Caramel Cake

CATEGORIES: Cakes and Cupcakes, Kate

Sara and I have dabbled in posts about our dads before (like here, here, and here), but, in light of Father’s Day being this coming Sunday, we thought we’d dedicate a whole week to recipes that remind us of our dads. Oh, by the way, Dad, happy Father’s Day! I’m a little behind on my shopping… 🙂

It seems like no matter what other kinds of cake my dad may like, if it’s a birthday or any kind of special celebration just for him, he wants a caramel cake. The thing is that it’s not really a caramel cake–it’s a yellow cake with penuche “icing”–and I put that in quotation marks because the icing is really just a layer of caramel candy similar in texture to fudge. Sounds evil, right? Fudge-coated cake? Yeah, it is. More about that evil icing in a minute…

So I’ve kind of decided that when it comes to yellow and white cakes, I am completely at peace with doctoring up cake mixes. In fact…I kind of think they taste better than just about any homemade yellow or white cakes I’ve ever had. I know that will cause some of you to gasp in disbelief and maybe unsubscribe from our blog because of the un-foodiness of that statement, but it’s the truth, and if that truth also makes my life a little less complicated, I am ALL for it.

So for this cake, I start off with a Duncan Hines yellow cake mix (not an advertisement, I totally swear up and down by Duncan Hines cake mixes only) and doctor it up with sour cream, eggs, oil, butter flavoring, almond extract, and vanilla.

Now…in virtually any picture you see of a caramel cake, it will be a round layer cake. Up until I made the cake for these pictures, I’ve always made the cake in a 9×13″ pan because the candy frosting is so dense and heavy that it is difficult to ice the cake while a) not wrecking it and b) the frosting looking like a hot mess. Foolishly thinking myself a better cake decorator than I actually am, I decided to attempt the round cake. Suffice it to say there is a reason that I have carefully selected one side of the cake to photograph. In fact, my husband very cautiously asked me if I was going to put pictures of that cake on the blog. Yes, once we sliced the cake, the pieces looked very impressive and yes, that one side was so pretty sitting on the cake stand, but let me just tell you that for your own sanity, I strongly encourage you to suck up your pride and just make the cake in the 9×13 pan. So what do we not do?

That’s right, bake the cake in smaller pans for a layer cake.
Anyway, after you’ve baked your cake, allow it to cool. While the cake is cooling, prepare your candy frosting.

That stuff on the left side is dark brown sugar (that was actually for emphasis, not just to be cute here; light brown sugar doesn’t have enough of a bite to cut the sweetness of the frosting). Everything else in the picture can only bring happiness–butter, whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. After you’ve made your icing, you spread it over your cake and then add some chopped, toasted pecans. I know nuts in and on cake is a fairly controversial topic, right up there with government-run health care and whether Jon or Kate Gosselin is at fault for the public falling-apart of their marriage, and normally, I’m not a huge nut fan. But I really, really, really recommend them on this cake. That that for what it’s worth.
And there you have it–caramel cake, perfect for Father’s Day dessert. Or random snackage, which is what, after my daughter’s third birthday was over, this cake has become. The evil temptress (the cake, not my daughter) is about to find herself a new home.


  1. Mmmm Penuche frosting. My mom always made it with a spice cake and walnuts, in case someone wants to try that.

  2. I made this from the southern living magazine recently and it was amazing. I made cupcakes (mini and regular) instead of a layered cake and they were perfect. I didn't use nuts, though, cause I'm not a fan.

    Several people asked me for the recipe and have since made the cake themselves. It's a crown pleaser for sure. Different than the norm but it still has universal appeal. Definitely a keeper.

  3. I love your blog. I am a Utah girl living in San Antonio so I can relate to a lot of your experiences. I have a son who is allergic to milk. Do you have any suggestions on substituting soy milk in baked goods? When I try it, it usually comes out a little dense and sometimes a little dry and sometimes with a strange aftertaste.

  4. My dad is a caramel nut too! So I know you made a point of saying that the pecans are controversial, but I am really allergic to them. Do you think it would be better with almonds (the one nut I can eat for some freak reason) or none at all?

  5. Hi! I love the look and sound of this cake. My question is, would this be completely acceptable in cupcake form? A 9×13 cake is just so big for two people, and taking a cake with slices missing isn't as pretty as bringing in some cupcakes to work. Suggestions?

  6. If you are going to use one – Duncan Hines is the way to go – hehe! I totally agree with you on that! This looks wonderful!

    Happy Day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.