This rich and decadent caramel cake is boasts moist cake layers and generous amounts of homemade caramel frosting!
Last week was my birthday. Let’s just say that I turned 29 again (haha!). I was really conflicted on what kind of cake to bake for myself. Originally, I wanted to make a chocolate mint cake, but we had just made some cool mint dessert so I didn’t want to repeat flavor combinations.
My dad was also going to be in town after a 1+ year visit in Taiwan. I honestly don’t remember the last time I got to celebrate with my dad on my birthday – it’s probably been since high school! I knew that one of his favorite flavors is caramel, so I opted to choose a caramel cake.
The cake layers were very easy to bake, and they turned out beautifully. Since mine domed, I had to cut off the tops with a serrated knife. That meant that we had cake scraps to snack on before I sliced into my cake. We also had some leftover frosting so we got to dip treats into that too!
I found that the frosting was a bit runny initially, so I’d recommend letting it sit for a little bit before attempting to assemble the cake. I also suggest that you coat the cake in a thin layer of frosting and then place it in the refrigerator for that crumb coating to set. Then make sure you whisk the remaining frosting really, really well (I got some hardened crystal sugars and needed to bust them up) before you layer on the final frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
Because I made the cake several days in advance and kept it in the refrigerator, the cake dried out a little bit when we cut into it. The initial cake scraps and frosting were fabulous, so I recommend eating this closer to the day it’s made/assembled. After we enjoyed the cake, I kept it at room temperature so the cake wouldn’t dry out again. My dad also enjoyed the flavor of the cake, and I failed to get his rating (doh!).
This is a great caramel cake to enjoy at your next celebration!
Husband’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
- 3 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 and ½ cups (3 sticks or 24 Tablespoons) unsalted butter softened
- 2 and ½ cups granulated sugar 5
- 5 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk I used 1%
- 3 cups brown sugar packed
- 1 and ½ cups (3 sticks or 24 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- ½ cup whole milk I used ¼ cup of 1% milk
- ½ cup heavy cream I used ¾ cup of heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 and ½ cups powdered sugar
Bake the cake
- Preheat your oven to 350℉. Generously grease and line three 8" or 9" round cake pans and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter on medium high speed until smooth and creamy. Turn the mixer to low, add the sugar, and mix on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Turn the mixer back to low and add the eggs, one at a time, until each is well mixed before adding the next. Add the vanilla.
- Alternatively add the milk and the flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
- Even distribute the batter into your prepared pans, making sure that you smooth the tops with a spatula. I found that the batter was thick so I rapped the pans on the countertop to get out any air bubbles and shook the pans to make sure my batter was even spread out.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes start to pull away from the side and the top feels springy when you touch the middle.
- Allow the cakes to cool while you prepare the frosting.
Make the caramel frosting
- In a medium sized saucepan (make sure it has high sides because your caramel will bubble and sputter), mix together the brown sugar, butter, milk, cream, and salt. Cook over medium heat and stir frequently. Do not allow the sugar to burn on the bottom of your pan. Allow the mixture to come to a boil.
- Once the mixture boils, monitor the temperature and make sure it reaches 230℉ to 235℉. This will happen about 5-10 minutes after the mixture boils and it starts sputtering.
- Transfer the caramel to the clean bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if you're going to whip this with a hand mixer. Allow the caramel to cool for at least 20 minutes before continuing (I allowed my caramel to rest about 45 minutes).
- Once the caramel has cooled, whip the caramel on medium high speed using the paddle attachment. Continue whipping for about 5-10 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Your frosting may look a bit runny at this stage, but it will thicken as it cools.
- Allow the frosting to cool for about 15-20 minutes so it is easier to frost.
Assemble the cake
- If your cakes have domed, use a serrated knife to cut off the tops. The scraps are an excellent treat!
- Place on cake layer, flat side down, on a cake plate or serving plate. Add about ½ cup of frosting on the top, making sure to spread it all the way to the edge of the cake.
- Add another layer, flat side up, and repeat with another ½ cup of frosting.
- Add the final layer on top, flat side UP.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the sides and the top of the cake. It's OK if there are crumbs everywhere (this is our crumb coat). Place the cake in the refrigerator to let the frosting set, about 15-20 minutes.
- Add a thicker layer of frosting on the sides and top of the cake. Allow the frosting to set before slicing and serving.
- The cake should be refrigerated until ready to serve.