The Cake That Broke My Will

So in a comment on my last post, Lis, asked if I knew of a recipe for caramel cake. Not yellow cake with caramel frosting, but caramel cake. I happened to have one. I told her in the email that I had not made it but I got to sitting and thought, how dumb to give her a recipe I haven’t tried, so I just went ahead and made it today. I have to say that this smelled so good that I had to break down and take a bite(just one) of this cake. It was SUPER yummy. There is definitely more caramel flavor in the frosting than the cake but the cake does have a distinct flavor of caramel and all the extra sugar gives it a nice crispy(yet soft…doens’t make sense I know) top. It’s also a nice moist cake, which I love.

This cake does have quite a few steps. It is important for the cake that you make sure that your caramel for the cake cool or else the minute it hits the batter it will harden up. If this does happen, don’t fret, put your mixer on high speed and blend for 3 minutes. You wont get all the chunks out but it will be kind of like toffee chips in your cake and there is nothing wrong with that. If you cake cracks simply cut it into pieces(not including one with the crack) and frost each one individually. If your cake is beyond crack repair, chop it up into little squares. Place a scoop of  vanilla or better yet Haagen Dazs Caramel Cone on top of it. Make a caramel sauce and drizzle over.


Double Caramel Cake

1/3 cup plus 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided use
1/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup butter or margarine
3 eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel Frosting (recipe below)
1. Melt the one-third cup sugar in a heavy skillet, stirring constantly until deep-brown syrup is formed – a process called caramelization. Remove from heat and slowly stir in boiling water, being careful that steam does not burn your hand. Set syrup aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, place parchment paper in the bottoms, then grease and flour the bottoms and sides.

3. Cream butter in bowl of electric mixer. Add 11/4 cups sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is well-incorporated. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the reserved syrup.

4. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and vanilla. Add flour mixture to the batter alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until smooth. Divide batter evenly among the two prepared pans and bake 25 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Remove pans from oven and let stand about 10 minutes, then turn out cakes onto wire rack, peel off paper and cool completely.

6. Frost cooled cake, stacking layers.
Caramel Frosting
3 cups (light) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons half and half
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Mix sugar and half and half in a heavy saucepan and cook, stirring over low heat until syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. If lacking a thermometer, check doneness by dropping a tiny bit of syrup into a cup of cold water. When the syrup can be gathered up in fingers and will almost hold its shape, it has reached the soft-ball stage.

2. Remove pan from heat. Stir in butter, then let syrup cool. Add vanilla and beat until frosting reaches spreading consistency. A little cream (or half-and-half) may be added is mixture is too thick.

I don’t know the source of this recipe but it is not mine, so if you do know where it came from, please let me know. Hope this is what you were looking for Lis, if not it is still a great cake.

All text and images on this site have ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Copyright (c) 2006 by Peabody Rudd



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  1. Oh, I’m so excited to try this! I love caramel and I’ve been wanting the same kind of recipe your friend is looking for. I’m so glad you tried it and posted it. Looks delicious!

  2. When giving in is this sweet … why resist?!

    Beautiful as always!

  3. Peabody,
    I have to call you Cake Doctor! Really nothing you can’t fix :D
    now I keep my mouth open wide under my pc screen… waiting that lucious caramel to drop in…

  4. Absolutely stunning! The cake looks and sounds delicious, but those shining golden strands of caramel on top make me weep with joy. How on earth do you make these things look so good??

  5. Oh yeah baby.. this is EXACTLY what I was looking for.. thank you again, so much! And I am very happy that you ended up making it – because if you hadn’t said something about making sure the caramel syrup was completely cool, I might have rushed and put it in while still warm. Great tip! Thanks :D

  6. I think that cake would break anyone’s will… The sugar on top is a really nice addition

  7. Not only does this cake look gorgeous I bet it tastes even better! Yum. I just watched a Good Eats episode where AB created a sugar decoration like the one you used, I must try it out.

  8. Your friends and family are truly lucky to have you around to make all these goodies.

  9. oh wow….caramel cake…sounds something just up my alley. Thanks for the recipe!

  10. That’s beautiful and a brilliant recipe for something not so run of the mill – glad you tried it out!
    I’m really liking the ‘what to do if . . .’ suggestions.

  11. OH WOW.


  12. Your will may be broken, but the cake looks delicious.

    I’m suitably impressed. I need to blog more about cakes – I need to *learn* more about making cakes.

  13. Interesting that the cake tastes caramel-y while still having the same ingredients of a plain cake. I would have thought brown sugar! Very creative

  14. Wow…this look sinfully delicious!! All the sugary stuff…one can gets sugar high! *wink*

  15. Peabody,
    That looks and sounds delicious! I have never had a caramel cake before – I will have to make that one sometime. You are a cooking genius!

  16. That cake would make grown men weep! mmm..DOUBLE Caramel

  17. That is unbelievably gorgeous. You have to submit one of those pics to Does My Blog Look Good In This?

  18. Stunning, I love caramel and that frosting looks sooooo GOOD!

  19. Can I get you arrested for displaying (food) pornography on your blog???!

    That is one amazing cake…and I’d probably eat a small slice, too!

  20. I know it’s probably a little late to ask this about this post, since it’s an older one, but…

    The recipe you post calls for 2-9″ round pans, which you frost and stack, but your photo seems to only show one (tall) layer. Do you use something else to cook your cakes in (many of your cakes are single-layer, which I actually prefer the look of)? Something taller? Could you recommend anything?

    Thanks SO much – I LOVE your site and have been visiting regularly for months!

  21. mindyarbo says:

    i’m looking to make your caramel cake for 75 guests, at the end of an hors d’oeuvre/cocktail party. what’s your suggestion on how many times to multiply the recipe? does x1 = 16 or 20 or something? have you tried this cake after refrigeration for a few days; how is it?

    thanks much. your answers and the recipe- will be very helpful


  22. This sounds really good… I’m going to make it this weekend! I was thinking of using a bundt pan. Do you know if that would that alter the cooking time or temperature? I thought it would be fun to fill the center of the cake with more spun sugar or maybe caramel candies.

  23. I made it tonight! It came out fine in the bundt pan. I lowered the temp to 325 and baked for about 40 minutes, because I wasn’t sure how fast it would cook. I added toffee pieces to the cake mix because, well, the more candy the better, right?

    I had a hard time with the caramel frosting. I measured carefully and used a candy thermometer, and while the frosting came out tasty–my husband is eating the leftovers with a spoon right now!–it’s pretty granular. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I’m wondering how accurate of a temperature measurement I had… even with the narrowest pan I own, the frosting didn’t come up very high on the thermometer, and the thermometer was too tall to clip to the pan, so I was holding it and trying to keep it off the bottom. I’ve never used one before–I actually bought it just to try this recipe–so I guess I’ll figure it out. (Are there small candy thermometers out there? Mine’s about 14 inches tall. It was the only one in the store, but it’s unwieldy.)

    Thanks for all the recipes and the inspiration. I’ve been making your cakes right and left for the past few months. I tried your peanut butter cup cake last month… it was great!

  24. I made this last weekend for a birthday party and it was a huge hit. I made a few changes — added 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg to the batter to get more of a caramel spice cake effect. Also, I mixed in about half a cup of the frosting with about a cup of mascarpone cheese and filled the two layers with it (I cannot tell you how good this was). I frosted the top and sides with the regular caramel frosting and made similar sugar decorations with a lone blackberry in the center. I also drizzle some warm blackberry jam across the top (mostly for decoration). The cake was a huge hit – thanks for the recipe!

  25. Nataline says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have gone through four different caramel cake recipes so far and this one has been the overwhelming favorite of all my tasters.

  26. I’m planning on making this for my friends birthday, but I’m a little confused. The recipe says to put in 4 tablespoons of the reserved syrup when making the cake. What do I do with the rest of the syrup?

  27. Hi! I made this last night. Very tasty! I just had a couple of questions. First is about the syrup. Once I let it cool to add it to the batter it was hard like candy. I even made this part twice to try to correct it. Second is about the frosting. I followed the directions exactly, but the frosting was still really grainy. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  28. @Alison- don’t let it cool to the point of not being liquid anymore than.
    Also not sure why it is graining. Maybe run your sugar though a blender to make it superfine.

  29. This cake will break everyones will at Thanksgiving!

    I have two questions.

    1. In your photos I only see one layer of the cake. The recipe calls for two cake pans. Did you only bake one layer, or did you use all of you batter in a bigger and taller cake pan?

    2. The recipe calls for cake flour. Can you recommend a great cake flour to use?

  30. If you read my Information page it answers this:

    “Why does your cake have only one layer but the recipe calls for two? Or why does your cake look thicker than mine?
    If you are a regular reader than you know that I bake a lot. You also know that my husband is a picky eater and doesn’t eat half the things I make. And I can only eat so many baked goods.
    So to compensate this I make half batches or quarter batches of cookies. I half most recipes. I almost always make mini cakes. To make the mini cakes I either use 4 ½ inch springform pans or I take one 9-inch round and cut it with a cookie cutter. And sometimes I just make a single layer cake.
    However, I always give the recipe for the full size cake because I realize that most people are not just making a cake for 2 people.”

    As far as Cake flour goes I don’t really have a brand.

  31. I made this cake last nigh and I had a hard time with the syrup becoming syrup. I did it 3 times! My biggest problem (so far) is that the cake didn’t rise! It’s almost like I have 2 flourless cakes. Hopefully the taste is great. I haven’t made the frosting but I’m doing that tonight when we eat it!

  32. Noticed the copyright…does this mean we can’t copy the recipe or that it’s not to be published in a cookbook, etc.

  33. It means you can steal the photos Sha

  34. Elizabeth says:

    I make a similar caramel icing, and when it sugars (comes out too grainy), it’s because the mixture didn’t get hot enough while cooking, and the sugar molecules didn’t get fully broken apart. Since their structure wasn’t fully dissolved, when it cools, it goes back to it’s crystalline structure. I’ve given up on the candy thermometer route and just observe carefully when it hits the soft ball stage. You want a soft blob that you can pick up out of the cold water. If you can make a firm ball, you’ve cooked it too long, and your icing will be chewy.

  35. I’ve made a lot of candies in the past using this process. Usually when your finished process becomes grainy, it’s because as you stirred your mixture, it left sugar crystals on the side of your pot. When you took it off heat and poured it or whatever, the sugar crystals went back into your mix, crystallizing the bunch. Usually when you are making a sugar syrup, you need to make sure that you wipe down the sides of your pot as the mixture cools. I usually use a pastry brush with a cup of water. Dip the brush in the water and wipe away all the sugar stuck to the pot above your mixture. Dip your brush in water as needed. Or you can put a lid on your pot for a little bit too. The steam it generates inside the pot will usually clean the sides too. And make sure after you take your pot off the stove, that you don’t stir the mixture with a spoon that has sugar crystals on it.

  36. Oops just noticed a typo, You need to wipe down the sides of the pot as the mixture “cooks” not “cools”.

  37. My caramel frosting turned out really grainy. Any idea what I did wrong. The caramel in the pan had the right consistency so I am thinking it was when I added the butter. ?

  38. Never mind my question. I just saw the two posts above that give possible reasons.

  39. Oh my goodness, this looks incredible! I followed you over from Pinterest and would like to invite you to share this, and any other posts, on my link party at Have a great weekend.


  40. It sounds like a cake that my grandmother called Burnt Sugar Cake. She would make it for my sister and I for our birthdays. It was my favorite cake growing up. I have never been able to find the recipe anywhere. I will defiantly be trying this.

  41. There is a Caramel cake mix by Duncan Hines that can be bought in some states, kid you are in a hurry!

  42. Rochelle Crimin says:

    What did I do wrong? I tried THREE times to caramelize the sugar and then add the boiling water as directed, but every time the sugar turned hard as soon as the water hit it, even though I was doing it slowly and according to the directions. I’m so sad! :(

  43. Peabody says:

    @Rochelle- without being there I don’t really know what is going wrong.

  44. Goldysgal says:

    Oh! Happy Birthday to me!!! I’m making this tomorrow.

  45. I made this cake, and literally, it knocked my socks off! It is absolutely amazing, and I think it is the most delicious cake I have ever had. It was so good! I will have to make it again.

  46. Wanda Richardson says:

    My grandmother made this all the time she is 98 years old so this recipe is very old. But fabulous

  47. Delicious! It reminds me of the “yellow cake with caramel frosting” that my mom’s best friend used to make. I believe her recipe was from an old “Joy of Cooking.”

  48. I know this recipe has been on here for a while but I have question ? o you think adding some caramel or flavored liquor to this cake would set it off balance. have been making a caramel cake for my husband for the past couple of years well except for 2014 , 2013, and 2012 so I am looking for something different that’s when I came across your site. Please help his birthday is on March 17,2015 .thanks.

  49. Peabody says:

    @debra- I think adding caramel or liquor would be fine

  50. Thank you so much for answering my question, today is his big 52nd birthday and can’t wait for him to cut this cake I left out the liquor this time but I did add a little caramel flavoring to it , I’m so excited don’t think I can wait till tonight for this cake …but I will try to hold my Will…lol….THANKS


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