Toffee Crunch Layer Cake

This Toffee Layer Cake has layers of brown sugar cake studded with toffee bits, toffee sauce and toffee buttercream all put together into one amazing cake! There’s a little crunch and a whole lot of flavor in this cake and it’s perfect for fall!

slice of toffee layer cake on white plate with toffee sauce in the background

Amazing Toffee Dessert

I sure do love anything made with toffee sauce. As a cousin to caramel sauce, it’s a favorite of mine. And this cake has all that amazing flavor in each and every part. 

The cake layers actually have bits of toffee baked right into them, along with brown sugar in the cake. It not only gives the cake great flavor, but also some unique texture. The toffee pieces soften up but still maintain their shape and therefore just a touch of crunch. Some pieces float nicely in the cake, while some fall to the bottom, which gives each cake layer a lovely little toffee layer. 

The cake is filled with both toffee sauce and toffee buttercream that has toffee sauce in it. The flavor of both is amazing and they compliment the cake perfectly. The combination of everything together is a toffee lovers dream and the warm flavors are perfect for fall and winter.

What is the difference between Toffee Sauce and Caramel Sauce?

The difference between the two comes down to the type of sugar they’re made with. Both typically have butter and cream as a primary ingredient. However caramel sauce is made with regular granulated sugar, while toffee sauce is made with brown sugar. 

cake with toffee dripping down the sides on marble cake stand and marble background

Ingredients for Toffee Cake

While it may seem like a long list of ingredients, they are fairly straight forward. Grab your toffee bits and let’d get started.

For the Cake Layers:

  • All Purpose Flour: Be sure to measure your flavor accurately so that you don’t end up with a dense or dry cake. I always recommend weighing with a food scale, but if you don’t have one, you can use the scoop and level method. Be sure not to pack the flour into the cup.
  • Baking Powder: For the best rise and cake texture. 
  • Salt: For flavor.
  • Butter: Make sure your butter is at room temperature so that it incorporates correctly.
  • Sugar: This cake uses both granulated and brown sugar for the best in taste and texture.
  • Vanilla extract: For enhanced flavor
  • Sour Cream: This doesn’t just add moisture to the cake, it also thickens the batter so that the toffee sauces float in the batter.
  • Eggs: For moisture and structure.
  • Milk: I use 2% milk, but whole milk would work as well. 
  • Toffee Bits: I use the Health Toffee Bits that you find at the grocery store. They are usually on the baking isle, near the chocolate chips. 

For the Toffee Sauce:

  • Butter
  • Dark Brown Sugar: Using dark brown sugar really does add more flavor to this sauce. I highly recommend it over light brown sugar here.
  • Heavy Cream: The sauce needs the fat in the heavy cream. Don’t substitute it for regular milk.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt

For the Toffee Buttercream:

  • Butter: At room temperature.
  • Powdered sugar: In addition to sweetness, powdered sugar adds volume to the buttercream and thickens it. I’m often asked about reducing it, but keep in mind that the buttercream will be thinner if you reduce it without adjusting the other ingredients as well. Since you need the buttercream to hold the toffee sauce in place, you don’t want your buttercream to be too thin/soft.
  • Toffee sauce: This will be the toffee sauce we make as part of the recipe.
  • Salt: To enhance the flavor.
toffee cake with a slice cut out sitting on cake stand

How to Make Toffee Cake

There’s a few parts to this cake, but it all comes together fairly easily.

Make The Cake Layers

  1. Prep: Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine Wet Ingredients: Add the butter, sugars and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time. Add the sour cream and mix until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Alternate Dry and Wet Ingredients: Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  5. Add Toffee Bits: Fold in the toffee bits.
  6. Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the Toffee Sauce

The most important thing to remember when making the toffee sauce is to not turn the heat up. Cook the sauce over medium heat, or a little lower if your burner runs hot, and allow the sugar to melt slowly. 

  1. Cook Butter and Sugar: Add the butter and brown sugar to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat (or medium-low, if your stove heats a little warmer than some) Melt the butter and allow the brown sugar to dissolve. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Do not be tempted to turn the temperature higher to speed the process up. The sugar won’t dissolve properly and the toffee sauce could split. If the mixture begins to boil before the sugar is fully melted, turn the heat down.
  2. Add Cream: When the sugar is melted and the mixture begins to boil, slowly pour in the cream whip whisking constantly. The mixture will bubble up. Continue whisking until everything comes together. 
  3. Boil and Thicken: Slowly bring mixture back to a boil over medium-low heat. Boil until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove sauce from heat and add vanilla extract and salt. 
  4. Allow to Cool: Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely cooled.
cake with toffee sauce dripping down the sides and toffee bits around the top and bottom

Make the Buttercream

  1. Beat Butter: Add the butter to a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Add Half of Powdered Sugar: Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add Some Toffee Sauce: Add half a cup of toffee sauce and the salt and mix until well combined.
  4. Add Remaining Powdered Sugar and Toffee Sauce: Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add toffee sauce, as needed, to get the right consistency of frosting and flavor. You want the buttercream to be thick enough to hold the filling of the cake in place, but also not be too thick and have good flavor. See my post on frosting consistency for more information.

Build the Cake

  1. Level Cake Layers: Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
  2. Add Filling Layers: Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Spread about 1/2 a cup of buttercream evenly on top of the cake. Pipe a dam of buttercream around the outer edge of the cake, on top of the layer of buttercream you just added. Fill the dam with about 1/2 a cup of toffee sauce and spread evenly. You want the top of the dam to be even with the toffee sauce.
  3. Add Second Layer of Cake and Filling: Add the second layer of cake and another layer of frosting, a dam and toffee sauce. 
  4. Add Final Layer And Frost Cake: Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  5. Decorate: Gently warm the remaining toffee sauce in the microwave for about 10 seconds at a time, stirring between each 10 second increment. Don’t over-heat the sauce or it could separate. Use it to add a drip to the sides of the cake, if desired. Finish off the cake with a rim of toffee pieces around the top and bottom of the cake.
slice of toffee cake on white plate with a bite removed

Tips For Best Results

  • Low And Slow: Once again, be sure to use a medium to low heat to give the sugar a change to fully melt and to keep the sauce from separating. 
  • Cool The Sauce: Be sure to allow the toffee sauce to cool completely before you add it to the cake layers or the buttercream. If it’s too warm, it’ll melt the buttercream. It’ll also be more stable in the cake layers when cool. 
  • Thick Buttercream: I know it’s tempting to reduce the amount of powdered sugar, but if you do, you should also reduce the other buttercream ingredients by the same ratio, ultimately just making less buttercream. The thick consistency of the buttercream will be important on this cake so that all the filling layers stay in place.

How to Store and Serve This Cake

This cake should be stored in the fridge. If you have an air tight cake carrier that’ll fit in your fridge, that’s best so that it doesn’t dry out. I’d recommend this one. The cake should be served at room temperature for the best taste and texture.

Can I Freeze This Cake?

I don’t typically recommend freezing fully decorated cakes, but you could freeze the individual parts. Wrap the cake layers well in clear wrap and foil, then place in ziplock bags. Thaw them in the fridge when ready. The buttercream can also be stored in the fridge for up to a month and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it, bring it back to room temperature and stir it well before using. Freeze the toffee sauce for up to 3 months as well.

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toffee cake with a slice cut out sitting on cake stand
Recipe

Toffee Crunch Layer Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 12-14 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Toffee Layer Cake has layers of brown sugar cake studded with toffee bits, toffee sauce and toffee buttercream all put together into one amazing cake! There’s a little crunch and a whole lot of flavor in this cake and it’s perfect for fall!


Ingredients

Toffee Cake Layers

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour (measured accurately)
  • 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (207g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (115g) sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) toffee bits

Toffee Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups (336gg) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (337g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Toffee Buttercream

  • 2 1/2 cups (560g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup-1 cup toffee sauce (above)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


Instructions

Make the Cake Layers

  1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, sugars and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add the sour cream and mix until well combined.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  7. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined.
  8. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  9. Fold in the toffee bits.
  10. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  11. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the Toffee Sauce:

  1. While the cakes cool, make the toffee sauce. Add the butter and brown sugar to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat (or medium-low, if your stove heats a little warmer than some) Melt the butter and allow the brown sugar to dissolve. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Do not be tempted to turn the temperature higher to speed the process up. The sugar won’t dissolve properly and the toffee sauce could split. If the mixture begins to boil before the sugar is fully melted, turn the heat down.
  2. When the sugar is melted and the mixture begins to boil, slowly pour in the cream whip whisking constantly. The mixture will bubble up. Continue whisking until everything comes together.
  3. Slowly bring mixture back to a boil over medium-low heat. Boil until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove sauce from heat and add vanilla extract and salt. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely cooled.

Make the Buttercream:

  1. When the cake and toffee sauce have cooled and you’re ready to build the cake, make the buttercream. Add the butter to a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add half a cup of toffee sauce and the salt and mix until well combined.
  4. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add toffee sauce, as needed, to get the right consistency of frosting and flavor. You want the buttercream to be thick enough to hold the filling of the cake in place, but also not be too thick and have good flavor. See my post on frosting consistency for more information.

Build the Cake:

  1. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
  2. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  3. Spread about 1/2 a cup of buttercream evenly on top of the cake.
  4. Pipe a dam of buttercream around the outer edge of the cake, on top of the layer of buttercream you just added. Fill the dam with about 1/2 a cup of toffee sauce and spread evenly. You want the top of the dam to be even with the toffee sauce.
  5. Add the second layer of cake and another layer of frosting, a dam and toffee sauce.
  6. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  7. Gently warm the remaining toffee sauce in the microwave for about 10 seconds at a time, stirring between each 10 second increment. Don’t over-heat the sauce or it could separate. Use it to add a drip to the sides of the cake, if desired.
  8. Finish off the cake with a rim of toffee pieces around the top and bottom of the cake.
  9. Store cake in an air-tight container in the fridge. Serve at room temperature. Cake is best if eaten within 3-4 days.

Keywords: toffee cake, toffee layer cake

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9 Comments
    1. Lindsay

      Here was my answer to her 🙂 – Hmmm, I’m not sure it’s ideal as a 9×13. The cake itself should be ok. I’d just reduce the oven temperature to 325 and adjust the baking time. But the get both the toffee sauce and buttercream in there, you’d either have to torte the cake and add a layer of toffee sauce between the layers and use the buttercream on top, or have both a layer of toffee sauce and buttercream on top, which might be hard to spread. But you could certainly do it either way if you wanted.

  1. Sara

    I think I just found dessert for Thanksgiving! (Some aren’t fans of pumpkin pie, so thank you!) However, can I translate this to a 9×13 instead of a layer cake to make my life easier? Thanks so much!

    1. Lindsay

      Hmmm, I’m not sure it’s ideal as a 9×13. The cake itself should be ok. I’d just reduce the oven temperature to 325 and adjust the baking time. But the get both the toffee sauce and buttercream in there, you’d either have to torte the cake and add a layer of toffee sauce between the layers and use the buttercream on top, or have both a layer of toffee sauce and buttercream on top, which might be hard to spread. But you could certainly do it either way if you wanted.

      1. Sara

        Thanks, Lindsay! This might be a silly idea, but what about doing it as a poke cake; with the toffee sauce poured over, then cooled and frosted with the buttercream?

      2. Lindsay

        Not a silly idea, I actually think that would probably work out all right. You would just want to pour the sauce over the cake while it’s still warm.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29