Best Caramel Cake Recipe

 Best Caramel Cake Recipe - Moist, tender, fabulous cake with a "to die for" icing!

Dear Rose,

If you’re out there somewhere, please forgive me, but I just couldn’t do it. You might not understand, but I just couldn’t. Let me explain.

Okay, here goes – you see, I have a blog called The Café Sucré Farine (that’s French and you can read all about the name here). I do this “blog thing” together with my best friend, Scott, who’s also my husband, photographer, chief taste-tester and cohort in crime. We have lots of wonderful, faithful Café follower/friends who count on us for; Casually Elegant …………. Deliciousness! What’s that? Well, that’s actually the blog’s byline (in other words, a description of The Café in a nutshell) and I really have to stick with it.

It’s not that I don’t think your famous cake is just fabulous and totally out of this world. Oh no, in fact, I’ve been staring at the picture for quite some time now, wiping the drool off my chin each time I saw the image in my “must make” file.

When my sweet daughter-in-law, Lindsay, and I spent the afternoon together earlier this week and Lindsay suggested we do some baking, I could hardly wait to pull out your recipe. “Look at this! What do you think?” Lindsay agreed your cake looked quite spectacular, so we got busy.

The cake was simple and, between the two of us, we had it in the oven lickety-split. The kitchen quickly filled with the most heavenly aroma and when I peeked in, after 20 minutes, and saw three pans of golden deliciousness staring back at me. Let’s just say I was close to squealing and was quite certain we were in for an amazing treat.

The first two cakes flipped out their pans pretty-as-a picture. The third, not so much. I’m not sure why, but half fell onto the cooling rack and the rest stuck in the pan. Maybe my pan greasing was not so even but you know that old saying: “Don’t cry over spilt milk”? I applied that bit of wisdom to my crumbled cake dilemma and officially declared the mess to be “up for sampling”.

“Oh my goodness!” Lindsay and I looked at each other, not even believing how tender, light and melt-in-your-mouth delicious your cake was! Scott was working outside in the yard and we broke off another piece and delivered it to him. “WOW!” was all we heard from him, with his head in the bushes. Our son Nick, came by after work and, spotting the leftover, broken cake on the counter, quickly snitched a taste; Nick’s response, “I had to push it away or I would have eaten the entire thing!”

Best Caramel Cake Recipe - Moist, tender, fabulous cake with a "to die for" icing!

Yes Rose, your cake is that good! So what’s the problem then? No problem with the cake, that’s for sure! It was when I looked at your recipe for the icing that I realized this was going to have to be an Almost Rose’s Famous Caramel Cake. It wasn’t the decadent ingredients or even the thought of trying to make my icing look as pretty as yours (I’m not much of a cake decorator). It was the TIME! There was no way in the world that my readers (or I) could spend all that time making frosting! This is what the directions say:

  1. Cook remaining sugar and salted butter in a pot over high heat, stirring constantly, until light brown, 7–8 minutes. Carefully stir in evaporated milk; reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring constantly, until smooth, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until icing registers 240° F. on a candy thermometer, about 1½ hours.
  3. Remove from heat; beat with a wooden spoon until thick, glossy, and spreadable, 20–25 minutes. (A dollop dropped on a plate should ooze only slightly.) Ice bottom layer of cake; top with second layer and ice the outside. Chill cake until set.                                                   ~ from Saveur Magazine

Holy Schmoly Rose!! That’s a total of over two hours!! Just to make the icing!  I would love to have that kind of time to make icing ………… maybe in another life, but honestly, it just won’t cut it right now. I still work a few days a month outside the home, love to spend time with family and friends and the blog, well, it’s pretty much a full time job. And you know all those Café friends/followers? They’re in the same boat as me. Honestly Rose, I just can’t call an icing that takes more than two hours very “casually elegant”; it sounds a bit more like “Iron Chef” to me.

Best Caramel Cake Recipe - Moist, tender, fabulous cake with a "to die for" icing!

Are you thinking that, perhaps, I decided to serve the cake sans icing? Nope, a goody-two-shoes, no-icing girl I am not! And it had to be caramel icing, for sure, to do your wonderful cake justice ………….. so I’ve been doing a bit of tinkering and testing and have come up with a simple, but quite delicious caramel icing. Might not be quite as wonderful as yours, but my taste-testers (co-workers) loved it and it can be whipped up and adorning the cake in less than thirty minutes.

Best Caramel Cake Recipe - Moist, tender, fabulous cake with a "to die for" icing!

Can we be friends, Rose? I hope so because your cake (with my icing) is transferring from my “must-make” file to my “best-ever” file and I have a feeling that my readers are going to love it as well.

Thanks Rose, you’re a winner in my book!

Sincerely,  Chris

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Best Caramel Cake Recipe

5 from 2 reviews

A light and buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cake with the most delicious southern-style caramel icing you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting!

  • Author:
  • Yield: 10-12 Servings
  • Category: Dessert

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces butter, softened
  • 3¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1¼ cups milk

Instructions

  1. Have eggs and butter at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray four 8-inch or three 9-inch pans generously with baking spray.* Cut circles of parchment paper to fit pans and place one in the bottom of each pan. Spray again, lightly.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. (You don’t need a sifter. I use a fine strainer for sifting, just hold strainer above a clean bowl, add flour mixture and tap gently on one side to sift.)
  3. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add vanilla and then eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  5. Add flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 batches, beating until smooth after each addition.
  6. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes for 8-inch pans, 30–35 minutes for 9-inch pans. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes; invert cakes onto a cooling rack; let cool completely. Slice domed tops off cakes to level them, if needed.
  7. Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Add ½ cup icing and spread to cover. Add another layer and spread with another ½ cup icing. Add third layer and repeat with ½ cup icing. Top with final cake layer. Frost entire cake with a very thin layer of icing. This is the crumb coat. The crumbs will be trapped and will keep your final icing layer crumb free. Let cake sit until crumb coat is dry.
  8. Place a generous amount of icing on top of cake. Spread icing over top and down sides to cover completely, adding more icing as needed. Decorate icing with a swirly pattern as you proceed. Allow icing to set. Serve and enjoy the rave reviews.

Notes

Notes:
* Do not use cooking spray. Baking spray has flour and shortening which will prevent sticking. If you don’t have baking spray, grease pans thoroughly with butter or shortening, then add a teaspoon of flour to each pan. Tilt pan to coat with the flour, then dump out any excess.

 

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Best Caramel Icing

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author:
  • Category: icing

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces butter, melted
  • 4 ounces butter, softened
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • ½-¾ cups evaporated milk
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  1. Combine 4 ounces of butter, brown sugar and ½ cup evaporated milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir to combine. Return to microwave and cook on high for another 2-3 minutes or until mixture is no longer gritty (take a taste!).
  2. Allow mixture to cool for 15 minutes, then transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 5 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the 4 ounces of softened butter and vanilla. Mix on medium-high for 3-4 minutes or until light and very fluffy. Icing should be a nice, soft, spreadable consistency. If it’s too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar, if too thick, add more evaporated milk – just a little at a time to thin. Frost cake as directed above.


70 thoughts on “Best Caramel Cake Recipe”

  • I feel like a total novice. I made this recipe and checked the cakes much too soon and they fell :'( My MIL sure didn’t let me forget it either. Lol. She is a lovely woman, I assure you. I’ll have to make this again and not make the mistake of opening the oven door too soon.

  • I’ve never used salted butter in my cakes so I’m wondering the reason why you do here, is it because of all the sweetness with sugar in the cake and a sweet surgery frosting, just wondering…thanks

    • Good question! It’s honestly an individual’s preference. Lots of bakers prefer unsalted butter. I almost always use salted butter. There is around 1/4 teaspoon of salt per stick so it’s not much. I think the salted butter adds a pop of flavor. The argument is that salted butter is not as fresh as unsalted because salt is a preservative. My thought on that is that it’s much easier to have inferior unsalted butter for the simple reason that it doesn’t stay fresh as long. I don’t think people check the date on their butter regularly (I know I’m pretty negligent about that) when they’re baking and I’m honestly not sure how diligent grocery stores are about throwing away unsalted butter that’s gone out of date.

  • Hi Chris,
    I am planning to make this cake for the second time this week for a family birthday (it turned out great the first time, but I am a perfectionist). I was wondering if I am supposed to sift the cake flour first, then spoon it into the measuring cup to get 3 1/4 cups of cake flour? Or do I spoon it into the measuring cups to get 3 1/4 cups and then sift afterwards? I never know which order is correct.
    Thanks

  • Has anyone made this recipe? When do you put the vanilla in the icing?

    Also, if you mix all of the batter and your oven won’t hold 3 or 4 cake pans, is it okay for the batter to just “sit around”? My wife says, “No”.

    And, it seems you can beat butter and sugar all day, but they never become “light and fluffy” (Step 3 in cake instructions).

    I made the cake – taste time is tomorrow: Thanksgiving 2016.

    • Hello Herb, yes if you scroll back through the comments you see reviews from others who have made the cake and enjoyed it. Add the vanilla right at the end of mixing the icing.
      I guess it depends on your definition of “fluffy” but if your butter is at room temperature, it should get fluffy.
      Hope you enjoyed the cake!

    • Hi Arroj,
      The ingredient list says 1/2-3/4 cup. You add 1/2 cup in step 1. Then in step 3, it says to add a bit more milk if the icing is too thick. That’s why there’s a range from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. Start with a tablespoon and add more, if needed. Hope you enjoy it!

  • OMG….. I am a Semi-pro Baker and this is one of the best old fashioned cakes I have tasted in a long time. This is one for the books! I followed the instructions to the tea! This is a lot of cake! Can’t wait to bake it again for my family and friends! My secret cake recipe! Thank you!

  • Hi Chris. I am making this for my mom’s 80th birthday party. Having a big party. Pressure is on. Lots to do, so I am trying to make as much as I can ahead of time. What are your thoughts about making the cakes ahead of time, wrapping them super good and freezing them. Party is in 2 weeks. Thoughts? Thank you in advance for your response.

  • Oh, bless you Chris! I have been wanting to try “Rose’s” recipe forever, but never wanted to put in the time on her icing. I saw this on pinterest and almost moved on thinking it was another long icing deal but I saw your first line you wrote to Rose and knew exactly what you were talking about, and am so glad I opened this. I will definitely try this out and when I do, I will report back. I am so excited to find this and all the time it will save me. Thank you so much!

    And, I’m in my 30’s and still don’t really have a clue what Instagram is. 🙂

  • Hi looking forward to baking this but a quick question before I start is it evaporated milk or full fat milk that’s used. Thanks.

  • I have been saving this recipe to try at an opportune time. WOWOWOW! Thanks for sharing. I made this for my mom’s 85th birthday instead of her all-time favorite cake. She actually said that she thought it was better than her mahogany cake (a mocha cake made with coffee–yum). Now THAT is a rave review. It really was great, even though I was dubious about the frosting.

  • Beautiful Cake but bread is not good for ducks…in fact it shortens their life span. Instead feed them corn, peas, or oats.

    • Thanks Karrol! That’s a good point, although these ducks always look extremely healthy! We’ll give the human “bird” the bread and corn and peas to the real ducks from now on!!!

  • I want to make this recipe. But, I want my caramel frosting to remain creamy and not harden over the days. How do I best accomplish this?

  • Hi!

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this recipe! I want to make this recipe for Christmas.

    My question is: Rose’s recipe called for 6 1/4 c of sugar. Yours is 2 1/2 c of sugar. Does the difference affect the texture of the cake or simply makes it not as sweet?

    Also, do you remember how much batter you poured into each pan to get such even layers?

    Thank you for posting your recipe!

    • Hi Tina, the difference in sugar is because I didn’t make the same icing. The 6 1/4 cups of sugar is for the cake and the icing. I separated my recipes. To get even layers, I actually weigh my pans when I fill them so that they’re all pretty much the same.

  • My favourite recipe! I now use this cake as my go to cake and top it with chocolate ganache! It’s amazing! Thank you!!!

  • Cake was melt in your mouth fantastic! I used a dollop of molasses because I only had light brown sugar. The icing crusted up very quickly. Should it have? Couldn’t smooth it out fast enough before it set. But it was just wonderful!

  • Hi Chris,

    This is a very stunning cake . And i am just waiting for the right moment to whip this up :).
    Just a clarification before I get into it. Can I substitute All Purpose flour in place of Cake flour ? If so what are the adjustments that I have to make.

    Waiting for your reply 🙂

  • I have searched high and low for an authentic caramel frosting that wouldn’t take until my retirement to complete (Rose’s Caramel Cake and Frosting Recipe. The frosting was bit lighter in color because I added an extra 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. This was due to the fact that I used some of the first phase of the frosting to make a caramel sauce. The frosting was delicious. Thanks for tweeking this recipe. Sorry, Rose, this is just as good and quicker too.

  • I had a question about the icing – After melting the butter and brown sugar in the microwave the recipe says to cool for 15 minutes. Mine was still a quite warm so I let it cool even longer. It was still a little bit warm when I added the softened butter. Is it supposed to be still warm when adding the softened butter, or should it cool all the way to room temperature? I’ve seen other cooked icings recipes where you must cool all the way. My icing was delicious, but was not very fluffy – maybe the additional butter melted a little. Just wondering how you did it.
    Thanks so much for a great recipe!

    • This icing is not as fluffy as some but you might want to try beating a bit longer or adding a little extra liquid. I do add my butter after 15-20 minutes but it might help to cool it a bit more.

  • Since I am trying to be good when it comes to sweets…all I can say is that I should have saved this post to read later….much later. This sounds sooooo delicious!!

  • Two hours for frosting? Wow! I totally think your frosting looks delicious and is MUCH easier. The cake is stunning – seriously STUNNING!

  • I love caramel cake – and like you, probably don’t have two hours to spend on the frosting! Your variation looks absolutely incredible.

  • I haven’t had the full blown version of this cake, but yours looks wonderful to me! That frosting really has to be something to spend two hours making it. Not for me — you definitely know your readers! Really fun post (and good recipe!). Thanks.

  • My whole family would go nuts for this cake. I cannot imagine stirring for that long to make the icing! My arm almost fell off just from making pate a choux dough :/ Good decision on the alternate icing…it looks divine!

  • Gorgeous cake, Chris! I have been on a cake and buttercream frosting kick lately and this recipe of yours (and Rose’s) is right up my alley! God bless you for creating this simplified version. You have demystified Caramel Frosting like Julia Child demystified so many French recipes. Thank you for sharing, my dear. Have a lovely weekend! xo

  • Emery is just precious. I am not into instagram yet, but I got a new smartphone that is smarter than me. I took some photos of some ducks at the lake, but clearly I have not mastered it yet.

    Your cake looks lovely. The time on Rose’s icing must have been a misprint – no one would devote that kind of time.

    Oh, and who said you were not much of a decorator? I wish I had half your skill.

    M~

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