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Southern Caramel Cake (+Video)

This Southern Caramel Cake is a true classic for a reason. A homemade soft and moist vanilla cake with a delicious caramel frosting!

AN OLD-FASHIONED SOUTHERN CAKE

When you grow up in the south, you are probably very familiar with caramel cake. The cake is moist and fluffy with a light vanilla taste and the caramel frosting is thick, smooth and absolutely flavorful! If you have never tried a Caramel Cake before, now is the time. This is one recipe that gets asked to be brought to all the gatherings. If you are a classic cake lover like me, you absolutely must make this Southern Caramel Cake recipe.

Slice of Southern Caramel Cake on white plate with fork cutting a bite out.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Why do my ingredients need to be at room temperature?

This helps create an emulsion that allows air to be released while baking which results in a light, fluffy and tender cake.

What if I don’t have buttermilk?

Buttermilk is key in this cake. The fat in the buttermilk helps this cake become very moist. So to replace that you would need to use heavy cream (the amount called for in the recipe) and one teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Mix well and allow to sit for about 5 minutes before using. Regular milk is far too thin and doesn’t have enough fat.

Do I have to use dark brown sugar?

No, this just creates a more rich and deeper caramel flavor. If you do not have dark brown sugar on hand you can just use light brown sugar in its place. This combination of brown sugars really sets this recipe apart from others.

What is the texture and flavor of this cake?

The texture of the cake itself is light and fluffy with a silky but firm caramel frosting. This is a sweet cake because of the sugars but not overly sweet that it is not enjoyable.

Can I use a cake mix instead?

If you do not feel like making your own homemade cake you can use a yellow cake mix in its place but the frosting is a must!

How do I store leftovers?

This can be stored in a cake saver or in an airtight container at room temperature where it will keep for up to 5 days. You can extend the life to 1 week by putting it into the refrigerator. This can also be frozen. Place cooled cake wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil (or in a freezer container) where it will keep for up to 3 months. To defrost, remove cake to the countertop until defrosted.

Pinterest image of a slice of Southern Caramel Cake on flower plate.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (FULL RECIPE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST)

  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • unsalted butter
  • vegetable oil
  • granulated sugar
  • light brown sugar
  • eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • buttermilk
  • dark brown sugar
  • evaporated milk
  • heavy cream
  • powdered sugar
Ingredients needed: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, unsalted butter, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, buttermilk, dark brown sugar, evaporated milk, heavy cream and powdered sugar.

HOW TO MAKE A SOUTHERN CARAMEL CAKE:

Preheat the oven 350°F. Lightly spray (2) 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Place parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. Spray the top of the paper with baking spray. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Dry ingredients mixed together in bowl.

In the body of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment mix the butter with the oil until combined. 

Butter and oil mixed together in bowl of stand mixer.

Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat them together on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Sugar beaten into oil and butter in bowl of stand mixer.

Then, add the eggs one at a time until fully mixed in. Stir in the vanilla.

Egg and vanilla added to bowl of stand mixer.

Add half of the dry ingredients and stir it in until combined.

Half of the flour added to bowl of stand mixer.

Next, add half of the buttermilk, stir until combined. 

Milk added to bowl of stand mixer.

Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk, scraping down the sides as needed.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Take a spatula and smooth out the top, this will ensure the cakes bake evenly.

Cake batter added to two prepared pans.

Bake for 22-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan. When the cakes are cool and you are ready to assemble, cut any doming or uneven parts off the cake if there are any, and then make the frosting.

Finished cakes in pans on wire rack.

Place the light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, butter, and salt into a medium-sized saucepan. Place the pot over medium heat and whisk constantly until the butter and the sugars are melted. 

Brown sugars, butter and salt added to saucepan.

Pour in the evaporated milk then the heavy cream, whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 4 minutes, it will start to thicken. Immediately pour into a heatproof bowl.

Evaporated milk and heavy cream added to melted brown sugar butter mixture.

Using an electric hand mixer, add the powdered sugar a little at a time until fully mixed in. Then mix in the vanilla.

Vanilla being added to caramel mixture in bowl.

When the frosting is done, we need to work fast to frost the cake while it is still spreadable. Place one of the cakes top side up onto your serving platter. Add ¾ cup of the frosting and using an offset spatula or something similar, spread it out over the top of the cake.

One cake layer being spread with caramel frosting.

Place the other cake top side down on top.

Second cake layer added to top of frosting.

Frost the sides and top of the cake as fast as you can before the frosting hardens.

Finished frosted Southern Caramel Cake on cake server.

Let the cake sit until the frosting completely hardens, about 2 hours before slicing to serve.

Cake server holding up a slice of Southern Caramel Cake.

WANT MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES

Close up square image of Southern Caramel Cake on flower plate.

Southern Caramel Cake (+Video)

Brandie @ The Country Cook
This Southern Caramel Cake is a true classic for a reason. A homemade soft and moist vanilla cake with a delicious caramel frosting!
5 from 56 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 792 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk, room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cup evaporated milk
  • cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven 350°F. Lightly spray (2) 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Place parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. Spray the top of the paper with baking spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the body of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment mix the butter with the oil until combined.
  • Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat them together on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  • Then, add the eggs one at a time until fully mixed in. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients and stir it in until combined.
  • Next, add half of the buttermilk, stir until combined.
  • Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Take a spatula and smooth out the top, this will ensure the cakes bake evenly.
  • Bake for 22-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan.
  • When the cakes are cool and you are ready to assemble, cut any doming or uneven parts off the top of the cake if there are any, and then make the frosting.
  • Place the light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, butter, and salt into a medium-sized saucepan.
  • Place the pot over medium heat and whisk constantly until the butter and the sugars are melted.
  • Pour in the evaporated milk then the heavy cream, whisk to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer and simmer for 4 minutes, it will start to thicken. Immediately pour into a heatproof mixing bowl.
  • Using an electric hand mixer, add the powdered sugar a little at a time until fully mixed in. Then mix in the vanilla extract.
  • When the frosting is done, we need to work fast to frost the cake while it is still spreadable.
  • Place one of the cakes top side up onto your serving platter. Add ¾ cup of the frosting and using an offset spatula or something similar, spread it out over the top of the cake.
  • Place the other cake top on top (you want the flattest side facing up).
  • Frost the sides and top of the cake as fast as you can before the frosting hardens.
  • Let the cake sit until the frosting completely hardens, about 2 hours before slicing to serve.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • You can use a yellow box cake mix if you do not feel like making homemade.
  • If you cannot find or do not have buttermilk, you can make your own. See above on how to do that.
  • This can be frozen, see above on how to freeze.
  • Other toppings can be added, see some of my suggestions at the top.
  • This is best served at room temperature.
Keyword Caramel Cake, Southern Caramel Cake, Southern Caramel Cake Recipe

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7 Comments

  1. The cake is amazing however I struggle with the actual cake part. It tastes wonderful but remains so soft it falls apart. Any idea what I may be doing wrong. I even cooked it 10 min longer

  2. for the icing: while it’s simmering for 4 minutes, do you constantly stir it?
    thank you for sharing this recipe!

  3. I have gone up and down and for the life of me can NOT find this: “If you cannot find or do not have buttermilk, you can make your own. See above on how to do that”. I am sure I am just overlooking it. Can you direct me on where on this page it is located? Thank you. .

    1. Sorry about that! You mix heavy cream with lemon juice or vinegar. So for this recipe it’s 1 1/4 cup heavy cream with a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. It can’t be just regular milk because it’s not thick enough or fatty enough like real buttermilk is.

  4. Could this delicious locking cakes recipe be baked in a 9×13 pan and if so, what would the baking time be. Thanks so much….Jeri

    1. Good question! I have never made it in a 9×13 believe it or not. You could certainly do that but I honestly couldn’t give you a time. It would be something you’d have to play by ear. My best guess would be about 28-30 minutes since that is the usual time to bake for most 9×13 cake recipes. 🙂 The frosting makes a lot since it was created for a layer cake.