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    Moist Caramel Cake Recipe

    This is hands down the best caramel cake I’ve ever had! It consists of super moist vanilla brown sugar cake layers, topped with a luscious and deep flavored caramel frosting that isn’t sickly sweet. This is a Southern style caramel cake recipe – a caramel lovers DREAM cake!

    caramel cake

    Why You’ll Love This Caramel Cake

    My number one problem when it comes to caramel cakes, is that they’re usually way too sweet! What I love about this recipe (and what I think you’ll love!) is that the caramel isn’t overly sweet, and doesn’t compromise on caramel flavor AT ALL!

    Caramel Frosting

    The caramel frosting used for this recipe is the type used in Southern caramel cake recipes, which involves cooking down a combination of butter, sugar and evaporated milk, until you reach a thick, golden brown caramel sauce. You then add in cream to thin it out so you can use it as a frosting.

    The process does take a bit of time (the total time on average is about an hour), but TRUST ME it is so worth it. I tried different types of caramel icing when developing this recipe, and this Southern style was by far the winner! It has a complex caramel flavor without being sickly sweet.

    Cake Layers

    This recipe uses vanilla brown sugar cake layers as the base. It’s a super moist, rich and buttery yellow cake, similar to my vanilla cake recipe, but with even more buttery flavour. The addition of brown sugar gives the cake a subtle caramel flavour (similar to my coffee cake and spice cake recipe) without it being overpowering – which really allows the frosting to shine!

    For this recipe I used sour cream to give the cake layers a super tender crumb! You can substitute the sour cream with plain, unsweetened yoghurt or buttermilk if you can’t easily find it.

    How to Make Caramel Cake

    Caramel Cake Layers

    First is the cake batter. Begin by Preheating your oven to 160 °C (320°F) with the fan on and grease or line (with parchment paper) two 8 inch cake pans (I use my homemade cake release).  If your oven doesn’t have a fan option, then you will need to increase the baking temperature to 175°C/350°F.

    Sift together all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside for now.

    caramel cake

    In a large mixing bowl combine butter, vegetable oil, white sugar and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer on a medium speed, cream together for 2 minutes until light and creamy.

    Add in eggs one by one, mixing well in between each addition (about 10-15 seconds between eggs).

    caramel cake

    Next add in sour cream and vanilla and mix until well combined. Now set your mixer aside as the remainder of the batter will be finished by hand.

    Finish off by adding in half of your premixed flour mixture to your wet ingredients, and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined. Then add in the milk, and fold it in until just combined. Lastly, add in the remaining dry ingredients and gently fold it into the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.

    caramel cake

    caramel cake

    Distribute the batter evenly into the two 8 inch cake tins, and bake for 28- 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Once baked, allow the cake layers to cool in the cake tins for about 15-20 minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to completely cool before frosting with the caramel. 

    caramel cake

    Caramel Cake Frosting

    Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add in butter, sugar, evaporated milk and salt. Allow everything to melt together and come to a simmer, stirring continuously. Once simmering, turn the heat down to a low-medium heat. 

    caramel cake

    Allow the caramel to cool for about 25 minutes before frosting the cake. You still want the caramel to be slightly warm and runny when frosting the cake, as it sets up quickly once you come to using it

    caramel cake

    Assembly

    Once cakes are cooled, level the tops with a serrated knife so that the cake layers are flat.

    Place the first cake layer onto your cake stand/serving platter and place a generous amount of the caramel frosting on top and smooth it out with an offset spatula or knife.

    caramel cake

    Place your next cake layer on top and cover the top and sides with more caramel frosting. Once the caramel starts to set up, you will notice it become shiny. You can run an offset spatula or knife gently on top of the shiny caramel and this will make everything super smooth! Decorate as you wish and enjoy!

    caramel cake

    Commonly Asked Questions

    How do you store caramel cake?

    This caramel cake can be left out at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days. After that it should be refrigerated and will last up to a week.

    What do I do if my caramel is too thin?

    If your caramel frosing is too thin and not setting up when you come to frosting the cake, it most likely just needs time to cool down further and firm up a bit more. Let it cool for another 20 minutes or so and this should do the trick. If it’s still not setting up when frosting the cake layers, then it means that you need to reduce the caramel over a stove top further.

    What is my caramel too thick?

    If the caramel is too thick, it’s most likely due to the caramel cooling down a bit too much before using it to frost the cake. Remember you still want the caramel to be slightly warm and runny when it comes to frosting the cake. If it’s too thick, simply heat up the caramel slightly, or you can also mix in a little more cream to thin it out.

    Why is my caramel very gummy and chewy once set?

    If the caramel is very hard to eat, it means the caramel was overheated when the frosting was being made. Be sure to only cook the caramel until it thickens in consistency (see video for visual demonstration), and take it off the heat once the cream is mixed in.

     

    caramel cake

    Moist Caramel Cake

    This is hands down the best caramel cake I've ever had! It consists of super moist vanilla brown sugar cake layers, topped with a luscious and deep flavored caramel frosting that isn't sickly sweet. This is a southern style caramel cake recipe - a caramel lovers DREAM cake!
    4.95 from 20 votes
    Print Pin Rate Watch Video
    Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 28 minutes
    Cooling Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 2 hours 58 minutes
    Servings: 12 slices

    IMPORTANT: For accuracy, I would recommend using the gram measurements provided as those are the exact quantities I use. Cup measurements are given as estimates (based on US cup measurements) to make it easier for those who do not have a scale.

    Ingredients
     

    Caramel Cake

    • 2 cups (250 g) flour - plain, all purpose
    • ¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch
    • tsps baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt - omit if using salted butter
    • ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter - room temperature
    • ¼ cup (55 g) unflavoured vegetable oil - I use canola oil
    • 1 cup (200 g) white granulated sugar
    • ½ cup (100 g) soft light brown sugar
    • 3 large eggs - room temperature
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract/essence
    • ½ cup (120 g) sour cream - room temperature
    • ½ cup (120 g) milk - full fat, room temperature

    Caramel Frosting

    • ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter - room temp
    • cups (300 g) white granulated sugar
    • 2 cups (510 g) evaporated milk - 1 and 1/2 12 ounce (340g) cans
    • ¼ tsp salt - omit if using salted butter
    • cup (80 g) cream - room temp, any cream (whipping, heavy cream, etc.) will work
    • tsps vanilla extract/essence

    Instructions

    Caramel Cake

    • Preheat oven to 160 °C (320°F) with the fan on (see note 1 if you don't have a fan function) and grease or line two 8 inch cake tins (I use my homemade cake release).
    • Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside for now.
    • In a large bowl combine butter, vegetable oil, white sugar and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer (hand or stand mixer are both fine - see note 2), cream together for 2 minutes until light and creamy.
    • Add in eggs one by one, mixing well in between each addition (about 10-15 seconds between eggs).
    • Next add in sour cream and vanilla and mix until well combined. Now set your mixer aside as the remainder of the batter will be finished by hand.
    • Finish off by adding in half of your premixed dry ingredients to your wet mixture, and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined. Then add in the milk, and fold it in until just combined. Lastly, add in the remaining dry ingredients and gently fold it into the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix (see note 3).
    • Distribute the batter evenly into the two 8 inch cake tins, and bake for 28- 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    • Once baked, allow the cake layers to cool in the cake tins for about 15-20 minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to completely cool before frosting with the caramel.

    Caramel Frosting

    • Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add in butter, sugar, evaporated milk and salt. Allow everything to melt together and come to a simmer, stirring continuously. Once simmering, turn the heat down to a low-medium heat.
    • Allow the caramel to thicken up slowly for about an hour, stirring every few minutes to make sure the caramel isn't burning. Be sure to check on it more frequently once it starts to thicken up as this is when it is more prone to burning. Once it is thick (see video for visual), and a deep golden brown colour, add in the cream and vanilla. Stir until the caramle is smooth, and then immediately pour it into a heat proof dish.
    • Allow the caramel to cool for about 25 minutes before frosting the cake. You still want the caramel to be slightly warm and runny when frosting the cake, as it sets up quickly once you come to using it (see note 4 if caramel is too thick).

    Assembly

    • Once cakes are cooled, level the tops with a serrated knife so that the cake layers are flat.
    • Place the first cake layer onto your cake stand/serving platter and place a generous amount of the caramel frosting on top and smooth it out with an offset spatula or knife.
    • Place your next cake layer on top and cover the top and sides with more caramel frosting (see note 5 if caramel is too thin and not setting up). Once the caramel starts to set up, you will notice it become shiny. You can run an offset spatula or knife gently on top of the shiny caramel and this will make everything super smooth! Decorate as you wish and enjoy!

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    Note 1. In this recipe I use an oven with the fan function turned on. The fan forced function cooks cakes faster, so if your oven doesn't have a fan option, then you will need to increase the baking temperature to 175°C (350°F) so that the cake bakes at the same rate as mine 🙂
    Note 2. If using a stand mixer, then use the paddle attachment for the initial mixing, but continue to do the last step by hand as stated in the recipe.
    Note 3. By gently folding in the ingredients, it prevents too much gluten from forming, thus giving us a softer cake. Only mix until the strands of flour have disappeared and the batter is uniform. 
    Note 4. If the caramel has cooled down too much and is too thick when you come to frosting the cake, then simply heat it up a little (either in the microwave or on the stovetop), or stir in a little more cream to thin it out. 
    Note 5. If the caramel is too thin and isn't setting up when frosting the cake, then it's most likely due to your caramel still being too warm. Let it cool down and thicken up for a further 15-20 minutes and then use it 🙂

    Nutrition

    Calories: 688kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 318mg | Potassium: 234mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 59g | Vitamin A: 1106IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 220mg | Iron: 2mg

    Nutritional information are estimates only as they are automatically calculated by a third party application. Actual values may differ based on brands and types of products used.

    Keyword: cake bake carmel, cake with caramel, caramel butter cake, caramel cake, caramel cake recipe, caramel cake recipes, caramel cakes, caramel frosting, homemade caramel cake, luscious caramel cake, moist caramel cake, southern caramel cake
    Tried this recipe?I love hearing from you! Tag me @cakesbymk.nz on instagram so I can see your amazing creations 🙂

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    32 Comments

    • Ana

      Whats your recommendation for storage? Does it stay out at room temperature or have to be refrigerated? How many days will it last once assembled?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Ana! 🙂 This caramel cake can be left out at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days. After that it should be refrigerated and will last up to a week. Hope that helps 🙂

    • Angela

      I’m looking at making this cake but it will be decorated with fondant. Will the cake be solid enough to hold the extra weight? Or is it too light and fluffy?
      If not, can you recommend another recipe?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Angela! 🙂 The cake itself should be fine, however the frosting will need time to set well before placing fondant over it. I would perhaps recommend only using the frosting as a filling, and then a more stable frosting as the outer layer before placing the fondant on top 🙂

    • Donna

      How can I make this cake into a pound cake

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Donna! 🙂 I haven’t tried this recipe as a pound cake myself so I’m not too sure how it’ll turn out sorry! Would love to hear how you go if you decide to try it out 🙂

    • Noura Asfouri

      5 stars
      Tried the recipe today and followed everything the recipe states and it was a big hit. Super fluffy and moist. Thank you so much

      • Cakes by MK

        Awesome! So happy you loved the recipe Noura 🙂 appreciate the feedback!

    • Lena

      Thanks so much for this recipe! It’s absolutely lovely!
      Can I make the caramel a day or 2 in advance and just warm it up when I am ready to frost my cake?

      • Cakes by MK

        Thanks so much Lena 😀 I haven’t tried that myself but I don’t see why not! Just ensure it’s stored well in an airtight container 🙂

    • Desiree

      If I wanted to make this a butterscotch flavoured cake, do you think the cake would still work (not be too compromised) if I added 4 tbsps butterscotch sauce to the wet batter?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Desiree! 🙂 I haven’t tried that myself so can’t say for sure if it’ll work sorry! I think flavor wise it would be fine, but then you may need to reduce some of the milk in the recipe to ensure there isn’t too much liquid in the batter as this can impact the rise of the cake 🙂

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    About me

    Welcome to my blog! My name is Maryam and I LOVE baking! :) I hope to provide you with the tools (i.e. simple, from-scratch, quality tested recipes), so that you can confidently bake up delicious treats to share with your family and friends!

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