Brown Sugar Layer Cake

Be whisked away by the mesmerizing flavors of this Brown Sugar Layer Cake, uniting brown sugar syrup with fluffy buttercream frosting. For added crunch, sprinkle toffee crumbs between each layer!

Prep Time

45 minutes

Bake Time/ Topping Bake Time/ Assembly Time

30 minutes/ 10 minutes/ 40 minutes


8 servings

Holiday Favorites

Bring extra sweetness to your celebration with some of our favorite holiday recipes. From family classics to new twists, bake it good and use Regenerative Organic Certified® Sugars.


For the brown sugar cake batter

  • 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 2 ½ teaspoons Baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking soda 
  • ½ teaspoon Salt 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, unsalted, softened
  • ¾ cup Florida Crystals® Regenerative Organic Light Brown Sugar 
  • ¾ cup Florida Crystals® Regenerative Organic Raw Cane Sugar 
  • 4 large Egg yolks 
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract 
  • ½ cup Whole milk, room temperature 
  • ½ cup Sour cream, room temperature 
  • 3 large Egg whites 

For the brown sugar syrup

  • ½ cup Florida Crystals® Regenerative Organic Light Brown Sugar, packed 
  • ½ cup Water 
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract 

For the brown sugar buttercream

  • ½ cup (1 stick) Butter, unsalted
  • ½ cup Florida Crystals® Regenerative Organic Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract 
  • 4 tablespoons Heavy whipping cream 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, unsalted, just softened
  • ½ teaspoon Salt 
  • 3 cups Florida Crystals® Regenerative Organic Powdered Sugar 

For the brown sugar cake crumbs

  • 1 cup Cake crumbs from tops of cakes
  • ¼ cup Florida Crystals® Regenerative Organic Light Brown Sugar, packed


Step 1

To prepare the cake pans, grease and flour 3–6-inch round cake pans. A piece of parchment may be used to line the bottom of the pan. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare the Cake Batter

Step 2

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using a whisk, combine ingredients to ensure the mixture is lump-free. Set bowl aside.

In a large mixing bowl on a stand mixer, combine butter and both sugars. Using a paddle attachment, beat until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and scrape sides of mixing bowl and mix on medium speed to incorporate yolks. Add vanilla extract and combine.

In three additions, add dry ingredients to the butter mixture on low speed along with the milk and sour cream. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, but do not over mix batter.

Step 3

In a separate mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Once the egg whites are whipped, take approximately 1/3 of the whites and fold into the cake batter. Then fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whipped egg whites. Divide cake batter between the three prepared pans and place on the center rack in preheated oven.

Step 4

Bake at 350°F for approximately 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Set pans aside on a cooling rack to cool.

Prepare the Brown Sugar Syrup

Step 5

Heat the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil. Lower heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Add vanilla extract and set pan aside.

Prepare the Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

Step 6

Melt the 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, and occasionally swirling the pan, cook butter until the butter is a golden-brown color and has a nutty aroma. Add the brown sugar and mix to combine over low heat. Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Stir for a few minutes over low heat with a wooden spoon or spatula to help to dissolve the brown sugar. Pour mixture into a small bowl and set aside or refrigerate for 10 minutes or until the mixture is at room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, beat remaining butter until creamy. Add the cooled brown butter mixture and salt and beat on medium speed. Add the powdered sugar in three additions and scrape the mixing bowl after each addition. On medium-high speed, beat the buttercream until light and fluffy.

Step 7

Once cakes are cooled and can be removed from pans, remove cakes, and set on a circle of parchment paper or a cardboard round. Using a long-serrated knife, take one of the cakes and carefully cut the top part of the cake that is rounded. This will ensure that the cakes assembled will be even because the cakes will be level. Level the remaining two cakes. The cakes can be set aside before assembly.

Prepare the Cake Crumbs

Step 8

Transfer the tops of the cakes that were removed and placing them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once the cake tops are cooled, put the cake pieces in a bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to make a fine crumb. Measure out 1 cup for the cake crumbs and pour onto the same parchment lined sheet pan. Add the ¼ cup of brown sugar and combine ingredients with a fork or by hand.

Assemble Cake

Step 9

Start by taking the first cake and placing it on a piece of parchment paper or a cardboard round on a plate or a turntable Using a small off-set spatula to take the prepared buttercream and ice just the sides of the cake.

Once iced, remove the cake from the parchment and hold the cake just by the top and bottom. While still holding the cake, roll the iced sides of the cake in the brown sugar crumbs until the sides are coated.

Once coated, place the first cake layer on a serving plate or stand. Once on the cake stand, take the brown sugar syrup and using a pastry brush, brush some of the syrup on the top of the cake.

Once the first cake has been placed, transfer a portion of the buttercream to a pastry bag that is fitted with a large round tip. While holding the pastry bag at a 90-degree angle, pipe large dollops of the buttercream around the cake layer to cover the layer.

Once the first layer has been decorated, take the second cake and ice the sides and roll in the crumbs just like the first cake.

Place the second layer on top of the first cake layer. Brush the syrup on the second layer just as the first one was done; wait just a few minutes to let the syrup soak into the cake layer. Pipe the dollops of buttercream on the top of the second layer.

Lastly, take the third layer and ice the sides of the cake. Then roll the sides in the crumbs just as the other two layers were done. Place the third layer on top of the second layer. Brush the remaining syrup on the third layer. Using the remaining buttercream, pipe the same dollops on the top of the cake, piping around the edge and then towards the center.

Additional Tips

When assembling the cake, always let the buttercream come to room temperature before using.

Make your buttercream ahead of time; once mixed, cover with a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Depending on how the cakes bake, there may be more than 1 cup of the crumbs. Only 1 cup is needed for the topping. Any remaining cake crumb topping may be used for decoration.

For an added crunch, sprinkle toffee pieces over each cake layer for an extra caramelized flavor. When assembling the cake, let the buttercream come to room temperature before using.