Dulce de Leche Cake

Disclosure: I may earn a commission from purchases you make through affiliate links in this post at no additional cost to you.

This dessert is perfect for anyone who loves the smooth, rich flavor of dulce de leche (the sweet, addictive caramel-like sauce popular in Latin America). It’s a browned butter vanilla sheet cake topped with a generous helping of dulce de leche. While the cake itself is wonderful on its own, it becomes outrageously good once topped with the sauce.

Dulce de Leche Cake

Ingredients

This recipe requires baking basics and one special ingredient – dulce de leche. You can make it yourself, buy it online, or find it at an international grocery store.

Tip: Make sure you read my notes in the FAQ section below so you can pick the right dulce de leche for this cake.

How It’s Made

Dulce de leche cake

Brown Butter

Start by browning butter by placing it in a skillet on medium heat.

Two sticks of butter starting to melt on a skillet

Continue to heat the butter, stirring periodically. It will start to boil with big bubbles.

butter boiling in a skillet

Then, the bubbles will get smaller.

smaller bubbles

Raise the heat slightly at this point and keep a close eye on the butter. Once the butter turns more brown, remove it from the heat immediately and transfer to a shock-proof bowl.

browned butter in a glass bowl

Cool the browned butter in the fridge (for an hour) or the freezer (for 10-15 minutes) until it is back to feeling like a slightly softened stick of butter.

Cake

Whisk together dry ingredients (sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use an electric hand mixer or even mix by hand.

You can substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour in equal amounts. The cake will be just a little bit more dense. Cake flour is a finely milled delicate flour. It is best for desserts that are more light and airy.

Whisking Dry Ingredients

Mix in the browned butter.

Adding browned butter to dry ingredients

Whisk together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. This includes the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.

Whisking eggs, sour cream, and vanilla

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.

Tip: It’s very important to not overmix the batter at this point. Overmixing the batter can have a dramatic effect on the end result. An overmixed cake will end up squat and dense; see my post on overmixing cake batter for more details.

Adding wet ingredients to dulce de leche cake

Add milk to the batter, again mixing until just combined. Proper cake batter is very thin – almost liquid.

Adding milk to dulce de leche cake batter

Grease a cake pan with non-stick baking spray and pour the batter into the pan, making sure that it is distributed evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before topping.

Topping

Just before serving, spread dulce de leche evenly over the cake.

Tip: After the caramel sauce sits for a few hours, it will begin to absorb into the cake. This makes the dessert even more delicious, but it doesn’t look as pretty because the dulce de leche is no longer resting on top of the cake. For maximum visual effect, serve immediately after adding the topping.

Spreading dulce de leche on cake

Expert Tips and FAQs

Which kind of dulce de leche should I use?

When you make your own dulce de leche, it can be really thin like a syrup, or more of a spreadable consistency like peanut butter. For this cake, it is important that you use a thicker dulce de leche. I use the one that I make in my Instant Pot and it works perfectly.

Most of the store-bought dulce de leche that you find will be thick and should work just fine.rhree different dulce de leches

Do I need to use whole milk in this recipe?

Whole milk works best, but you can use any milk you have in the house.

How do I store this cake?

Store at room temperature for a few days. If you need it later, freeze without topping it and bring to room temperature before spreading dulce de leche just before serving.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
Slice of Dulce de leche cake on a plate with dulce de leche dripping down the side
Print Pin
4.17 from 6 votes

Dulce de Leche Cake

This brown butter vanilla cake is topped with decadent dulce de leche.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 175kcal
Author Stefani

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract use pure, not imitation
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 14 ounces dulce de leche

Instructions

  • Melt butter over medium heat in a small skillet or heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Continue to heat the butter, stirring periodically, until it turns brown (10-15 minutes). The butter will first boil with big bubbles (it’s not done then). Then, the bubbles will get smaller.
  • Turn up the heat slightly and monitor closely until the butter looks more brown (that’s when it’s done).
  • Remove butter from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a shock-proof container and chill until softened, one hour in the refrigerator or 10-15 minutes in the freezer.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add browned butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the side of the bowl as needed to make sure that everything is incorporated into the batter.
  • Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Spread batter evenly in a well-greased 9" square cake pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes and then test to see if the cake is done. It is done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. If it is not done, test again in four minutes. If it is still not done, test again in another two minutes.
  • When the cake is done, place it on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool to room temperature.
  • Spread dulce de leche evenly over cooled cake just before serving.

Notes

When you make your own dulce de leche, it can be really thin like a syrup or more of a spreadable consistency like peanut butter. For this cake, it is important that you use a thicker dulce de leche. I use the one that I make in my Instant Pot and it works perfectly.
Most of the store-bought dulce de leche that you find will be thick and work just fine.
After the dulce de leche sits on the cake for a few hours, it will begin to absorb into the cake. This makes the cake even more delicious, but it doesn’t look as pretty because the dulce de leche is no longer sitting on top of the cake.

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 124mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 253IU | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Click here to leave a comment and rating!