Dulce de Leche Cake will be the “golden key” to your heart! Moist layers of caramel soaked sponge cake are separated by caramel cream and finished with a sprinkling of hazelnuts. YUM.
Dulce de Leche Cake and Ferrero Rocher Cake have hands down been my two most popular cake recipes according to you guys. Perhaps it’s because Ukrainian-style cakes are known to be some of the most decadent! Read on to learn how to make this classic European cake.
What is Dulce de Leche Cake?
This cake is all around loaded with dulce de leche. Don’t know what dulce de leche is? It’s basically sweetened condensed milk that has been cooked into a delicious caramel.
Dulce de Leche Cake is made with layers of sponge cake that are soaked in dulce de leche and sour cream. Did I mention that you will separate those cake layers with dulce de leche infused cake cream? Oh yes, this cake is packed with caramel-y goodness!
Wondering why Dulce de Leche Cake is also called “Golden Key Cake”? This cake was inspired by a very popular Russian candy called “Golden Key”. These bite-sized morsels are creamy and toffee flavored and impossible not to binge eat. Someone was so obsessed with these morsels that they had the bright idea to make a cake in their image!
Tips for Making Dulce de Leche Cake
Below, I will share all my “golden nuggets” on how to make the perfect Dulce de Leche Cake. You will have your friends and family begging you for the recipe in no time.
Activate the Baking Soda
To make a knock-out sponge cake you are going to want to make sure that you use activated baking soda. Activated baking soda ensures that your cake rises and fluffs. You can purchase pre-activated baking soda, but if you don’t have it on hand, add a touch of lemon juice or vinegar to it to activate it yourself. You will know that the baking soda has activated once it begins to make a fizzling sound!
Keep Whipping Cream Very Cold
When it comes to baking, it is typically advised to work with room temperature ingredients. However, to make the perfect caramel cream for this cake you are going to want to work with very cold heavy whipping cream. Why? The fat globules in heavy whipping cream will emulsify faster and stay fluffy longer when they are whipped cold.
Tip: Stick your heavy whipping cream in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you get to whipping.
Don’t Overbeat Heavy Whipping Cream
When you are making the cake cream, make sure you don’t overbeat the heavy whipping cream. You will want to stop when the texture becomes soft and billowy. You will know that you have overbeaten the cream if it starts to curdle and separate.
Tip: Fix curdled cream by adding more heavy whipping cream and beating it until it has returned to a soft and billowy texture.
Make Dulce de Leche at Home
You can always find canned dulce de leche in the grocery store. Typically, it hangs out in the Hispanic section. You can also make this delicious sauce super easily in the comfort of your own home using an Instant Pot. All it takes is a couple of cans of sweetened condensed milk and that’s it! In Ukrainian and Russian baking, dulce de leche is a star ingredient. I always have some on hand for making desserts or dressing up a cup of coffee.
Use Roasted Hazelnuts
Roasted hazelnuts really elevate the flavor of this cake. Purchase them roasted or do it yourself. Simply lay out raw hazelnuts on a lined baking sheet and roast them in the oven for 15 minutes at 350F. Remove any excess skins that fall off the nuts.
Combine whipping cream with sweetened condensed milk to make the syrup for soaking your sponge cake. Generously spread the syrup on each layer of cake to make them super moist. You can use a squeeze bottle to apply the syrup more evenly if necessary.
Using Cool Whip Instead of Whipping Cream
Can I substitute whipping cream with Cool Whip – is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from readers. I advise to avoid using the Cool Whip, as it provides a slightly artificial tasting. Instead, if you’re trying to cut time, use the premade whipped cream, just make sure to go with a high-quality one.
How Long Can You Keep Dulce de Leche Cake Fresh?
You can keep Dulce de Leche cake fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend freezing this cake due to its delicate nature.
Other Similar Cake Recipes to Try:
- 4 Eggs
- 1 cup Sugar
- 14 oz Dulce De Leche
- 10 oz Sour Cream
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 cup Flour
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 4 oz Condensed Milk
Dulce Del Leche Cream
- 14 oz Dulce De Leche
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter room temperature
- 16 oz Heavy Whipping Cream very cold
- 2 cup Hazelnuts
- Beat 4 eggs (no need to separate them) with sugar until it’s three times in volume.
- Whisk sour cream together with dulce de leche, until you reach an even, smooth consistency.
- Fold sour cream mixture into beaten eggs.
- In a separate dish, combine baking soda with lemon juice, add to the batter.
- Combine flour together with baking powder. Using a spatula, fold in flour by thirds; be very gentle with the dough, so you don't over mix and lose the fluffiness. Spray a 7 or 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray.
- Place half of the batter into a baking pan. If you have another pan in the same in size, repeat with the remaining batter. If you don’t have a second pan, use the same pan after baking the first layer.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Use a toothpick to check if the cake is baked. Once the cake cools, cut the cake into two halves.
- Combine whipping cream with condensed milk. Soak the inside of all slices with the sweetened cream.
Dulce De Leche Cream
- Whip the butter (room temperature) with 1 can of dulce de leche.
- In a separate bowl, whisk very cold heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Don’t beat the cream for too long or it will separate.
- Fold in dulce de leche mixture into whipped cream.
Layering the Cake
- Place the layer soaked with whipping cream and condensed milk mixture, on the bottom, followed by some cream and chopped hazelnuts. Add the second cake layer soaked with whipping cream and condensed milk mixture, followed by the cream, then hazelnuts. Repeat in this order until you run out of cake layers.
- Using the remaining cream, decorate the outside of the cake.
- I applied some chopped hazelnuts on the sides and the whole pieces on top.
Hello. Planning on making this very soon. Can I make the sponge cake a day before and then keep it in the fridge saran wrapped until I am ready for the creams?
Hi Olga, Thank you for reaching out Yes, you absolutely can! Wishing you the best of luck!
This cake is an absolute hit every single time. I’ve changed it up and use regular condensed milk and pecans. Thank you so much!
HI Irina, I am thrilled that you found your go-to recipe and have made it your own. Thank you for your feedback. Enjoy!
Hi Natasha! I wanted to make this cake for my daughter’s birthday but I wanted to used white cream on the outside instead of the brown dolce de Leche what cream do you think would work with this cake? Love this recipe! Thank you
Hey Anna, I think the cream from our Jam Layered Honey Cake or Tiramisu Cake would work here. Hope you love it.
Made this cake for Thanksgiving for the first time and everyone loved it! Pretty easy recipe too! Thank you!
This recipe is a Thanksgiving star at Momsdish. I am so happy you got to enjoy it. Its one of my favorite cakes. Thanks for sharing!
I love love love this cake!!! Thank you so much for the recipe! I make it so often now for most of our celebrations!^_^
I do have a question. I always have to "redo" my frosting. Once I add whipped cream to the butter mixture the cream separates right away! What do u do for yours to be perfect from the beginning? How long do you whip butter and dulche de Leche? Maybe I'm overmixing or undermixing this part?
Hey Natasha, it shouldn't separate right away because it takes time for the whipping cream to whip up. But you do have to watch it or it will separate as soon as its done whipping up. A few tips, you can whip heavy whipping cream separately and fold it into the rest of the cream. Also, make sure that your heavy whipping cream is very cold, it will give you the best fluffiest cream. I hope this helps. Glad you love the recipe. 🙂
Hi Natasha I have a question do you know what height of this cake will be with this all four layers?
Hey Maria, It depends on the size pan you use. it should be around 6 to 8 inches in height. Hope this helps!
Hello! This looks divine ✨
I’m a bit confused regarding the cake tin sizes. Should I use 2x9-inch cake tins? Or 2x7-inch ones? What kind did you use in the pictures?
Please help me out, thank you very much!
Hi Mari - You can use either, it's really up to you! When we shot this recipe, we used a 9-inch pan. Hope this helps and you love the cake - it's one of our favs. 🙂
Thank you so much for the quick reply!!! 💕I’m definitely looking forward to this cake! ✨
No problem, Mari! Let us know how it turns out. We're excited for you to try it.
Hello Natalya, I absolutely love this recipe but want to make a large 12 inch cake instead of 9 inch. I was wondering how many batches of this batter I would need?
Hello, Emily. You can 1.5 this recipe and use two 12inch cake pans for a larger cake! Hope this helps!
How many minutes should I bake then?thanks
Hi Olga- are you using two 12in cake pans as well? I would say start checking after about 20-25 minutes. I haven't tested with 12inch pans, but I know it'll work- I just don't have an exact baking time. Please use the toothpick test and take the cakes out when toothpick comes out clean. Hope this helps!
Great recipe 😊
I'm making Dulche the Leche by my self, from scratch. You need just two ingredients which are usually already in the kitchen.
You need 1l of milk, higher fat works better, and 100-300g granulated sugar (I use 200g of brown sugar or even melasa).
Put both in the pan, larger for easier stirring, preferable non-stickable, and whisk it together, until sugar disolves completely. Bring it to the boiling point, than put it on minimum heat. You have to stir every so often, and it will take couple of hours, approximately 4 hours, but it is sooo worth it 🤗 I always make more of it than needed, 'cause no one can keep it's hands off it 😇 I hope I wrote at least understandable, and best wishes ..
Hi Petra - Thanks for sharing! We love homemade dulce de leche and actually have a recipe on our site to make it in an Instant Pot. It's such a quick and foolproof method. Check it out here: https://momsdish.com/easy-ins….
I made this cake for the very first time for my best friend’s birthday and it was a huge hit!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. You are my go to when it comes to delicious cakes!
Hi Nube - That's so awesome to hear! I love a good cake, so that made my heart melt a little. So happy you and your loved ones enjoyed the Golden Key. Happy New Year!
Thank you so much for the recipe! This is now our family favorite cake 😊
Mila, I am so glad you loved the recipe, thank you for taking the time to share your comment!!
This cake is soo good! Never had any problems with it! Making it a 4th time tonight for thanksgiving!
Hello! could you please tell me what cake pan you used?
Amazing!That is so great to hear, Sofie. Hope your entire family enjoys it! Happy Thanksgiving!
In a rush and can’t buy the dulche de leche anywhere. How long do I “boil” the original La Lechera sweetened condensed milk to make it into a dulche de leche?
Hey Lily, here is the guide to cooking dulce de leche, it's very quick and perfect for this cake. https://momsdish.com/easy-ins…
I’ve made this cake so many times already! My mother in law is such a fantastic baker but she said this was her absolute favorite! I’ve also made it for birthdays at work and people are always requesting it! Thank you for the fantastic recipe! This cake might not be the best for the waistline lol but oh so healthy for the soul 😍
Haha, I love it, "healthy for the soul" is the best description ever!! Thank you for taking the time to comment your feedback 🙂
Hi Can I use something as an alternative to sour creme? Thank you!
Hey Suzanna, sadly no because it could ruin the sponge cake.
Hi, could you please tell me what the measurement is for 1 can of dulche de leche that you are using? I want to make sure I'm using the right amount, and not too much or too little - if I am using a different brand.
Hey, you would need 13 Oz can of Dulce de Leche. You will love this cake!
What other nuts can we substitute for hazelnut without changing the flavour of the cake?
Hey, you can use any other but you wish but the nuts do play a big part in flavor. Enjoy
How long ( how many minutes) do you need to beat the heavy cream approximately so I won't have issues with it?
Alesya, it would depend on the mixer and speed you beat. I would suggest keeping an eye on the cream while it's beating. It should start forming shapes on top of the cream, you should stop right away.
I would love to try it but my son is allergic to all nuts. Can i option it out? Would there be a difference as to taste?
Hey Marian, you can totally make it without nuts. We just love that extra crunch but it will be just as good.
I made this and this is THE BEST cake ever!!! SO delicious!!! It’s definitely became our family’s favorite one!
Hey Natalie, I can't agree more. I am so happy you loved the recipe. Thank you for sharing.
hi, this recipe looks amazing! can’t wait to try it out. but first i have a question, is it possible to use toasted cashew nuts instead of hazelnuts? i only have cashews available with me right now
Hey dear, yes, you can use cashews. Chop them up slightly.
Hello Natasha, the only ingredient I don't have to this recipe is the lemon juice. Can I use vinegar instead? I was hoping to make this tomorrow without going to the store.
Hey Lidiya, yes you can use vinegar instead of lemon juice.
Hello. Can you clarify something for me please? In the introduction it says “layers of caramel soaked sponge cake” but in the recipe it says to soak the cake with condensed milk and whipping cream. Do you mix them together and then soak it? Is it cooked condensed milk? Thank you.
Hey Lana, you would soak condensed milk with whipping cream. It brings out the caramel flavor of the sponge cake, it has a caramel flavor.
Do you mix them together or separately?
Mix them together. The idea is to sweeten soaking liquid for the sponge cake.
Hello, I have the same question. In this comment you said mix them but when I read the recipe it says to soak one sponge with cream and another sponge with condensed milk? Thank you
SOrry, I see where the confusion is coming from. I mix them together. I need to update that.
Hi Natalya. I have a question for you. Can I soak layers of cake with hazelnut Liquor?
Yes Yana, that sounds like an amazing idea. I need to try it in the future.
Hi, will toasted almonds work for this cake?
They would work but the cake will taste completely different.
Thank you so much, best bday cake!!!
Oh Valya, awesome! Happy Birthday to you!
Honestly, I feel like something is wrong with the cake cream because everything was great when I beat all the ingredients but when I combined butter and whipped cream it instantly separated. Recipe pix also shows like it slightly separated. I bake all the time so it's not like I dont know what I'm doing.
Sponge cake also didn't taste right.
This cake always has the most raving reviews, sorry you didn't like it. The cream would only separate if you overbeat it.
It can also separate because of a different temperature of the ingredients, butter is nice and warm and whipped cream is very cold.... it might help to add whipped cream slowly, one table spoon at a time, that way butter has a chance to come to same temp slowly, this is my family's fav cake as well!
Olya, this is a great tip. I have never tried it but it totally makes sense.
Thank you for the recipe!! It’s very yami!!!
Katrina, I am so glad you loved the cake! 🙂
This cake is delicious 😋 making again for thanksgiving dinner 👌🏻
Irina, thanks for sharing. I am so happy you like it. 🙂
Just made this cake for my daughters birthday! It was absolutely amazing and simple ! Thank you for this recipe!
Thank you for sharing! I am happy that you loved the cake.