A Southern classic, caramel cake is made with layers of yellow cake and a mouthwatering caramel frosting. In this recipe, both elements include buttermilk for a wonderful tang that offsets the caramel’s sweetness. It’s a fun cake to make with deliciously irresistible results.
Inspired by New Orleans’ famous Doberge torte, which has an Old World European influence, the traditional Southern caramel cake can seem like a daunting task. This recipe is a little easier and designed to help bakers who want to advance their cake baking skills without too much of a challenge. Be sure to read through the recipe and tips and have everything ready because many steps require you to work swiftly.
The two-layer version is made in 9-inch cake pans, which many home cooks already own. If you have them, you can make the more traditional three-layer cake by splitting the batter between three 8-inch pans; reduce the baking time by about 10 minutes. The cakes are easy to prepare with all-purpose flour and other standard ingredients. If you prefer to use self-rising flour, use the same amount as the all-purpose flour and eliminate the baking powder and salt, which are included in self-rising flour.
1 cup butter (2 sticks) – softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs – room temperature
3 cups flour self-rising
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups sugar
2 cup buttermilk
1 cup Crisco – or preferred solid vegetable shortening
1 cup butter
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
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For The Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F
Grease or butter three (3) 9-inch cake pans and then dust the entire greased area with flour to lightly coat. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until fluffy, then add the sugar and cream for about 5-6 more minutes.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, and combine well after each.
To the butter mixture, mix in the flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. After each ingredient addition, mix just until incorporated.
Add vanilla and beat well.
Divide evenly among the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let pans rest for 5 minutes. Then, turn the cakes out of the pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
Prepare the Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then ice cake.
For the Icing
In a cast iron Dutch oven, or other heavy pot, mix all ingredients – Except for Vanilla – and place over medium heat.
Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pot so you can monitor the temperature carefully.
As the ingredients heat to a simmer, stir with a wooden spoon to keep ingredients moving in the pan.
Cook to softball stage 235º – 245º on a candy thermometer
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and ready to spread. If using mixer, once your icing has reached the softball stage, whip the icing until it holds to the whisk when you stop the mixer.