Layers of brown sugar cake filled and topped with caramel frosting and a drizzle of fresh caramel & fleur de sel make this Salted Caramel Layer Cake a decadent, delicious and almost sinful dessert!
My best friend here in Germany is PCSing (Permanent Change of Station) back to the United States this week. When I arrived in Germany back in March 2011, Chrissy was the first friend I made.
I was given her phone number by my husbands company FRL (Family Readiness Liaison) and called her for some advice on how to adjust to life in Germany.
We were instant friends. It wasn’t long before we were having coffee, going to lunches and volunteering together in the community.
Oh… and I baked for Chrissy and her family. A lot. Chrissy, her husband Jody and their two boys Evan & Braden were always the guinea pigs when it came to new recipes and taste testing.
Countless times either of our kids were running across the street (cause we only lived a block away from eachother) to deliver or picked up baked goods.
I’ve made birthday cakes for both her kids, for her husband (Blue Ombre Layer Cake) and for many other celebrations. I’m certain they collectively gained 20lbs during the two years we’ve been friends.
But. whateves. It’s worth it.
Cake brings people together.
And today… I have baked a Salted Caramel Layer Cake to enjoy with my best friend and say goodbye. Layers of brown sugar caked soaked with salted caramel sauce… filled with caramel frosting and topped with more salted caramel.
The afternoon was spent relaxing with Chrissy and her family at my house – really, it couldn’t have been better. We ordered pizza, drank wine, chatted, relaxed in the sunshine of my backyard.
The men smoked Cuban cigars. The kids played with friends down the street. Bitter-sweet. But a perfect ending to a wonderful chapter in our lives together.
I know today won’t be the last time I see Chrissy. Someday, we’ll be together again.
So… until then, I’ll keep baking… keep sharing what I bake with new friends… and always hold on to the love and joy I shared with Chrissy here in Germany.
Safe travels, VanClan!
Updated: A lot of you have made this cake and I wanted to share a few points of feedback that may help future bakers make this cake successfully!
The recipe for this caramel sauce makes A LOT of caramel. More than you actually need for this cake, probably by half. The reason why I left this amount in the recipe was because that’s how I made it the first time I baked this cake.
If you don’t want leftover caramel sauce (but let’s be real here, who doesn’t want leftover caramel sauce) you could half the recipe and still have enough.
Because the caramel frosting is made with cream cheese, it is VERY SOFT. If you live in a hot place, consider keeping this cake cool until serving.
Also, the softness of the frosting could make it difficult to apply onto the cake layers. To ensure it’s creamy, but not runny start by adding less a tablespoon at a time until you get a smooth consistency that’s not too soft.
Finally – this cake is SO GOOD you may be know as the BEST BAKER EVER after you make it. So many of you have commented that your friends and family were incredibly impressed after you baked this cake.
That makes me so proud!
Happy baking, my sweet friends!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour, sifted
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups sugar
- 12 Tbsp (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed & room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp fleur de sel (I used sea salt and crushed it down into smaller flakes)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 5oz (approx 10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 8oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Prepare 3 8in cake pans by buttering, lining with parchment paper and flouring.
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars for about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl often.
- Mix in the vanilla.
- Add the flour and buttermilk alternating until just combined.
- In a measuring glass, mix together the baking soda and vinegar then add to the batter. Mix just until incorporated. Do not overmix!
- Separate batter evenly into the three prepared cake pans.
- Bake about 20 minutes or until the top and edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- In a very large, heavy saucepan or pot over medium-high heat, pour the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Whisk until melted. The sugar will clump up but will eventually completely melt. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the sugar has melted, stop whisking and cook until the sugar has turned into an amber color and has a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat.
- Add all the butter and whisk until combined. This mixture will bubble up, but keep whisking until all the butter has melted.
- Slowly pour the heavy cream into the mixture and whisk until incorporated.
- Stir in the fleur de sel.
- Cool for about 10-15 minutes before using.
- Store leftovers in a jar with a lid and reheat before using again. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
- In a medium, heavy pot, whisk together the brown sugar and 2oz of butter over medium heat until melted. Bring to a boil for no more than 10 seconds. Remove from heat immediately and pour in the heavy cream and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. NOTE: You can use an ice bath and whisk to cool quickly if you don't have time to wait.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the remaining 3oz of butter and cream cheese until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl several times during this process.
- Mix in the salt.
- Turn the mixer to low and pour in a slow, steady stream the brown sugar mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on medium speed until completely smooth and incorporated.
- Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix on medium speed until smooth.
- The frosting will feel very soft - so refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes before frosting the cake.
- Once the cakes cooled, use a large skewer to poke holes across the top of the cake. Spoon a layer of caramel sauce over the top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.
- Allow the caramel sauce to soak into the cake.
- Repeat this process with a second layer of sauce.
- Once all the caramel has soaked into the cake, place one layer of the cake onto your serving platter.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top of the layer - no more than 1/2 a cup of frosting.
- Place the second layer on top and spread another thin layer of frosting.
- Place the final layer of cake on top and frost the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Drizzle the top of the cake with caramel sauce. Using a spatula, in a back and forth pattern, spread the frosting and sauce together until just incorporated and it looks like the caramel is oozing thru the top of the cake.
- Using a disposable piping bag and a very small tip, fill the bag with caramel sauce. Pipe a layer of sauce around the top edge of the cake, stopping every inch or so to squeeze a little more so it drizzles down the side. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.
- Refrigerate until ready to eat - but remove 15 minutes before serving.