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Brown Sugar Caramel Cake

This Brown Sugar Caramel Cake is as delicious as it is beautiful. Moist brown sugar pound cake pairs nicely with my caramel cream cheese frosting. Want a second slice? Let me show you how to make it.

Brown Sugar Cake on a cake stand.

Updated post from 2012.

HOW TO MAKE BROWN SUGAR CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMEL SAIL DECORATION

I decorated this brown sugar pound cake with pretty caramel drips using my homemade caramel sauce. And I garnished the top with gold pearls and unique caramel sail decoration.

Cut cake on a cake stand.

INGREDIENTS

  • Cake Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Brown Sugar
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Sour Cream
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla Extract
Flour, broken egg, butter, sugar baking powder in bowl and vanilla extract bottle and stick of butter.

BROWN SUGAR CAKE BATTER

In a bowl of your stand mixer (or use hand held mixer ) on medium high speed cream unsalted butter for 30 seconds. Then add brown and granulated sugar and cream for 5 minutes until well blended together and slightly pale in color. Mixture will still appear slightly grainy.

Gradually beat in room temperature sour cream.

Sugars creamed with butter in a bowl.

In to a medium bowl break eggs and set aside. Into a large bowl sift cake flour, salt and baking powder.

Turn the mixer to slow speed and gradually in 3 additions add cake flour mix alternating with eggs. Scrape the bowl to ensure all is well mixed. Lastly beat in vanilla extract.

Adding flour and egg to cake batter.

FILL CAKE PANS WITH BATTER

Butter and line baking pans with parchment paper. Butter again and dust with flour. Shake our flour excess.

Divide cake batter evenly into 4 – 6 inch cake pans. Or use 2 –  8 or 9 inch cake pans.

Cake pans filled with cake batter.

BAKE BROWN SUGAR CAKE

Bake cakes in the preheated oven at 325F until toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. About 50 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20-30 minutes. Then carefully invert cakes onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Cakes can be frozen for later. Wrap them well in food wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Baked cakes.

Decorated cake that you see in the pictures, with drips and caramel sail on the top is made from 2 – 6 inch cakes that have been trimmed and torted to yield 4 cake layers. Remaining 2 -6 inch cake have been frozen for later.

Sliced cake showing the cake texture.

CARAMEL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

This caramel frosting is divine. Not only it goes well with Brown Sugar Cake you can also use with Vanilla Sponge Cake, Velvet Vanilla Pound Cake, Chocolate Cake or Banana Cake.

INGREDIENTS

All ingredients should be at room temperature.

  • Cream Cheese
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Thick Caramel Sauce – I used homemade thick caramel sauce
  • Powdered Sugar – optional, use if sweeter frosting is desired
Thick caramel in bowl, block of cream cheese and stick of butter on a kitchen counter.

In a bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in room temperature butter.

Cream cheese and butter mixed in a bowl.

Spray a 1 cup measure with a nonstick spray. Measure caramel sauce.

Gradually beat caramel sauce into the butter-cream cheese mixture. Cream until smooth. Taste. If desired beat it additional 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar.

Frosting when first made is soft. It firms up when refrigerated. However this frosting doesn’t behave like Swiss Buttercream. It doesn’t become completely firm to the touch like Swiss Buttercream or American Buttercream.

Measuring cup filled with thick caramel sauce.

FILL AND FROST THE BROWN SUGAR POUND CAKE

Tort the cakes. To make my cake I used 2 – 6 inch cakes. I trimmed the top and torted the cakes. I had 4 brown sugar cake layers.

Sliced cake on a cutting board.

Fill and crumb coat the cake and chill for an hour.

Filling a cake with frosting.

Then frost the cake with remaining caramel frosting. Use a bench scrapper to smooth the sides and a small spatula to smooth the top. Refrigerate for 2 hours our till ready to add caramel drip.

Smoothing frosting on a cake with a bench scrapper.

CARAMEL DRIPS

Caramel drip is super easy to make. I used my homemade caramel sauce. I heated caramel sauce in the microwave until it was a bit pourable. Try not to make it too runny. If you overheat caramel sauce stick into the fridge to thicken it slightly. Pour it into a piping bag. Cut the tip off the bag.

Pouring caramel into a piping bag and cutting the tip of the bag with scissors.

Pour about ½ cup of caramel sauce on top of the chilled cake. Spread it with a spatula. Then make additional drips on the sides of the cake. Decorate top of the cake with gold pearls and caramel sail decoration.

Piping caramel drips onto a cake.

CARAMEL SAIL

Sail cake decorations are really fun to make. You can make them from chocolate, Isomalt and even granulated sugar.

WET CARAMEL

Anytime you work with melted sugar be careful and mindful of what you are doing. Caramel is very hot and can burn you. Only work with caramel under adult supervision.

To make my caramel sail decoration I prepared wet caramel. Into a heavy stainless steel pot pour granulated sugar and water. Cover pot and heat on medium heat until all of the sugar is dissolved.

I had some sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan and so I covered the pan with lid. This is a quick and effortless way to let the steam and condensation clean up the sides of the pan.

Then cook the melted sugar without stirring until its color changes to medium amber hue. Remove from the stove at once. Caramel continues to cook even after you remove it from the stove. To stop the cooking process plunge the bottom of the pan into the cold water. This will stop the caramel cooking process.

Before you make the sail let caramel thicken. It should have a consistency of thick syrup.

Melting sugar in a sauce pan.

Pour caramel onto a silicone mat. Shape it over a tall glass or a bottle. Make folds and secure them with office clips or spring clamps. Let caramel harden for 20 minutes.

Remove clamps and clips and carefully peel off silicone mat. Check out that awesome caramel sail!

CARAMEL DECORATION STORAGE

Store caramel decoration in a cool place, in an airtight container on a piece of parchment paper and with a bowl of raw rice or food grade silica gel packets. Rice and silica gel helps to absorb moisture. You can make caramel sail for up to 2 days in advance. If you have PME Edible Glaze Spray you can spray the sail to seal it. Edible Glaze works as edible varnish on sugar and isomalt decorations. It seals it and delays affects of humidity on poured sugar and isomalt.

Shaping poured caramel on a silicone mat over a tall drinking glass.
Hands holding a caramel sail decoration.

I love how unique this caramel sail decoration turned out. No 2 are the same.

Detail of caramel sail decoration on top of the cake.

Decorated cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Slice of a cake on a pretty white silver plate.

TO MAKE BROWN SUGAR CARAMEL LAYER CAKE WITH CARAMEL SAIL YOU NEED

MORE DELICIOUS CARAMEL RECIPES :

Brown Sugar Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
 

Makes 4 – 6 inch cake or 2 – 8 or 9 inch cakes

Course: Cake, Candy, Dessert
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: brown sugar cake, caramel cream cheese frosting, caramel frosting, caramel sail
Servings: 15
Hanielas.com: Hani Bacova
Ingredients
Brown Sugar Cake
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (2sticks, 226grams)
  • 1 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 6 whole eggs at room temperature
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 pkg/8oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature (1 cup, 226 grams)
  • 1 cup thick caramel sauce
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (optional)
Thick Caramel – link to the recipe listed in the notes
Caramel Sail
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
Instructions
Brown Sugar Cake
  1. Cake pans info

    this cake batter makes

    4 – 6 inch cake pans

    2 – 8 and 9 inch cake pans

    Recipe can be halved to make 2 – 6 inch cake

  2. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and line baking 4 – 6 inch baking pans with parchment paper. Butter again and dust with flour. Shake out excess flour.

  3. Into a large bowl, sift cake flour (3cups), baking powder (1/2stp) and table salt (1/2tsp). Set aside.

  4. In a bowl of your stand mixer, and with a paddle attachment. Or use a hand held mixer. Cream unsalted room temperature butter (2 sticks, 226 grams) with light brown sugar (1cup and 3/4cup) and granulated sugar (3/4cup) until smooth, for about 5 -7 minutes.
    Then gradually add sour cream (1cup) in 3 additions. Beat until well combined, about a minute.

  5. On low speed, beat in sifted flour mix and eggs (6eggs), alternating and in 3 additions. Adding 2 eggs at a time. Scraping the bowl twice. Beat just until combined. Lastly beat in vanilla extract.
    Fill the prepared cake pans.
    Bake at 325F.

  6. Baking Times

    8 /9 inch cake pan : 50 – 60 minutes.
    6 inch cake pan : about 45-55 minutes.

  7. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the cake to check if it's done. Clean toothpick indicated cake is baked. Remove from the oven at once and let it cool in the pan on a cooling rack for about an hour. Carefully invert the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
    This cake can be frozen as well. Wrap it well in plastic wrap before freezing. Let it defrost on a counter.

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Frosting will fill and frost layered cake made from 2 -6 inch cakes, trimmed and torted to 4 cake layers.

  2. Beat cream cheese (2pkg. 8oz.) until smooth. Then add room temperature butter (1cup, 2sticks, 226grams) and beat until well combined and fluffy.

  3. Spray 1 cup measure with a non stick spray or lightly grease 1 cup measure with butter. Spoon or pour generous 1 cup of thick caramel into the cup. Gradually beat thick caramel into cream cheese and butter mixture. Beat until well blended and fluffy. You can start mixing with a paddle attachment and then switch to wire attachment. Or use hand held mixer.

  4. This caramel cream cheese frosting is soft. It firms up in the fridge but doesn't behave like Swiss butttercream, it never becomes very hard. Store frosting in the fridge until ready to use. Let it come to room temperature before frosting the cake.

Cake Assembly
  1. Tort 6 inch cakes, you should have 4 cake layers. Fill cakes with caramel cream cheese frosting. Crumb coat cake and chill for an hour or 2. Then frost the cake with remaining caramel cream cheese frosting.

Caramel Sail –
  1. Caramel is hot. Make caramel decorations under adult supervision only.

    In a heavy stainless steel pot combine granulated sugar (2 cups)and water (3tbsp). Heat on medium heat until dissolved. If you notice sugar crystals sticking to the sides of he pan cover the pan with a lid and let the steam and condensation wash down the sides of the pan. Don't stir once sugar is dissolved.

  2. Cook caramel until it turn medium amber color. Take the pan from the heat. Stop the cooking process and to prevent caramel from burning plunge the bottom of the pan into a cool water.

  3. Let caramel thicken to syrup consistency. Then pour it onto a silicone mat. Shape it over a tall drinking glass. Use office clips or spring clamps to make the folds. Let harden for 20 minutes.

  4. Remove clams and clips and peel off the silicone. Look at that awesome caramel sail decorations.

  5. Store caramel decoration in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Place a small bowl with rice into the container. It helps to absorb moisture from the air. You an also use Edible Glaze Spray to seal the poured sugar decoration so it doesn't get affected by humidity as fast.

Recipe Notes
DO YOU HAVE A RECIPE FOR THICK CARAMEL SAUCE?

Yes I do. Thick Caramel Sauce.

MY CARAMEL IS TOO THICK TO MAKE DRIPS ON THE CAKE?

You can microwave it in 5 second increments. Don’t make it too runny. If it becomes too run, stick it into the fridge to thicken a bit.

HOW LONG DOES THIS CAKE LAST?

Brown Sugar Caramel Cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Caramel sail decoration held up on a cake in the fridge nicely for up to 3 days.

CAN I MAKE CARAMEL SAIL AHEAD OF TIME?

You can make it up to 2 days ahead. Store in a cool place in an airtight container on piece of parchment and with a small bowl of raw rice or food grade silica gel packets.  Don’t let silica or rice touch the decoration. 

This post was originally published on October 16th, 2012. On October 30th, 2019 I updated this post with new step by step photos, written text and a video.

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8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the beautiful decorated cake, simple and artistic. Would like to ask will the caramel sail get wet or melted if we freeze it with the cake. How long can we leave it in room temperature 30C during a party after taken out from the freezer ? Thank you

    1. Hi Diane,
      I’d treat the sail with Edible Laquer (PME brand) for longer shelf life and store the sail in a container with silica gel or some raw rice to absorb moisture. Then I think it should be fine for 2-3 hours. But it really all depends on how humid it is on the day of the party.

  2. Are the measurements for the sail correct? I tried it twice and it didn’t work. There’s not enough water for the sugar to dissolve.

  3. HI I have tried making this recipe twice now and each time the cakes are only about 1 inch high – what am I doing wrong?

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