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Perfectly spiced, moist, and loaded with freshly grated apples, this caramel apple cake is the perfect centerpiece for any Fall celebration. Held together with a decadent cream cheese frosting and topped with a drizzle of homemade caramel, this cake is a star.
Caramel Apple Cake
Is it too soon for Caramel Apple Cake? I know it’s technically not Fall yet, but I don’t think it is ever not the season for this delicious dessert. A perfectly spiced, tender and moist, quintessentially Fall apple cake sandwiched together with cream cheese frosting covered in a homemade salted caramel sauce. I mean…why would you ever eat anything else?
You might not know this about me, but I’ve kind of always had a thing for caramel apples. When I was a child, the second Autumn rolled around I was downing two a day. My parents were kind of like, it’s a…fruit? It’s fine? And it was so fine with me. A crunchy, juicy, bright apple paired perfectly with a salty sweet caramel sauce. Mhmmmm.
So we decided to take that delicious flavor combo and make it a cake. Because why the heck not!?
Tips for making homemade caramel sauce like a pro
The only reason I don’t make this sauce weekly is because I would literally eat it with every meal. It’s dangerous. But you will love it.
Use high quality butter: You’re only as good as your ingredients and with caramel your butter quality can really make or break your sauce. This is one time when it’s a good idea to splurge on that box that’s a few dollars more expensive.
Never leave your caramel sauce unattended: To make caramel sauce you essentially toast white sugar until it’s melted, before adding in butter, cream, and salt. Your sugar can go from toasty to burnt pretty quickly though, so make sure you keep a close eye on it!
Don’t forget the salt! I looooove salt. And caramel is simply too sweet without it. A healthy amount of salt really deepens the flavor profile and will keep your caramel from tasting overly sweet.
Still need a little more guidance? Don’t worry! We have a full tutorial on how to make the best homemade caramel.
How to make apple cake:
I love a good apple dessert and this caramel apple cake is no exception. Moist and packed full of flavor with a tender crumb, this apple cake is basically what all my Fall flavor dreams are about. We made our apple cake with softened butter, brown sugar, and grated apples, which makes for a seriously moist cake. The grated apples give this cake an incredibly tender and delicate crumb while still maintaining some of their structure. Stir that together with eggs, vanilla, all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and the perfect combo of spices et voila, Apple Cake!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans and set aside.
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whisk the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs, and vanilla extract and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl to full incorporate. Add the shredded apples.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring until well combined.
Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes, then allow to cool completely before frosting.
for the frosting
To make the frosting, whip the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar and whip to combine, about 2 minutes more.
for the caramel sauce
In a small saucepan, heat the sugar on low heat until its completely melted, swirling the pan gently every 20 seconds or so.
Remove from heat immediately and stir in butter. The mixture will violently bubble. You’re doing it right. Next, pour in the heavy cream and sea salt. Stir until everything is combined.
Pour into small bowl or cup and allow to cool completely before using.
assemble your cake
Place the first cake on a plate, then top with 1/2 of the frosting. Layer the second layer on top of the frosting, and top with remaining frosting. Be freeform with it, using a flat knife to even the top of each layer.
Warm up the caramel sauce if it is not already warm. Pour over cake, making drips on the sides. If you’d like, decorate the top with edible flowers or fall fruits! Then make sure you have friends with you when you eat it, or else you’ll go nuts.
*This recipe make a standard 2 layer 8 or 9 inch cake. If you would like a 3 layer cake like we photographed simply times the recipe by 1 1/2!