My Grandmother Crisp’s Caramel Cake

Today, I’m delighted to share one of my favorite recipes with you. It happens to be the only recipe I have from my paternal grandmother, Janie Crisp. But, she certainly did pick a great one to leave to us. Caramel cake is simply one of the most scrumptious desserts I know. I hope you’ll prepare this for your loved ones as we approach these last few weeks of winter.  Enjoy!

Grandmother Crisp’s Caramel Cake


3 sticks butter

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, sugar and eggs together and beat well. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, and then add vanilla. Beat in a mixer bowl or with a hand mixer until the batter “ribbons.” Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes and use a toothpick to check to see if it is done. This cake can also be made in a 9-inch x 13-inch pan, which will need to be baked for about 45 minutes. Cool layers on a cake rack before icing.

Caramel Icing


2 sticks butter

1 (16 oz.) box of light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup evaporated milk (canned)

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions: Place butter, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan. Heat, stirring until the brown sugar is well dissolved. Add milk and continue stirring until blended. Let bubble (at an easy boil) for approximately 4 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid sticking. Set hot mixture aside to cool for several minutes. Using mixer, add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. You will see it turn lighter and caramelize. When you’ve reached the desired consistency, ice the cake, placing some of the icing between the layers.

My sweet friend Tobi Fairley is featuring my Caramel Cake as one of her favorite things during her 29 Days of Love. I hope you’ll drop by Tobi’s Blog to see what else is on her list.

Have a lovely day!


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127 Responses to My Grandmother Crisp’s Caramel Cake

  1. georgia says:

    been making this since i found the recipe 3 years ago! there is absolutely nothing like it ! AMAZING!

  2. Kathryn says:

    Glad you are enjoying the recipe Georgia!

  3. mimi says:

    Hello ~ can you tell me if the butter for the layers and frosting is salted or unsalted? Thanks! Mimi

  4. mimi says:

    Hello – looking forward to making the cake for Thanksgiving. Can you confirm if the butternis salted or unsalted? Thanks! Mimi

  5. Kathryn says:

    I use unsalted butter.

  6. Kathryn says:

    Unsalted in both!

  7. Janice says:

    Is the butter regular butter or pure butter?

  8. Kathryn says:

    I use regular, unsalted butter Janice.

  9. sherry says:

    I made this beautiful cake and it tasted great. I was a little concerned . The cake was a little heavy would it help if I sifted the flour first? Thank you for a great recipe.

  10. Kathryn says:

    Yes sherry, I always sift flour first. Enjoy!

  11. Tammy B says:

    is there a tip or trick for getting the icing on cake . Some caramel frosting has to be pored on cake before it gets to firm. What I’m asking is , will this frosting spread in easy ?

  12. Kathryn Greeley says:

    I try to work fast before the icing gets too hard. At first it seems a bit thin, but gets thickened up very quickly. But I have never poured in on the cake.

  13. Amanda says:

    I made this cake today and it was so delicious. I am a novice baker so I had a few struggles. One of my layers looked clean when I tested the 3 in the over but sunk a bit while cooling and then ended up still being a tad bit undercooked in one spot when I cut the cake later. I also make a beautiful me s s while making the frosting! My caramel seemed runny and would not set but after I allowed it plenty of time to cool it was very easy to work with. I made the cake for a game night with a few close friends. We all loved it! I have no doubt my next attempt will be a 100% success. Thank you for sharing this yummy recipe!

  14. Kathryn Greeley says:

    So glad you love this cake! It takes several times to feel comfortable with it, so just keep making it! If you wait a bit until the icing cools, it is not so runny. And sometimes one of my layers doesn’t get done in the middle. I think it is because the ovens often don’t cook evenly. At least mine doesn’t…which it should…as it is a 60 inch Wolfe!!

  15. Ann says:

    BEST CAKE EVER! Thank you for sharing!

  16. Jessica C says:

    I made this last night for my husband, whose favorite dessert is caramel cake, and this recipe hit it out of the park. I had tried and failed at making caramel icing several times. I followed this to the letter and was dancing in my kitchen when it came out right! It set up even better when it cooled. I think I ended up liking the cake better than my husband even and he enjoyed it. Like, I could eat the icing by itself haha! Nothing beats the taste of homemade cake. So much better than store-bought. Thank you for sharing. It’s going in my recipe book.

  17. Kathryn Greeley says:

    I am so glad that this was a success for you! I hope you and your family enjoy it for MANY years!

  18. Kathryn Greeley says:

    So glad you like it!

  19. Michele T says:

    I made this cake for my dads 85th birthday. His mother use to make it back in the day. It brought back so many memories for everyone in the family.
    The icing was a bit of a struggle but it turned out beautifully and was so worth the effort. He wants me to make him another one.
    Best birthday gift I ever made. Memories of the good old days are priceless.

  20. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Your comment made me very happy. Indeed, memories are priceless. I am grateful that you and your father found joy in this cake!

  21. Rebecca says:

    How heavy (in grams) is a stick of butter? I use metric so not sure how to weigh this recipe?

  22. Kathryn Greeley says:

    A stick of butter is 4 ounces and there are 113.398 grams in 4 ounces.
    Happy Baking!

  23. River says:

    I can. Only say.Um Um.That is a sweet memory of my grandma’s cooking.River

  24. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Thanks River!

  25. Wayne says:

    I made this cake a few months ago and it was delicious. I think the next time I make it I’m going to use cake flour instead of all purpose flour.

  26. Rachel says:

    The cake looks fabulous! What is the china pattern featured in the photo?

  27. Kathryn Greeley says:

    The plate with the slice of cake is a flow blue pattern by Burslem called Argyle.

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