This cake is pure, simple, and easy, yet still utterly delicious and impressive. I made it for my Aunt Lori’s birthday. At this point in my baking life, I know the flavor favorites of most of my family and friends. It’s become one of those things that I absolutely love knowing about people because it feels like a little window into their souls. Knowing the right flavors to make them happy makes me feel like I know someone better, or something.
It’s something I try to ask people about, mostly because I’m curious. I love knowing someone’s favorite flavor of frosting, what kind of cake they prefer, and the baked good from childhood that makes them happiest. It’s the little things, and almost everyone has a favorite. Bonus – if I ever feel the need to bake someone a birthday cake, or show a little gratitude, or just feel like spread the baking love, I know what someone will like. No one wants to bring vanilla cake to a party where everyone wants chocolate.
And I know from years of making her birthday cake, my aunt has favorites. Usually, her birthday cake has something to do with s’mores, vanilla, or caramel. This year, I combined the latter two to create a cake that she’d love.
I used a simple recipe for a delicious yellow cake. The ingredients are simple – nothing crazy, and likely nothing you don’t already have. This recipe creates a moist, buttery yellow cake that serves as a perfect base for whatever kind of frosting you want to put on it. This makes 2 layers, but you can halve the recipe if you only want one layer. This is definitely one of my favorite yellow cakes to make, and the fact that it is so simple makes it even better!
For the frosting, I made my favorite simple white buttercream…and then I added caramel to it. It worked, and made an absolutely luscious caramel buttercream. It’s smooth, sweet, and caramelly, and what else do you really need in a caramel buttercream? To make things more fun and a little prettier, I also drizzled caramel on top of the cake. Why not, right? You can never have too much caramel. Which is why there is also a thin layer of caramel between the cakes as well. Mmm…caramel goodness. I used Trader Joe’s salted caramel sauce here, but you can use your favorite homemade caramel sauce or any other think caramel sauce.
This is a wonderful celebration cake, and it’s sure to please whoever gets to taste it. As long as vanilla and caramel are two of their favorite flavors, that is :) Share this cake with family and friends, and enjoy it! Tell me your favorite flavors and baked goods in the comments below if you’d like – I wanna know all about you guys too!
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (12 3/4 oz.) all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cup milk (I used 2%, use whatever you have)
- 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons milk or cream
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce + 1/4 cup for assembly (homemade or store bought is fine)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8" or 9" inch round cake pans.
- In a medium bowl or stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is completely incorporated before adding the next, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl. Fold into the batter until completely combined. Stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour batter equally into the prepared pans.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes. Butter will become very pale & creamy.
- Add remaining ingredients except caramel and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 4 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Add the caramel and mix for another 2 minutes.
- Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).
- Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of your serving plate or a cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top.
- Spread the reserved 1/4 cup of caramel over the top of the cake layer. Spread 1 cup of frosting on top of the caramel and spread evenly.
- Place 2nd cake layer face-down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, and frost however desired! For this cake, I just dolloped the frosting around and swirled it with the edge of a rubber spatula. Feel free to frost however you like best.
- If desired, drizzle caramel over the top of the frosted cake. Keep refrigerated until serving.