Think old-fashioned cake recipe, made ready for the modern baker! When it comes to Caramel Cake, this one definitely has the perfect balance of a classic recipe adapted in all the right places for convenience and simplicity. So leave the candy thermometer in the drawer and let's get into it!
This cake boasts a soft, box-cake-like texture but a much-improved flavor, and the perfect, little hint of saltiness. It's fluffy consistency pairs beautifully with the creamy, caramel icing. And speaking of the icing, we will be taking one small shortcut in the form of store-bought caramel sauce, which just makes it that much easier!
Serve this up at a Fall gathering or holiday party and plan to be asked for the recipe! Are you making plans for multiple upcoming occasions? Bookmark our vanilla cupcakes, apple crumble cake, or Butterfinger cake in your browser for convenient and delicious options when you need them!
HOW TO MAKE CARAMEL CAKE
- Prepare the pans and preheat the oven.
- Sift the dry ingredients.
- Cream the butter and sugar.
- Mix wet ingredients.
- Add dry ingredients and buttermilk.
- Bake and cool.
- Mix icing ingredients.
- Level and frost cake.
1. PREP PANS AND PREHEAT THE OVEN
To kick off your Caramel Cake, the first thing you'll need to do is get your oven preheating to 350°F. It is very important that your oven is fully preheated before the cakes go in! And, it is also best if you wait to mix up your cake batter until your oven is fully preheated. That way no chemical leaveners are activated by wet ingredients, and then left sitting around while the oven finishes preheating.
You will also want to go ahead and get two 9-inch cake pans greased and lined with parchment paper. Lining your cake pans with parchment paper isn't 100% necessary, but preferred by us as extra assurance that your cakes always come out perfectly clean and never stick! Another option to prevent your cakes from clinging to the pan is to grease and flour them.
2. SIFT THE DRY INGREDIENTS
Once you have preheated your oven and your cake pans are ready to go, you can start mixing up your dry ingredients. For this Caramel Cake, we will be using cake flour. Be sure not to sub in any other type of flour for cake flour. Cake flour has less proteins than all-purpose flour and therefore lends a much more delicate texture to cakes.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium size mixing bowl and set aside until ready to use. One last note about the dry ingredients: be sure not to confuse the measurements of your baking powder and baking soda. Both ingredients are chemical leaveners, but they do not behave the same in recipes. Swapping the two would very likely result in very wonky-looking cake layers!
3. CREAM THE BUTTER AND SUGAR
Now it is time to move on to the wet ingredients! You'll begin with the butter and the sugar. This recipe calls for unsalted, room-temperature butter. The temperature of your butter is extremely important when it comes to a light and fluffy cake!
This is mostly because, in order for butter and sugar to cream and aerate properly, the butter must be at room temperature. If the butter is too cold or Melty, your cake layers will likely end up flat. Room temperature butter should appear solid yet indent very easily with a gentle poke of your finger.
To cream your butter and sugar, you'll need a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl and a handheld mixer. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-high speed for at least three to five minutes.
You will know your butter and sugar have been properly creamed once the butter appears pale yellow in color and the mixture appears to have thickened and almost doubled in volume.
4. MIX WET INGREDIENTS
Time to start adding in some eggs! You'll add three eggs in, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Just like with the butter, it is equally beneficial for your eggs to also be at room temperature. Temperature is very important when baking a light and fluffy Caramel Cake, as cold ingredients tend to weigh down your cake, preventing it from rising and baking up light and fluffy!
After you have all of your eggs mixed in, add the vanilla extract, and then we will begin incorporating our flour mixture and our buttermilk.
5. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS AND BUTTERMILK
With the mixer now on low, add your dry ingredients in three separate rounds, alternating with the buttermilk in two rounds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more.
6. BAKE AND COOL
Then, divide the batter between your prepared pans, smooth over the top, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Begin checking at the earlier bake time to ensure your Caramel Cakes do not overcook!
Then, remove them from the heat, and set them aside to cool completely.
HOW TO TELL WHEN CAKES ARE DONE
To determine whether or not your cake is finished baking, you could use a toothpick, a paring knife, or your finger!
If using a paring knife or toothpick, insert it into the center of the cake and if the knife or toothpick comes out dry or with just a few crumbs still clinging to it, your cake is ready!
You could also tell by touch. If you gently poke the center of your cake and the cake slowly springs back, the cake is done!
7. MAKE THE CARAMEL CAKE FROSTING
The caramel icing is easy to make, and not far from your standard buttercream. You will begin by adding room-temperature butter and store-bought salted caramel sauce to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Begin mixing the butter and caramel sauce on medium-high speed and mix for about 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.
Add in your powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix on low until the powdered sugar appears to be mostly mixed in. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and mix for another two minutes more.
8. LEVEL AND FROST YOUR CARAMEL CAKE
If you're looking to impress your guests with this homemade Caramel Cake, you'll want your cake layers to be as even as possible before you begin the icing process.
To level out a cake, place your palm gently over the dome of the cake to keep it from moving. Then, use a long bread knife and a sawing motion to remove the dome and level the cake.
Once you have your cake layers leveled out and ready to go, you can move on to icing your cake. To ice a cake, add a small dollop of icing to either a cake stand or a cake board and smear it a bit.
Place your cake on the stand and add a thick layer of icing across the top of it. Add your second layer along with another layer of icing, this time spreading it both across the top of the cake and around the edges.
To lock in a crumb coating for a smoother icing finish, transfer the cake to the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
After the icing has sat in the refrigerator, bring the cake back to your work surface and add the remaining icing.
Drizzle with the remaining salted caramel across the top and sprinkle with kosher salt if desired.
6 MORE CAKE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- German Chocolate Cupcakes
- Praline Sheet Cake
- Chocolate Coffee Cake
- Butter Pecan Cake
- Kentucky Butter Cake
- Kit Kat Cake
We have simplified and modernized this classic Caramel Cake recipe without cutting any corners on flavor or texture!
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup store-bought salted caramel topping, separated
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready 2 greased 9" baking pans, lined with parchment paper on the bottom.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and using a handheld mixer, mix until fluffy and pale yellow in color (about 3-5 minutes). You could also use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for this task.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix again. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl using a silicone spatula and mix once more.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in 3 rounds, alternating with the buttermilk (adding it in 2 rounds). Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl, and mix once again.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans, and smooth over the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Set the cake aside to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
For the frosting, you will need a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and 1 cup of caramel sauce to the bowl and mix on medium-high speed for 2-4 minutes, until very smooth.
Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and begin mixing on low. Once the sugar is mostly incorporated, you can begin mixing on medium-high. Mix for 2 minutes more, until light and fluffy.
Level out your cake layers using a long, serrated knife. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or serving dish, and top with a large dollop of frosting. Spread the frosting to the edges and repeat with the second layer. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Drizzle the top with the remaining ⅓ cup of caramel sauce and sprinkle with Kosher salt, if desired. Serve, and enjoy!
HOW TO KNOW WHEN THE CAKE IS DONE:
The cake is ready when the center of it springs back ever so slightly after a gentle poke or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs clinging to it.