Dulce de Leche Cake

This lovely dulce de leche cake is made with a super tender vanilla sponge cake and frosted with a super easy, cream cheese dulce de leche frosting. 

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Vanilla sponge cake made extra tender with a secret ingredient! (ok not so secret, just scroll down). 
  • Frosting is made with just two main ingredients!
  • Dulce de leche is prominent but doesn’t make the cake overly sweet.

A few months ago I made a chocotorta with a cream cheese dulce de leche filling and I knew I needed to use that glorious cream in another recipe so here we are. The cream cheese perfectly cuts the sweetness of the dulce de leche and it’s SO easy to make.

What is dulce de leche?

Dulce de leche is caramelized sweetened condensed milk. You can either make it yourself by caramelizing it slowly on the stove or in the oven or you can buy it pre-made. The flavor is very similar to caramel sauce but has a much thicker and creamier consistency, like peanut butter. 

If you can’t find dulce de leche at the store, I recommend making your own from sweetened condensed milk. I don’t recommend using caramel sauce as a replacement because the consistency is too soft and the frosting will be too soft. 

What type of sponge cake is this?

This type of sponge is called a molly cake and it’s known for having whipped cream folded into the batter.

You remember in my book, Frosted, how I introduce you to the type of buttercreams in the beginning of the book and then use those buttercreams in different ways throughout the book?

Well there is a list of base sponge cake recipes, just like that. Of course, everyone makes them a little different but each type of sponge has specific characteristics. 

Molly cake is light and fluffy just like most types of sponge cakes. The whipped egg whites and the whipped cream are what make it super fluffy but the addition of egg yolks are what keep it moist and give it flavor. I find that it has a finer crumb and is a little less spongy than other types of sponge cakes.

For more classic base recipes, make sure to check out my baking basics page

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Flour: I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes and I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured. Cake flour also works well in this recipe. 
  • Baking Powder: Most sponge cakes are known for not using a leavening agent since they rely on the eggs to lift the cake. HOWEVER, for this cake I recommend 2 tsp of baking powder because of the higher fat content. 
  • Heavy Cream: I recommend a heavy whipping cream that’s 36-40% fat. Whip it just until you reach stiff peaks, no more, then fold it into the batter. 
  • Sugar: I use granulated sugar. I have not tested it with any other type of sugar but I don’t recommend reducing the sugar in the cake as it’s not super sweet anyway.
  • Eggs: Make sure to use room temperature, large eggs, about 55-60g each (without the shell).
    • Place them in hot water for a few minutes if they’re cold.
    • Unfortunately I have not made this cake without eggs but I know some people have had success with using aquafaba for sponge cakes so try looking up a vegan sponge cake recipe if that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Vanilla: I usually just use a simple vanilla extract in cake batters but I like to use vanilla bean paste for buttercreams and frostings.
  • Cream Cheese: I always recommend Philadelphia full-fat cream cheese.
  • Dulce de Leche: I recommend a store bought one like Nestle or Eagle Brand.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Start by separating the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the egg whites with the sugar until it’s super thick and fluffy and holds stiff peaks. 

Step 2: Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat at medium-high speed until it’s combined, just a few seconds.

Step 3: Sift in the flour and salt and beat at medium-low speed, just until the flour is mixed in. Use a rubber spatula to fold the mixture a couple of times to scrape the edge of the bowl.

Step 4: Whip the cream in a separate bowl, just until it reaches stiff peaks. 

Step 5: Fold the cream into the batter just until it’s completely blended in. 

Step 6: Distribute the batter evenly among the pans lined with parchment paper, about 15-16 ounces each, and bake for 25-ish minutes. The tops will be golden brown, no longer wet and spring back when you press on them gently.

Step 7: Beat together the cream cheese with the dulce de leche, vanilla and salt, until it’s smooth and creamy. If the frosting is to soft, refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Step 8: Once the cakes have cooled, spread a layer of frosting on the first cake and stack the second cake. If the cake/frosting feels too soft, refrigerate is for 15-30 minutes.

How To Frost/Decorate this Dulce de Leche Cake

I kept it simple and just lightly frosted the outside of the cake with the dulce de leche frosting. I made swirls on top with a small offset spatula but if you want, you certainly can decorate the cake too.

If you want to decorate the cake, it may be a little difficult to do it with this cream because it’s so soft. You can lightly frost it like I did, after refrigerating (or freezing) it for a little if necessary, until it’s more sturdy. 

If you want to actually frost it nice and decorate the outside of this cake you’ll have to pipe a border of buttercream around the edge of the first layer of cake and then use the dulce de leche frosting as the filling. You can see how I did that for my cranberry orange cake

I recommend a Swiss Meringue buttercream for decorating but American buttercream also works fine. 

Make sure to check out my cookbook Frosted for a million frosting options and how to use them! I also have an ebook, Frosted 2.0, that shows step-by-step photos of all the types of frostings in the cookbook. You can download that below. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this dairy free?

Considering you’ll need dairy free cream, cream cheese and dulce de leche I would say that’s probably not the best idea. Texture wise cakes turn out fine dairy free but with the frosting, it would probably have a totally different flavor. 

Can I make this gluten-free?

All my cake recipes work well with a 1:1 gluten-free flour like Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour HOWEVER, I have not tested this with sponge cakes so I am not entirely sure. Please let us know if you do try it!
UPDATE: someone did test it with gluten-free flour and it worked well!

Can I make this into cupcakes?

Unfortunately sponge cakes don’t bake up as well as cupcakes but I have not tried it with this recipe. 

How to know when sponge cakes are done baking

Sponge cakes are fairly easy to assess when they’re done baking. The top will no longer look wet and it’ll have a golden brown color. Then gently press your finger into it and it should have some resistance and/or spring back. If it feels wet underneath the surface, leave it a few more minutes.
Try not to open the oven until it’s close to being done though. 

What pan to bake this cake in:

Half batch – one layer 8 inch cake; bake for about 18-20 minutes.
Half batch – one layer 9 inch cake; bake for about 16-19 minutes.
Full batch – three or four layer 6 inch cake; about 7-8 oz each and bake for about 14-16 minutes.
Full batch – two layer 8 inch cake; about 10-11 oz each and bake for about 18-20 minutes.
Full batch – two layer 9 inch cake; about 10-11 oz each and bake for about 16-19 minutes.
Full batch – one layer 9×13 inch cake; bake for about 30-40 minutes.

How to make ahead

To make the cake ahead of time you can make the cakes even a couple weeks in advance. When you remove them from the oven, let them cool for about half an hour and then wrap them individually  in plastic wrap. Then place them in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air. 

Make sure to work quickly if you frost them while they’re frozen, because the frosting can set way too quickly from the cold cake and make it difficult to spread. Or just pull them out of the freezer 1 hour before frosting. 

I recommend baking the dulce de leche frosting fresh. 

How to store finished cake

Any cake frosted with cream cheese frosting has to be stored in the refrigerator. I recommend up to 3-4 days in the fridge before it dries out. 

To freeze, refrigerate until the frosting is firm, then wrap in plastic wrap and then again in foil. Freeze for a few weeks and thaw in the fridge overnight before serving. 

To freeze slices, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Then place them in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air or place them in an airtight container, followed by the freezer bag. 

Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below. Make sure to leave it in the comment section because I can’t answer in the rating section.

If you make this dulce de leche cake, I’d love it if you left a star rating for me and a comment letting me know what cake you used it in. If it’s less than five stars, please let me know why! 🙂

As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!

Love, B

slice of dulce de leche cake on a plate with a bite taken out

Dulce de Leche Cake

Bernice Baran
This lovely dulce de leche cake is made with a super tender vanilla sponge cake and frosted with a super easy, cream cheese dulce de leche frosting. 
4.60 from 10 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Course Cakes
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 286 kcal

Ingredients
  

Vanilla Sponge

  • 4 large eggs room temperature, separated
  • 1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (9oz) heavy whipping cream cold, (9 oz in weight not fluid ounces)

Dulce de Leche Frosting

  • 16 oz (2 bricks) cream cheese room temperature
  • 14 oz (1 can) dulce de leche
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions
 

Vanilla Sponge

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) convection (325F/163C conventional) and lightly grease and line the bottom of two 8 inch (20 cm) round pans with baking spray and parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, use a whisk attachment to beat together the egg whites and the granulated sugar. Beat for a few minutes at full speed, just until the meringue is fluffy and holds stiff peaks.
    4 large eggs, 1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
  • Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract to the meringue and beat at medium speed, just until they’re combined, a few seconds.
    4 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the batter and turn the mixer up to medium speed, just until it’s combined.
    1 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • In another bowl, use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the cream just until it holds stiff peaks.
    1 cup (9oz) heavy whipping cream
  • Fold the whipped cream into the batter just until it's fully combined and smooth.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the edge of the bowl and distribute the batter evenly between the prepared pans, about 15-16 ounces each. Bake for about 25 minutes. The tops should be golden brown and spring back when you gently press on the center. 
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then remove the cakes and place them onto a cooling rack or a tea towel. 
  • Allow the cake to cool completely and if desired, use a large serrated knife to slice each layer in half or use as desired.

Dulce de Leche Frosting

  • Use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, at medium speed, to beat the room temperature cream cheese with the dulce de leche for 1-2 minutes, just until it’s combined.
    16 oz (2 bricks) cream cheese, 14 oz (1 can) dulce de leche
  • Scrape the edge and the bottom of the bowl, add the salt and vanilla and mix until it’s smooth and silky. If the frosting is to soft, refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.
    1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • Spread a generous layer of frosting on the first layer of cooled cake, top with the second layer and use the rest of the frosting to cover the rest of the cake.
  • If it feels too soft, refrigerate the cake for 15-30 minutes before serving.

Notes

Store covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze for a month. 

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 10gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 438mgPotassium: 165mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 402IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 197mgIron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




  1. 3 stars
    Cake came out great, the frosting was a hot mess and I’ve been making my own dulce di leche for years. It was far too liquid and dripped off the side.

    • Hi Erika, if you make your own dulce de leche, make sure it’s thick like the store bought one.
      If the frosting is too runny, you just have to refrigerate it for a while and then mix it up again. The base is butter so it will firm up in the fridge!:)

  2. 4 stars
    The cake tasted good overall, but I have a couple things to add. When beating egg whites and sugar, you need to whip the whites until medium peaks then gradually add in the sugar. I did not do that the first time because direction don’t say to, and my mixture never whipped to stiff peaks so I threw it away and started again. The cake is not as moist as I expected so thinking a syrup of some kind would be nice brushed on the layers. Lastly, I personally found the icing not sweet enough, which some may well enjoy, but I added some confectionery sugar to mine .

    • 5 stars
      I didn’t have issues forming stiff peaks with the egg whites and sugar combined so I don’t think it’s necessary to whip the egg white first then add sugar. My layers were very moist so perhaps you overcooked the cake. I do agree that the frosting needed a bit of confectioners sugar. I gradually added about 1/2 cup to make it sweet enough for my taste.

  3. I’d like to make this yummy looking recipe. But I’m not sure about where the merengue gets incorporated. Does the egg yolks get added to it?