caramel butter cream layer cake

with drippy chocolate glaze

  • 525g unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (180ml) maple syrup 
  • ¾ cup (165g) caster (superfine) sugar 
  • 1½ cups (260g) brown sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 7 eggs 
  • 3¾ cups (560g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted 
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder 
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) milk 
  • 150g dark chocolate, finely chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 

caramel butter icing

  • 2 cups (440g) caster (superfine) sugar 
  • 1 cup (250ml) water 
  • 1 cup (250ml) single (pouring) cream, at room temperature 
  • 500g unsalted butter, softened
  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Line 2 x lightly greased 20cm round cake tins with non-stick baking paper and set aside. Place the butter, maple syrup, both sugars and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8–10 minutes or until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and fold through the flour, baking powder and milk until combined. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely. 
  3. To make the icing, place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over high heat and stir until just combined. Bring to the boil and cook for 13–15 minutes, without stirring, or until golden and the temperature reaches 172ºC (341ºF) on a sugar thermometer. Gently swirl the pan once the sides start to caramelise. 
  4. Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream in a thin, steady stream. Stir to combine, return to low heat and stir for 30 seconds – 1 minute or until well combined. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool completely. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6–8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the cooled caramel and beat for a further 6–8 minutes or until well combined. 
  5. To assemble, trim the tops of the cakes and halve each cake horizontally. Place the bottom layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Use a palette knife to spread ½ cup of the icing onto the cake. Top with another cake layer and repeat with the icing and remaining layers. Spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing, taking care to create a smooth finish. Refrigerate the cake for 3–4 hours or until the icing is firm and cold.
  6. Place the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to stand at room temperature until completely cool, but still runny. Pour the chocolate onto the cooled cake and spread evenly over the top, gently pushing some of the chocolate over the edge to create a drippy effect. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. 
  7. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 30–45 minutes before serving. Serves 12–14.

Tips: The cake and icing can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap the cakes in  plastic wrap and place the icing in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring the icing to room temperature and beat to soften before assembling.

Reader ratings (0)
donna hay team

Hi Amy, this can sometimes happen when the butter, maple, both sugars and vanilla have not been beaten long enough to become creamy. Let us know how you go the second time!

Amy Shirley

I don’t know if I did something wrong, but the cake is grainy!! I’m so disappointed.. I have no idea what I did (no, I didn’t use raw sugar accidentally).
Pros: I will be trying this recipe again as it’s very easy and great flavours - hopefully this time it will be the right texture lol


Made this on weekend and absolutely loved it, was worried as the middle was abit soft and wobbly but left it in for extra longer and came out nice and love the icing not so sweet, cant wait to make baby shower cake with this mixture

Janelle Anderson

I made this cake for my sons birthday after a request for a not so sweet caramel cake. It tasted fabulous and the icing was smooth without being sickly. Wish I could post a pic. 10/10

donna hay team

Hi Shiralee, we haven’t tested this so we can’t guarantee how it will turn out. Let us know how you go! The DH Team.

Shiralee Carter

Hi, Just wondering if this cake would be suitable for a swiss roll cake?

donna hay team

Hi Kylie, glad you enjoyed the icing! The cake is made with maple and brown sugar as baking with a caramel is time consuming and tricky. However, the mixture of maple and brown sugar in the cake, along with the icing results in a caramel like flavour. The DH team x

Kylie Earle

Hello, today I made this cake and the icing is delicious. Definitely tastes like caramel. The cake was moist, and tasted like maple syrup and not caramel. Any advice? Thanks

Angelica Deb

Thanks for responding. I did 2 batches of this frosting, 1 that was the DH version and 1 with the added icing sugar. I must admit the DH was nicer! Not too sweet and it was so smooth and so delicious!!

donna hay team

Hi Angelica, the icing is not actually a ‘buttercream icing’. You could absolutely use a buttercream instead, our version is designed to be smooth and creamy. The dh team

Angelica Deb

Hi Donna Hay, I’ve made the cake now onto the icing. Can it be made with icing sugar and some salt to the butter so it’s thick enough to pipe swirls on top? Is there a reason why there’s no icing sugar? I just want to know what the consistency is like without the icing sugar in this butter cream?

Sally Jackson

I made this cake last week. It was delicious, however I found the icing very tasteless (very smooth though). Are there any recommendations to give it a bit of (perhaps caramel) taste! Thank you!

donna hay team

Hi Fiona, it is fine to defrost the cake at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. The DH team

Fiona Mitchell-Corbett

Hi there, I’m also interested in making this cake ahead of time. What is the best way to defrost the cake before icing? Thank you!

donna hay team

Hi Stacey, yes this cake is great to bake and freeze. Wrap it in baking paper and then plastic wrap before freezing. You can also ice it the day before, keep it uncovered in your refrigerator. It is best to add the glaze just one hour before serving. The DH team

Stacey Childs

Hi, is this cake okay to make in advance & freeze? Also, can the icing & glaze be done the day before required? If so, is it best then kept in the fridge? It’s for a morning birthday party, so won’t have time the morning of party. Thanks, Stacey





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