Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sunday Baked: Caramel Apple Cake

... Cue the music

Yup. That about sums it up for me this week. Pure heaven. Matt & Renato's little dandy of a  cake represents everything I love about this time of year. The perfect blend of spice and sweet and all the flavors of the season. With a single bite, I wanted to throw on my favorite sweater, watch football and go rake some leaves. It is the perfect dessert to usher in the fall and an instant all-time favorite. Yes, it is that good!

Before I go into further detail on how delicious this was, I feel as though I should warn you that there are quite a few components to this cake (especially if your making your own applesauce). For me, it was totally worth it, but I image not everyone will feel the same.

Using a really good homemade applesauce went a long way in this recipe. I happen to have a recipe that I adore, and it worked like magic in this cake producing a dense, moist cake bursting with apple flavor. My recipe calls for Boiled Cider, an all-natural product available from King Arthur Flour. Normally, I shy away from this sort of specialty product, but this is an exception. It is made by reducing apple cider down to a syrup, and through this process, the syrup captures an extraordinarily intense, crisp apple flavor. It is a wonderful addition to any apple dish. Get yourself some!

As for the caramel sauce, I'd say pure decadence about sums it up. I physically had to remove it from the house when I was done assembling the cake because I couldn't stop opening the jar for another bite... and then another. Disgraceful? Well, yes, but it was so rich and creamy and utterly irresistible...


You know, what surprised me the most about this recipe though was the old-fashioned cooked buttercream. It had a nice sweetness to it with a hint of caramel flavor due to the addition of a small amount of the caramel sauce. It was a perfect pairing with the apple cake, plus it brought back memories of my grandma Bushie, which is always special.

I should note that I did take a few minor liberties when assembling this cake. Nothing earth shattering, just a few tweaks to make it my own. I chose to smeared caramel on each of the cake layers before I filled them with buttercream so that each bite would have a little taste of the delicious caramel.  I also added peanuts for authenticity. See, nothing much really.

Please do make this. It is so fantastically delicious. A total Fall winner! I'll tell you, Matt & Renato know how it get it right every time. I have yet to have better luck with a cookbook than I have had with Baked Explorations. I HIGHLY recommend it! It will bring much joy to your taste buds!
Have a Sweet Day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company


Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
Makes one 8-inch cake

For The Applesauce
Recipe from The Great Cake Company

3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and quartered
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1/4 Boiled Apple cider
3/4 cups apple juice
2 tablespoons of brandy
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey (I like clover honey)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients, and stir to combine. Cover the saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher to your desired consistency. Chill sauce to room temperature before adding to cake batter (see recipe below).

For The Apple Cake
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 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 (see recipe above) or store-bought unsweetened applesauce

Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.

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 the 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 combined.

Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the 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 cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.

For The Caramel Sauce
Yield: about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 ½ cups heavy cream

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 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.

For The Caramel Buttercream
1½ 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 (see recipe above), at room temperature 

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 has 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 and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add 1⁄3 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.

Place one of the cake layers on the cake base and level off the top. Put a thin layer of caramel sauce on the layers and then spread caramel buttercream on top. Next, add another layer of cake and level and frost as you did with the first layer. Trim the top of the last layer and then place it on top of the cake bottom side up. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (crumb coat) and place the cake on the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the cake fro the fridge and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides.  Use the remaining caramel to drizzle over the top. Add chopped peanuts, if desired.


  1. Absolutely stunning! I really struggled with the frosting on this one. But, I made my own applesauce, too - I agree, it was totally worth it!

  2. Just came across this on Food Gawker. Your cake is gorgeous! Wow. I'm participating in another Baking Group for Baked Explorations (Club: Baked) and we are scheduled to bake this on November 1st. Looking forward to it after seeing your beautiful cake. Not sure I'll make my own apple sauce though...we'll see how ambitious I am.

  3. If this cake looks delicious...well I'm just imagining about what it TASTES like!

    I love your blog design by the way, it's so cute and clean!

  4. I knew your version of this cake would be amazing, but I was not at all prepared for how incredible it is! Beautiful.

  5. wow this looks delicious, I think your caramel sauce is exactly what I use, it is to die for.
    I really love the colors of this cake, so beautifully natural, I love that you made your own applesauce too.

  6. Oh my goodness, what an INCREDIBLE cake!!!!! I love that you added your own addition of caramel to each layer and the peanuts, mmm, so yummy!

  7. I echo Candy's comment! Oh my that is one beautiful cake! My favorite of yours so far, and you've always got stunning posts!

  8. Sheer perfection is right. This looks beautiful and I am sure tastes out of this world.
    Laura @ A Healthy Jalapeño

  9. I'm impressed with how beautiful your cake turned out! I loved the applesauce, the caramel sauce was outstanding (also couldn't stop eating it by the spoonful) and overall, it was a spectacular recipe. I wish I had thought to drizzle the caramel between the layers.

    I'll be using the remaining caramel to make apple and caramel crepes. :)

  10. This looks amazing!! With the applesauce recipe, is that 1/4 cup of the boiled cider? I can't wait to make this. Thanks for sharing. : )

  11. Thank you all so much! If you haven't tried this, I do encourage you to do so. YUM!

    Candace - YES!!! Thank you for catching that. It is 1/4 cup of Boiled Apple Cider.

  12. Can you please tell me how much boiled cider to use it only say 1/4 ???? boiled cider...thanks for much this is going to be my fall cake and I can't wait to make

    your fan, Lori

  13. opppsssss just saw the other posts...sorry

  14. I don't drink alcohol, so could I eliminate the brandy out of the applesauce?

  15. leannewitney - Sure, it enhances the flavor, but would be just as delicious without. Please let me know what you think!

  16. This looks delicious!! I'll be printing this out for future reference! YUM : )

  17. Holy Wow! Found this over at Whipperberry and I will be featuring it on my site tomorrow! Beautiful and has-to-be delicious cake! :) Hoe you'll stop by.
    Scissors & Spatulas

  18. This looks AMAZING! Found you on Be Different, Act Normal. Definitely pinning this one!


  19. i love it but i had trouble my buttercream was caramel colored! help

  20. Looks incredibly delicious! Very nice shot too :)

  21. Thank you again everyone!

    Jesse James - You can't tell from the photo, but there is a bit of a pleasant tan coloring to the the frosting. If yours is very dark, I am guessing your caramel was a deeper amber tone than mine was. If you do not like the color, I would say either don't cook your caramel for quite as long, or use a little less caramel in the frosting. I hope this helps, and that you still enjoyed the flavors :)

  22. Just discovered your blog via your recipes..that rainbow cake is amazing. And this Caramel Apple Cake looks delicious! These are some of my favorite fall flavors.

  23. First of all let me just say, WOW ! This is the epitome of Fall. I can't wait to make this cake and gobble it up. Does this cake need to be refrigerated? Thanks for sharing.

  24. I have been waiting for an opportunity to make this cake. I finally did and it did not disappoint.
    YUM! I could eat that Caramel sauce all day long!

  25. This is one beautiful cake! I love that it resembles a caramel apple, but in cake form. I'm new to your blog and am loving what I see... I am your newest follower, subscribed by email :)

  26. Your cake is amazing! Beautiful!

  27. I want to make this cake for Thanksgiving but will have to make it 2 days in advance due to travel. Do you think it will be as good if made in advance?

  28. Meryl - Yes! This cake keeps wonderfully! You should have no problem :)

  29. Aw, Thanks Desi. You know how to make a gal feel good :)

  30. This is one of the best cake recipes I've found on the internet. I usually bake a cake every week for my congregation and this one is requested again and again. Also, I really love the frosting recipe. I have tried other caramel frosting recipes before, and this one is far superior. Thanks again!

  31. Just saw this on Pinterest, so I had to stop in and check it out. Sounds delicious, but I especially love that you used the dowel for that final touch of authenticity. Very clever idea. :)

  32. I really want to try this, but can't reasonably make a cake this large... Do you think it could be modified for cupcakes maybe? If so, what would you recommend I change, if anything?

  33. What a clean cake and great flavors for the fall!

  34. Amazing! So beautiful and looks delicious!

  35. yourshadowlover - I haven't made these as cupcakes before, but I think they would be fine. You could fill them with caramel and top with the caramel buttercream. You could even do toothpicks in the center to mimic the stick of a caramel apple. Let me know how they turn out.


Please let me know what you think, and thanks for stopping in :)