Sunday, October 30, 2011

Caramel Apple Cake

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I have been itching to try this cake ever since I pinned it on Pinterest from Jaime"s blog The Great Cake Co., You can click on the link and check her fabulous cake out. Just don't judge mine by hers, because hers is perfection on a plate. Mine, well, I tried.
The point is, this cake is fabulous!
I took one bite and swooned. I could live off of the caramel sauce alone. 
I was able to make it for a Fall Family Fun night with some friends for our kids.
Everyone who tried it raved about it. 

The cake has quite a few steps, but they are definitely worth the effort.
If you have a fear of baking, you might not want to try this, just enjoy ALL the pictures and ask me to make it for you. There is no doubt I will be making it again. 

I didn't follow Jaimes recipe exactly. I tweaked it a little because of the ingredients I did or didn't have.

Ready or not, let's make cake!

First on the list, homemade applesauce.
You can skip this step and buy a jar from the store, perfectly acceptable.
I am, however, an overachiever, so I had to try it. 
It took me a whole day to make this cake, my three boys that kept interrupting me wanting to play, eat lunch and just distract me for the fun of it. You will hear all about that too.

For the Applesauce you will need:

 6 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
(she used, 3 Granny Smith and 3 Golden Delicious) 
(I only had Honey crisp, so I used 6 of those)
 1 cup Apple cider
 1/4 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons butter
 2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Her recipe called for boiled cider, but all I had were these yummy cider packs. I just boiled some water and made apple cider and used that. I had planned on only using the 1/4 cup her recipe called for, however, when it came time to pour it in, one of my children asked me a question and I had a brain malfunction and dumped in the whole cup. Now I had to adjust the recipe to have 1 cup of cider and 1/4 cup of apple juice. I have learned to just roll with it, good thing it still tasted quite yummy.
Even if you only get as far as the applesauce, it was worth it. Recipe follows.

Applesauce Directions:
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.
I tried the fork thing, didn't work too well, it would not mash the chunks. I got out my mixer and that worked much better. Word to the wise, put the applesauce in a larger bowl if you decide to blend with a mixer, that way apples don't go flying. I was not so wise, learn from my mistakes, please.

Chill sauce to room temperature before adding to cake batter.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.Butter three 8" round pans and line with parchment paper.

 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

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.

This made ALOT of batter. If you have three high-sided pans, great, use it all. I did not, so I made a few mini "taste-tester" muffins as well. Just so you know, you will have enough batter to make a bigger cake or make a few cupcakes as well. Just sayin', it's a thought.

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. 

While those are cooking, let's work on the Caramel "to-die-for" sauce.

 Caramel "to-die-for" Sauce

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

This makes about 2 cups, and you will want it all, whether you put it on the cake or not. 

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. 

The picture above it is not quite dissolved.

This picture it was dissolved. Just thought you would like a visual. I definitely work better when I can see what it is supposed to look like.

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)

This is what it looked like at 264 degrees

Then it jumped to 300 degrees and it didn't look quite rich brown enough, so this is what happened at 311 degrees.
I should have taken it off at 300, because it got a little browner when I took it off the heat. 
So, if you do not have a thermometer, this is what it should look like.

Remove it from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined. 

I was on the phone when I did this step, I put the butter in and it sizzled a bit. Then I started to put the cream  in and it really sizzled and started "clumping" automatically. Needless to say, I had to end my phone call and concentrate. I am not a great multi-tasker. Again, learn from my mistakes and pour the cream in slowly, stirring as you go. If for some reason it clumps on you like mine, put over low heat and stir until it dissolves. It may be wrong to do, I'm not sure, but it worked for me.

 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.

The end result.
I took one taste and I was in caramel heaven. I could eat this at every meal. My son always wants some "dip-dip" a.k.a. ketchup, syrup, ranch at every meal.
This is officially now my "dip-dip"

I hate to move on , I could rave about this caramel more, but we must talk about the frosting. It is equally delicious.

 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.

  Um, I forgot to take pictures of the buttercream process. My cakes were done and I removed them from the oven, lost my train of thought (not hard to do) and completely forgot to take pictures. Sigh... let's move on to assembling the cake and not focus on my lack or concentration. I am sure you did a fantastic job on the buttercream.
If you do need me to go back and make it again, I will. 
However, next time I make it, I will make a little extra.
It does cover the cake, but it made me nervous, I had just enough for the cake, not enough to cover the extra cupcakes the batter made.

I leveled the cakes, because I like them even and it made the caramel drizzle seep into the cake. Yum. So yeah, drizzle caramel over the first layer.
Another lesson, put more than just a drizzle. Spread a thin layer over the cake.
This stuff is great and I wished I would have put more in the layers.

Spread Caramel Buttercream over the caramel layer and repeat with the next layer.
Trim the top of the last layer and then place it on top of the cake bottom side up. 

You should end up with something like this.

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 from the fridge and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides. 

Pour the Caramel Sauce over the cake. Mine started drizzling down the sides. I wasn't sure if I wanted it to do that, but it did, and it looked yummy!
I had extra caramel, which I put in a mason jar and gave to my fabulous friend who graciously let us invade her house for this party. I am now regretting the decision to give away all the sauce, because after writing this post I want a spoonful of it. I really should have saved a little for myself family. I guess I will have to make more. It's a rough life.

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The only thing left to do is slice and enjoy.
Just a side note, I made this cake the night before. I placed it in the refrigerator overnight without pouring the caramel sauce on yet. I took it out of the fridge the day of and brought it to room temperature before pouring the sauce on at the party. We did use some of the extra sauce to pour over the individual slices as well. Enjoy and please come back and let me know if you try it.

I really can't wait to make this cake again, it was SO, incredibly good. I want everyone to try it.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,


  1. Hi! I'm making this cake for Thanksgiving. I made the applesauce today, and it looks like it only made approx. 2 cups (didn't actually measure, just eyeballed it). Should I make another batch and actually use 4 cups in the cake or just use what the recipe makes? Can't wait to see how fabulous this cake turns out!

    1. I think that should be good. I only made one batch and it worked.
      Let me know how it turns out!

  2. I think it turned out really good! It looks cute... very heavy cake!!! Let's hope it tastes good tomorrow!