Southern Caramel Sheet Cake


  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Southern caramel icing:
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • milk, for thinning, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 15x10x1-inch rimmed baking sheet.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup of the butter and the water to a boil.
  4. In a large separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour and the white sugar.
  5. Add the eggs, the sour cream, the almond extract, 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla, the baking soda, and the salt to the flour mixture, mixing to combine.
  6. While mixing the flour mixture, slowly, a little at a time, add in the boiling butter mixture. Adding it too quickly or too much at once will scramble the eggs in the mixture.
  7. Mix the batter mixture completely.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 17-22 minutes.
  10. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  11. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the remaining butter, the evaporated milk, and the granulated sugar together over medium heat until melted together and combined.
  12. Allow the evaporated milk mixture to cook, whisking periodically and whisking more towards the end so it doesn’t burn, until it reaches a beautiful, dark golden caramel color, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Keep a close eye on it, as it can burn if you are not watching it.
  13. Add the milk to the caramel frosting if it seems too thick but being cautious not to add too much. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  14. Transfer the frosting from the heat and whisk in the remaining vanilla.
  15. Pour the frosting over the cake and spread it evenly.
  16. Serve immediately.

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