naked salted caramel layer cake
I still can’t bake and decorate the perfect cake to save my life, but I continue to bake and decorate them because, well, it’s cake. And every once in a while, the occasion calls for one.
Today is one of those occasions, because we are celebrating someone very special who is about to welcome someone also very special into this world. My dear friend Audra, of The Baker Chick, is weeks away from having her second baby, and we couldn’t be more excited for her! It’s why we are gathering together today for a surprise virtual baby shower, brunch-style. And I brought the naked salted caramel layer cake, in all its rustic glory.
Audra is the inspiration for this cake on so many levels. Recently she posted a naked cake and it was so gorgeous, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It also looked like it might be a little bit easier to frost than a regular cake (because I just CANNOT with regular cake decorating), so I thought I’d give it a try. Salted caramel is also one of Audra’s favorite flavors, and she makes so many droolworthy recipes with it on her blog. It’s not that I needed a push to get salted caramel layer cake into my life, obviously, but these were nice additional inspirations.
The base of this cake is a classic yellow cake, and somehow, magically, it’s both dense like a homemade cake and fluffy like a boxed mix. The flavor is exactly what you’d think and hope and imagine and dream yellow cake to be, but it doesn’t overpower the salted caramel buttercream frosting. Neither does the frosting overpower the cake. In fact, the two just play together so nicely, so perfectly with the sweet-salty combo, that you can’t help but eat more than one slice of this cake. At least that’s my excuse.
Of course, considering I brought this cake to a virtual brunch of epic proportions, you might want to save room to feast your eyes on all the other delicious recipes. But since we are eating cake for brunch, maybe you can save that second slice for dessert tonight? These are the things I ponder on the daily.
Congratulations, Audra! You are already a fantastic mama, whom I look up to regularly and admire for how well and gracefully you embrace motherhood. I cannot wait to meet your new little one.
Here’s the brunch menu for today’s celebration! SRSLY.
Eggs Benedict Poutine from Warm Vanilla Sugar
Breakfast Quinoa Burrito Bowls from The Spiffy Cookie
Blood Orange Pancakes from Keep It Sweet Desserts
Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake from Steph’s Bite by Bite
Meyer Lemon Cheesecake from Eats Well With Others
Berry Cream Cheese Pastry Swirls from Bake or Break
Salted Caramel Layer Cake
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 2 hours 45 mins
- Yield: 1 9-inch layer cake 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
For the cake:
- 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
For the frosting:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 5 to 6 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce (homemade or storebought)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray (or grease with butter). Line bottoms of cake pans with parchment paper; spray paper with baking spray (or grease with butter).
- In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. In separate large bowl or bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then beat in 1 egg at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Stir, then beat in buttermilk (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 batches, stirring each addition until just combined and occasionally scraping sides of bowl.
- Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans. Rap pans lightly on counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to cooling rack to cool completely (remove parchment).*
- To make the frosting: In large bowl or bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat butter until smooth. Stir in milk. Add 3 cups powdered sugar; stir, then beat until just combined. Stir in caramel sauce and salt. Add another 2 cups powdered sugar; stir, then beat until just combined. Beat in enough of remaining cup of powdered sugar as needed until frosting is smooth and spreadable but not drippy.
- To assemble the cake: Using sharp serrated knife, carefully slice off domed tops of fully cooled cakes until flat. Use knife to cut cakes in half widthwise to create 4 thin cake layers. Place one bottom half of cake on serving plate or cake stand, cut side-up. Use offset spatula to frost top of cake layer with thin, even layer of frosting. Top frosted layer with top half of cake. Frost top of cake layer with thin, even layer of frosting. Top frosted layer with top half of second cake. Frost top of cake layer with thin, even layer of frosting. Top frosted layer with bottom half of second cake, cut side-down. Frost top and sides of cake with thin, even layer of frosting (make it really thin on the sides for that “naked look”).
- Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature up to 3 days.
- *NOTE: At this point, I like to wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and chill them in the fridge for a couple of hours or up to overnight so they are easier to slice and frost. This is optional, but highly recommended for cake decorating black thumbs like moi.
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Looks lovely! Adding this to the Saturday treat list! Thanks!
Exactly how I like my cake. Cakey. 🙂 Gorgeous Steph!
That is one BEAUTIFUL cake Stephanie! And naked cakes are the best, so forgiving and gives a perfect ratio of frosting to cake 🙂
This is one heck of a gorgeous naked cake!! I love the salted caramel flavour!
Um yes to cake for brunch and yes to this beauty! You have managed to create two of my favorite things- Salted Caramel and a naked cake. So so lovely. Thank you for your kind words and for joining in on this <3
Is that 4 layers I see? #professional.
YUMMMMM. This cake sounds amazing and looks gorgeous. I’ve been wanting to try a naked cake for some time now. It just seems so much more chill! And I usually like more of a cake to frosting ratio than the traditional frosted cake anyway.
I’m not an expert cake decorater either but even my naked cakes wouldn’t look this good! I usually depend on the frosting to hide the imperfections, especially on the outside edges haha. Love that someone brought cake to the party!
How amazing is this cake?! I’d require a giant slice for sure.
I’d definitely be sneaking a slice of that to save for later! Yum!
It’s so pretty, Stephanie, and I love the flavors!
Can regular all-purpose flour be used instead of cake flour?
What a LOVELY cake! Well done m’dear! I’m so proud. 🙂 And salted caramel? Total noms!
Cheryl — It’s best to use cake flour for this recipe because otherwise it might be too dense. You can make your own cake flour, though, by adding cornstarch to it (seek Google for exact amounts). It’s really easy!
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Stunning! I’ve always like naked cakes best.
Hello pretty! What a gorgeous cake and I love the salted caramel buttercream!
What a lovely little cake!! I too am crushing on naked cakes. I made a rainbow one for my friend’s birthday last month 🙂 Love that the base of your cake is from the Queen, AKA Smitten Kitchen!
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Ooh love the idea of this! And caramel? Yes please 🙂
What a gorgeous cake! The layers look perfect!
Nom, a family member of mine is absolutely head over heels in love with anyhting with caramel. Her Birthday is comming up next month and this looks like the perfect cake for her.
Thank you so much for your recipe and inspiration 🙂
PLEASE cut me a slice right now, this cake looks amazing Xx
This cake = STUNNING! that’s all 🙂
I have been in love with the naked cake trend for awhile now. I am not a cake-froster either, and they are just so pretty!
and omigosh thaaank you cake gods for making naked cakes popular because I suck at decorating and I feel like maybe I could handle this.
plus…SALTED CARAMEL. Heavenly. Pinning!