Dulce de Leche Cake

Dulce de Leche Cake

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Yield: one 9-inch 3-layer cake

Recipe inspired by:
Cook’s Illustrated and Emeril Lagasse


Dulce de Leche cake truly lives up to the Spanish translation of “sweet milk.” This cake is super easy to make and comes packed with intensely complicated flavors. This cake was made to say thank you to Don Pancho Authentic Mexican Foods; a wonderful community partner who donates over 100,000 pounds of food each year to the local food bank.

The silky, vanilla cake is an excellent base to fill with layers of thick, sweet caramel-flavored dulce de leche filling. When covered with smooth caramel frosting and finished with a drizzling of more dulce de leche this cake is definitely one for the record books of flavor. Another great part of this cake is the dry ingredients do not need to be sifted before mixing. This is because the recipe is what I call a “reverse cake batter,” which means you begin by mixing the flour then adding in the butter and other liquid ingredients.


1 batch of Dulce de Leche Filling

For the Dulce de Leche cake:
3-1/3 cups cake flour
1-1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
9 large egg whites, room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
18 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and softened

For the Caramel Frosting:
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
1 package (16 oz. powdered sugar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Step-by-step Directions with Pictures:

Cake pan lined with parchment paper.

Preparing the Cake.
1. Place both oven racks in upper-middle and lower-middle levels of the oven. Preheat to 350° F. Spray three 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper.

Flour and butter cut into pea-size pieces.

2. Place cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Mix at low speed until blended. Add the butter and continue mixing until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Adding milk to flour mixture.

3. Place milk, egg whites and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk to the flour mixture and mix at high speed (medium speed with a stand mixer) for 1-1/2 minutes. Add the remaining milk and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl and continue mixing for another 20 seconds.

Cake batter mixed until smooth.

4. Add the remaining milk and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl and continue mixing for another 20 seconds.

Spreading cake batter in pan.

5. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Use a rubber spatula to evenly smooth cake batter across top of the pans.

Baked cake cooling on wire rack.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. For even baking, be sure to arrange pans in the oven so they are about 3-inches apart and air can clearly circulate around them. Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes then remove from pans to completely cool on wire racks.

Spreading dulce de leche filling on cake layers.

7. Carefully slice the domed tops off each layer to make smooth cakes. Set one layer on a cake plate and generously spread about 1/3 of the dulce de leche filling on top. Top with the second layer and spread another 1/3 dulce de leche filling. If your filling is a little runny (like mine was) it works to pipe a bead of caramel frosting around the cake’s edge.

Frosting sides of the cake.

8. Frost the top and sides of the cake with caramel frosting (recipe follows). Drizzle the cake with any remaining dulce de leche filling.

Butter melting in a saucepan.

Preparing the Caramel Frosting.
9. Place butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes; until it melts and turns nut-brown in color. Remove from heat and pour butter into a bowl; allow it to cool. Be sure not to scrape the pan and leave any burnt milk fat in the pan. Frosted dulce de leche cake.

10. Place powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and melted butter in a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Mix on medium speed (low speed on a stand mixer) until combined. Add cream and continue mixing until smooth. If the frosting seems too thick, add a little extra cream until it reaches the right consistency.

Baker’s Tips:

  • Try to avoid overmixing the cake batter. You really only want to mix the flour and milk mixtures just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

  • There is no need to sift the dry ingredients with this recipe. By mixing the dry ingredients first, you can mix the flour until the clumps are sufficiently eliminated before adding the milk mixture without fear of overworking the batter.

12 thoughts on “Dulce de Leche Cake

    • That’s great to hear! I agree the frosting is amazing. I had to stop myself because I was eating it by the spoonful while frosting the cake!

  1. This is my favorite cake that I can only find at a specialty store. Many times I go there to find them sold out of this cake only. To my suprise dulce de luche cake is the owner of the shops favorite too. Quit eating all the best cake.. You will make money too considering this cake slice sells for $6….

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I will try it on Sunday:) Btw, will the reverse cake batter be also good in making other sponge cakes? I mean, was this method used here because it is required to surface the texture needed by dulce de leche cake? Thanks in advance.

  3. Your site is a fantastic resourse for aspiring bakers! Thanks for sharing your dulce de leche cake recipe. Love the step by step instructions and pictures. My son will get a kick out of this!!

    • Thank you! I’m glad the step by step pictures help. I’m a really visual person so they help me when I’m baking.

  4. OMG I’ve never had Dulce de Leche cake before. I love tres leches cake and i’m sure I’ll love this one. Thanks for the easy to follow recipe.

  5. Great step by step photos and instructions. I don’t eat dulce de leche cake very often, but it is one of my favorites.

    • Thanks. I also don’t eat dulce de leche very often but the cake is truly worth the effort.

    • @Cooking with Kait – Thanks, I also don’t eat dulce de leche very often but the cake is truly worth the effort.

      @MissBecky – If you’ve never had dulce de leche you’re in for a real treat. I think it is actually better than tres leches because it doesn’t have the pudding like texture associated with tres leches.

      @Joy – The caramel frosting is great. The melted butter really gives the frosting a nutty-like flavor which is wonderful paired with the dulce de leche filling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>