Caramel Apple Spice Cake
Full apple flavor and served with a to-die-for apple cider caramel sauce, this Caramel Apple Spice Cake is the perfect celebration cake for all your fall festivities.
Enjoy apples three ways in this Caramel Apple Spice Cake recipe. Fresh apples straight from the orchard provide flavor and texture in the cake layers while the applesauce keeps them moist for days. Reduced apple juice replaces the cream in a traditional caramel sauce, giving it a super flavorful punch to drizzle over cake slices.
This recipe comes from Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes. While the cake in the book shows the sauce dripping lusciously down the sides of the cake, this version steals our favorite crescent of buttercream rosettes to crown the top. To compensate for the decoration, the buttercream filling is thinner. Not to fear, the oil base and applesauce in the cake keep it moist for several days.
The caramel portion of this Caramel Apple Spice Cake is delivered in two forms: the previously mentioned apple cider caramel sauce as well as the dulce de leche buttercream filling and frosting.
What is Dulce de Leche?
Ducle de leche is a Latin American confection made from caramelizing milk. The milk is cooked down until it thickens and resembles caramel sauce. During the cooking process, much of the water evaporates as the milk reduces and sugars caramelize, resulting in the thick, sweetened sauce. You can easily make your own by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk (or even doing so in a slow cooker).* When it is done, the milk will be a creamy, camel-colored dream.
Ready-made dulce de leche is also available at some grocery stores.
Caramel Apple Spice Cake
serves 12 to 16
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (like grapeseed or canola)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups finely diced peeled apples (such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady)
To Make the Caramel Apple Spice Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a different mixing bowl (or in a stand mixer), whisk together the oil, sugar, and and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.
Add in half of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix in the applesauce. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and stir – stopping just before the last of the flour streaks disappear. Fold in the diced apples until combined.
Evenly divide the cake batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
1 large recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream (double the small recipe)
3/4 cup dulce de leche
gel food coloring (optional)
sugar pearl (optional)
1 recipe Apple Cider Caramel (recipe to follow)
Remove 1 1/2 cups of buttercream and stir in 1/3 cup of the dulce de leche. Place one cake layer on a cake board or serving dish. Spread on half of the dulce de leche buttercream with an offset spatula until smooth. Place the second layer on top and repeat. Flip the third layer (so the the bottom of the cake faces up) on top.
Mix the remaining dulce de leche into the remaining buttercream. Crumb coat the cake and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Once chilled, frost the cake with the buttercream - being sure to reserve 1 to 2 cups for the decoration.
For the decoration, tint the remaining buttercream your color(s) of choice. Fill piping bags fitted with various piping tips (we like 1M, #32 and #16). Follow the instructions on How to Make a Buttercream Flower Cake to complete the design. Finish the top with a sprinkle of sugar pearls, if desired.
Serve with a drizzle of apple cider caramel.
Keep cake at room temperate if serving the same day as assembled. Store leftovers in a cake box or loosely covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Apple Cider Caramel
1 cup apple cider (juice is fine)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
To Make the Apple Cider Caramel:
Place the apple cider in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and continue to cook until it reduces down to 1/4 cup. From there, add in the brown sugar and corn syrup. Turn the heat up to high, and cook until the mixture registers 240°F on a candy thermometer.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the butter until smooth. Pour the caramel into a heat-safe container and allow to cool and thicken before use.
To make your own dulce de leche, remove the label from a an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk. Place the can on its side in a large pot or Dutch oven. Fill the pot with water until the can is completely submerged by about two inches. Place on the stove and bring the water to a simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 hours, keeping a watchful eye and ensuring that the can is always submerged in water. When done, remove the pot from the heat. Very carefully remove the can with tongs and allow the can to cool at room temperature a wire rack (DO NOT open while it is still HOT) or it may squirt hot liquid upon opening.