A Southern Tradition: Classic Caramel Cake


Three layer yellow cakes were a constant at my house growing up!

Those homemade  1-2-3-4 light fluffy layers  would have a variety frosting flavors. My favorite was caramel and continues to be a staple at holiday time at my house.

cake ingredients

In honor of my mother, I invite you to please enjoy this family favorite.

Caramel Frosting
This makes a lot of frosting and cut be cut in half if your family likes less frosting on your cakes. We like a lot!
  1. 2 sticks butter
  2. 3 cups brown sugar
  3. 1 cup milk
  4. 8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan on low heat. Stir in the brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and simmer about one minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in confectioners’ sugar until well blended.
  3. Spread between layers, on sides and top of cake.
  1. This makes a lot of frosting and cut be cut in half if your family likes less frosting on your cakes. We like a lot!
Simply the Best from Barbara McKay https://simplybarbaramckay.com/
1-2-3-4 Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing
  1. 1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 3 cups flour
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 Tblsp. baking powder
  6. ¼ tsp. salt
  7. 1 cup milk
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.*
  2. Combine the flower, baking powder and salt. Add alternately with the milk on low speed until well blended, but do not over beat. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  3. Grease and flour 3 nine inch pans. ( I use a spray such as Baker’s Joy for preparing the pans). Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cake layers rest in the pans for about 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Caramel Frosting (which I have included) is my favorite, but these light yellow layers work well for your favorite.
  1. * My mom would separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, then beat the egg whites until fluffy and fold the whites into the batter last. This step made the layers even lighter.
Simply the Best from Barbara McKay https://simplybarbaramckay.com/

Tell Me: What were some of your favorite desserts made by mom?

  1. My birthday is on Christmas Day. As long as I can remember my mom made my favorite , German Chocolate cake, for my birthday. We only had it that one time a year so it was very very special. I miss it now. My brother’s birthday is also at Christmas time and mom made him a fresh coconut cake! Those special desserts are wonderful memories in our family!

  2. This looks absolutely delicious!
    Another recipe I will be trying for the holidays in honor of your mother!

    My mother wasn’t a baker, but a favorite from Grandmother was her 7up Cake!

  3. My mom was an amazing cook. I was with her in the kitchen from the moment I could hold myself upright and she could sit me on the counter.

    I remember being 3 or 4 years old and crawling into her lap at lunch every day to watch Betty Feezer on WBTV.

    Here are a few of my favorites from her:

    No bake cheesecake. We would make it together and add just enough lemon juice to leave a bite in the back of your throat. Topped with cherries and glaze…yum!!

    Her pound cake was amazing. Dressed with strawberries and whipped creme.

    Her sweet potato pie was a holiday staple. I’m really missing it this season.

    Her chocolate pie was so rich and delicious!

    She would make a “mushy” apple pie just for me since the texture of apples is an issue for me.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe Barbara!!

  4. One of my family favorites was lemon bars from one of your cookbooks of long ago. I cannot visit my Uncle Bob without taking a batch to him! My grandmother’s pound cakes were the best! I learned to bake from her. My mom is a musician and never had much interest in cooking, but my brother and I always enjoyed her gingerbread and bread pudding. Thank you, Barbara, for continuing to share great recipes with us!

    1. Thank you for this wonderful message, Lisa! I appreciate hearing from my long time friends…especially those who enjoy the same things I do and are kind enough to take the time to tell me! Blessings to you!

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