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Southern Caramel Cake

A cake for the ages! I have worked on this recipes for years, and I bring it to you now, foolproof. This cake is phenomenal! A not too sweet buttermilk caramel cake, paired with a dense, caramel frosting, is a beloved southern delicacy. The flavors and textures of this cake make it truly addictive. Caramel icing can be difficult to make, but my foolproof recipe won't be!

Prep Time: 45 minutes Yield: 12 servings

Caramel Cake:


12 ounces unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature (Tip: place cold eggs in very warm water for several minutes to warm)

Sift together or mix with fork in separate bowl;

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups full fat buttermilk (or whole milk combined with 1 tbsp vinegar)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With paddle attachment of electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time. Gradually add in flour mixture. Combine buttermilk and baking soda together, then add to flour mixture. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract.

Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Divide batter between pans and bake 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and cake springs back when lightly touched in center. Place on wire rack to cool. Unmold when cake pans are slightly warm to the touch.

Once cakes are cool, divide each layer into two and frost with caramel icing.

Caramel Icing:

Prep Time: 20 minutes Yield: cups of icing (will fill and frost 4 layer cake)


3 cups granulated sugar

3 cups light or dark brown sugar

12 ounces unsalted butter

12 ounces evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

In a heavy, large saucepan, combine sugars, butter, and evaporated milk and salt. Stir over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium, stirring mixture, until it comes to a steady boil. Boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring often.

Watch icing carefully to ensure it doesn't boil over. Reduce heat slightly if mixture is boiling vigorously.

Once mixture is the consistency of thick maple syrup, as shown here, remove from heat. You may think the icing is not thick enough yet, but it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Add in vanilla and lemon juice. Beat with wooden spoon or electric mixer, and as icing cools, it will become somewhat thicker and ready to fill and frost cake. If icing becomes too thick, thin with milk.

One of the tricks to making caramel icing is the pan. Using a heavy, quality saucepan will allow the mixture to come to a boil quicker, and the icing is less likely to burn. Patience is also key, don't rush the process, allowing the icing to slow boil for 8-10 minutes for a perfect result. I hope you love this cake as much as I do. 😍

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