Monday, October 31, 2011

Caramel Apple Cake

This Caramel Apple Cake while beautiful, full of fall flavor that brought a smile to my face, warmth to my heart, and happiness to my stomach, was indeed an all day affair to make. This is not the post where I say how happy I was for a one page simple recipe! And as I am not a fan of multiple layer cakes (more than 2) I elected to stay as close to the book recipe and format, but omitting one layer.

The most important components of this cake are the apple sauce, the caramel, and the frosting. I did make my apple sauce and caramel from scratch which was fun, simple and filled the house with fall aromatics...and it tasted Delicious!!

I was impressed by the velvety smoothness of the frosting, and the caramely apple flavors of the cake overall, made it worth all of the work. Since I waited to do everything at once, it was a long day! Really though the apple sauce and caramel components, if you are making from scratch, can be done the day before. That alone saves time and breaks up the process making it more manageable -and- fun. This is a cake that truly deserves a place in any Fall line-up.


4-6 apples, peeled and cored
1/3 cup apple cider
Ground Cinnamon, to taste
1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Classic Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened, cut into 1/2 cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Apple Cake
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups homemade applesauce, or store bought unsweetened apple sauce
Carmel Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Classic Caramel Sauce


Apple Sauce
Take your apples and place them in a medium saucepan with the apple cider, ground cinnamon, and brown sugar. Cover the saucepan and cook for about 30 minutes. Uncover and mash as you would potatoes. You can mash as fine as yourpersonal preference allows. Feel free to leave it a little chunky, is that is your thing. Anything goes here.

Classic Caramel Sauce
In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/2 cup water. Stir the mixture gently so you don't slosh any of it up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich caramel color (if you don't want to eyeball it, take the caramel to 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer), remove it from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.
You can save the caramel sauce, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let it come to room temperature before using it on cakes, ice creams, or quick breads.
If you want a warm topping, heat the caramel sauce in short bursts in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler.
Apple Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock the excess out.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together into a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.

Caramel Buttercream
In a medium-heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and had thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and vanilla; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add 1/2 cup of the caramel and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Assemble the Caramel Apple Cake
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups of the frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for abot 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as crumb coating and will help to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Drizzle on a few swirls of caramel and refrigerate the finished cake for 15 minutes to firm it up before serving.

This cake will keep beautifully in a cake saver at room temperature for up to 3 days, as long as the weather is cool and humidity free. Otherwise, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Let a chilled cake sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.


  • The frosting got me the first time. I am not known for my patience so when it says to put the hot frosting base into the mixer and mix on high until cool...that it what one should do. I wasn't patient and my frosting base wasn't was still warm-ish when I added the butter/vanilla. The result was my first batch of frosting never set up, was liquid and tasted delicious. It looked and tasted more like a custard. Tasty mistake that I ate several spoons of before emptying down the sink. I tried putting it in the fridge with high hopes it would set up, but nope- didn't work. When I told Andy of my issue...he said "are you gonna do it again?" In my head I thought- Hell No- I really don't want to...but as we both tend to be particular about these things and since I had about 6 additional packages of butter in the fridge there was no good excuse not to! And I wanted to understand what the heck I did wrong.
    • This time I actually did what I was told to do. I let it beat on high until it was cool. To quicken the process I wrapped a cold wet kitchen towel around the mixing bowl. Once cool, I added the butter which was cold and straight from the fridge, chopped and then added in sections. Totally different result. Voi -%@*-  La!
  • Before adding frosting to each cake layer, I spread a layer of caramel on top first...and then put the frosting on top of that-Yum!


Source: Baked Explorations


  1. Your results are beautiful!! Wow! Thanks for sticking with it and baking along with me!

  2. I wanted to try the frosting again but we lost power!!! I'm definitely going to try it again your way. Amazing looking cake!!!

  3. The cake looks beautiful. :) I should have heated my caramel a bit longer, mine was way too thin, but I didn't bother to try and thicken it.

  4. Your cake looks gorgeous! I think 2 layers is plenty also. I should have heated my caramel longer to get it thicker~I wonder if I can do that now?!

  5. Lovely! I like the idea of 2 layers- I'll have to try that next time :)

  6. Your cake should have been in the book. It looks beautiful and way to pretty to eat! I loved this recipe and will make it again.

  7. Fabulous job my friend! I love the beautiful amber color on your caramel. I have caramel envy. Nice cake stand. ;)

  8. Your cake looks fantastic! Glad I wasn't the only one that had some issues making the caramel sauce :)

  9. Your cake is picture perfect!!! Caramel can be so challenging. I took the easy way out...cupcakes and no caramel.

  10. You did an a-mazing job decorating your cake. It really looks picture perfect.