Menu
Search
Menu
Close

October/November 2018

Caramel Apple Cake

For an awesome dessert to showcase fall's bounty of apples, we sandwiched slightly salted, bittersweet caramel between layers of warm-spice-specked applesauce cake. 

Why This Recipe Works

For an awesome dessert to showcase fall's bounty of apples, we sandwiched slightly salted, bittersweet caramel between layers of warm-spice-specked applesauce cake. We wanted the cake to be supermoist and sing with the concentrated flavor of apples. To achieve this, we turned to applesauce (a great source of moisture) and apple cider. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves provided warm, spicy notes. And rather than stick with the vegetable oil called for in so many snack cake recipes, we opted for melted butter for its rich flavor. We made the caramel filling extra-thick so it wouldn't seep out when the cake was cut. By cooking the sugar to a deep amber color, we tempered the sweetness of the caramel. Butter and heavy cream transformed the mixture into a thick but spreadable filling while just ½ teaspoon of salt gave it the right salty-sweet balance. Frosting the whole cake with caramel buttercream tied all the components together, and crafting roses out of thinly sliced apples proved to be a surprisingly simple decoration with high visual impact.

Ingredients

Print Shopping List

Instructions

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

Print Shopping List

Salted Caramel Filling

1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

Applesauce Cake Layers

cups (11¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
teaspoon ground cloves
cups applesauce
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup apple cider
2 large eggs
teaspoons vanilla extract

Caramel Buttercream Frosting

24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
teaspoon salt

Apple Rosettes

2 Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady apples, cored, quartered, and sliced very thin
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Featured Equipment

From Our Shop

From Our Sponsors

Instructions

Serves 10 to 12

For the best results, use a mandoline to slice the apples paper-thin. Be sure to buy regular applesauce, not unsweetened, for the applesauce cake layers. To prevent unwanted crystallization in the caramel, do not stir until step 2.

1. For the salted caramel filling: Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, until mixture is amber-colored around edge of saucepan, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, swirling saucepan occasionally, until evenly dark amber, 2 to 5 minutes longer.

2. Off heat, carefully stir in cream, butter, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble and steam). Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until smooth. Carefully transfer caramel to bowl and let cool completely, about 2 hours. (Once cooled, caramel filling will be very thick.)

3. For the applesauce cake layers: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.

4. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk applesauce, sugar, melted butter, cider, eggs, and vanilla together in large bowl. Add flour mixture to applesauce mixture and whisk until just combined.

5. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours.

6. For the caramel buttercream frosting: Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to low and slowly add sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt. Whip until sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down bowl and add ½ cup caramel filling. Whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.

7. Place 1 cake layer on plate or pedestal. Spread remaining ½ cup caramel filling evenly over top, leaving ½-inch border around edge. Spread ¾ cup frosting evenly over caramel, right to edge of cake. Top with second cake layer, pressing lightly to adhere, then spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake until frosting is firm, about 20 minutes.

8. For the apple rosettes: Toss apples, sugar, and lemon juice in bowl until all slices are coated; let sit until apple slices are flexible, about 5 minutes. Shingle 5 apple slices lengthwise in straight line on cutting board. Starting at 1 end, roll up slices to form rose shape; place rose in center of cake. Repeat, arranging apple roses close together, until you have 5-inch-wide bunch of roses atop cake. Arrange remaining apple slices, overlapping with flat side facing down, around bottom edge of cake. Serve.

Share photos, tips, and questions about Caramel Apple Cake with fellow fans!

0 Comments
Try All-Access Membership to Unlock the Comments
Don't miss the conversation. Our test cooks and editors jump in to answer your questions, and our members are curious, opinionated, and respectful.
Membership includes instant access to everything on our sites:
  • 10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work
  • Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients
  • Equipment Reviews save you money and time
  • Videos including full episodes and clips
  • Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Start Free Trial
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.