Deep, buttery-flavored brown sugar cake is the base of this from-scratch salted caramel cake. Top with homemade salted caramel frosting.
Caramel does not get the credit it deserves. So many times it is paired with chocolate, nuts or pretzels. Which are all fabulous combinations, don’t get me wrong. But we decided that caramel needed a cake all on its own.
Introducing the salted caramel cake. Have a birthday coming up? Move away from chocolate cake and try this beauty for a birthday cake.
About this Salted Caramel Cake Recipe:
- Flavor: This homemade yellow cake has buttermilk which adds to the flavor. There isn’t caramel in the cake itself, but the caramel frosting and salted caramel drizzle packs a punch of caramel flavor.
- Texture: Buttermilk makes the cake super moist and tender, and the caramel frosting is silky and smooth. It melts in your mouth.
- Method: This cake bakes in 2 9-inch round cake pans for a pretty layered look.
In my research on how to make a caramel flavored cake, I realized that in most cases, the caramel flavor comes in with the frosting. So for the cake, I wanted to be sure it had a deep flavor.
I tweaked an old recipe called the “Butter Cup Cake” that I found in this Mennonite cookbook. It is a classic butter cake with white sugar and buttermilk for the ultimate in moistness. I replaced part of the white sugar with brown sugar to deepen the flavor and give it more of a caramel flavor.
How to Make Salted Caramel Cake
You’ll find the basic butter cake recipe very easy to make.
- Simply mix the wet ingredients (minus the buttermilk) and the dry ingredients separately.
- Then add the flour to the wet egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Beat until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Pour the cake batter evenly between the two cake pans. Make sure you’ve prepared the cake pans by greasing them with butter or shortening, then dusting with flour. Or you can use our homemade cake release recipe. You can also line the pans with parchment paper.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the center of the cake tests done. You can touch the center and it will bounce back, or test with a toothpick. There can be a few moist crumbs on the toothpick, but no batter.
We baked this cake in two layer pans, but you could easily bake it in a 9×13 baking pan also. Just watch the baking time closely.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Once the cake is baked, top it with salted caramel buttercream. It whips up so easily and is ultra smooth.
Frost the one layer of the cake with an offset spatula, place the other on top, then smooth frosting all over the top and sides of the cake layers.
Then melt additional caramel and drizzle it over the cake. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt for a gorgeous (but crazy easy) presentation. You can melt caramels for this, or make your own homemade salted caramel sauce.
- Room temperature: Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 24 hours.
- Refrigerator: Store this cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before eating.
- Freezer: Freeze the cake whole or sliced in an airtight container for up to 2 months. I double wrap by wrapping in plastic wrap, then placing the wrapped pieces in another storage container. Thaw at room temperature before eating.
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
For the caramel drizzle:
- 5 ounces Kraft caramel bits
- 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans. Or use cake release.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
In another bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, baking powder and cake flour.
Add dry ingredients to the creamed butter alternately with the buttermilk, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the center of the cake bounces back when you touch it.
Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges and turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the buttercream:
At least an hour before making the frosting, melt the caramels. Place the caramel bits in a microwave safe bowl and add the evaporated milk. Microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring between, until caramels are smooth and completely melted. This will take 2-3 minutes.
Allow the caramel to cool completely to room temperature. This is important! If you add the caramel when it is too warm, it will melt the butter in the frosting and it will not set correctly.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter using a hand mixer until well combined.
Add the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract. Beat again.
Add the cooled caramel to the frosting and beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
Frost the cake:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Frost the top with frosting.
Then place the other cake layer on top. Frost the entire outside of the cake with frosting, making it as smooth as possible.
Make the drizzle:
Place 5 ounces of caramel bits in a microwave safe bowl and add the evaporated milk. Microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring between, until caramels are smooth and completely melted. This will take 2-3 minutes.
Allow the caramel to cool completely to room temperature, then drizzle the caramel over the cake.
Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt.
Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours, then refrigerate.
Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**
Calories: 516kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 397mg | Potassium: 177mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 67g | Vitamin A: 565IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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