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Feb 5, 2010 10:38 AM

White Cake Recipe (or other suggestions)

I am in charge of making the cake for my brother's birthday tomorrow. He's a HUGE caramel fan and I want it to be something a little special and more "grown-up" so I've decided upon a salted caramel frosting on a layer cake. I've baked cakes from scratch before and they're always fine, but I'd love to produce something a little better than "fine" for a fancy birthday cake.

When I make cakes, they often tend to be a bit dry and rounded on top and thin on the edges. I have good pans, the oven temp is correct, and my other baked goods (from simple quick breads to made-from-scratch babka) come out perfectly. I just seem to rate a consistent "meh" in cake baking.

Anyone want to offer up their tried-and-true recipe or some tips? I would consider something other than a white cake, but there will be someone with a severe nut allergy at the dinner and my brother has specifically requested a layer cake.

The dinner menu, for those who are as compulsive about overall meal planning as I am, will be grilled steaks, roasted sweet potatoes, and a salad. Suggestions? I'm tempted to admit defeat and get a box mix but it just seems like this shouldn't be that hard!

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  1. I like the Caramel Cake recipe from Cooking Light, the cake is very moist but light. If you make the frosting, work quickly it sets up in a flash. Especially if it's cool in your house.

    I think a yellow cake is a bit better match for caramel icing than white cake.

    3 Replies
    1. re: middydd

      You know, I was looking at that recipe but wasn't sure so I'm glad to get this rec. I tend to like the Cooking Light recipes and I'd pondered that cake but wasn't sure if it would be too much. Thanks!

      1. re: alitria

        I recently made my sister a birthday cake (big caramel fan) and it came out great. I baked the recipe called "moist yellow cake" from I sliced the two 8" rounds in half to form a four layer cake. I then took 2 cans of Dulce de leche (you can buy it or I used boiled condensed milk, which is, and has been, a whole 'nother thread) and spread it between the layers. I topped it off with a dark chocolate frosting. It was the most highly praised cake I've made to date!

        1. re: alitria

          The icing is very sweet, but I like it.

          I've used both fat free milk and whatever milk I have on hand and both are fine.

      2. In my experience, cake is dry if it is overcooked, even by a few minutes, so I make a point of setting the timer for a shorter time than directed, then watching closely thereafter. Don't wait until the sides pull away from the pan; it will be too late.
        To make the layers bake up flat, I use Magic Cake Strips, which you soak in water, then wrap around the outside of the pan sides. They prevent the edges of the cake from cooking first, so the whole layer cooks more evenly. They are made out of material that reminds me of an ironing board cover.

        1. Try the chiffon cake on It's a great, moist, fluffy white cake that is famous for a reason. I read elsewhere on the boards that you can wrap a wet kitchen towel around the sides of your pan to prevent the cake from doming. Have never tried it myself, but a search should bring that up.

          1. Magic Cake Strips really, really, really help bake a cake that bakes evenly, doesn't dome on the top and doesn't dry out around the edges. The reason for the drying and doming is that the outer edges of the cake bake faster than the center, pushing the cake upwards and over-cooking the edges. Here are a couple links but this one should be pretty much available locally too. Comes 2 to a package, for 8 - 9" round cake pans:

            or (you'd need to order 2 of these

            I love, love, love yellow cake with caramel frosting, or spice cake with caramel frosting. Both are wonderfully delicious.

            I've made this recipe, from Rose Levy Berenbaum's "The Cake Bible" many times, and it's a wonderful cake
            The recipe only makes 1 9" cake so you would need to double it for your layer cake.


              This caramel cake was featured in the New York Times in December and I made it for Christmas. It was elegant and delicious! If you don't make it for the birthday party, try it sometime soon. You will not be disappointed!