Whole-Wheat Chocolate & Caramel Ombre Cake

April 2014

Sometimes my sweet tooth demands something fast but flavorful. Sometimes I push up my sleeves, don my apron, carve out an afternoon and set my sights on something rich and fancy [I’m not talking gold digging here…baking, people, baking!] …

Ombre Cake on Stand

If you’re in the mood to serve a slice of cake with a wow-factor, this is the type of delicious time commitment for you!

Ombre Cake Florals

Baking Note: This recipe, adapted from Foods of Our Lives, uses an 8″ cake pan to make a 6-layer ombre cake. I was aiming for real height prowess, so I used a smaller cake pan (6″). My caramel and chocolate allocations did not achieve the color distinction for which I had hoped. Nor did I want my mile-high cake to topple, so I decide to make two ombre cakes, which worked out well for a dessert social. Follow the instructions below for the six layers or divide your batter amongst smaller pans to have two impressive color fade cakes.

Ombre Cake Slice

Chocolate & Caramel Ombre Cake
Recipe adapted from Foods of Our Lives

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

2 cups pure cane sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) organic, unsalted butter
1 cup organic heavy cream, room temperature


Make the caramel sauce first as it needs to be fairly cool before you can use it and it takes a long time to cool, several hours ideally. If you can make it the day before that is best. You can also speed up the cooling process in the refrigerator.

For the Caramel

Put the sugar in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts, this will take a few minutes.

Once the sugar has all melted start adding the butter one piece at a time. Whisk until the butter is all melted between additions.

Wait about 3 seconds and then slowly add the cream. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.

Let cool in the pan for a bit and then pour, carefully, into a jar to store. Store in the refrigerator to cool.

Vanilla Cake Ingredients

2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) organic, unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar

3 large organic eggs

2 1/4cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups organic half and half (1 cup for high altitude)
3 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon pure cocoa powder

For the Vanilla Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (For high altitude I bake at 300˚)

Butter your 8″ springform cake pans, you will need 3 of them [or bake, cool, rinse, repeat…you see how this can quickly become a time commitment?].

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl using a spatula.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together half & half and vanilla.

With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined.

Divide batter into three even portions, using a kitchen scale is the best way to do this accurately. The first layer is baked as is so go ahead and pour into the pan.

The second layer you want a caramel color so add about ⅓ cup caramel to the batter, then turn into the pan.

The third layer also add 1/3 cup caramel too plus one Tablespoon of cocoa powder, then turn into its pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup pure cocoa

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 large organic eggs
1 1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine salt

1 cup organic sour cream

For the Chocolate Cake

Preheat your oven to 350˚. (300˚ for high altitude. Butter your cake pans again and set aside.

Combine the butter, bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder using a double boiler method. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.

Remove the pan of melted chocolate, and set aside, allowing to cool a bit while you combine the other ingredients.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until fluffy.

Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture.

Divide the batter into three even portions again, and add about 2 Tablespoons of the chocolate mixture to one portion. Gauge the color. If you want it darker, add a touch more. Then pour the batter into its pan.

For the next layer, add a little more of the chocolate (about 1/4 cup). Again, gauge the color, and adjust as needed. Pour the batter into its pan.

Add the rest of the chocolate to the last layer. If it is not dark enough add a little more cocoa powder, and pour batter into its pan.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in the pans about 20 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack.

Allow to cool completely before layering.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

24 oz organic semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups organic heavy cream

For the Chocolate Ganache

Place both the milk and the bittersweet chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler and heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Place the heavy cream in a large bowl and pour the melted chocolate into it.

Whisk until smooth and homogenous.

Allow to cool slightly.

To Assemble The Cake

Place the chocolate cake layer on a cake board or serving plate. Smooth a layer of caramel over the top. Add the caramel color cake, followed by the caramel. Add the vanilla layer. Pour the warm ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Use a lazy susan cake stand and an offset spatula to smooth the ganache on the sides.

Optional: top with an orange peel rosette for a little something extra.


Enjoy the chocolatey fruits of your long labors!


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. dzdzdan14

    I know how labour intensive cake baking can be. So well done! This cake looks lovely and I am sure it tastes just as good. And adding some wholegrains in a cake is an excuse for eating an extra slice, right?

    1. withthegrains

      Thank you! Definitely an excuse for an extra slice or even a breakfast slice! 😉

  2. Natalie Tamara

    What a beautiful cake. I love the idea of an ombré cake in such natural earthy colours rather than in bright artificial colours… and with caramel between the layers! Sounds like I need to find myself a free afternoon too 😉

    1. withthegrains

      Thanks! Indeed, those colorful cakes are way too artificial. After all the work, you can eat this cake with peace of mind. Win win!

Leave a Reply