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This Southern Caramel Cake Recipe is a traditional caramel cake made from an heirloom family recipe. It’s delicious topped with homemade caramel icing!

Southern Caramel Cake from addapinch.com #cake #recipe #desserts #caramel

Southern Caramel Cake is one of those desserts that is a true labor of love. So rich and decadent, it’s a cake that surely takes any special occasion to a whole new level and is by far one of my family’s favorite cakes.

We celebrated two birthdays in my family this past weekend – Mama’s and my husband’s. I asked each of them what kind of cake they would like for their birthday and both of them replied, “Caramel Cake!” Any cake that is requested by multiple people in a family the size of mine for their birthday is definitely a cake to make sure you get just right.

It’s a cake to take pride in, even though mine is a far cry from decorator perfect. Right down to the smudges on the rim of the cake plate. You can surely tell it’s homemade can’t you?

Here’s how I make it.

How to Make Southern Caramel Cake

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Even though professional bakers and cooks say to use unsalted butter, I stick with my Grandmother’s instructions instead and use salted butter. It’s just better that way in my book.

 

Cream your butter until it is fluffy and then add in your sugar. Cream the two together until they are nice and .. well, creamy.

 

Add in your eggs one at a time and cream them into your butter and sugar mixture.

 

Now add in your flour and buttermilk alternately. Start with your flour.

 

Then buttermilk and the rest of your flour.

 

Add in your vanilla, give it a quick mix.

 

Pour your cake batter into three prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees.

 

Remove from the oven and turn cake out of cake pans onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely.

This is when you’ll have time to make your caramel icing.

I’ve previously posted the recipe for Southern Caramel Icing that I use. I do have a slight update though. After I posted my recipe, my Mama told me that if Grandmother had had a big heavy duty mixer, she bet she’d have used it. Thanks for the idea on that Mama. I’m a converted woman!

Once your icing has reached the soft ball stage, pour it into your mixer bowl and whip away until it reaches a point where it holds when you stop the mixer. Basically, if you were to stick your finger in the icing for a taste, someone would be able to tell that you stuck your finger in there. {Not that that is how I test mine or anything!}

 

Another example is that it looks like this.

 

Stack, spread and stack and spread again.

 

And then spread it nice and thick all over.

Then, think about how much I need to take a course in how to decorate a cake.

Make this cake soon for someone you love, to celebrate something special, or just because. You won’t be sorry.

 

 

4.66 from 38 votes

Southern Caramel Cake Recipe

Dessert 1 hr 10 mins

Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 24
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
A traditional Southern Caramel Cake recipe.

Ingredients  

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans.
  • Cream butter til fluffy and then add sugar and cream for about 8 more minutes.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream after each.
  • Add flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
  • Add vanilla and beat well.
  • Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
  • Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
  • Prepare Southern Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then ice cake.

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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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Recipe Review




Comments

  1. sounds like heaven! oh my. Caramel is my favorite flavor in the whole wide world. I usually am horrible at cakes but I will try this and let you know how it turns out.

    🙂

  2. Any chance you deliver? lol Never mind, I’d probably cross the country for a cake like this!

  3. This sounds so delicious! I love caramel and have always wanted to try caramel frosting. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I am without a doubt trying this recipe! It sounds amazing and if it is such a family favourite in your household it is bound to be a winner. Beautiful cake and photos, cant wait to try it hopefully very soon! 🙂

  5. Oh wow! I don’t think I’ve ever had a caramel cake. I need to try this, Robyn!

    PS…right there with ya on the salted butter! 😉

  6. Robyn – You don’t need any lessons for cake decorating – this cake is gorgeous!!!!!
    Like you, I always use salted butter and never have any regrets!! This is one cake I am for sure making!!!!!! Thanks for the recipe, and thank your mama for the hint on making the frosting easier!

  7. I absolutely love caramel cake and this one looks amazing. Something tells me this will be my favorite cake for my birthday.

  8. Wow. I bet that’s delicious. My husband would go gaga for this. When he gets back into town I just might surprise him with this!

  9. oh Robyn . . . girl, i have died and gone to heaven . . . mercy!!! caramel is my absolute FAVORITE thing in the whole entire world . . . lawdy, i could bathe in the stuff . . . sigh . . . GORGEOUS!!!

  10. I don’t think you need cake decorating classes your cake looks both SUPER YUMMY and GORGEOUS! 🙂
    I want to dip my finger into that caramel icing! 🙂

  11. This caramel cake looks just like the ones my grandmother used to make. I was always intimidated by the cooked caramel icing but I’ve got to try it.

  12. My grandmother always had a caramel cake waiting on us when we visited. I was so excited to see this recipe, and can’t wait to make it!

  13. I made this yesterday. I didnt scroll down about whipping the icing so I did it by hand the best I could. same tasty outcome….thanks for the recipe.

  14. Hi
    I made this cake tonight. I am always layer cake challenged, this was no exception. With the “help” of the frostings consistency, I was able to glue it all together again and make it look like a decent cake! I didn’t have enough white sugar so I used half brown sugar. My frosting is much darker in color, but tastes pretty darn good.
    I had trouble remembering about the “soft ball” test method. It cooked on the stove for much longer than I expected, and I don’t have a candy thermometer so it was a guess. When I dropped the caramel into cold water, it did ball. When pouring off the water, the caramel on the bottom seemed the right consistency, so I took it off the stove.
    We are having the kids over for a “pinterst dinner” tonight, we shall see what they all think.
    The entree will be the Bruschetta Chicken Bake Wish me luck.

    Also, do you store this cake at room temperature overnight? or in the fridge ? Thanks

    1. Hi Judi, I’m so glad you loved my cake! It sounds like you had fun making it! I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we always do! I store at room temperature on a covered cake plate!

  15. It sounds like you had fun making it! I haven’t been up long and I could eat a huge piece of this for breakfast.

  16. I have to say this cake is truly amazing and your decorating is brill so dont worry – it made me want a slice!
    How would you think this recipe would fair as cupcakes? i ask because big cakes dont work well in my house given the lack of people to eat them so cupcakes are easier to share among friends?
    thank you for sharing a great recipe 😀 and i love the site
    please pop over to mine and say hi xxx

    1. Thank you so very much, Kate. I think it would be fine as cupcakes. I’ve actually made a cake + another as cupcakes before and it worked out really well. Let me know how you like them.

    2. All i have to say is wow! these turned out great (but i did use another icing because the cast iron dutch oven confused me, i didnt know what it was and i was sure i didnt have one!)
      but the cakes themselves worked a treat and were just so moist and yummy yet crumbly with a sweet lovelyness 😛
      I will be writing a bog post about them soon if that is ok and i will of course link up your site for the recipe because they are so damn yummy!

  17. I am making your cake right now and my cakes sank in the oven, any tips? I’m sure it will still taste great thanks!

    1. Hi Liz,
      Usually a cake that falls in the center either means that the cake batter was a bit overworked before baking or that the oven temperature may have been disrupted. I used to be guilty of ‘checking’ on cakes or cup cakes while they baked. Now, of I have to check, I only crack the door a bit and never all the way. I k ow as soon as I do, the cake will sink in the middle.

      I hope it still tasted delicious! On the bright side, it gives you a bigger space to hold all the caramel frosting! 😉

      Robyn

    2. I tried your recipe and why does my cake have to cook longer than thirty minutes? It’s been 40 minutes and the top is still very wet

  18. does it need to be refrigerated after its done? i am looking for cakes to make for a party that do not need refrigeration because i will be short on fridge space…this sounds deeeeee-licious!

    1. Hi Missy,
      This cake does not need to be refrigerated after it is done. It is fine to stay covered with a cake dome or well-wrapped. I hope you enjoy it!

    1. Hi Carrie,
      Oh no! There are a couple of reasons why it could have turned out dry. If the batter was overworked, it can cause the cake to be dryer than it should. Also, if it cooks a little bit too long or the oven temperature is a bit hotter than expected. Another reason is would be if the butter or buttermilk were substituted for something else. This cake needs the full fat of each of those ingredients for the right crumb. If none of that was an issue, I would suggest checking the cake about 10-15 minutes before the called for baking time as it could be done earlier in your oven or at your elevation.

      Thanks so much and I hope these suggestions work! Keep me posted!
      Robyn

    2. Oh thank you, because it was so so good and I want to make it again this weekend for our family party.

      I Did use a homemade buttermilk as I had none in the house and the milk was low fat. I also think I worked the batter a little too long. Thank you as I know what to do next, I now must make it again. Thank you so much for getting back to me.
      Carrie

    1. I’m so glad you made it, Rachel! Isn’t it the most delectable cake ever!? Now I’m wanting a slice. 🙂

  19. After reading about caramel cake in “The Help,” I searched the Internet and came across your site. I made this cake today and it is awesome! I was too impatient to whip the frosting by hand, so I let my kitchen aid do that for me. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I am certainly going to add it to my collection.

  20. Wow. Thank you so much. It has taken a long time to make this today (ahem, the icing) but I know it’s going to be worth it on Father’s Day tomorrow!

  21. Thanks for relinking this in Deborah’s Blogger Spotlight about you…this looks so good, Robyn!

  22. I want to make this for my mom’s birthday sooo badly but I’m super new to being domestic so I have a few questions for you, haha!
    Can I make the layers taller and have it only be a two layer cake? I only have two! But I can buy more 🙂
    Can margarine work instead of butter? Again, all I have.
    I make buttermilk myself at I only have skim in the house. Is that ok?
    Sorry for so many questions! As I said, I’m pretty new at this and I’d really love to not mess it up!

  23. I made this over the weekend, but made cupcakes instead. I cooked them for 27 mins and it yielded 27 of them.

    This was by far the best cake recipe and icing I have ever made. The cake recipe will be what I use when I want a vanilla cake for any icing. Thank you for sharing. Everyone should have such a great staple in their recipe book.

  24. Just made this today and it’s a KEEPER! Thank you for an
    amazing recipe. I used all (salted) butter instead of the Crisco in the
    frosting and added another teaspoon of salt and vanilla- best icing EVER!!

    1. Yay, Aimee!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Great tip on the icing! So glad that worked for you and you loved it! I’m making them this recipe later this week as cupcakes and I just might have to try the icing your way! 🙂

  25. YUMMY I made this today with my 92 year old mother, We substituted a box cake and used the buttermilk instead of water in mix. Turned out great Then we Made the Frosting OMG it is to Die For!!!

    Thank You this great recipe was fun to make, took a long time for frosting but was worth every minute with mom, a spending time with family making a delicious desert and enjoying it was great will be on my favorite cake list from now on… / **HI5**

  26. Made this for my mother-in-law’s birthday. She is a proper Southern woman and told me that she’s had quite a bit of caramel cake in her time but this was hands down the best. It was wonderful!

    1. Oh no! You’ll want to be sure that your cake pans are well-prepared with baking spray or a good coating of butter or shortening and then lightly coated with flour to prevent any sticking. The cake is very tender, so I’m sure once it stuck it made it break apart more easily.

  27. Thank you so much for posting. I cannot wait to make this cake for my husband’s birthday. This is his very favorite cake and we have been searching for the recipe. His people are from Mississippi, and somehow the recipe has been lost. Thank you again!!

  28. Hi Robyn!
    I just wanted you to know that I ran across your recipe a few days ago and I decided to make it today . It came out great ! I made a few changes though :

    I added brown sugar with the white sugar for the cake part
    I used butter instead of crisco for the icing … Took about an hour to get the thickness I needed.
    For the icing I used brown sugar instead of white sugar and I added some dark corn syrup to it .

    I took it to work today and it was gone within an hour . I actually have people trying to order them for the holidays ! Great recipe , with or without the little changes I did .

  29. This cake is delicious!!! My guy is from down home Mississippi and this is his all time FAVE cake. Now I love to bake and usually am really good at it but I was afraid to try it since he always talks about how well his Grandma used to make it…eek. I did a trial run for the people at work (yes, I’m that crazy) before I made one for him and they loved it! I think I overworked the icing a little bit because mine is so much darker than yours. Did I cook it too long? Either way, this cake is so yummy…thank you!!

    1. I’m so excited, Kimberly and can’t wait to hear how he likes it, too! Your caramel may have gotten a bit browner while cooking than mine did and that would yield a darker caramel icing. Either work is perfectly fine and delicious. Congratulations and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  30. I made your cake a couple of times this Christmas and liked it so much, I am now using the cake part for my 10-layer chocolate cake. I will attempt to do a 10-layer caramel with this recipe soon, as it was requested. Thanks for sharing!

  31. I have another question or two that aren’t real clear on the instructions. What temperature do you cook the icing on? And once it reaches the soft ball stage, do you then convert it into the mixer to whip?

    1. Hi Chrissy,
      I cook my caramel over medium-low heat, adjusting as needed so that it doesn’t cook too rapidly, etc. Yes, you can either use a wooden spoon for the icing or the whip attachment of your mixer as explained in this post – https://addapinch.com/cooking/2012/09/05/salted-caramel-buttercream-frosting-recipe/. I would caution that it is easy to overwork the traditional caramel icing with a mixer, so pay really, really close attention to it if you go that route. Good luck!

  32. I have just one question. How are you going to say to prepare the caramel icing for the cake and you don’t submit the recipe? I know that everyone has there own style to do things. I would like to see your recipe for this cake.

    Jennifer, NC

  33. I have made this cake several times and it always gets rave reviews. However, I am not sure what I’ve done wrong with the frosting as mine is never spreadable after I beat with the mixer. As a result, I’ve been pouring the frosting on the cakes after it cools and thickens some, but then it all doesn’t stay on the cake. My frosting also gets granular as it starts cooling. It still tastes AMAZING and there is never any left, but I want it to be pretty like the picture. Any ideas?

    1. When I took the icing off the heat initially and beat it with my mixer it did have the consistency of melted caramel but, the key is you have to let it cool a bit and beat it on a high speed to get the fluffy consistency. Don’t get nervous that the coloring is a bit darker when you first take it off the heat…when it cools and you beat it on a high speed it turns into a light color.

    2. Slounds to me like you’re cooking your icing to a higher temperature than is recommended, ;and/or overbeating the frosting after cooking it. the granular part comes form cooking at too high a heat or overcooking it. the sugar re-granulated.

  34. I made cupcakes with this recipe and they were good. However, I would like to have the caramel flavor throughout the cake. If I substitute half the sugar with brown sugar will it change the outcome of the cake?

  35. Hello Robyn,

    Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful Caramel Cake recipe with me so that I could make it for my family. I started baking (about 7 or 8) different homemade cookie recipes last year at Christmas time as gifts to give and send to members of my family. I wanted to give something thoughtful, special and full of love. I really got into it with decorations from cookie bags with wraps to attaching small Christmas ornaments (bulbs) to the cookie bags with my signature written on them. I loved every minute of it. I found myself in a very happy zone, a different space, when I was baking. You could say that I got the “baking bug”. So I didn’t stop there; I wanted to start baking homemade cakes just like my mother, grandmother and great grandmother and great aunts did.
    Now I have baked other homemade cakes before, and I know that you have to pay close attention when following directions of recipes, homemade especially, because any small mishap will mess it all up. It seemed like it was quite a challenge, so out of fear, I have never even attempted to make a caramel cake.
    Your caramel cake recipe is a “Southern Jewel”. I made the caramel cake and the icing on yesterday. My cake turned out beautiful:) When the cake layers came out perfect, I was jumping up and down:) The icing was perfect as well. My icing was smooth, but it may have been just a tad bit grainy, and I mean just a tad bit to the point where it was hardly noticeable and I jumped up and down:) The icing had a nice, buttery, caramel flavor. It put me in the mind of caramel popcorn or caramel apples. This caramel cake was one of the best desserts that I have ever put in my mouth, and I was so proud of myself because I made this cake. I was sending pictures to my family members and everybody wanted some. Now I refuse to buy cookies and cakes at the stores anymore because I know that I can do it myself at home.
    I did not have the cast iron dutch oven or the wooden spoon on hand. I used one of my heavy boilers to prepare the icing. I have to get a wooden spoon. I used a big size regular spoon and it worked out. I will work on smoothing out every grain in the icing to bring it to an even creamier consistency the next time. My family loves it. I love you and thank you for giving me this gift of a beautiful recipe that I can share with others. Thank you and God bless you and your family.

    1. Yay, Andrea! I’m so glad you loved the caramel cake! It is definitely a labor of love to make, but so very worth it! Believe it or not, so much can contribute to a bit of a grainy texture to the icing. Using a wooden spoon is one of the best ways to eliminate it, as well as not making it when it is humid or rainy. I really appreciate your sweet comment and can’t wait to hear what else you make! Bless you and yours as well. xoxo

  36. I would LOVE to make this for a funeral I’m attending in a couple days along with my made from scratch Red Velvet Cake. Was just wondering if instead of using the 3 round pans what size rectangle cake pan could be used?? Would 9×13 be big enough? And would I still double the frosting recipe?

  37. Hello, Robyn, it’s my first time on your site and I’m afraid it is for bad news. I recently followed a facebook recipe page and there is currently a lot of drama saying the owner of the page isn’t crediting people for the recipes she is posting… She claims she is. Now, someone has accused her Southern Caramel Cake to be a copy of yours, I am afraid it is… At the very least the cake part is almost word for word from your blog… [link removed]
    I’m sure if you contact facebook authorities something can be dome about this, at the very least you can be credited, since at the moment the owner of the page is maintaining that this was her mother’s recipe.

    Compliments on your recipe, I hope to be making it very soon.

  38. Hi Robyn, when you say one cup, do you mean a cup with a capacity of 250ml? I really really want to try this cake, seems so delicious but I don’t want to give it a go and ruin it because of the measurements. Keep baking and cooking the way you do, I’m already a fan!

  39. Hello! My grandmother made a cake similar to this haven’t had it in years! So I did not have 3 pans only 2 do I opted on making the cake in a angel food cake pan got a little crusty but altogether good! My icing pretty much turned out good but I don’t know if I beat to much because it cooked quickly and became grainy when I tried to spread it, also beat with wooden spoon! Thx!

    1. Great cake, I made the first batch of icing and it was fine, wasn’t enough. I made the 2 batch and it was grainy. Please tell me what went wrong .thanks

  40. Hi Robyn! I made this cake with Coffee Butter Frosting, and it was delicious! But the cake was really dense! And had a lot of bubbles. I’m thinking that I may have overbeat it or something like that, but do you know why it turned out this way? Thank you for the delicious recipe though!

  41. Hey Robyn the cake turned out GREAT even the icing but the only problem I had was after it was cut, it got really dry really fast!!!!! What can I do!!!

    1. Hi Brittney,
      Make sure your cake is really, really well wrapped or covered with a cake dome to keep it moist. It should last for a couple of days like that without drying out. This cake is definitely best eaten within the first day or two.

  42. Hi Robyn,

    I wanted to thank you so much for this recipe. My dad’s absolute favourite dessert in the world is caramel cake. There is reputed to be a family caramel cake recipe passed down from his mother, but due to family politics, I don’t yet have this recipe. I tried very hard to get it from my sisters on his birthday, but none of them were any help. In a panic, I searched the web for alternative recipes. I took a chance on your, and I’m so glad I chose this one instead of any other. It was perfect, and my dad said it was one of the best caramel cakes he had ever eaten.

    So thank you so much for your wonderful recipe. I’ll post a blog about it tomorrow, with a link back to you of course. Please check it out on my site, A Southern Belle in London.

    Kate

  43. Made this cake today. My husband loved it. Easy to follow recipe. This will now be a favorite at my house.

  44. I made this cake yesterday 5-4-13 for my dad’s birthday and it was a hit! The cake was really great, it’s rich and flavorful. I had a few small problems with the frosting. Notes for next time: I would only use 2- 9″ pans instead of 3. I wasn’t sure how much heat to use when making the frosting. Next time I need to turn the flame higher (med high) when cooking the frosting, I realized how important it to 240 degrees because I was only ably to get the frosting to 220 degrees and it was still a little grainy. The flavor was amazing, the texture just wasn’t quite right.

  45. I may be wrong, and I haven’t made this yet: It sounds like the cake is a white cake and it’s the icing that makes it caramel. Just curious. I’m about to use the frosting part for an office party tomorrow.

  46. Robyn, I would have to rate this cake 0 stars. The cake was very, course, dense and did not rise. The recipe did not call for baking soda/ powder. Was this omitted in error? Thumbs down!

    1. Hi Sheila,
      Sorry the recipe wasn’t to your liking. The actual recipe calls for self-rising flour, so no – no baking powder or baking soda are needed in making this cake if you use the ingredients called for. Now, if you substitute all-purpose flour for the self-rising called for in the recipe, you will need to add baking powder and baking soda to make the cake rise. I feel sure this is where the problem would have been caused in your cake.

      Hope you have a great week!
      Robyn

  47. I made this cake and I must say I was very disappointed. The cake was very dense and did not rise. I thought I followed the directions exactly, but something went wrong. Don’t know where I messed up. Can you help please

  48. Robyn,

    Just made your Southern Caramel Cake. As it is said in India, “Holy Cow” this is a good cake. I was raised on a farm in GA and this is as good any my GrandMa ever made. Thank you for posting this recipe.

    The icing was great. I learned that one has to work fast with it.

    Do you have a recipe for a chocolate icing?

    Thank you,
    Dwayne

    1. Are you using a meat/candy thermometer? Make sure you are letting the icing cook to at least 235 degrees.(Thats when it get most of its color.) Once sugar hits 230 it goes kinda fast so you must work fast and be careful because it can really burn you badly.

  49. I’ve been searching for a yummy caramel cake recipe for my Mom’s birthday tomorrow, hoping to somewhat replicate my late Grandma’s recipe (which is now lost, sadly). Your cake looks scrumptious, but I’m curious what makes the cake taste caramel? I’m a bit of a novice baker so any help is appreciated!

  50. Robyn,
    I could not get the caramel icing recipe link to open either.

    I would like to make this for moms birthday if I an get the icing recipe.

    Thanks

  51. I accidentally made this cake with all purpose flour and it was delicious! The cake was more dense but came out wondeful. However when I noticed I mistakenly used the wrong flour. I tried redoing the recipe with the self rising flour. The cake crumbled when I tried to flip it from the pan and did not taste as good as the all purpose. I would recommend anyone who made this cake to use all purpose flour as a substitute.

  52. I just made the cake for my son’s nanny’s birthday tomorrow. Wow the directions were great! Somehow my frosting was a little too stiff (didn’t even add all the powered sugar) but still a dream to spread. I just had a hard time covering the entire cake. I snuck some tastes and Yum! I can’t wait for a slice.

    1. Melissa, I don’t know if it would make any difference to the icing consistency, but the recipe calls for granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar.

  53. THE BEST CARAMEL CAKE EVER….I’VE MADE IT 3 TIMES IN 3 MONTHS AND MY BOYFRIEND AND HIS FAMILY LOVE IT!! WILL BE MAKING IT AGAIN THIS WEEKEND FOR HIS BIRTHDAY AND NEXT WEEKEND FOR MY DAD’S BIRTHDAY! THANK YOU FOR SHARING IT, ROBYN!!

  54. Well, I am excited for my birthday cake to have the caramel icing. My question is:
    Idon’t want to use crisco, can I use coco nut oil? Or just a cup of butter?
    Thanks for your reply.
    Sheril

    1. I have two pans and just divided the recipe in half – will take slightly longer to cook but works fine. You can cut the cakes in half horizontally if you want a more layered effect.

    2. Ramon, I didn’t notice until I printed it, but the cake recipe says to double the icing recipe so you probably wouldn’t have enough icing if you reduced the amount to 2/3. I noticed that a couple of other people said they didn’t have enough icing, so maybe they didn’t notice either.

  55. I love this cake and my family does too! I have not been able to perfect the frosting but I have used this cake recipe several times. Thank you for sharing your recipes, do you have a video blog showing how to make some recipes? I would love video instructions on how to make your caramel.

  56. For the icing have you tried boiling a can of condensed milk for about 2-3 hours and using the cooled contents as icing?

    Looks like a great recipe which I will soon try.

    regards

    Sal

  57. I made this cake today for my sister’s 39th birthday with the help of my nearly 5 year old daughter. We have a tradition that everyone in the family (regardless of age) gets a birthday cake – and my sister and I have been obsessed with caramel since we were old enough to make chocolate caramel slice. That’s going back a while now…. so when I found your recipe it seemed perfect. We had a ball making the cake – the more eggs to crack the better! And having never made frosting like this I was dubious when I looked at the ingredients in the pot. But some swirling later and wow! What a cake ! The frosting was fantatstic and fudge-y, the cake moist and delicious and both stood up well to the inferno of candles on the top. I just used butter instead of
    Crisco. I have a feeling that this will become a family favourite – and Wellington, New Zealand may be as far south as the Southern Caramel Cake has ventured.

  58. Excellent recipe…Especially the frosting!!!! My 4 yr. old granddaughter licks the bowl every time I make it.
    **It’s an absolute must to double the Caramel Icing recipe..You’ll need the small extra for all of the fingers that go into tasting it 🙂

  59. I made this cake and frosting yesterday for my sons’ 16th birthday and I was very disappointed with it, to say the least. The cake is extremely dry and the frosting is too thick. And the consensus of my family is that this does not taste like a caramel cake, at least the one’s that we’ve tasted, in any way, shape or form. The frosting is not too bad, except for it being too thick in texture, but the cake has virtually no flavor and lacked the sweetness that a cake should have. I followed the recipe verbatim, so I don’t feel that it was anything that I did incorrectly. I do not like to give negative ratings on anything unless I feel very strongly about it, and this is exactly the way I feel about this recipe. I chose this recipe because of it’s five star rating, and I do not believe it deserves it.

    1. To add to my earlier post, I shared this cake with my next door neighbor and she liked it, but also said that this cake did not taste like a caramel cake whatsoever.

  60. Hi Robyn,

    My first attempt at baking a cake was with your caramel recipe.I followed your instructions to the letter and the results was a deliciously superb cake.For a novice baker i was deeply encouraged to try more recipes.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Happy baking.

  61. I made this cake and I am sorry to say it was a flop!!! I am a busy executive with a day off and would have apprecited more play by play instructions. The icing was clear and the cakes didn’t rise very much.I was so embarresed. My husband thought I didn’t know what I was doing. I am not betty crocker so can you please include cake baking 101?

    1. Sandy,
      Wow! You pull a free recipe off of a free site that many people have had success with and you attack the woman who shares it? Shame on you.

    2. Sandy I’m sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you. Baking is an art, some people get it, while others don’t. The most important thing is to add dry to wet (always)! That’s where many fail. Adding the eggs one at a time is important as well. I would suggest you try a cake recipe with a step by step video. It may also be helpful to try a recipe where you can use Swan cake flour.

  62. I just got done making this cake. It turned out just like the picture!! I am so proud! The icing took a good hour and a half to cook and cool to the right consistency to put on cake but so worth the time. Thank you Robyn for sharing your recipe!!

  63. Hi Robyn!

    I absolutely loved this cake. I made it for my husband’s birthday to expose him to more of my southern roots. He loved it. The only problem was that the cake seemed a little dry. Any tips for making my cake a little more moist? Planning on making it this thanksgiving.

  64. Hi.. just wanted to know. If I have to resort to using AP Flour, how many Tablespoons of Baking Soda and Powder do I add??

    1. Hi Leah. I’m getting ready to make this cake and was curious about this as well. Here is an answer from another website.

      Substitutions: Can self rising flour be substituted for all-purpose flour?

      No. Self rising flour contains baking powder and salt. However, if a recipe calls for self-rising flour and you have all purpose flour, you can easily make your own. For each cup of self rising flour needed, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

  65. I made this cake and icing yesterday for our Christmas dinner. Both the cake and icing were delicious- the icing however did turn out a bit stiff and grainy (I have to work on that…). I have plenty of flour, sugar, eggs etc. so the plan is to experiment (and if need be give my neighbors not so pretty cake until I have it just right….

    Also, after eating the grainy scraps and really enjoying them… I decided to add some good ole Georgia pecans and I made pralines. Can someone say simply “DELISH”. OMG- my boo boo turned into a wonderful treat that I put over ice cream.

  66. Thanks Robyn for the great recipe!

    This cake is yummy! Am having trouble tho getting the cake itself to light brown. They always turn out just like white cake. Wondering if this is normal?

    M

  67. I have tried this recipe twice now. The second was a little better than the first, but I am still not happy at all with the results. The case is dry and the icing is grainy. I followed the instructions exactly (or so I thought). I did stir the frosting constantly while cooking. Was this a mistake? I got it to softball stage and removed from heat and let cool for about 1/2 hour before beating with electric mixer. I had to beat it for about 30 minutes for it to get thick enough to frost the cake.

    Any suggestions on why this didn’t work??

    1. Hey Marcia,
      This caramel cake recipe is one that we love and fuss about all in the same breath. While it has been a in the family for generations, it is still one that we have a love/ hate relationship. I know that isn’t at all comforting, but just to tell you that it a cake that I have practiced making for years and years and still have off times. But, with all that said, here are a few things that would’ve made your icing grainy: you should swirl the icing or if you have to touch it at all with a spoon, you use a wooden spoon. You don’t make the caramel icing when it is rainy or the humidity is high outside as it just won’t “do right” as my grandmother would say. It always seems to turn out grainy if the humidity is high. You might find that you like this version of caramel frosting. I hope that helps!

  68. Hi Robyn,

    You are such a trooper to take the time to respond to these comments. I commend you. I just concluded my ‘test run’ baking of your Southern Carmel Cake and it was a great experience. Several lessons learned for me along in the process and your commentaries helped to avoid a few pitfalls.
    The cakes were a snap to make. Given there were three cakes to bake in the oven, they didn’t cook evenly. So I will cook two and then cook the third separately. Then, I did a dumb thing . . . I removed one of the cakes from the pan right after I took it from the oven. Well – it fell apart. I should know better.
    Making the icing was easy and it turned out perfectly. If you have any more advice as to how to spread it before it stiffens, I would welcome a response. I didn’t quite get around completely to all sides of the cake.
    Thank you again for the recipe and your kind responses.

    1. Hi Mark,
      I’m so glad you love the caramel cake! It is absolutely one of my favorite family cake recipes! To get the cake iced, I do have a couple of tricks. One is to work quickly. I mean QUICKLY to get the icing on the cake before it stiffens. The other is to keep a glass of really hot water beside the icing so that I can dip my offset spatula or knife into the water when it does stiffen as you mentioned. Another trick that my aunt uses is to keep icing over a double boiler as she ices her cake. She say it works like a charm!

  69. Hello, I made this cake tonight and it was certainly a hit. However I do feel that it could be improved, and maybe the problem I’m having is due to higher altitude. I live at 7500 feet. My cake turned out very dry and crumbly. Great flavor, but I would have expected it to be more moist and spongy. Anything I can add or adjust to get a more moist consistency?

  70. I made this cake again for the second time tonight. It is so wonderful! I have never had a problem with the icing like some of the posts. I think using a candy thermometer is key and doing the cold water test. After I get it to that point, I let it cool for about 5 minutes and then mix it with my KitchenAid mixer for about 10-15 minutes and then ice the cake. One thing I have found when Icing the cake, if it starts pulling up the cake, I dip my knife in hot water to get it warm so it spreads easier. This cake is just as good, if not better than the cake I bought from Caroline’s Cakes, the Caramel Cake.

  71. I haven’t tried this cake but I may, I am more a pie baker but my comment is about a few of the others comments. It reminds me of being the “fastest gun in the west” some people always try to “shoot you down” ha. When people say to me, “you make the best pie crust ever” I cringe, knowing someone out there is gunning for me. Not that I care a great deal, I just find it amusing. I love your recipes and will try some but rest assured if they flop, you wont hear about it because it will be something I did wrong

  72. This recipe sounds good, but it would be nice if you had also posted the Caramel Icing recipe. Or, maybe you did but it did not show up on my page, which doesn’t make much sense.

    1. Hi Victoria,
      The link to the caramel icing is the last item in the ingredients list. When you click it, it takes you straight to the recipe. Hope that helps!

    2. Thanks so much for telling me, Faith! I’ve reattached the link to the cake recipe. It’s also listed under Southern Caramel Icing if you ever need to find it on it’s own sometime too. I hope you enjoy it! It’s definitely a cake my family loves!!! xo

  73. Thank you so much for posting tho wonderful recipe! I made it for my friends’ birthday (she grew up in Arkansas) and she loved it!

  74. If I use cake flour what are the exact amount of ingredients for baking powder,baking soda and salt.please email the answer.Thanks

  75. I made this cake over the weekend and it is perfect! I didn’t have any buttermilk so I used 2% milk with white vinegar and both the cake and the icing were incredible! When I mixed the ingredients for the icing, I truly thought there was no way it would become the decadent confection pictured on your site, but I walked away from it once it came to a boil and I had turned it down, and came back to a rich, caramel syrup that beat up to perfection. Thanks so much!!

  76. Hi, we are vegetarians and do not consume eggs. Could you please help suggest substitutes for the egg in this recipe? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sweta,
      I was in the middle of making this cake and then I discovered we had no eggs, so i used a banana instead. It turned out delicious! I used the caramel buttercream that is linked in the ingredients list and with that, it becomes a banana caramel cake. I used a medium sized banana that had lots of brown spots and no green in sight; very ripe and sweet. Although it tastes slightly different from the original cake, it is still delicious and i highly recommend you try it.
      Erin M xx

  77. I made this cake today and the frosting didn’t quite turn out right, so I’m hoping you can give me some pointers. I made sure to cook it to soft-ball stage (using the cold-water test), then dumped it in my KitchenAid and whipped it until my finger made an imprint. I’m not sure if I whipped it too long or not long enough because when I tried to put it on the cake it didn’t spread at all. It was like playdoh consistency. I tried rolling it out with my rolling pin and that didn’t work either, it stuck to my wax paper and just didn’t look nice. It’s still delicious so I’m still bringing it to my church activity tomorrow, but any ideas on how to make the frosting actually spreadable so that next time I make it it won’t look so ugly? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jackie,
      It does sound like it whipped just a little bit too long. It can happen quickly. One minute you think it will never reach that stage and then the next it is past where it should have been. It can be a real pain, I know!

      One thing that I’ve noticed is that newer models of stand mixers seem to be more powerful than older models. If that’s the case for you, maybe back down on the speed of your mixer a bit so that it reaches the proper stage a bit more slowly. I hope that helps!

      I know your friends at your church activity will love you for bringing that to them though! xo

    2. So I think the original problem was actually that I had cooked it too long, so I made some more frosting this morning and made sure that it was in a very soft soft-ball stage before whipping it, but I think I also whipped it for too long again because it came out very hard to spread. Do you think it would help if I cook it even less time, or do you think the problem is mostly whipping it for too long? Also, do you keep your caramel cake in the fridge after you frost it or do you leave it out in room temperature? PS Everyone at the activity did love it, and I was super excited that a generous amount of crumbs were left on the platter for me to eat!

    3. Why don’t you try beating it by hand, like the original recipe suggested. Those kitchen aid mixers are powerful. By hand you can tell what is going on with your frosting.

  78. Hi – so what is the flavor of the cake? I was expecting it to be a caramel cake, but it seems more like a butter yellow cake. Is that right?

    Also – can I halve the recipe & bake in 2 cake pans (shorten the time a bit because they’ll be thinner) & make a single batch of the caramel icing? It’s just a two of us, and I’d rather not have all the extra lying around 🙂

    Thanks for responding!!

  79. The cake is awesome but I still need to practice mastering the technique on the icing. It gets too dark when it’s beating. The flavor is there but it’s not perfect yet.

    1. The link to the icing is in the body of the article, just above the picture of the icing on the mixer.

  80. Thanks for the great recipe, can’t wait to try it but I have a quick question. I live in Australia & would like to know what is Crisco, it’s in the icing & I don’t know what an alternative for it would be in Aus. Thanks

    1. Hi
      Just read your question and saw it hadn’t been answered! Crisco is available at most cake decorating shops In Australia now. It is Vegetable shortening. Another place to find it online is at the USA food shop in Melbourne.

    1. Hi Diana,
      Once your email is entered, it should send you an email for you to confirm that you would like to subscribe to receive the emails. Once you click to approve to receive the emails, you are all set! Let me know if you still have problems with it! xo

  81. Hi,
    I was making this cake with the ingriedients listed. As I go thru the steps, it says cream butter, add sugar, then cream, Cream is not listed in the ingriedients, only buttermilk. What am I missing here??

  82. OMG!! I made this recipe and the caramel frosting is the best EVER!!! The cake however was crumbly and very hard to work with but it had a good flavor. The cake got into my frosting and left crumbly appearance. The frosting was maybe too thick. I would definitely make this recipe again and again.

  83. At the bottom of the ingredients for the cake it says caramel icing “double the recipe is that referring to the cake ot the icing?

    1. Hi Connie,
      It is referring to the icing. Sorry that wasn’t written more clearly! xo

    1. Hey, Janie? Just click the hyperlink in the recipe above it will take you to the icing recipe 😉

    1. I made as cupcakes and while the flavor was still great, they didn’t turn out as well – very fragile. I wouldn’t recommend it.

    1. Huh? Caramel is simply melted sugar and milk, heated until it caramelizes. So, yes there is caramel in the icing. Homemade caramel.

  84. I don’t have self rising flour , so I can use regular flour and how much baking soda or baking powder can I use. O yeah what about salt? Thanks

    1. Hi June,
      I have never used a cake mix for this cake, so the flavor would be your preference. I hope you will try this cake by this recipe sometime – it is delicious! Thanks so much! xo

    2. A butter cake mix, or yellow cake mix, or sometimes you can actually find caramel cake mix is good with the frosting. The caramel frosting is so good I have had people request some to eat with a spoon. It does take awhile to make the frosting to heat it to the right point, but it is worth it.

  85. This cake looked good, but when sliced was so dry, all crumbs. I followed the recipe and cooking time exactly and don’t know what when wrong. The icing as many have said was a labor of love. It was delicious but as the icing continued to cool it became impossible to spread. I actually iced the sides with my fingers, first time I have ever done that. If you have any suggestions on what caused this cake to be so dry and how to maintain an icing consistency that can be spread easily please share.

    1. Hi Lisa, I am so sorry your cake turned out dry for you. I know that can be frustrating. I’ve found sometimes if a cake is too dry, it could possibly be the flour. I use White Lily Flour, which has a similar consistency to cake flour.
      As far as the icing getting hard to spread as it cooled, it sounds to me like it is possible that it was either cooked too long or beaten too long. I hope these tips help and that you enjoy it if you decide to bake it again. Thanks so much! xo

  86. I made cake today three huge layers. I doubled the icing recipe bc the layers were so big. I boiled icing to 245 degrees but I best for 45 minutes and it never turned to caramel. If tastes like mashmallow cream. I’m so upset!

    1. Hi Ann – I’ve never had to beat this icing that long. I’m am so sorry it didn’t turn out for you!

  87. When making caramel icing try boiling two cans of condense milk eagle brand for three to four hours. in a Dutch pot covered with water at all times and let cans cool completely and open them up and spread over cakes.

  88. This looks wonderful! I’d like to make this as a one-layer cake. What size pan and bake time would you suggest? Thanks!

    1. Hi Phyllis,
      I’m so glad that you love the caramel cake! Isn’t it amazing? One thing that I’ve found that causes cakes to split is if I have not allowed them to cool completely before I add my frosting or icing to the cake. xo

    2. Hi Phyllis,
      You’ll want your layers to cool completely to the touch. I recommend letting them cool in the pans for just a bit and then turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely. This can take a while, so I generally just leave them while I do other things around the house and then come back to them for layering and frosting later.

  89. I have made this for my son (by request!) for his birthday 2 years in a row. It turned out really well- he loves it! He wants to try making it himself but wants to make it chocolate caramel, have you ever tried adding chocolate to this recipe? Or do you have a chocolate caramel cake recipe? Thank you for the great recipe!

    1. I love that your son loves this so much that he requests it for his birthday!!! I haven’t made it as a chocolate caramel, but that sounds like something I need to do soon! xo

  90. I am going to try this Cake soon, my Aunt was known for her Amazing  Burnt Caramel Cakes, I know she cooked the sugar until it reached a dark brown stage ( Thats why it was called Burnt Sugar) not really burned. Her cakes were just the most delish ever, I need to get the recipe from her Daughter. The icing on the Cake you posted looks like her icing….and I thought the way you frosted it looked like a Pro, you don’t need lessons, you could give them! Thanks for the recipe……????????

  91. Hi Robyn! Greeting from the Philippines! I can’t find self-rising flour in my local grocery so I’m going to make my own self-rising flour according to your DIY recipe. So for 3 cups all purpose flour i will need to add 4 1/2 tsp baking powder plus 3/4 tsp salt? Thank you in advance!

  92. I just made this cake and it got rave reviews. I only own 2 9″ cake tins, however, and one reviewer wrote that it didn’t really fill three tins, and so I thought two would work.

    Well, that reviewer either didn’t use self-rising flour, or didn’t beat air in the batter like your supposed to, because my two layers came out quite tall — three tins would have worked perfectly.

    And so I’m going to buy a third 9″ cake tin for the next time I bake this cake, because I certainly will!

    In fact, I have so much caramel frosting left over than I may do it tomorrow.

    By the way, I followed the recipe to a T, except that I omitted 1/4 cup of the sugar — I used Baker’s sugar – – and added a teaspoon of almond extract, because I always do. Don’t think it was noticeable, though: this cake is simply a delivery device for the amazing caramel frosting, and doesn’t need to be more than it is: a light (NOT dense!) yellow cake.

  93. Hi Robyn,

    I will be making this cake for my husbands birthday this evening. I’ve looked through the comments first before deciding to ask. What if I don’t have a ducth oven to make the icing? Would a no stick pot be ok?

    Thank you!
    -iris

  94. So my mother in law use to make a cake that looked like this but tasted like Reese’s pieces:) would this be the same recipe?

    1. Hi Barbara,
      I’m not sure about what type of cake that was, Barbara. This cake recipe is delicious and my family has loved it for years. Hope you like it too if you give it a try! thanks!

    1. Hi Brenda-
      Yes, you can freeze the layers. Just allow to cool completely per the recipe instructions and wrap each layer in freezer wrap and store in an airtight container. When ready to frost the cake, allow it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure it’s thawed completely before you frost it.
      I would not freeze it with the caramel icing on it – I’d suggest freezing the layers as described.
      Enjoy! Thanks!

  95. Your recipe for the icing calls for crisco, is that shortening or the liquid form?  Please help making this cake in less than 10hrs

  96. I made the cake. It came right out of the oven looking perfect. I let it cool for a little in the pan…and when i turned them out, it was nice and moist, but very crumbly. The middle of the cake came out before the rest of the cake in the pan. It was all evenly cooked, but just coming apart. I put it back together with my hands and wrapped them in saran wrap and put them in the freezer…I’m hoping this helps! I’m going to cover it in icing anyways lol. The part I did taste was delicious

  97. I’m going to make this cake for a friend it sounds delicious!!! How is it stored once finished? Fridge or can it sit on a covered cake carrier on counter?

  98. I hopped over to the caramel recipe and the instructions are not very clear. Is it cooked over low, medium, or high heat?  Do you bring to a boil and reduce to simmer? Do you whisk or leave it alone?  Unless I’m missing a big section of instructions this is very unclear. I would love to try this cake because I love all things Southern, but ingredients are too expensive for an unclear recipe. HELP!  

  99. All caramel icings I have made cook on low -very low heat stirring wooden spoon  and swirling constantly…

  100. Where is the icing recipe for the southern caramel cake…this website is not clear an certainly not user friendly…there’s no ‘open’ buttons or ‘next page’ button, nothing together..

    1. Hi Tawana,
      All you have to do is click on the blue highlighted link (last in the Ingredients list) in the recipe that says Southern Caramel Icing Recipe, double the recipe and it takes you directly to the Caramel Icing recipe. I hope you enjoy the cake!!

    1. Hi Danietta,
      I would not make this caramel icing in advance. I’m afraid it would become too hard in the refrigerator.

    1. Yes I was wondering do I need to have my eggs butter and buttermilk at room temperature

    2. Yes, all ingredients need to be at room temperature before you start mixing the cake, Lawanda. Hope you enjoy!

  101. This cake was awesome!! only mistake i didn’t double the carmel icing recipe so i had to make two batches.

    1. This cake is one of my mother’s favorite cakes. I’m so glad you liked it, too.

  102. This cake and icing is phenomenal!! I had some leftover caramel…any suggestions for how to use it?

    1. You can use it on cookies, cupcakes, graham crackers, as a fruit dip, etc. So glad you liked it, Elizabeth.

  103. Thanks for this great recipe. The Carmel frosting is the lead but the cake itself is awesome. Everyone loves a good carmel cake but most are afraid of the frosting,trust me if i can do it anyone can .

    1. Thank you I’m new to baking use to seeing oil is there any advantage or taste difference using self rising v cake flour?

    2. With this recipe, you would need to use self-rising flour instead of cake flour. Cake flour will not have the leavening agents in it that is in the self-rising flour and your cake would not rise appropriately.

    1. Miranda, I think this recipe is fine as cupcakes. I’ve actually made a cake + another as cupcakes before and it worked out really well.

    1. Alice, this cake needs the full fat of each of those ingredients for the right crumb. The cake could be dry if you substitute milk with less fat.

    2. I made it last night for my daughter’s Birthday. I can’t wait to try it tonight.

    1. KC, there are a few reasons why it could have turned out dry. If the batter was overworked, it can cause the cake to be drier than it should. Also, if it cooks a little bit too long or the oven temperature is a bit hotter than expected. Another reason is would be if the butter or buttermilk were substituted for something else. This cake needs the full fat of each of those ingredients for the right crumb. Also, if you live at a higher altitude, your cake could be dry. If none of that was an issue, I would suggest checking the cake about 10-15 minutes before the called for baking time as it could be done earlier in your oven or at your elevation.

      Thanks so much and I hope these suggestions work!

    1. I haven’t made this with butter flavored shortening, Angela, so I can’t tell you how it would be.

    1. Cindy, stirring the caramel while it is cooking, storing it in a humid room, or making the caramel when the outside weather is humid can cause the sugar to crystallize and the caramel become grainy.

  104. What can you use in place of the buttermilk if you don’t have any? Sour cream, heavy whipping cream, can milk?

    1. This cake should be baked in 3 9-inch cake pans, Khrystal. Over mixing the batter, not having all ingredients at room temperature, and extra baking time for a smaller pan than the recipe calls for can all cause a cake to be dense.