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The Best Caramel Cake

The Best Caramel Cake. A moist homemade vanilla cake, filled with layers of homemade caramel sauce, covered in a caramel buttercream frosting and drizzled with more caramel sauce.

The Best Caramel Cake slice of cake on a white plate with coffee in background

The Best Caramel Cake. A Southern classic!

I’ve often tasted caramel cake on road trips in the southern states. They are almost always look very rustic and homemade.

Often, there is just caramel poured over the cake in a simple but appealing presentation.

I wanted to make one that looked a little more polished. A cake that maybe could be used as a celebration cake for a birthday or anniversary dinner, is what I had in mind.

butter photographed on a wooden cutting board.

Use only real dairy butter for best results in both the cake and caramel sauce.

This recipe worked out quite well. The moist vanilla cake gets filled with layers of homemade caramel sauce.

Then it’s covered in a caramel buttercream frosting and drizzled with a little more caramel sauce.

The caramel sauce is the same as we use all the time in our house. It is really delicious on bread pudding, steamed puddings, ice cream and so much more.

The Best Homemade Caramel Sauce

The Best Homemade Caramel Sauce

This version is utterly delicious and irresistible to caramel lovers but make no mistake, it is intentionally very rich. Small slices are more than satisfying.

This cake will serve twice as many folks as other layer cakes which makes it ideal for a great celebration cake.

The Best Caramel Cake photo of uncut cake

The Best Caramel Cake. A Southern classic!

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Top Ten cake recipes photo collage with title text for Pinterest

 

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The Best Caramel Cake photo with title text for Pinterest

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The Best Caramel Cake slice of cake on a white plate with coffee in background
Yield: 16 or more servings

The Best Caramel Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

The Best Caramel Cake - a moist homemade vanilla cake, filled with layers of homemade caramel sauce, covered in a caramel buttercream frosting and drizzled with more caramel sauce.

Ingredients

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter cut in small cubes
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 cup whipping cream

For the Vanilla Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, you can use undiluted evaporated milk for extra richness if you like.

For the Caramel Frosting

  • 3 1/2 cups to 4 icing sugar, powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • tbsp a few milk

Instructions

To prepare the caramel sauce

  1. You will want to prepare the ingredients and have them at the ready. Timing is very important in a good caramel sauce, so having the butter and cream ready at the crucial point is critical to the success of your sauce. You will also want to be very careful when preparing caramel sauce; when the sugar syrup hits the right stage to add the butter and cream it will be over 300 degrees F so it is important to take particular care. It is also very important to use a proper sized pot. Although the recipe only makes about 2 cups, you will need a 2 1/2 to 3 quart/liter heavy bottomed saucepan because the sugar syrup will foam up considerably and produce a considerable amount of steam when the butter is added and again when the cream is added.
  2. These safety tips are not meant to deter, it's just good advice to make these sorts of things when you can take the time without distractions and give it your full attention. A successful caramel sauce is also one that has been given careful attention. With a little practice you will be a caramel ace in no time.
  3. Begin by mixing the sugar and water in a large saucepan. NOTE: I use a large saucepan of about 3 quarts or larger because the sugar foams up when you add the butter and cream so make sure you have a large enough pot.
  4. Boil the sugar and water over medium heat until the mixture begins to turn a light to medium amber color. The real skill in making caramel sauce does come with experience and knowing the point at which the color is perfect. Good advice for beginners is that it is better to be a little too light in color rather than a little too dark because too dark a caramel can often taste a little burnt. It is very easy to burn this mixture which can happen very quickly once the proper color is achieved, so have your butter and cream at the ready, as timing is crucial for this recipe.
  5. Do not stir the boiling sugar, this can cause it to crystallize. If you find the sugar starts to crystallize, use a pastry brush to brush water around the inside edge of the pot as it boils. You may have to do this several times. Carefully swirling the pan occasionally is also helpful to avoid crystallization of the sugar.
  6. When the color is right, quickly add the butter and stir quickly until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat immediately and pour in the whipping cream, stirring constantly until the sauce is uniformly smooth. Cool completely.

To prepare the Vanilla Cake

  1. Grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the app purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the butter sugar and vanilla extract well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly beat in the vegetable oil.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. I always add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions. It is very important to begin and end the additions with the dry ingredients.
  7. Do not over mix the batter. As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, pour into the two prepared 9 inch cake pans.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To prepare the Caramel Frosting

  1. Beat all ingredients together until smooth, fluffy, and a spreadable consistency.
  2. Use a couple of tablespoons of milk to begin and add more if need be or of it becomes too thin, just add a couple more tablespoons of icing sugar at a time.

To construct the cake

  1. Cut the two layers into 4.
  2. Reserve about 2/3 cup of the caramel sauce (1/2 cup for the frosting and the rest to drizzle on top of the cake.)
  3. Divide the remaining caramel sauce in 3 parts and use it to fill the three inner layers of the cake.
  4. Frost with the caramel frosting and drizzle with any remaining caramel sauce.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

16 or more servings

Amount Per Serving Calories 753Total Fat 35gSaturated Fat 18gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 111mgSodium 474mgCarbohydrates 107gFiber 0gSugar 89gProtein 6g

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

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Stephanie Rickey

Saturday 5th of September 2020

If I don’t have cake flour and use only all purpose flour, would I use the same amount? Or would I have to decrease the amount that would normally be used for the cake flour? Thanks for your time :)

Kristen

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Unfortunately the caramel didn’t work for me. I tried 3 times and it kept clumping together and never melting. I followed the directions exactly.

Lou

Monday 9th of March 2020

Made this today. The caramel sauce tastes like werthers candy (yum) but it came out a little thin; will be great on ice cream though! The frosting is nice but I found it was too much with the caramel sauce. The cake wasn't light and fluffy as expected. It was good, but not as light as my regular white cake recipe. All in all, it's delish but way too sweet for my taste. I will definitely be using the caramel sauce and frosting recipe.

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