tiny clothing; sexualizing them and emphasizing their body parts as objects for consumption; contorting them into the shapes of inanimate objects; photographing them; airbrushing them into oblivion; and slapping their photos across roadways, shopping malls, televisions, movie screens, magazines, and the internet). I’m angry that they target us — they target older women (aren’t you tired of those wrinkles?), they target fat women (don’t you want to smooth out your body shape?), they target thin women (don’t you want a push-up bra?), they target young women (here are the newest, skinniest skinny jeans), they target moms (when will you get back to your pre-pregnancy jeans?). I’m angry that while we’re telling our 12- and 13-year-old girls how fantastic and smart and capable they are, they’re hearing from dozens of other sources that they’re not good enough.

But anger can be productive. Angry girls can stop buying products made by companies who try to hurt them. They can say, “My body was not created to for the sole purpose of looking sexy for others,” and wear the clothes that make them happy and comfortable. They can decide to focus on the food that fuels them well and the exercise that energizes them, not the number on the scale. They can politely refute peers who try to convince them they should be worrying about clothes, makeup, and being attractive. They can enjoy fashion choices as tools for expression and not for marketing themselves. When they’re angry, they have the strength of their indignation supporting them when they say, “This has gotta stop. This will stop with me!”

(P.S. Here’s a pretty awesome example of a girl who said just that (strong language).)

* * *

It’s kind of problematic to talk about health, weight, and body image on a blog where I post decadent desserts every week, so I wanted to take a moment to tell you what I think about eating. Not those disordered thoughts that sometimes hold me back, but the wholesome thoughts I trust. My ideal — one that I am spotty about conforming to for lots of reasons — is that you should eat, mostly, to fuel your body with healthy, humanely-produced food. Eating should be about positive provision for yourself, not about negative restrictions. Sweets, however — especially particularly decadent ones like this cake — should be an every-now-and-then treat, one that you refuse to deny yourself, but also one that you don’t let enslave you.

When you’re looking for one of those every-now-and-then treats, this cake is the perfect choice. What it lacks in, ahem, visual appeal, it makes up for tenfold in taste. The brown butter pumpkin cake layer is nutty, spiced, and delicious atop the smooth, sweet pumpkin cheesecake. A gorgeous salted caramel sauce is poured on each slice just before serving.

What is your food philosophy? How do you boost your own self-confidence in the face of all the industries trying to tear it down for profit?

One year ago: Pumpkin Cheesecake Stuffed Snickerdoodles
Two years ago: Blueberry Stuffed French Toast Bowls
Three years ago: Best Ever Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Easy Caramel Frosting and Spiced Apples

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake with Salted Caramel

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, with a pumpkin cake layer adapted from Fine Cooking, salted caramel from Martha Stewart, and a cheesecake adapted from Betty Crocker
Yield: 10-12 servings

Pumpkin cheesecake alone is delicious, and even moreso if it’s settled into a gingersnap crust. But top that cheesecake with a layer of brown butter pumpkin cheesecake (and then drizzle on some salted caramel for good measure) and you have yourself a downright masterpiece. This cake would be perfect for Thanksgiving!

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake Ingredients:
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons buttermilk

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients:
3 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (this was about 45 cookies for me)
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons butter
pinch of table salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons brandy, if desired
1 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs

Salted Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 (2 tablespoons) cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) creme fraiche or sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt

To make browned butter pumpkin cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9-inch cake pans very thoroughly Cut a parchment round to fit in the bottom and then grease that too. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook it, swirling occasionally, until it’s golden brown with a nutty aroma, around 4 minutes. Remove it from heat and pour it into a bowl to cool for about 15 minutes.

Whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves in a small bowl. In a separate, large bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, and buttermilk until well combined. Use a spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until just combined, and then whisk in the browned butter. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, around 28 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F to prepare it for the cheesecake. Let cake cool in their pan until mostly cool before turning it out onto wax paper to wrap and freeze. Freeze at least 30 minutes or until firm.

Make the cheesecake crust: Place the gingersnap cookie crumbs and salt in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook it, swirling occasionally, until it’s golden brown with a nutty aroma, around 4 minutes. Remove it from heat and pour it over the cookie crumbs. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan (at least 3 inches up the sides). It’s hard to get the crust up that high, but keep pressing the crumbs up from the bottom with a smooth-sided glass (twisting the glass as you do so, so the crumbs don’t stick) and working them around — you’ll want it that high to hold the cake layer. Patience helps with this step. Bake the crust for about 8 minutes.

Make the cheesecake: In a small bowl, mix the flour, pumpkin pie spice, brandy, and pumpkin and set this aside. In the bowl of a mixer, mix cream cheese, brown sugar, and regular sugar until well blended and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each, and continue mixing until combined. Add the pumpkin mixture and continue mixing until combined. Pour mixture into prepared crust and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until center of cake is almost set. The top may crack, but it doesn’t particularly matter, since you’ll be covering it anyway. When it’s ready, turn the oven off and leave the door open at least 4 inches. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 30 minutes. Place the cheesecake on a wire rack to fully cool. When almost cool, place it in refrigerator to chill.

Make caramel sauce: Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture boils and sugar dissolves, washing down sides of pan often with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until sugar turns dark amber (about 345 degrees on a candy thermometer), 5 to 7 minutes more. Immediately remove from heat, and carefully whisk in 1/2 cup cream. Return to medium heat, and cook until sugar melts completely and mixture boils.

Remove from heat, and pour into a bowl set in ice-water bath. Let caramel cool, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Stir in creme fraiche, vanilla, and salt. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

Assemble the cake: Smear a layer of caramel sauce on top of the cheesecake and carefully place your pumpkin cake layer on top. Pour the rest of the salted caramel on top of the cake layer. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Top with toasted pecans.

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29 Comments on Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake with Salted Caramel

  1. Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    October 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Julie, I’m new here (though I’m wondering how I haven’t visited before!). What a gorgeous cheesecake for fall – I love the brown butter, pumpkin and salted caramel together. Frankly, this is my idea of a beautiful dessert!

  2. Angela @ The Dancer Bakes
    October 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm (10 years ago)

    All I can say to this post is: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Being a dancer and a dessert lover, I struggle a lot with my body image – not hard to do in an industry where the flatness of your stomach could make or break a job opportunity. People constantly tell me how thin I am but I don’t know how to be content with the shape of my body. I’m getting there – thanks to God and some amazing friends an family in my life – but it’s still a daily battle against the distorted version of myself I see in the mirror. So what you wrote so eloquently speaks to my heart on a deep level. Thank you for your anger, that righteous indignation that says we shouldn’t have to bow to that objectification. I think this will touch many a fragile woman.

  3. DessertForTwo
    October 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm (10 years ago)

    Oh, Julie.
    I’m saddened to read that you’ve struggled with these issues. I’m also angry to read about how much other people tell us we should look a certain way.
    For years, I haven’t cared about fashion. I just wore what I liked and what was comfortable. And then, I turned 27 and all my friends were married. My close girlfriend told me I should wear more cute clothes & ‘show more skin’ and I would find a husband in no time. Uhhh….why would anyone do that? It was baffling. She was such a smart, talented girl, but she felt the pressure to look great! Needless to say, I still don’t care about fashion and oh yeah, I have a great fiance 😉

    To answer your question about confidence, I have to say, I’ve never had a self-confidence issue. I thank my dad because he told me every single day that I was beautiful when I was growing. He said it so much that if I had 3 eyes and 4 arms, I would believe him! I always hold my head high. Why not? Life is too short to spend a moment thinking negative things. If you feel bad about yourself, do something nice for someone else–the feeling instantly goes away 🙂

  4. Aislinn
    October 6, 2012 at 12:20 am (10 years ago)

    Thank you. I was in an accident years ago and it left me with a broken body and chronic pain. With the pain came an inability to exercise enough to keep the weight off and I’m sure you can imagine what happened next. With more weight comes more pain and the cycle never ends. But worse than the pain is the self loathing and the guilt. But you are so right, it IS time to get mad. I am so much more than my body size, and no one , even myself, has the right to judge me based on measurements or the size jeans I wear. Thank you for reminding us all of that, and for having the courage to share your thoughts and your pain with us. God bless ya, darlin.

  5. Vicki Bensinger
    October 6, 2012 at 5:04 am (10 years ago)

    Your writing is wonderful. I think you should submit this to The Today Show. They just had that broadcaster on who was told in an email by a viewer that she was fat and should be off the air. She went on to tell her story after she shared it on live TV with her viewers. That said…

    I’ve always been thin but never had any eating disorders other than loving sweets too much. For as long as I can remember I’ve weighted myself first thing in the morning and at bedtime. I’ve always felt it helped me to monitor which foods I ate affected my body most. Some foods like pizza will cause me to gain weight that is caused by too much salt, while at other times when eating a lot but healthier foods – raw food, I lose weight. The scale tells me a lot and teaches me. I’m not a nut but like to maintain a healthy weight because I feel better and believe I look better. I eat 3 meals a day with snacks and chocolate – always!

    If I eat garbage one day I watch myself the next dat to be sure I eat better. I’ve never starved myself or done anything remotely harmful to myself. For whatever reason I’ve always had a good self image even when others have tried to tarnish that. I just figured they were unhappy and wanted to pull me down with them.

    I’m sure you are a beautiful person, inside and out. Consider the source when you hear and read these ads or people talking. Advertisers are in the business of making $$ for their clients. Unfortunately the U.S. believes beautiful people are skinny. When I was in Italy one year sitting by a swimming pool a woman who must have weighted 300 pounds walked up to an outdoor shower wearing a bikini! You heard me right. She stood under that shower and rinsed herself off as though she was a goddess. I said to my daughter sitting next to me, “Italian men make they woman feel like goddesses regardless of size and she’s proof.” Just like men in the U.S. make us believe we aren’t beautiful unless we are thin, women in the U.S. advertise men with 6 pack abs, bright white smiles, hair on their heads, etc. it’s no different. We should follow the European way, then maybe men and women would like themselves.

    I’m so off on a tangent. You’re a wonderful person and so in tune to the children around you. Maybe you should consider going a step further and talking to the school and conducting a class for the girls covering body image – it could be during gym class. Based upon your writing here you sound like you’d be the perfect candidate to get young women to open up. If you want to make a difference you should try with those around you, it would probably help your own self image. Just a suggestion.

    You’re a wonderful person and I believe you could make a difference. Plus based upon the looks of this cake – a wonderful cook as well.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. inessa
    October 6, 2012 at 7:09 am (10 years ago)

    Looks Yummy!

  7. Ala
    October 6, 2012 at 8:13 am (10 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this, Julie. To echo some of the previous posts, I’m so glad you’ve felt able to share this with all of us–and I hope that you’ve gained as much from the gesture as I definitely have from reading about it. Growing up, I was one of the lucky few kids who never thought twice about my body–I was extremely active in sports (even more so than I am now) and swam, played soccer, played volleyball, all the good stuff, and never felt that my body was limited in any way. Even when I went to college, I never gave it a second thought–until one summer the scale tipped up dramatically and I came back to school in my junior term feeling overworked, flubby, and a whole lot stressed. Ever since then, things have yo-yo’d a lot–nowadays, I’m somewhere around the same size and shape as I was before everything kicked in, but with a much more heightened sense of just how vulnerable my body can be when I don’t take care of it properly. I haven’t officially had an eating disorder, but as you’ve said, it’s something I’m struggling with nevertheless, too.

    At the beginning of last year, a few of the students in my program joked around about eating disorders–flat-out joked. I felt extremely uncomfortable and voiced that discomfort when, to my surprise (and, to some extent, disbelief), one of the girls said that she could talk about these things how she wanted because she used to be anorexic. The other girls at the table chimed in–they had all been something or another, and started joking about (I couldn’t even believe it) sticking spoons down their throats to get the food back up. They told me I’d “have my turn soon.” I was in shock. I should’ve spoken up. I didn’t. I simply couldn’t find any words that could express my horror, my disgust, and my complete disappointment in this group of girls who treated it like one big punch line.

    Thinking back on it, I’m still not sure I’d know what to say if I had a chance to go back. I’ve done a lot of thinking, both since then and even before that time, and I know that being able to share these experiences frankly is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for others. I’m extremely thankful that you’ve shared your thoughts and experiences with us, Julie–it means a lot to know that each voice really does matter here.

  8. Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    October 6, 2012 at 10:13 am (10 years ago)

    What a great post Julie – your honesty is so brave! As someone who met you in real life I can tell you that you come off as a strong and confident woman. You are also so beautiful on the inside and out. This is an issue that too many of us as women struggle with and I think it is really important not to ignore it.

    On the other hand… this cake… amazingness.

  9. Helen
    October 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm (10 years ago)

    Let me join the others thanking you for this post and for sharing your own experience with us. My appearance-issues used to ran much deeper than weight. Ironically, I persuaded myself I was so ugly, weight-watching will not help me. It took me moving to (literally) another side of the world and being complimented by people I didn’t know that well and who had no reason to flatter me to shatter this belief. And yes, I had mirror available. But we don’t see what we don’t want to. And I still don’t have issues with indulging in sweets – I just tell myself it would go away if I just exercised a bit. Actually, I lost a lot of excess “padding” after I turned to homemade sweets and stopped eating store-bought. Despite the fact that a lot of those are much more “full of calories”. But I’m content with a slice, as opposed to being capable of eating the whole bag and still not feeling full.

    As for the cake, it’s not how it looks, it’s about how it tastes! (Just like women. And men, for that matter. :P) I prefer unattractive cakes that taste great to one of those complicated, wrapped-in-fondant structures that have nothing but simple sponge beneath. (Or so I keep telling myself when I fail at layering. 😉 )

  10. K
    October 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm (10 years ago)

    thank you so much for having the courage to share that- i’ve had similar struggles that i’ve only recently admitted to close friends and i don’t think i could’ve put it more poignantly than you have. as someone too who loves to make (and eat!) delicious food it’s a continuous journey and struggle sometimes to maintain a healthy mindset in addition to a healthy body.

    even though you don’t know me, after reading this post i feel like you do- and it’s incredibly encouraging. thank you 🙂

  11. Shelley C
    October 7, 2012 at 2:28 am (10 years ago)

    What a powerful post. You are beautiful inside and out. I hate that women are programmed through culture/society to compete and disrespect themselves. It’s a struggle for everyone on at least some level and I respect your strength and honesty to write about it. That being said, the cake looks delicious, and like a fun indulgence 🙂

  12. emily coomber
    October 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Julie…

    Just wanted to say how inspiring your blog is, and this post in particular! I, too, have had my share of body image “stuff”… In fact I think that most women go through some kind of body image related issues, which is just awful. The fact that many women struggle with these things their whole life without ever feeling truly beautiful or accepted and cherished for who they are is incredibly sad and indeed enraging.

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe, it looks delicious!

    Thank you!

  13. Joanne
    October 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm (10 years ago)

    Girl, I LOVE the honesty in this post. Love it. I used to be someone who never thought about what I ate and, of course, was conscious of how I looked, but didn’t connect food to that. Until college. I suffered from anorexia junior and senior year and, though I’ve now recovered, I will never quite go back to being that carefree person. I think about food constantly, judging what I’ve eaten, feeling guilty when I indulge. The rational part of me true does believe in all things in moderation and eating healthy 80% of the time so I can eat whatever I want the other 20.

    Regardless of how brown it is, this cheesecake looks AMAZING to me! So much pumpkin awesomeness.

  14. Deb
    October 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm (10 years ago)

    A courageous post. You dove head first into the core issues of being a woman in our society. It would be a very rare and very strong woman to have overcome the boundaries that hold us back from our true selves.

    PS: A very scrumptious fall dessert!

  15. Colette @ JFF
    October 8, 2012 at 12:54 am (10 years ago)

    You’re kidding, right?
    I stared for like 20 seconds before I realized I was drooling.

  16. Lora @cakeduchess
    October 8, 2012 at 2:06 am (10 years ago)

    Hey sweet lady-I really love this post. I appreciate your honesty. I was just talking with a family member about one of her relative’s severe eating disorder. It’s been very sad to hear updates about this girl who is now a woman and to know that her family has given up on her. Your beautiful and your baking is always fabulous. Thanks for writing this heartfelt post.xo

  17. LeAndra
    October 8, 2012 at 3:20 am (10 years ago)

    My food philosophy has definitely changed over the years. Growing up, my family ate a typical Midwestern, meat-and-potatoes diet. In college, I ate a lot of frozen meals and pasta pouches. Now, I do my best to stay away from meat, and I only shop the outer edges of the grocery store to stay away from the processed food. I’m glad our society is starting to realize how important it is to get connected to our food again!

    I think the wisdom that comes with age has led to my self-confidence. For whatever reason, I have simply lost the ability to give a lot of credence to what others want me to be. This was a long road of course, but I eventually decided to take the energy I spent on worry and instead focus it on MY goals. This has really helped me just be me. It was scary at first, but now it’s actually quite liberating. That said, I still love trying new beauty products! But I do not let them define me. They are just something I get to enjoy if and when I choose.

    I’d also like to say I’ve never seen anyone make a boring brown cake look as lovely as this one here. Beautiful photos! And beautiful words to match.

  18. sayre weir
    October 8, 2012 at 11:42 am (10 years ago)

    Wow. Beautiful and powerful post. Thanks for your honesty and bringing up an issue that is by no means easy to address. You continue to inspire me. hope you’re doing well. -sayre

  19. Megan
    October 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm (10 years ago)

    Julie, Thank you for sharing your story and the articles and links. I thought I’d share some back with you, that you might find resourceful, especially as a teacher. The documentary Miss Representation is a fantastic film about all of the issues you bring up, but particularly the media and how we can hold them accountable. (See the trailer and more about the film here: They have a curriculum that you can do with students and the film. I also strongly suggesting subscribing to their Facebook feed, as they always post interesting articles. (

    Also, Amy Poehler has a project called Smart Girls At The Party, that celebrates young women and all of the awesome things they do – for the right reasons. ( It’s also a social networking site (not sure how it works though), and they always post interesting YouTube videos. (

    I’m not sure if this is relevant to the subject you teach, but it can’t hurt to spread the word and tell more of these girls about it.

  20. C
    October 11, 2012 at 3:10 am (10 years ago)

    Thank you for saying what so many of us cannot say. I’ve had disordered eating of one form or another since the age of 11, and I understand the controlling power of negative self-image. Your students are lucky to have you in their lives during this formative time.

  21. K
    October 26, 2012 at 9:26 am (10 years ago)

    I too have struggled over the years with anorexia and bulemia. I have a beautiful and modelesque mother, who was NEVER happy with her appearance. I always thought “If she doesn’t think she is beautiful, then what must she think I look like?” I try desperately to be satisfied and not gripe about my appearance, especially in front of my daughter. She is a little lovely herself, and while I do tell her how beautiful she is, I tell her that her heart is what makes her that way. I want to do more though, and be more proactive in fighting this diservice of our society. Thank you for speaking up and shedding light on this for those who might not otherwise think about it too much, and for encouraging those of us that already do!!

  22. Kelly
    November 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm (10 years ago)

    I am SO making this next week for thanksgiving but hoping you can answer a couple questions? Can i freeze the cake payer overnight, take out to thaw in the a.m., and then assemble (or will the cake layer texture change after freeze/thaw)? Also, will the caramel sauce stay liquid-y even if i refrigerate overnight? Or will i have to re-heat it at all? And last, the instructions dont specifically say to poke the cake top with toothpick before you pour the caramel sauce on but your story before the recipe says you did. Does all the caramel sauce soak into the cake layer or will it harden on top? Just trying to time it so it looks/tastes it’s best at 6pm on thursday! 🙂 Will let you know how it all turns out!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      November 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm (10 years ago)

      Go ahead and freeze the cake layer — makes it so much easier to work with! Assemble BEFORE you let it thaw/chill in the fridge so it’ll be easy — just plop it right on top (okay, that doesn’t make it sound very appetizing, but you know what I mean!) Then chill the cake in the fridge until you’re ready to slice and serve and it’ll be perfect.

      The caramel sauce will get thick if you refrigerate it overnight but that might be fine, actually, because when it’s too liquidy it runs off the cake too fast. If it does get too thick, you can gently reheat over low heat while whisking.

      I only poked the cake to test it for doneness (with a toothpick), but not to absorb the caramel. The caramel sauce doesn’t soak or harden — it just sauces the cake. I reserve a little to pour over each slice.

      I can’t wait to hear what you think! Hooray!!

      • Kelly Gelske
        December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm (10 years ago)

        This turned out FABULOUS by the way! It was the hit of our Thanksgiving feast 🙂 Thinking i’ll try making your red velvet cheesecake for Xmas! I did have some trouble with the salted caramel topping – i never seemed to get the color/temperature i needed before it started turning into hard candy. Maybe i need a new thermometer! But the liquid part of it tasted so absolutely amazing so i just strained out the hard chunks and poured the rest on the cake. It was great!

        • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
          December 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm (10 years ago)

          I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Kelly!! Hooray! I’m sorry to hear about your caramel troubles — this is exactly the temperature I go to, but one of our thermometers must be off!

  23. Megan
    November 22, 2012 at 6:36 am (10 years ago)

    I can relate to this post in so many ways – the least of which is the fact that I just finished assembling this cheesecake and it’s chilling in my fridge for Thanksgiving tomorrow! I’ve read your blog for a while, but this is the first recipe I’ve attempted, and I wanted to thank you for making it look and feel so easy to make beautiful (and humble-looking) food.

  24. tanya1234
    September 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm (9 years ago)

    yummmmy thankx alot would luv to subscribe to your blog


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