Layers of moist vanilla cake, paired with a fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting and salted caramel sauce in between. Heavily drizzled with caramel sauce, the caramel cake is a pure sweet perfection.
Am I the only one who feels January is flashing by so fast? It was Christmas here, then New Year and now January is almost gone. I am reminiscing of the coldest days when things seemed to be frozen, even though I will get sick as usual, runny nose and constant sneezing during that time. I will love January as much as I can and make a wish that it won’t go by so quickly.
Winter days, I seek comfort all the time, in layers of clothes, snuggle down with my blanket and a cat on my lap, with hot beverages and keep the oven on. I don’t want to let go of the festive mood just yet, maybe the cake with homemade caramel sauce can make me happier.
This caramel cake is just perfect for when you crave a layer cake but want to make it in such a short time. This recipe makes 2 layer 8-inch round cake but you can also make 3 layer 6-inch round cake or even 1 layer 9 x 13 sheet cake. I use a tender and moist vanilla cake as a base for this caramel cake then sandwich together the cake with a layer of smooth and fluffy buttercream and rich caramel sauce. To finish it off, I added a layer of caramel sauce on top and let it drip down the side of the cake. Sometimes you don’t need to make it look fancy, because simplicity is the pure look that we need.
Here are some of my favorites if you’re a layer cake lover:
For Vanilla Cake
- 2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (150g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable or canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
For Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks/226g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups (275g) powdered sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Make Vanilla Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C and grease 2 8-inch cake pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer), beat the butter, oil and sugar on medium speed for 6 minutes until fluffy and light. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
- On a medium speed, using the mixer to alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture in 3 additions, starting with flour mixture as in order: flour-buttermilk-flour. Beat until just combined after each addition. The batter should be smooth and completely incorporated. Avoid overmixing.
- Divide batter evenly into your prepared cake pans and bake on the center rack for 30-35 minutes, until the cake tester (or a toothpick) comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cook in cake pans for 10-15 minutes before transferring to cool completely on a wire rack. The cake must be cooled completely or chilled in the fridge for at least 1 hour before applying frosting.
Make Buttercream Frosting
- While the cakes cool, make buttercream frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add 2 cups powdered sugar and beat until combined, then add another 1/2 cup, and beat until completely smooth. Add cream, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until light fluffy and thick.
- Transfer the buttercream to a large piping bag fitted with a tip and set aside.
Make Caramel Sauce
- Add sugar to a saucepan, heat over medium-low. Allow the sugar to dissolve in a few minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Cook the sugar to caramelize by stirring until it turns light brown. The sugar will start to form clumps before melting slowly. Be patient and keep an eye on it to make sure it does not burn. Then reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the butter into the sauce and keep whisking constantly and gently. Remove from the heat. Carefully add salt and the heavy cream and stir until everything is combined.
- Let the sauce cool a bit and when it's still warm, then transfer to a jar or container. Store at room temperature or chilled in the fridge. You can make this step a day in advance so that the caramel is completely cool and ready to work with when you make your caramel cake.
Assemble Caramel Cake
- Bring the caramel sauce to room temperature. Set aside a half cup of caramel to do the dripping on the cake. Reserve the rest for the filling.
- Using a cake leveler or a long-serrated knife level the tops of your cakes if needed.
- Place one cake layer onto your serving plate, then pipe a border around the top of the cake to create a barrier to hold in the caramel. Pour reserved caramel for the filling on top of the cake, inside the border of buttercream. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling towards the buttercream border. Place the second cake layer on top and use the frosting to frost the cake. Pour the top of the cake with the reserved 1/2 cup of caramel, then let drips of sauce fall down the sides of the cake.