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Caramel Apple Cake – Inspired by the popular Rocky Mountain Chocolate Apple Pie Caramel Apple, my new Caramel Apple Cake is made up of caramel cake layers, apple pie filling, salted caramel, white chocolate buttercream, and a light dusting of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Cake Flavor Creations
The other day in one of my cake classes, someone asked me how I come up with my cake flavors. She said, “do you just eat other dessert and think, ‘this can be cake’ ?”. Yes! That’s exactly what I do! It’s how I came up with my Tonight Show Cake, my Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cake, my Peach Crisp Cake, and so many more.
I get so much joy and satisfaction from creating cake flavors that will remind you of other non-cake desserts. I love when it works out as perfectly as this Caramel Apple Cake, inspired by the Apple Pie Caramel Apple by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
Ingredients to Make My Caramel Apple Cake
This cake is made up of caramel cake layers, apple pie filling, white chocolate buttercream and homemade caramel. A few things you’ll want to make sure you have on hand that might not already be in your pantry:
- White chocolate – Guittard white chocolate baking drops are my favorite. They have a great flavor and are really white in color.
- Dulce de Leche – this is a hard one to substitute, so start looking around for this ingredient and stock up. If you absolutely can’t find it, I recommend follow this tutorial by Preppy Kitchen for making your own dulce de leche from sweetened condensed milk.
Additionally, you’ll need:
- All purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Granny Smith apples
- Brown sugar
- Heavy whipping cream
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
- Corn syrup
How to Make Caramel Apple Cake
For the caramel cake, it will be very important to mix the butter, sugar, eggs and dulce de leche really well. We’re talking, beat these ingredients on medium-high speed for abut 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy, lighter in color, and almost double in volume. You should also always be using the paddle attachment with cake batter. The batter should look smooth and silky.
After you add the dry ingredients, remember: only mix until the flour streaks are gone.
How to Bake the Perfect Cake Layers
When making the cake layers, don’t forget to follow my go-to tips for getting your cakes to rise and bake well:
- Preheat your oven for 30 minutes prior to baking.
- Use good quality pans like Fat Daddio.
- Spray your pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
- Don’t overmix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients.
- Use room temperature wet ingredients.
- Use fresh baking powder.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
To get this silky smooth buttercream, make sure you follow my tips: HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM
- Sift your powdered sugar
- Use slightly cold butter
- Use heavy whipping cream
- Beat for 5 minutes
- Stir by hand
You’ll want to check out the post linked above for more details on each step to make sure you get the best buttercream frosting. And remember, these steps can be used for any buttercream recipe on my blog.
IMPORTANT For chocolate buttercream specifically, remember to heat the cream and chocolate together first. You’ll then stir the mixture until it becomes a smooth ganache. Once the ganache has cooled slightly, you’ll add the mixture to the butter and continue making the buttercream according to instructions.
How to Stack and Assemble Cake
A couple notes about stacking and frosting this cake:
- First, each cake layer needs to be completely level. I use a cake leveler to cut each of my layers after they’ve baked and cooled. To get the caramel to stay on top of the cake, and not drip down the sides of the cake, you’ll want the cake to be completely even.
- Second, you’ll frost each cake layer with a little bit of frosting and then pipe a rim around the edges so the apple pie filling doesn’t spill out. You want to secure the filling into the frosting by patting down the apples with the back of a fork. You’ll then drizzle caramel over the apples and repeat with the other three layers. Remember, the last layer always gets placed crumb-side (top-side) down.
- After stacking the cake, you’ll apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Put it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to set before frosting the rest of the cake.
- When the crumbs are locked in, you’re ready to frost the rest of the cake. To apply the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, just put some in your hands and gently let the mixture fall from your hand to the side of the cake. (I have a video on Instagram to show you what I’m talking about).
Alright, time to pick those apples and get backing. This Caramel Apple Cake is going to the perfect addition to your Fall gatherings!
Other Cakes You’ll Love
Caramel Apple Cake
Caramel cake layers with apple pie filling, salted caramel, white chocolate buttercream, and a brown sugar and cinnamon dusting.
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cup (300 g) whole milk room temperature
- 13.4 can (380 g) dulce de leche
FOR THE APPLE FILLING
- 6 medium Granny Smith apples
- 3 tablespoons (42.4 g) butter
- 1 1/3 cup (293.3 g) light brown sugar tightly packed
- 2 teaspoons (5.2 g) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.8 g) kosher salt
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured then sifted
- 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla
- 8 ounces white chocolate melted and cooled slightly
- 1/4 cup (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.
FOR THE CARAMEL
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (118.3 g) water
- 4 teaspoons (75 g) light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (115.5 g) heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons (11.2 g)kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (110 g) light brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon (1.3 g) ground cinnamon
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch cake pans (or four 6-inch pans) with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine and then set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and the sugar. Mix on medium-high speed for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the butter and sugar are mixed well with the eggs. Add the vanilla.
- With the mixer on medium-high speed, add the dulce de leche and mix for a couple minutes. The mixture will get a little lighter in color.
- With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk, starting and ending with the dry mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into your three 8-inch pans (or four 6-inch pans) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the pan on wire racks for about 10 to 15 minutes and then invert onto wire racks (TIP: spray the racks with non stick spray) and allow to cool completely.
- Cakes can be made ahead of time and wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until ready to use. Be sure to give the cakes about 30 to 60 minutes at room temperature before stacking and decorating.
FOR THE APPLE FILLING
- Peel the apples, then halve and quarter them. Put each apple quarter on its side and cut a small slice down the length of the apple to remove the seeds and core. cut each apple quarter lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise into fourths, leaving you with 12 small pieces from every apple quarter.
- Place the apples in a medium pot with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, using a spoon to gently stir the mixture as it heats up and the apples begin to release liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer the apples gently for 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook the apples so much that they turn into applesauce.
- Transfer to a container and put in the fridge to cool down. Once completely cooled, the filling can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week; do not freeze.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat the cream and then pour it over the white chocolate to melt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and silky. If needed heat the mixture for another 20 to 30 seconds and stir until the chips are melted. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed for about two minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the sifted powdered sugar until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix for another minute.
- Slowly add the cooled white chocolate ganache while mixing on medium-low speed.
- Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium-high and beat the frosting for five minutes, until light in color and texture.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a wooden spoon and mix by hand to stir out the air bubbles.
FOR THE CARAMEL
- Mix the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to boil, but DO NOT STIR! (Stirring encourages crystallization). Let the mixture cook until it turns to a golden brown/amber color. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on it.
- Remove the caramelized sugar syrup from the heat and very slowly stir in the cream, pouring it in little by little, to temper the cream and sugar syrup. If you pour it in all at once, your sugar will turn into hard candy. You can start adding more and more as you go along.
- Once the cream is mixed in, add the salt, and vanilla. Stir to combine and then set aside to cool to room temperature before using.
- Place the first cake layer, top side (crumb side) up. Apply a thin layer of frosting over the top of the cake layer and pipe a rim of frosting around the edge of the cake layer. Fill the center with the apples (not using any of the liquid from the mixture). Pat the apples down with the back of a fork to set them in place and help create a level surface to stack the next cake layer on. Drizzle some salted caramel over the apples.
- Repeat step 1 with the next two cake layers. Place the final cake layer top side down over the last layer of filling.
- Apply a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake to create crumb coat. This layer of frosting does not need to look perfect. It’s just to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake for 10 to 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
- After the crumbs are locked in, you can frost and decorate the cake.
- For the caramel on top, I pour the caramel in the center and gently spread it to the edges with my offset icing spatula.