Caramel Chiffon Cake

1 8-inch layer cake

Chiffon cake layers are filled and frosted with rich caramel buttercream in this decadent dessert. The best part? There's no elaborate piping required; the cake is cleverly decorated with store-bought malted milk balls, plus easy-to-make chocolate curls and caramel dots.


  • Unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)

  • 1 cup sugar, divided

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • cup safflower oil

  • 5 egg yolks plus 6 egg whites

  • ½ cup whole milk

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 ¼ cups chopped malted milk balls, plus more for decorating (optional)

  • Caramel dots (see Cook's Note, below) and chocolate curls, for decorating (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment; butter parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla seeds. Whisk egg-yolk mixture into flour mixture.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one-third of egg-white mixture into batter. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining egg-white mixture with a rubber spatula. Transfer batter to prepared pans. Bake until tops spring back when lightly touched, about 25 to 30 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans. Invert cakes onto a wire rack; remove parchment. Let cool completely, upside-down.

  3. Using a serrated knife, split each cake horizontally into three equal layers. Place a cake layer on a cake stand or turn table. Spread 3/4 cup buttercream evenly over it, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup malted milk balls. Repeat with remaining 5 cake layers. Spread remaining buttercream over top and sides of cake. Decorate with more malted milk balls, caramel dots, and chocolate curls, if desired.

    caramel chiffon cake adorned martha bakes
    Mike Krautter

Cook's Notes

You can make caramel dots by following step 1 of the buttercream recipe (omit the heavy cream). When the caramel has reached the desired color, pour it into dots on a nonstick baking mat. For variations in color, alter the cooking time -- the longer you cook the caramel, the darker it will become.

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