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+ servings

Zucchini Caramel Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

Spiced zucchini cake with a caramel filling, cream cheese frosting, and caramel drizzled on top.


For the cake:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (300 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled (145 grams)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk (125 ml)
  • 1 ½ cups grated zucchini (275 grams)

For the caramel:

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup heavy cream (120 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese , softened to room temperature (227 grams)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature (113 grams)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar , sifted (455 grams)
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 6-inch cake pans by greasing nonstick cooking spray and lining the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the melted butter and sugar for about 1 minute until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add in the vanilla.
  • Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Stir in the grated zucchini.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes back clean, or until the centers of the cake bounce back when gently pressed, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the caramel:

  • Put the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan set over medium high heat. Stir with a spatula just until sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until it turns deep amber in color, about 8-10 minutes. Swirl pan as needed to promote even caramelization.
  • Remove caramel from the heat and immediately whisk in the heavy cream (mixture will bubble and steam). Return caramel to medium heat and cook until caramel is smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, salt, and vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

To make the cream cheese buttercream:

  • Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium high speed until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and enough milk/cream reach a spreadable consistency. Beat until smooth.

To assemble the cake:

  • Separate out 1 cup of the cream cheese buttercream. Mix in approximately 1/4 cup of the prepared caramel (not hot), or enough to create a thin but still spreadable filling. It should not be so thin that it spills over the sides of the cake.
  • Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Spread 1/2 of caramel filling on top, leaving an approximate 1/2-inch border. Repeat with remaining cake layers and filling.
  • Starting at the top and working your way down the sides, spread the cream cheese frosting all over the cake. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the fridge and pour the caramel sauce on top, using a spatula to gently push it over the edges. You may not need all of the caramel. If the caramel is too thick to pour, warm it in the microwave in 10 second intervals. It should not be hot when you pour it over the cake, or you'll melt the frosting.
  • Store cake in the fridge until ready to serve.


  • Make-ahead: Store cake layers in fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer (double-wrapped) for 1-2 months. Let thaw completely before assembling. Caramel sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Frosting can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • You can also bake this into a 2-layer 8-inch cake. Increase baking time to 30-35 minutes. For the caramel filling, combine 1/2 cup cream cheese frosting with approximately 2 tablespoons caramel.
  • Makes one 6-inch layer cake.
Caramel sauce recipe and layer cake inspiration from Layered cookbook by Tessa Huff.


Calories: 526kcal, Carbohydrates: 77g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 95mg, Sodium: 254mg, Potassium: 148mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 61g, Vitamin A: 820IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 63mg, Iron: 1mg
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