Southern Burned Caramel Cake

The Southern Burned Caramel Cake is a timeless dessert that embodies the rich, sweet flavors of traditional Southern baking. This cake is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a family gathering, a festive celebration, or simply a sweet indulgence after dinner. The cake’s tender, moist layers are complemented by a luscious burned caramel frosting that adds a unique depth of flavor, making it a favorite among caramel lovers.


For the Cake:

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • ½ cup sugar (for burning)
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour your cake pans.
  2. Cream the vegetable shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together three times.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.


  1. In an iron skillet, burn ½ cup of sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly until it melts and turns a dark caramel color.
  2. Carefully add the boiling water to the burned sugar to make a syrup. Be cautious as it may splatter.
  3. In a separate saucepan, combine the syrup with 4 cups of sugar, 2 sticks of margarine, and 1 cup of milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (235°F – 240°F or 112°C – 115°C).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Set the pan in a larger bowl filled with cold water to cool slightly. Beat the mixture until it thickens enough to spread.
  6. Frost the cooled cakes and allow the frosting to set before serving.

Notes and FAQs


  • Burning Sugar: Burning sugar requires careful attention as it can quickly turn from perfectly caramelized to burnt. Stir constantly and remove from heat once it reaches a deep amber color.
  • Soft Ball Stage: To test for the soft ball stage without a thermometer, drop a small amount of the hot mixture into a cup of cold water. If it forms a soft, pliable ball, it’s ready.
  • Storage: Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, refrigerate for up to a week.


Q: Can I use butter instead of margarine? A: Yes, you can substitute butter for margarine in both the cake and frosting recipes.

Q: What is the best way to store this cake? A: The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to a week.

Q: How can I make sure my frosting is smooth? A: Beat the frosting well after it has cooled slightly and before spreading it on the cake. If it begins to harden too quickly, place the pan back over low heat for a few seconds to soften it.


The Southern Burned Caramel Cake is a delightful dessert that brings a taste of Southern tradition to your table. Its rich caramel flavor and moist cake layers make it a crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for any celebration. Enjoy this sweet treat with family and friends,and savor the unique taste of burned caramel that sets this cake apart from the rest.


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