Classic Southern Caramel Cake


Step into the heart of the South with the rich and indulgent flavors of a Classic Southern Caramel Cake. This beloved dessert has been a staple in Southern kitchens for generations, celebrated for its moist cake layers, decadent caramel frosting, and irresistible sweetness. In this article, we’ll explore the timeless appeal of Southern Caramel Cake and guide you through the steps to create your own slice of Southern tradition.


  • 1 cup butter 2 sticks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups flour, self-rising
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by greasing them and adding optional parchment paper. Beat butter until light and fluffy and then add sugar and beat for about 5 more minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well after each. Add flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour and mix well after each. Add vanilla and beat well. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
  2. Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely. Prepare Southern Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then frost the cake.
  3. Southern Caramel Frosting
  4. 2 cups sugar
  5. 1 cup buttermilk
  6.  cup Crisco
  7.  cup butter
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. Mix all ingredients in a 3-4 quart cast iron dutch oven.
  10. Swirl pan to keep ingredients moving in the pan. Cook to softball stage 235º  245º on a candy thermometer or when tested in a cup of cold water. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and ready to spread.
  11. No thermometer? Do the cold water test:
  12. Take a some of the caramel and drop it into a bowl or cup of cold water. Give it a few seconds to cool. Fish around in the bowl or cup of cold water and try to retrieve the caramel and make a little ball with it.
  13. If you stick your fingers into the bowl, pull out a gooey mess and you cant do anything but smear the caramel, you need to boil the caramel some more. There is still too much water in your caramel and the concentration of sugar is too low. The caramel may even form little threads in the water, but if you cannot get the threads to form into a ball, you have some more boiling to do.


Serving Tips:

  1. Slice Carefully: Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water to slice the cake neatly. Wipe the knife clean between cuts for a polished presentation.
  2. Garnish Creatively: Decorate the cake with a sprinkle of chopped pecans or a drizzle of caramel sauce just before serving. Fresh berries or edible flowers also make elegant garnishes.
  3. Serve with Coffee or Tea: Pair slices of Southern Caramel Cake with a hot cup of coffee or tea for a delightful afternoon treat. The combination of sweet cake and warm beverage is simply irresistible.
  4. Portion Control: Cut the cake into smaller slices for easier serving, especially if serving a large crowd. This allows guests to enjoy a taste of the decadent dessert without feeling overwhelmed.
  5. Store Leftover Frosting Separately: If you have leftover caramel frosting, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop before using it to top individual slices of cake.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Store leftover Classic Southern Caramel Cake in an airtight container or cake dome in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. The cake can be stored for up to 3-4 days.
  2. Protect from Drying Out: To prevent the cake from drying out in the refrigerator, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Alternatively, store the cake in a cake carrier with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Bring to Room Temperature: Before serving leftover cake, allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. This helps restore the cake’s texture and flavor.
  4. Freezing: While cake layers can be frozen individually, it’s best to freeze the cake without frosting. Wrap the cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing for up to 1-2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting and serving.
  5. Revive Before Serving: If the cake has become slightly dry after refrigeration or freezing, revive it by brushing each layer with a simple syrup made of equal parts sugar and water. This adds moisture and enhances the flavor of the cake.


  1. Can I use store-bought caramel sauce instead of making it from scratch for the frosting?
    • While homemade caramel sauce adds a rich and authentic flavor to the frosting, you can use store-bought caramel sauce as a convenient alternative. Just ensure it’s a thick and creamy variety for the best results.
  2. How do I prevent the cake layers from sticking to the pan when baking?
    • To prevent the cake layers from sticking to the pan, thoroughly grease and flour the cake pans or line them with parchment paper before pouring in the batter. Additionally, allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. Can I make the cake layers in advance and frost them later?
    • Yes, you can bake the cake layers in advance and store them, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 1 day. When ready to assemble the cake, unwrap the layers and let them come to room temperature before frosting.
  4. What is the difference between caramel cake and caramel pound cake?
    • While both caramel cake and caramel pound cake feature caramel flavors, they differ in texture and density. Caramel cake typically has a light and fluffy texture with layers of caramel frosting, while caramel pound cake is denser and more tightly crumbed, often flavored with caramel syrup or caramelized sugar.
  5. Can I make this cake without eggs for a vegan version?
    • Yes, you can make a vegan version of Classic Southern Caramel Cake by using plant-based substitutes for eggs, such as flax eggs or commercial egg replacers. Additionally, use non-dairy milk and vegan butter in the cake batter and frosting to make it entirely plant-based.


A Classic Southern Caramel Cake is more than just a dessert—it’s a taste of Southern hospitality and tradition. With its moist cake layers and rich caramel frosting, this indulgent treat is sure to delight your taste buds and warm your soul. Whether served at a special occasion or enjoyed as a sweet indulgence, Southern Caramel Cake brings people together with its irresistible charm and timeless flavor.