salted caramel layer cake

Salted Caramel Layer Cake - Vanilla Bean Sponge with Salted Caramel Sauce and Salted Caramel Buttercream

Airy vanilla bean sponge is layered with rich salted caramel sauce and a fluffy salted caramel buttercream in this irresistible Salted Caramel Layer Cake.

It’s my birthday month! Not only do I plan to celebrate my birthday all month long, but I also have some sweet friends with big celebrations of their own. To kick off a series of several celebratory recipes this month I am sharing one of my very favorite cake recipes with you. This cake was originally baked this past February for a sweet friend’s birthday and was by far the star of the party.

Each bite of this Salted Caramel Layer Cake is just packed with flavor and is perfect for celebrating special occasions.

Salted Caramel Layer Cake - Vanilla Bean Sponge with Salted Caramel Sauce and Salted Caramel Buttercream

After taking a class at Momofuku Milk Bar last year, I may never bake a layer cake in round cake pans again.

Using the Momofuku method, the cake is baked in a rectangular sheet pan so that it bakes evenly as a single flat layer. Two six-inch circles and two half circles are then cut from the cake, eliminating the need to carve off the domed tops that are formed when baking in round cake pans.

The assembly is done in a cake ring lined with acetate so that the layers can be stacked evenly and symmetrically. When the acetate is peeled away, the resulting rustic cake is absolutely stunning.

Salted Caramel Layer Cake - Vanilla Bean Sponge with Salted Caramel Sauce and Salted Caramel Buttercream

The cake can be served as is or covered in an additional layer of frosting or ganache. Because one can never have enough salted caramel buttercream, I decided to finish this cake with an outer layer of frosting using the petal method. If you want to leave as is, simply halve the buttercream recipe.

The Momofuku method requires a few extra tools in the kitchen, but once you have them on hand I truly believe this is one of the easiest ways to assemble a cake. However, this recipe is delicious no matter how it is assembled so feel free to bake it in rounds, cupcakes or however else you may be accustomed.

Whether you have a sweet occasion to celebrate or want to make an ordinary day extraordinary, this incredible Salted Caramel Layer Cake will make any moment magical.

Salted Caramel Layer Cake - Vanilla Bean Sponge with Salted Caramel Sauce and Salted Caramel Buttercream

Yields: 1 six-inch cake
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • vanilla bean pod leftover from cake recipe
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fleur de sel (I prefer Murray River)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners sugar, sifted, divided
  • ½ cup salted caramel sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a quarter sheet pan (13x9-inch) with parchment paper, spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar until combined.
  3. Place the mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat the egg mixture until the sugar has dissolved and eggs are warm to the touch, approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Return bowl to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the vanilla bean scrapings, and whisk on high until the mixture triples in volume and turns a pale yellow, approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the flour until almost completely incorporated. Stir in melted butter until mixture is just combined, being careful not to overwork your batter.
  6. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet, using a spatula to spread evenly to edges. Bake until top is lightly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water, sugar, and previously scraped vanilla bean pod to a boil. Stir just until sugar is fully dissolved and syrup is clear. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  2. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator for sweetening coffee or tea. Remove vanilla bean before storing.
  1. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, melt sugar over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until the sugar melts completely.
  2. Once sugar is melted continue to cook, swirling occasionally until candy thermometer reads 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Immediately stir in the butter until melted, taking caution as it will bubble violently.
  3. Once butter is fully incorporated, remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and fleur de sel until smooth.
  4. Allow to cool in saucepan for 10 minutes before pouring into a glass jar to cool completely. Seal jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the caramel sauce and beat until just combined.
  2. Gradually add in four cups of the confectioners sugar, beating between each addition until fully incorporated and fluffy.
  1. Gently run knife around edge of cake to loosen from sides of pan. Turn over onto work surface and peel away the parchment paper.
  2. Using a 6-inch cake ring cut out two full circles and two partial circles from your sheet cake.
  3. Place cake ring on top of cardboard cake round or serving platter and line ring with a 4-inch tall strip of acetate.
  4. Place a full circle of cake into the bottom of the cake ring and brush top with just enough simple syrup to lightly moisten. Top with a thick layer of buttercream followed by a generous drizzle of salted caramel sauce.
  5. Place the two partial circles into the cake ring, pushing up against opposite sides to create a gap down the middle. Tightly wedge the remaining cake scraps into the gap to create a full layer of cake and lightly brush with simple syrup. Top with a thick layer of frosting and a generous drizzle of salted caramel sauce.
  6. Place the final full round on top of the cake and gently press down to even out layers. Brush with a thin layer of simple syrup and top with a thin layer of buttercream.
  7. Freeze cake for 30 minutes to an hour before carefully lifting cake ring off of cake and peeling away acetate.
  8. Beat one cup of powdered sugar into your remaining buttercream to make a slightly thicker frosting for decorating your cake.
  9. Spread a thin layer of your thicker frosting around the sides and top of the cake to serve as a crumb coating. Fill a piping bag with remaining frosting and decorate sides as desired.
  10. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Slice with a sharp knife while still cold and allow slices to rest for 15-20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

6×3-inch Aluminum Cake Ring
4-inch Acetate Strips
Quarter Sheet Pan
Parchment Paper
Instant Read High Temperature Thermometer

Salted Caramel Layer Cake - Vanilla Bean Sponge with Salted Caramel Sauce and Salted Caramel Buttercream