Buttermilk Caramel Cake


"Now, that is a Southern cake right there," says Belinda Smith-Sullivan, chef, author, and creator of this cake. It's true to the Southern classic--a moist yellow cake with a cooked, fudgelike caramel frosting--but we added some edible blooms for flair on this layer cake recipe.

Buttermilk Caramel Cake
Photo: Carson Downing
Hands On Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs


  • 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 3 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 ¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature

  • 1 ½ cup packed light brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottoms with parchment. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat 1 cup butter on medium-high until fluffy and a pale yellow (1 minute). Add 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar; beat another 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce mixer speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and 1 1/4 cups buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake about 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool in the pans 10 minutes. Invert layers onto cooling racks, remove paper, and let cool completely. If the layers are rounded on top, trim flat.

  3. Place a rack inside a sheet pan lined with parchment. Place a cardboard cake round covered in foil on rack. Invert one cake layer onto round.

  4. For frosting: In a 6-quart heavy-bottom pot combine the brown sugar with the remaining 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda. Cook over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Watch carefully; once it comes to a boil, the mixture will foam up. Lower heat as necessary to prevent foaming over. Cook, uncovered, to 235°F degrees on a candy thermometer (30 to 35 minutes). Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a moderate, steady boil across surface. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, beat until creamy, thick, and spreadable (8 to 10 minutes). Mixture will become lighter in color and start to lose its gloss.

  5. Working quickly before frosting starts to harden, spread some frosting on top of the cake layer on rack. Top it with a second cake layer and ice it. Place remaining layer on top. Pour frosting over top and allow it to drip down the sides, spreading evenly. If frosting starts to harden, warm over low. Spoon any frosting that pools at the base back over sides. For a smooth finish, dip spatula in hot water and go over the top and sides of cake. Serves 12.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

776 Calories
40g Fat
100g Carbs
7g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 776
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 25g 125%
Cholesterol 151mg 50%
Sodium 463mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 100g 36%
Total Sugars 80g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0.6mg 3%
Calcium 153mg 12%
Iron 1.8mg 10%
Potassium 180mg 4%
Fatty acids, total trans 2g
Folate, total 58mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.3mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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