I have been dying to perfect this salted caramel cake ever since we had it at our friends wedding (I think around 5 or 6 years ago, holy crap!). I don’t even think we waited until the wedding was over to hound the bride and groom for the name of the bakery, and obviously we had to order it for my birthday. And Sophie’s birthday. And basically any birthday we could smuggle a cake into.
Ordering fancy cakes from a boutique bakery starts to get rough though – on the wallet. One top of that, they started covering their salted caramel cake in gold flakes and almond toffee. Which was gorgeous, but it also gave them a reason to jack up the price again. $160 for a birthday cake became WAY past this Momma’s budget, so it was finally time to make it myself.
Salted Caramel Cake Success!
The hilarious part – I basically already had all the parts of this on the blog. I have my salted caramel macaroons here, which included a recipe for salted caramel sauce. And I had my bakery style vanilla sponge cake here. All I had to do was tweak my buttercream a little bit, and put it all together.
Seriously, I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner! What really puts this salted caramel cake a step ahead though is the layer of salted caramel sauce that you spread on the cake, under the buttercream. This was something the bakery did, and it makes all the difference in the world!
Here’s a picture of the cake from Sophie’s birthday party three years ago.
And this is a picture of the same cake, from the same bakery, at last years party. They added the extra decorations on the top and raised the price accordingly. All it is, is some toasted almonds, chocolate covered almond toffee pieces, and salted caramel sauce. You could totally replicate this!
And here’s a picture of the one I made for Sophie’s party this year. I know, you’re like “Wait, what?? Where’s the caramel?”. You see, Sophie requested a giant, two layer cake with Snow White painted on it (she’s painted on the other side). So the bottom of this baby is 12″ of chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream (recipe coming soon), and the top 8″ are the salted caramel cake. I covered the whole thing in white fondant, and decorated it with some fresh flowers, which is a super easy way to make a cake look impressive.
So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I’m convinced there is a Spice Girl or Eminem quote for everything. That’s not the picture you want to see, I know. This is:
I’ve broken the recipe up a little bit, because I was worried that putting everything into one recipe page would get super confusing. On this page you’ll find the recipe for the buttercream (which includes the recipe for the salted caramel sauce). There’s a link in the recipe that will take you to the bakery style vanilla sponge cake. You can just click the picture below to open up that recipe too.
One last thing I’ve got to tell you though. You know what else the salted caramel sauce is good for (I mean, what wouldn’t it be good for, am I right!). ICE CREAM! You’ll have a bit left over, so just keep it in an air tight container in the fridge to enjoy. Be warned, it won’t last long!
I mean just LOOK at that caramel sauce! Are you drooling yet? Me, right now I’m just sad that I gave all the extra cake away. I mean, it was the right decision, because no one should really have THAT MUCH cake in their house at one time, and it’s as if I didn’t gorge on it while it was out for the party. But I’m missing it. I’m definitely missing it.
Bakery Style Vanilla Sponge Cake
- 1 recipe for my 2 or 4-layer bakery style vanilla sponge cake. Level the layers by cutting off the rounded tops with a bread knife. If you want to make a 4 layer cake (what I would suggest), slice each layer in half after levelling the top. As pictured in the salted caramel cake post, I made 1.5 times the recipe in order to have three thick layers, baked in three separate pans. This can be made a day ahead of time. Once completely cooled, just cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups White Sugar
- 8 Tablespoons Salted Butter, Softened, Cut Into Tablespoon Sized Pieces
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (or table salt), to taste
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 lb butter, cut into 1" chunks, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup of caramel sauce, room temperature
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Add the sugar to a large pot set over medium-high heat. Gently stir until the sugar has melted, then stop stirring.
- Let it boil, without touching, until the caramel reaches an amber colour, and registers 320ºF on a candy or instant read thermometer. It will have a nice amber colour, but should not smell burnt at all.
- As soon as it reaches 320ºF remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until completely melted and combined.
- Slowly pour in the heavy cream, in a thin stream, while whisking vigorously. Stir in the salt, and pour into a Pyrex glass measuring cup to cool completely before using.
- This can be made ahead and stored in the fridge. If you do this, simply return it to room temperature before using for in the buttercream and spreading on the cake layers.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- Put about 2" of water into the a medium sauce pan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Put the egg whites and sugar into a large heatproof bowl (I use a metal one), and set it over the boiling water. The bowl will become very hot so use an oven mitt to hold onto it. Whisk until hot to the touch, and the sugar has completely dissolved. I test it by rubbing a drop between my fingers, or checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer (you want it to reach 140ºF).
- Immediately pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer (you can do it with a hand mixer, but it's easier with a stand mixer). Leave the mixer running on medium-high speed for 8 minutes. The sides of the bowl need to be cool to the touch so that the butter doesn't melt, and the mixture will have doubled in volume and be nice and glossy looking.
- Turn the mixer down to medium speed, and add the butter two pieces at a time. Once all the butter has been added, continue to mix on medium-high for two minutes, until it's light and fluffy.
- Scrap down the sides of the bowl, and add the vanilla and caramel sauce. Beat for 2 more minutes.
- Use the buttercream right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before trying to use.
Salted Caramel Cake Assembly
- Place one layer of the vanilla sponge cake onto a plate, cut (from levelling off the top) side up. Spread 1/4 cup of salted caramel sauce over the top, and then top with a 1/4" layer of buttercream. Repeat. Place the last cake layer on top, with the cut side down.
- Spread a very thin layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake (so thin you can see through it). This is called the crumb layer, and it's just to make sure that no crumbs get into the pretty icing on the outside. Put the cake into the fridge for 30 minutes, just to make the crumb layer firm up.
- Spread the rest of your buttercream on the top and sides of the cake.
- If you want to have some of the caramel sauce on the top and running down the sides, put the fully frosted cake back into the fridge for another 30 minutes. Spread a thin layer of caramel sauce over the top, then you can create that pretty drip effect by spreading the caramel to the edges using an offset spatula.
- Keep the finished cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It's best to let it come up to room temperature before serving it.