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Mini Brown Sugar Cake

I have been all about mini desserts lately, and I’ve team up with Domino® Sugar to make this mini brown sugar cake!

This recipe is based on my mini vanilla cake recipe, but has a few changes to incorporate Domino® Brown Sugars (both light and dark) and caramel goodness!

image of a mini brown sugar caramel drip cake made with 4-inch cake layers

How Much Batter Does this Recipe Make?

One batch of this mini cake recipe makes enough batter to make 3 4-inch cake layers, or 2 6-inch cake layers.

I like to make cute little 4-inch cake layers, but I know it’s not the most common pan size.

image of little 4-inch cake layers being leveled to make a layer cake

This small batch cake recipe can also be used to make cupcakes! One batch makes enough batter to make about 8-10 cupcakes.

Bake the cupcake versions of these in a preheated 350 F/ 175 C oven for 18-19 minutes.

Decorating This Mini Brown Sugar Cake

This cake may be little, but it’s still decorated in an epic way!

Brown sugar caramel drips and caramelized sugar shards make this cake a total show stopper.

image of the top of a 4-inch caramel brown sugar drip cake decorated with caramel buttercream swirls and caramelized sugar shards

The brown sugar caramel is also the secret ingredient in this the buttercream in this cake! It gives the frosting such a wonderful flavor, and pairs so well with the flavor in the cake layers.

I love using Domino® Brown Sugars to make these cake layers and caramel because it gives them a flavor that’s deep, rich, and full of molasses flavor.

Ingredient Swaps / Variations

I love making this mini brown sugar cake exactly like the recipe calls for but I know that you might not have all these ingredients on hand.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make in this recipe.

image of ingredients laid out to make an adorable little 4 inch layers cake with brown sugar cake layers
  • All-Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour but you can use cake flour or gluten free flour if needed.
  • Domino® Brown Sugars – You can use all light or dark brown sugar in this recipe, but I prefer using Domino® Dark Brown Sugar in the cake layers and Domino® Light Brown Sugar to make the caramel.
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. You can also use vegan butter in its place.
  • Vegetable Oil – Any flavorless oil will work in this recipe! You can use vegetable, canola, or even sunflower oil. I don’t recommend using olive oil – it has a strong flavor that can clash with the flavors in this cake.
  • 1 Large Egg – If you have an egg allergy you can use a flaxseed eggs or 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce + an extra 1/2 tsp baking powder.
  • Sour cream – You can also use full fat yogurt, buttermilk, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • Domino® Powdered Sugar – To make the frosting, I prefer using Domino® Powdered Sugar because it’s super fine and has an exceptionally smooth texture.
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in the frosting if that’s what you have on hand.
image of brown sugar caramel buttercream in a bowl

Tips for Making the Best Mini Brown Sugar Cake:

  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. It makes them so much easier to stack and frost.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Use a serrated knife to level your cake layers once they’re fully cooled. It makes it a lot easier to assemble and frost your cake.
  • Make sure your buttercream is the right consistency before frosting your cake! It will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
  • If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, I recommend reading my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might’ve gone awry.
  • Do a test drip to make sure your caramel is the right temperature and thickness.
image of an adorable caramel brown sugar drip cake being held to show how small this 4-inch cake is

Making This Cake in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month or the freezer for 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious.
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section. It’ll keep the cake moist in the fridge for up to a week.
image of a mini brown sugar caramel drip cake made with 4-inch cake layers

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try my mini brown sugar cake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Leave a rating and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment 🙂

Please tag me @chelsweets and @dominosugar and use the #dominosugar and #chelsweets on social media so that we can see your amazing creations!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 4

Mini Brown Sugar Cake

image of a mini brown sugar caramel drip cake made with 4-inch cake layers

This mini brown sugar cake recipe makes an adorable 4-inch layer cake that is absolutely delicious and perfect for a small celebration.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 27 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 12 minutes

Ingredients

Mini Domino® Brown Sugar Cake Layers

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (130 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 gram)
  • 1 cup Domino® Dark Brown Sugar (200 grams)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (56 grams) - 1/2 stick
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (115 grams)
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white, room temperature (86 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil (28 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)

Brown Sugar Caramel

Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (169 grams) - 1 1/2 sticks
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar caramel, cooled (40 grams) - recipe above
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 grams)
  • 3 cups Domino® Powdered Sugar (375 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream), room temperature (15 grams)

Caramelized Sugar Shards

Instructions

Mini Brown Sugar Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line three 4-inch or two 6-inch round pans with parchment rounds and grease with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Sift 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt in a large bowl. Add in 1 cup Domino® Dark Brown Sugar and stir to combine.
  3. Mix 1/4 cup unsalted butter into the dry ingredients with an electric mixer on a low speed until the mixture looks like sand and no chunks of butter remain.
  4. Add in 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 large egg plus 1 egg white. Mix on a low speed until combined.
  5. Add 2 Tbsp oil and 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix until just combined. The batter should look smooth.
  6. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.
  8. Once the layers have fully cooled, carefully flip the pans to remove the cake layers.
  9. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers, then set the cake layers aside.
  10. If you're making these cake layers in advance, wrap and freeze them like this. When you're ready to assemble the cake, unwrap the frozen layers and allow them to thaw for about 15 minutes before you plan to frost the cake.

Brown Sugar Caramel

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the brown sugar caramel. This caramel can be made several days in advance!
  2. Place a heavy-bottomed pot over a medium heat.
  3. Add 1/2 cup Domino® Light Brown Sugar into the pot in 3 additions, waiting after each addition for the brown sugar to fully melted. Keep a close eye on the pot as the sugar melts. Stir frequently to prevent the brown sugar from burning.
  4. Once all the brown sugar is melted, add in 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter in two additions.
  5. After the butter is incorporated into the brown sugar, mix in 3 Tbsp of heavy cream slowly.
  6. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool. If making this in advance store it in the fridge in an airtight container once it has cooled to room temperature.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  1. Next make the caramel buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 3/4 cup butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or electric hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Mix in 1/4 cup of brown sugar caramel (made using the recipe above), 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp salt on a low speed.
  4. Slowly mix in 3 cups of Domino® Powdered Sugar on a low speed. Half way through adding the powdered sugar mix in 1 Tbsp of heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix.
  5. Continue to mix on low speed for a couple minutes, until the desired consistency is reached. 
  6. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 tsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time). Cover with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Caramelized Sugar Shards

  1. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a heat proof surface.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp of water and 3/4 cup of Domino® Granulated Sugar into a medium sized pot. Heat on medium-low without stirring (it causes crystallization and makes the sugar stick to the side of the pot)! Let the mixture sit until the sugar starts to dissolve.
  3. As the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to medium-high until the sugar becomes an amber / golden brown color.
  4. Pour the mixture onto the sheet of parchment paper in a thin and even layer. Let it cool, then use a sharp knife to cut it into small shards. The caramelized sugar will be very hard once it's set, so be careful as you cut it!
  5. Set the shards aside until it's time to decorate the cake! If made in advance, store in a Ziploc bag at room temperature. Do NOT store it in the fridge!! The fridge will cause the shards to soften and melt together.

Assembling this Mini Brown Sugar Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a small plate or cake board using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Add an even layer of caramel buttercream between each cake layer with a small offset spatula.
  3. Add a thin coat of frosting around the cake that fully covers the cake layers.
  4. Smooth the frosting using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  5. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper. Chill the cake again in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  6. Heat the brown sugar caramel in the microwave in 5 second intervals until it has a thick fluid consistency, then use a spoon or plastic bottle to add drips around to the chilled cake.
  7. Use the remaining buttercream to pipe swirls on top of the cake with an open star piping tip. Top the cake with caramelized sugar shards and enjoy!

Notes

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 575Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 89mgSodium 264mgCarbohydrates 81gFiber 1gSugar 68gProtein 4g

Rachelle Coleman

Thursday 19th of August 2021

Just finished making cupcakes! I almost just ate the batter because it was so good!!! The process seems odd when you turn the flour and sugar into sand with the butter but trust the process!! They are so fluffy and so very good!! Planning on using this for one of the layers of my daughters bridal shower cake. Thank you!

Shannon

Sunday 16th of May 2021

My sugar shards are not hardening. What did I do wrong? I love the way you wrote your directions! Easy to follow. Cake and frosting are great! I can’t wait to serve it for my son’s Golden Birthday!

Livey

Saturday 15th of May 2021

Hi there,

Can this batter be use in 8 inch or 9 inch pans. 9f so, what would be the additions or measurements.

K

Friday 27th of August 2021

@Livey, I know this is a couple months late…but I doubled the recipe and got two 8 inch cake layers out of it! I baked it for about 35-36 mins at 350°F but baking time may differ!

Victoria

Wednesday 28th of April 2021

Hey! Can I use any brand of brown sugar or is Domino the best in this application? thank you!

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