Think cool autumn days with the leaves turning color, bushels of crisp ripe apples, warm spices, and sweet caramel, and you have all the ingredients for a fantastic Caramel Apple Cake. Frost the cake with Caramel Buttercream and this is truly a stunning and delicious cake. Make your own applesauce when apples are at their peak in the fall, or use commercial applesauce – either way this cake won’t disappoint you.
The caramel sauce used in the Caramel Buttercream can also be drizzled over the top of the cake to make a pretty presentation. And there will be plenty of caramel sauce left over to use as a topping with other cakes, sweet breads, and ice cream.
Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour for preparing pans
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups sweetened applesauce
Tip: Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups whipping (heavy) cream, room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups milk (preferably whole milk)
1/3 cup Whipping (heavy) cream
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce
- Preheat oven to 325o degrees F. Prepare three 8 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the applesauce, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and applesauce, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- In a medium size heavy-bottomed pan combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir gently to avoid splashing the mixture onto the sides of the pan. Use a pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan to remove any stray granules of sugar. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches a temperature of 300 degrees F, a hard crack stage. While the syrup is cooking, wash away any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan by wiping upwards with a damp pastry brush so the sugar crystals don’t fall back into the syrup. Immediately remove pan from the heat and remove the candy thermometer. Let stand about 1 minute to let the bubbling subside. Be careful, the caramel is extremely hot and will cause serious burns if you touch it.
- Add the butter and whipping cream and stir until combined. Tip: if any caramel mixture is stuck to the bottom of the pan, place the pan on low heat and stir until the caramel liquefies and blends with the butter and cream. Remove from the heat.
- Let cool completely. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a medium size heavy-bottomed pan add sugar and flour; whisk together to mix. Add the milk and whipping cream and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil; boil and whisk for another minute. Remove from pan from the heat.
- Transfer the hot sugar mixture to a large bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture at high speed, about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is cool. Tip: Touch the mixture and make sure it has cooled to room temperature. Also the outside of the bowl should feel cool to the touch.
- Reduce the mixer to medium speed and add the butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time and mixing 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. While adding the butter, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. The Buttercream may look curdled after the butter is added, but it will become smooth as you continue to beat it. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the Buttercream is thick and smooth, about another 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the caramel sauce and continue beating another minute.
- Place one of the layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread about 1 cup of the frosting on top. Repeat with the second layer. Place the last cake layer on top. Cover the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of caramel sauce in a small plastic freezer bag. Put a little piece of tape on corner to reinforce the tip, and then roll over top of bag to keep neater. (You could also use a plastic squeeze bottle with a tip available in decorating stores or a pastry bag with a small decorating tip), Twist the top of the bag to create some pressure to make easier to squeeze out. Cut a tiny corner off the tip of the bag.
- Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top of the cake. To make the web design, drizzle the caramel in circles, starting in the center of the cake and moving to the outside edge of the cake. Use a wooden toothpick and drag the tip of the toothpick from the center of the cake to the outside edge like a spoke.
- Refrigerate the cake 30 minutes before serving to firm the frosting and caramel before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
Lewis, Matt and Renato Poliafito, Baked Explorations, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, 2010