My college roommate and I have birthdays that are two days apart. There have only been a few times in my 15+ years of knowing her that we haven’t celebrated our birthdays together. We didn’t get to see other for the past few birthdays due to multiple conflicts, but this year we made our schedules work.
I spent a long time thinking about what cake to make for my (our) birthdays and when I came across this caramel apple cake, my search was over. I read through the recipe, and although it seemed labor-intensive, I knew the end product would be worth it. Because the cake uses 7 sticks of butter (!!!), I reluctantly cut back on my Halloween candy consumption to make every calorie count (I only ate one fun-sized Milky Way bar all night–how’s that for self control?).
I started baking the cake and making the caramel sauce on Halloween night. I stirred the caramel sauce and whisked ingredients while answering the doorbell to excited trick-or-treaters. At the end of the night, my kitchen smelled like fall. The sweet aroma of caramel wafted throughout the kitchen while hints of cinnamon escaped from the oven.
I was skeptical about the original recipe’s caramel buttercream that contained flour (used as a thickening agent). After working on the buttercream for a good 20-30 minutes, I gave up. My frosting was a big, gloopy mess. I tried saving it by adding some powdered sugar, but it was still too runny. So I dumped it out and made my own frosting instead – I should have trusted my instincts and made this from the get-go.
Happy birthday, E! I’m glad you enjoyed this cake, and I had a wonderful time hanging out with you this past weekend. I can’t wait to celebrate with you again next year!
Caramel apple cake
- 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 cups applesauce
- 4-6 cups powdered sugar two pounds or about eight cups
- 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter or shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 - 3/4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce from above
Make the caramel sauce
- In a tall saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup with 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium-high heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat, stop stirring, and bring mixture to a boil. Cook the mixture until it reaches rich caramel color. Remove pan from heat, mix in butter and heavy cream, and stir until combined. If the mixture becomes clumpy or seizes, keep stirring over heat how until the sauce comes back together.
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment, and butter and flour the parchment (I used two 9-inch silicone pans). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix until combined. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Divide the batter among the pans, smooth the tops with a silicone spatula, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
Make the frosting
- In a large bowl or the stand of an electric mixer, cream the sugar and vanilla for about 3-4 minutes. Alternate adding the powdered sugar and milk until you reach the desired consistency. Add 1/2 cup of caramel sauce from the first step and mix until combined. If the frosting is still too stiff, add more milk. If it is too runny, add more powdered sugar.
Assemble the cake
- Place one cake layer and frost the top with a thin layer of frosting. Repeat for the second and third layers. Frost the sides with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate until frosting is firm. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. If there is extra drizzle, you can swirl it on top (or in between the cake layers if you want to add another punch of flavor).