Southern Caramel Cake is a tradition in the south and a new favorite of mine since I’ve discovered a shorter way of making it.
Although I have been dreading making this cake because it’s not one you can just whip up and call it a day, I was so excited to eat it. There’s nothing quite like it. It doesn’t have frosting but the caramel is clearly the star.
I like caramel but homemade caramel and syrups have a particularly fresh taste to them. I’m sure if you wanted to shortcut this cake, you could buy a boxed yellow cake and caramel topping, but please don’t! Your taste buds will thank you for rewarding them with this delightful dessert.
The key to making it as flawless as possible is nailing the caramel and having perfect layers. Since you can’t hide the crumbs with a crumb coat after leveling it, flat layers are ideal. There are several tricks to making your cake bake without having a dome top. I chose a cake recipe that I’ve had experiences with baking pretty flat.
It is delicious and pairs well with the caramel. Some have suggested baking with parchment paper over the batter but I haven’t tried that method yet. Be sure to give this recipe a try, I’m sure you’ll find a reason to indulge in this rich, yet satisfying cake!
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs (room temp)
- 1 cup milk (room temp)
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- caramel popcorn (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 3 9 (or 8) inch baking pans.
- In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, & salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time until well combined.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk into the batter mixing well after each addition and ending with dry ingredients (dry ingredients, milk, dry ingredients, milk, dry ingredients).
- Pour batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on cooling rack.
- In a large saucepan, over medium/high heat, mix together the cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, & salt. Bring to a boil while continuing to stir with a spatula. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan.
- Mixture will be pale and thin at first but will eventually get darker and thicker the longer it boils. This should take approximately 15 minutes.
- You will know it's done when the temperature is between 230-234 degrees F. Once temperature is met, stir in vanilla extract but do not stir too much.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes then immediately assemble cake.
- Once cakes are completely cooled and caramel is made, put one cake layer on a cake board or dish with the bottom (smooth edges) of the cake upward. Pour about 1/4-1/2 cup caramel over layer spreading evenly. Repeat with the next layer and add the top layer.
- Slowly pour caramel over top layer making sure to pour evenly so that all sides are covered. Do not smooth with spatula but allow the caramel to naturally fall.
- Cool, cut, and enjoy!
- Store at room temperature in a air tight container for up to 4-5 days.
- Once caramel is done and extract has been stirred in, do not stir or overwork it or it will cause it to separate.
- Sometimes there's extra caramel. The popcorn can be tossed in this and added to the cake after it has been iced.