With salted caramel in the light and tender sponge and buttercream and drizzled on top, this Salted Caramel Cake is for all you caramel lovers! The rich buttery caramel flavour shines through, making this easy recipe one for any Holiday season or special occasion.
Making caramel is one of my favourite kitchen tasks as it comes together so quickly, lasts for ages and is so versatile. Don't be intimidated; I'll show you just how easy it is to make, but also check out my Salted Caramel Sauce guide too.
I've made this Salted Caramel Cake into a two-layer naked cake. I decided to keep it simple and rustic, so you don't need to worry about crumb-coating, piping bags and the works! But if you want to go the extra mile, I've made notes for that!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. The ingredients need to make the caramel sauce, sponge cake and buttercream are pretty standard everyday ingredients. no surprises here!
- Can be made as cupcakes. Don't fancy a two-layer cake, no problem, make cupcakes instead! It makes between 18-24 cupcakes.
- Taste sensation. The homemade caramel flavour shines through in spades in the buttercream and sponge. It's incredible!
- Perfect for any gathering. Whether it's a baby shower, birthday, Easter get-together, or for your Thanksgiving or Holiday desserts table- this cake will be loved by all.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
I've highlighted a couple of ingredients with some relevant notes. Aside from this, the ingredients needed are pretty basic.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Butter - as it's a salted caramel sauce, use unsalted butter. You can then control the amount of flaked salt you add. Make sure the butter is at room temperature.
- Cream - Double (heavy) cream is best. Make sure it's at room temperature if added in when cold, it will cause the caramel to split.
- Flaked Sea Salt - This wouldn't be Salted Caramel Sauce without adding salt. It cuts through the sweetness of the caramel. You can, of course, omit the salt completely from the sauce.
If you prefer not to make homemade caramel sauce, most stores will sell a jar of good quality caramel sauce. Nothing should stop you from making this caramel sponge cake!
Caramel Sponge Cake
- Butter - with extra salt and salted caramel sauce added into the batter, use unsalted. As with the caramel sauce, it needs to be at room temperature.
- Light brown sugar - I've added light brown sugar and regular granulated sugar as the molasses only add to the caramel notes in the cake.
- Caramel Sauce - there's no doubt about it, homemade is best. Make sure it cools to room temperature before adding to the batter. Or if it's been in the refrigerator, set it out at room temp an hour before it's needed.
- Eggs - I've used large eggs. If you forget to bring them to room temperature, pop them in a bowl of warm water for ten minutes. Cold eggs will cause the batter to curdle and affect the texture of your cake.
- Butter - you guessed it! It needs to be at room temperature so that you can whip it until it's beautifully aerated and creamy.
- Icing sugar - if it appears lumpy, then sift it into the bowl - otherwise, add it directly in and smaller lumps will dissipate whilst being beaten.
Whilst writing this post, it's my birthday, and we turned this into a Salted Caramel Birthday Cake. It's perfect for this and looks gorgeous with candles. But here are another couple of delicious ways to transform this recipe.
- Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake: There are no two ways about it. Chocolate and caramel are an absolute winning combination. Team my Chocolate Sourcream Cake with caramel buttercream for a real treat.
- Caramel Pear Cake: Add a layer of pear cômpote in the middle of the two cake layers. Caramel and pear are such a beautiful combination together.
- Apple Caramel Cake: Take inspiration from my Caramel Apple Tart and add finely chopped apple into the sponge. Amazing flavour combination!
👩🏻🍳 How to Make Salted Caramel Cake
This Salted Caramel Cake is broken into 3 components:
- salted caramel sauce,
- caramel sponge and
- caramel buttercream.
I suggest making the caramel sauce the day before and setting it at room temperature overnight until you need it. Or you can refrigerate it, but you'll need to let it come to room temperature as it does solidify in the fridge.
The buttercream can be made whilst the sponge is cooling. This makes the process of making the Salted Caramel Cake quite quick.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the Salted Caramel Sauce
If you need more process shots to follow along and tips, then read my Salted Caramel Sauce guide first.
STEP 1. Heat sugar in a saucepan. Add the sugar to a high-sided saucepan, and whilst constantly stirring, heat until the sugar crystals melt and liquefy. It will clump, gradually fully melt, turn golden, and then amber (Image 1).
TIP: Be patient whilst the sugar dissolves and caramelises. Keep an eagle eye on it as it colours as it will turn from caramel to burnt caramel in a blink of an eye.
STEP 2. Add in butter and then cream. Once the sugar has caramelised, add in the butter (Image 2). It'll bubble up but keep whisking the caramel until it melts.
Then add in the cream (Image 3). Heat the caramel whilst stirring for five minutes or so until it thickens. Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla bean paste and flaked salt, and stir in (Image 4). Pour into a bowl and set aside until it's reached room temperature.
Make the Caramel Sponge Cake
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease the base and sides of two (7-inch) cake pans with removable bases. Line the base with parchment paper.
TIP: The cake can also be baked in two 20cm (8-inch) cake pans, but the layers will be thinner and require less bake time.
Alternatively, bake in a 23x33cm (9x13-inch) brownie pan to make a sheet cake.
STEP 3. Cream the butter and sugars together (Image 5). Beat until pale and creamy - it'll take approx 3-4 mins (Image 6). I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, but you can use hand-held electric beaters instead.
Scrape down the base and side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
STEP 4. Add in eggs. Beat in the eggs one at a time (Image 7). The mixture may look a little curdled (Image 8), but don't worry; it will come together once the other ingredients are added.
STEP 5. Add in the caramel and vanilla extract (Image 9). The caramel needs to be at room temperature, not hot as it will cook the egg, and not cold as it will be too solid to mix in. Mix until combined (Image 10).
STEP 6. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift into the mixing bowl the flour and baking powder, then add the salt. Mix in until a few flour streaks remain (Images 11 & 12). Seeing a little flour means that you won't over-mix the batter.
STEP 7. Divide the batter between two cake pans and bake. If you want to get two equal layers, then weigh the batter and add exactly half into each cake pan (Image 13). Or you can estimate it! Level the cake batter with an offset spatula.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, and the cakes are golden brown (Image 14). Set aside to cool in the pan before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.
Make the Caramel Buttercream
STEP 8. Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes (Image 15). Add the icing sugar two goes, beating well after each edition. Then continue to beat for another 3 minutes (Image 16).
STEP 9. Mix in the caramel sauce. Add the caramel and beat in until fully combined (Images 17 & 18). (If the buttercream needs to loosen a little, add a tablespoon of milk.) The caramel buttercream is ready to go now!
Assemble and Decorate the Cake
STEP 10. Add buttercream and layer the cake. Place one cake on a serving plate or cake stand. Add half the buttercream on top and smooth to an even layer (Image 19).
Place the second sponge cake layer onto the buttercream. Then add the remaining buttercream and smooth.
Decorate by pouring any leftover caramel sauce over the cake (Image 20) and add a little sprinkle of flaked sea salt. An option is to add cut figs or any fruit that you prefer a place on top.
TIP: To make a more formal cake covered in buttercream.
Make 1.5x the required amount of buttercream. Add buttercream filling between the two layers, then add a crumb coat layer of buttercream all over the outside. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Smooth a thick coating of buttercream all over the sides and top of the cake, smoothing the surface with an offset spatula. Decorate with piped frosting swirls and drizzles of caramel sauce.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Heat the sugar on medium to low heat. Any higher and the melted sugar will caramelise and burn before all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
- Correct temperature. Butter, eggs and cream are the key ingredients that should be at room temperature before making this recipe.
- Don't over-mix the sponge. Once the flour is added, mix until just combined to prevent the over-formation of gluten strands which leads to a dense sponge.
- Beat the buttercream for enough time to make it light and airy.
📋 Recipe FAQs
The main ingredients are sugar (granulated or caster sugar), butter, heavy cream and salt. Vanilla can also be added for depth of flavour.
Salted caramel is one of those flavours that go with everything, making it an incredibly versatile ingredient for your recipes. Mix it into ice cream and cheesecake, or drizzle it over traditional scones, crêpes, and cookies.
Absolutely. Ready-made caramel is a great time-saving hack to help make this salted caramel cake recipe that bit easier.
Nestle Carnation Caramel is a great alternative to use in the sponge cake and buttercream filling. When warmed slightly, it provides a great drip on your cake.
❄️ Storage Instructions
To store: Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for 4 days or up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Let the cake come to room temperature before serving.
Leftover salted caramel cake filling and salted caramel sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or freezer for 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
🍰 More Cake Recipes You'll Love
If you tried this Salted Caramel Cake recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Salted Caramel Cake Recipe
- 2 18cm (7-inch) cake pans with remoevable bas.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 80 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 160 ml double cream (heavy cream), room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
- 230 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 125 g light brown sugar
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 160 g caramel sauce, room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 220 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
Caramel Buttercream (Makes 360g/2 cups)
- 150 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 200 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar), sifted
- 80 g salted caramel sauce, room temperature
- 2 figs, quartered
- A drizzle of caramel sauce.
- Heat the sugar until it melts. In a high-sided non-stick saucepan, heat the sugar over low heat, stirring often. It will go lumpy, then liquefy as the sugar dissolves and turn a light golden brown. Once it turns a lovely amber colour, remove the pan from the heat. Keep an eagle eye on it at this stage, as it can turn to burnt sugar very quickly.
- Add the butter, then cream. Carefully add the butter in one go. It will bubble up but whisk continuously until it has thoroughly melted. Then add the cream and whisk in. Heat for 5 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in vanilla bean paste and flaked sea salt. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Prepare pans and cream butter and sugars together. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease the base and sides of 2 18cm (7-inch) cake pans with removable bases and line the base with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high, the butter and light brown and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the base and sides of the bowl.
- Add in eggs. Add eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated after each addition It may look slightly curdled at this point but will come together. Add caramel sauce and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Add in dry ingredients. Sift into the mixing bowl the flour, baking powder and salt and beat on medium until a few flour streaks remain.
- Bake. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake on the centre rack for 35-40 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the sponges comes out clean.Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack before setting them on a wire rack and allowing them to cool completely.
- Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes (Image 15). Add the icing sugar two goes, beating well after each edition. Then continue to beat for another 3 minutes Mix in the caramel sauce. Add the caramel and beat in until fully combined. The caramel buttercream is ready to go now!
To Assemble and Decorate
- Layer sponge with buttercream. Place one cake on a serving plate or cake stand. Add half the buttercream on top and smooth to an even layer. Place the second sponge cake layer onto the buttercream. Then add the remaining buttercream on top and smooth. Decorate by pouring any leftover caramel sauce over the cake and add a sprinkle of flaked salt. An option is to add cut figs or any fruit that you prefer. Slice, serve and enjoy!
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
This recipe was originally published in October 2019. It has since been updated with a revised recipe, new photos and content in September 2022.