Sweet and Salty Cake

Sweet and Salty Cake | Bake or Break
Sweet and Salty Cake | Bake or Break

After only a few seconds perusing its pages at the bookstore several weeks ago, I fell in baking love with Baked, which is brought to us by the bakery of the same name in Brooklyn. I brought it home, poured over its recipes, and marked more than a few as “must-bake.”

Fast forward to a few days before Thanksgiving, when I was having a very hard time deciding what to make in the chocolate category for our dinner. Suddenly, I remembered this cake and became very excited about making it.

Now having made this cake, I will tell you that it is evil. It’s not a simple cake to make, thus making it evil in my book. However, it is so jam-packed with goodness, making it evil in a whole other way.

Sweet and Salty Cake is a rich, delicious chocolate cake with salted caramel, chocolate-caramel frosting, and a sprinkling of salt. Absolutely delicious!

So, let me paint the picture for you. Three layers of chocolate cake soaked with salted caramel and frosted with a caramel chocolate ganache, which was perhaps the most decadent thing I’ve ever put on a cake. With a pound each of butter and chocolate, not to mention all that heavy cream, I think that is a safe assumption. The combination of all that chocolate and salted caramel is just amazing.

I readily admit that I won’t be eager to make this one again, just from an effort standpoint. That being said, it is probably one of the very best cakes I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. So, for those of you who enjoy making these labor-intensive cakes, you’ll be doubly rewarded with baking it and eating it. Just be sure to save a piece for me.

Sweet and Salty Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 56 minutes

Sweet and Salty Cake


    For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 & 1/4 cups hot water
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the salted caramel:
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • For the whipped caramel ganache frosting:
  • 1 pound dark chocolate (60-70% cacao), chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • For assembling the cake:
  • 2 teaspoons fleur de sel, plus more for garnish


To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess.

Combine cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream. Set aside to cool.

Sift flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbon-like, about 5 minutes. Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add flour mixture, alternating with cocoa mixture, in three portions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake 35-40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pans for 20 minutes on wire racks. Remove from pans and let cool completely. Remove parchment paper.

To make the salted caramel:

In a small saucepan, combine cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until salt has dissolved. Be careful not to let the cream burn.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup, stirring carefully so as not to splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat about 6-8 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 350°. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute.

Add cream mixture to sugar mixture. Whisk in sour cream. Let caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until time to assemble the cake.

To make the frosting:

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

Bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat. Make sure cream does not burn.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup, stirring carefully so as not to splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat for 6-8 minutes until an instant-read thermometer reads 350°. Remove from heat and let caramel cool for 1 minute.

Add cream to the caramel. Stir slowly for 2 minutes. Then, pour caramel over chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute. Then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working out to the edges, slowly stir in a circle until chocolate is completely melted. Let cool, then transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer.

Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down sides and beat on high speed until mixture is fluffy.

To assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup caramel over the top, letting it soak into the cake. Spread 3/4 cup of ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon fleur de sel over the frosting. Top with the second cake layer. Spread with frosting and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fleur de sel. Top with the third cake layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and put cake in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Cake will keep at room temperature (cool and humidity-free) for up to 3 days. May be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Allow cake to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.


Recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.