This Caramel Apple Layer Cake is bursting with flavor! With fresh apples swirled throughout the cake batter and a buttery caramel frosting, it’s a crowd-pleasing fall-favorite!
I have to say, I’m beginning to change my tune about layer cakes for one reason: the newfound appreciation for rustic-looking cakes.
If fondant and stuff was still a thing – much like Ugg boots with denim shorts or Charlie Sheen’s acting career – I would avoid it like the plague. But since everyone has loosened up on their fancy cakes, I have loosened my strict rule about never making layer cakes.
And you guys? It feels good to be free from those restraints, because this cake was worth it.
Sure, it’s not going to be on a Food Network cake challenge show (and I wouldn’t want it to be, anyway!), but that’s okay, because all the goodness is in the flavor of the cake, which is the most important thing, right? Haven’t you ever seen a gorgeous cake in the shape or likes of something but tasted it and it was dry and artificial-tasting? So anticlimactic.
The cake starts out like a regular scratch yellow cake but gets amped up with the addition of fresh apples and lots of spice. Once it bakes and cools, you can assemble it – thankfully it is only two merciful layers – and frost it with the buttery caramel cream cheese frosting. I like that it is caramel + cream cheese because the cream cheese offsets the sweetness of the caramel some, and adds a nice, delightful tang.
Last thing you need to do (which I shouldn’t have to clarify)… EAT!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some lost time to make up with layer cake recipes.
*cake recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery cookbook
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2-3 tsp ground cinnamon, depending on how spiced you like it
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- 3 cups coarsely chopped, peeled tart apples, such as Granny Smith
- FOR THE FROSTING:
- 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
- 6 Tbsp butter, softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup caramel sundae sauce
- 4-5 cups confectioners' sugar
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 8 or 9" round pans with parchment rounds and liberally grease each pan. Set aside briefly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the granulated sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla extract. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Alternate adding the dry mixture with the milk, ending with the milk, until the batter is smooth and blended. Stir in the apples.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist - not wet - crumbs. Cool completely in the pans.
- For the icing: in a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add in the confectioners' sugar, about one cup at a time, thinning the frosting out with the caramel sundae sauce if it becomes too thick. Frosting should be light and fluffy.
- Frost the layer cake in the middle and around the tops and sides of the cake. If you have remaining icing, you can pipe little details (like flowers or swirls) around the perimeter or edges of the top and/or sides of the cake. Finish with a little extra drizzle of caramel sauce.
Moist, tender, flavorful spice cake chock-full of fresh apples and covered in a heavenly cream cheese caramel frosting. There’s nothing better!
Have a super sweet day!