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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148 Responses to My Grandmother Crisp’s Caramel Cake

  1. Kathryn says:

    Glad you are enjoying the recipe Georgia!

  2. mimi says:

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

  3. mimi says:

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

  4. Kathryn says:

    I use unsalted butter.

  5. Kathryn says:

    Unsalted in both!

  6. Janice says:

    Is the butter regular butter or pure butter?

  7. Kathryn says:

    I use regular, unsalted butter Janice.

  8. 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.

  9. Kathryn says:

    Yes sherry, I always sift flour first. Enjoy!

  10. 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 ?

  11. 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.

  12. 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!!

  13. Ann says:

    BEST CAKE EVER! Thank you for sharing!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. Kathryn Greeley says:

    So glad you like it!

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. Rebecca says:

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

  20. Kathryn Greeley says:

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

  21. River says:

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

  22. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Thanks River!

  23. 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.

  24. Rachel says:

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

  25. Kathryn Greeley says:

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

  26. Cyndi says:

    Does this cake freeze well?

  27. Liss says:

    I was terrified that I was going to overbeat the batter; it *almost* reached the ribbon stage, but not quite because I was so antsy. I had nothing to fear! The layers came out beautifully and the cake looks picture-perfect. I worried the frosting might be too thin, but it set perfectly. It tastes JUST like our traditional caramel-frosted pound cake recipe!
    I made it for my sister’s birthday and it was great. Thanks!

  28. Kathryn Greeley says:

    I am SO happy to hear you had good results! I absolutely love this cake and sadly could eat it every day!

  29. Camber says:

    Have you ever made this recipe in cupcakes? Do you think it would work?

  30. Kathryn Greeley says:

    I have not, but I am sure it would work!

  31. Sharon says:

    Hi this cake reminds me of a cake when I was a little girl I love it thank u so much..

  32. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Me too Sharon…a lovely memory!

  33. Kelly Smith says:

    Hi there, when you say sticks of butter, what is the weight of each stick. I live in New Zealand and we don’t have that here.
    I can’t wait to make this

  34. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Our stick of butter is 4 ounces or 113 grams. Hope that is helpful and good luck on the cake…it is delicious!

  35. Becky says:

    I made this cake today for my husband’s birthday as he absolutely loves caramel cake (or more appropriately, he loves the caramel frosting!). I made the cake layers last night and put them in the freezer over night. I got them back out this morning and then made the frosting this afternoon and frosted the cake to take to the party tonight. I did add (at my husband’s request) a cup of chopped pecans to the frosting on the top and sides (but not to the layers inside). The cake looks beautiful! It was an easy cake to make as well. When we ate it tonight it was a-maz-ing! I always am nervous about baking a cake from scratch, but this cake was wonderful and so moist! It will now be my go to recipe for caramel cake! In fact, the 3 other woman at the dinner all requested the recipe and my husband thought it was delicious, too, so I hit a home run! Thanks so much for sharing it, Kathryn.

  36. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Becky, So glad it turned out well and that everyone loved it! My grandmother is smiling down on all of us from heaven. I will be making it this coming week for my Thanksgiving meal. It is always a favorite!! Happy Holidays, Kathy

  37. Kristy says:

    Wonderful cake! I’m making it again for some ladies at work. Can I bake this in a square bunt pan? How long do you suggest I bake it?

  38. Kathryn Greeley says:

    I have never baked this cake in anything but three layer cake pans. Sorry, but I would maybe try 30-40 minutes and then text it. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  39. Kaye says:

    I made this cake for a friend’s birthday luncheon. It was a huge hit. The cake part is dense, more like a pound cake, but that is a good thing. I had no trouble with the icing. I made the layers a couple of days ahead, wrapped each separately in plastic wrap and froze them. When I got ready to assemble and frost the cake, I frosted the layers while frozen because it was easier to frost that way. . I also used unsalted butter and I sifted the flour.

  40. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Glad the cake was a hit! It is dense and moist like a pound cake.

  41. Margot says:

    Crisp caramel sounds incredibly delicious!

  42. Janet says:

    This cake was fabulous! A show stopper and delicious. Moist cake, the icing was perfect. Thank you!

  43. Janet says:

    This cake was beautiful and delicious. So sweet it feeds a large crowd!

  44. Judy Sherman says:

    Can this cake be frozen?

  45. Kathryn Greeley says:

    I have never frozen this cake, so I am not sure Judy!

  46. Kathryn Greeley says:

    It is definitely a favorite Janet!

  47. Karen Kosegi says:

    A fantastic cake, thank you so very much. I made my first cake for my my friend’s birthday. She and her husband were delighted. I, now, have volunteered to make their anniversary cake!🎂

  48. Kathryn Greeley says:

    Great Karen! Glad everyone enjoyed the cake!

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