Author's Notes: This impressive cake is encased in a gooey caramel frosting. This recipe is by Southern-cooking doyenne Edna Lewis (from her book The Taste of Country Cooking).

Caramel Layer Cake Print Recipe

Serves 16 • Ready in 1hr 10min


Layer Cake:
  • 5 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ¼ Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Medium-sized Eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 Cups Sifted Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Milk, at room temperature
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tsp. Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 4 Tsp. Royal Baking Powder
Caramel Icing:
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 ¼ Cups Light Brown Sugar (not brownulated), packed
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract


Prepare The Layer Cake:
  1. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and with a wooden spoon work the butter until it becomes shiny, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and salt. Blend together until the mixture becomes quite light. Add in an egg and stir one way, clockwise. Add second egg and stir until all the grains of sugar disappear. Sift in ½ cup of flour, stir in, but not too thoroughly. Add ¼ cup of milk and stir vigorously. Alternate the rest of the flour and milk, ending with the flour. Mix the flour and milk in a way that keeps the batter from separating. Pour the milk into the flour before it is completely mixed in. This will keep the batter completely smooth. Before sifting in the last bit of flour, add flavoring. Then add the baking powder to the last bath of flour, sift in together and stir well. Spoon the batter into 2 buttered and floured 9” cake pans. Set in the center of the middle shelf of a preheated 375˚ oven. Bake 25 minutes without opening the oven. Test to see if done by noticing if cake has shrunk from the sides of the pan. Also, listen for any quiet noises from the cake. If there are none, that’s a sign it is done. Remove from the oven, run a spatula around side of pan, and turn out right way on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes, then cover with a clean towel until ready to ice it.
Caramel Icing:
  1. Heat the cream until hot in a saucepan, but do not allow it to boil. Add in the sugar and mix well. Boil gently on a medium-high burner and cook to soft stage – that is, when it forms a soft mass when a little is dropped into a cup of cold water. You should be able to pick it up even though it is soft.
  2. Remove from burner when this stage is reached. Set the saucepan in a bowl of cold water, add butter and vanilla, stirring continuously until the mixture becomes thick enough to spread.
  3. Remove pan from the bowl of cold water. Place one layer of cake on serving platter. Spread about one third of the icing over the top. Place second later on iced later and pour remaining icing in the center of the top layer and spread it over top and down the sides. (If the icing becomes too thick to spread, add a table spoon or two of cream to soften.) It is better not to store the cake in the refrigerator. It becomes heavy and loses its light, fluffy quality.