So here’s the million-dollar question: when it comes to holiday desserts, are you on Team Apple or Team Pumpkin? Personally, I’m right in the middle, so long as the given dessert is sweet and delicious and there’s coffee to go with it. But for those who are devotedly Team Pumpkin, this Caramel Apple Cake might just be a game changer. A tender spiced cake, drizzled with sweet, rich caramel– it could very well convert even the most diehard pumpkin dessert fans. And if you’re Team Apple, well, need I say more?
This Caramel Apple Cake is perfect for fall and wintertime, and would be a beautiful bundt on a holiday table! The fresh apple in the cake batter makes for an extra moist apple cake packed with ALL the apple flavor, and the caramel sauce is sweet and ultra buttery. Garnish it with pecans for a little crunch (and a lovely finishing touch)! The apple cake is pretty easy to put together, and all these elements combined make it a definite crowd pleaser! I mean, look at that caramel! How could anyone pass it up?
Let’s Make a Caramel Apple Cake!
Start out by making the apple cake itself. The ingredient list is simple, here’s what you’ll need:
- granulated sugar
- baking soda
- baking powder
- lots of apples! (peel, core, and grate them until you have three cups worth) p.s. grated apples are the secret to a moist apple cake!
Prep your apples (peel, core and grate them as mentioned directly above!). Set the grated apple aside and preheat your oven to 325 F. Prepare your Bundt cake pan (this recipe is for a 12-cup pan) by rubbing a generous amount of butter along the pan, covering every nook. Dust it with flour for easy cake removal afterward. Note: If you prefer to use baking spray, that works great too!
Beat the oil, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add one egg at a time, beating the mixture after each egg is added. In a separate bowl, whisk in the flour, and add the rest of the dry ingredients- salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Whisk the dry mixture, combining it well before adding it to the wet mixture. At this point you’ll want to keep your mixer on low speed, just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the apple cake batter is well combined.
Fold in the grated apples and make sure they’re evenly mixed into the batter. Spoon the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly. The apple cake will bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes to about 1 hour and 20 minutes. You can use the toothpick test to make sure it’s done. Once it has cooled in the pan for about 10 minutes, you can invert the cake onto a cooling rack and set aside to cool completely.
How to make the caramel sauce
While your cake is cooling, you’ll have time to whip up this thick, decadent caramel sauce. Here’s what you’ll need:
- heavy cream
- vanilla extract
- light corn syrup
- granulated sugar
This caramel sauce only takes a few minutes and a handful of ingredients! Plus, any leftover caramel is always a bonus. Here’s how to do it:
Place the cream, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan and heat the mixture over medium heat. You don’t want the mixture to boil so if it does, reduce the heat and keep the mixture warm while you move on to the next step- -cooking the syrup.
In a large saucepan with a candy thermometer, heat the syrup and sugar together over medium-high heat, stirring it gently while it cooks and the sugar melts. At that point, leave it undisturbed (no more stirring!) and let it continue to cook until the candy thermometer reaches 340°F.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and CAREFULLY stir in the warm cream mixture- expect it to bubble up toward the top of the pan before subsiding a bit. Place the pan back on the stovetop and cook until the candy thermometer reads 235° to 237°F. Cool the caramel to room temperature because no one wants hot, caramel LAVA drizzled onto their apple cake!
Place your cooling rack holding the cake on a large sheet of parchment paper and drizzle the cake with the warm caramel. Sprinkle toasted pecans on the cake for some yummy crunch and a finished look!
Pro tips for this Caramel Apple Cake recipe
- You can grate your apples by hand on a box grater, or much faster with the grating disk of a food process. Also, did you know that by leaving the apples unpeeled, you’re adding extra nutrition to the cake?
- Make sure the cream mixture is HOT before adding it into the cooked caramel sauce, or the temperature difference will cause the caramel to seize up. Also, it’s important to use a large, deep saucepan for this and to stand further back from the pan when you add the hot cream mixture. Use a long handled spoon so you don’t have to be too close! The caramel will bubble, foam and sputter to the top of the pan. (Safety first in the kitchen.) 😋
- While you’re making the caramel sauce, you can have the pecans toasting in the oven. Just spread them out on a baking sheet and then pop them into a 300°F oven for 6-8 minutes.
- Remember my mention earlier about extra caramel sauce? There will indeed be leftovers so drizzle away. Store any unused portion in a covered container and keep it in the fridge. It will be good for one week. Another storage option? Freeze it.
- How long does apple cake keep? This caramel apple cake will be good for up to one week, covered and kept in the refrigerator.
This beautiful, fall-inspired cake is perfect for any kind of holiday gathering! And I must say, our Caramel Apple Cake is making me rethink the whole “Team Pumpkin or Team Apple” conundrum. Team Apple is looking pretty good… I could be swayed. 😋
SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:
- Have you tried our Einkorn Almond Pear Cake? Served with a rich and decadent brown butter bourbon sauce, it’s a showstopper.
- This Gluten-free Chocolate Cake is a simple, one-bowl kind of deal that results in an irresistible cake, whether you’re gluten-free or not!
- All your caramel dreams will come true with this decadent Chocolate Caramel Swirl Cheesecake! It’s silky and creamy, with the perfect custard-like texture!
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For the Apple Cake
- 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
- 1 cup oil
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups (360 grams) flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
For the Caramel Sauce:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup (helps prevent crystallization)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
For the Cake:
- Heat the oven to 325 F.
- Generously butter a 12-cup Bundt cake pan, covering all the nooks and crannies. Dust with flour.
- Peel, core and grate the apples, then reserve until needed.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil with the sugar and vanilla, add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
- In a separate bowl sift or whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices together and add to the wet mixture.
- Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened then increase the speed to medium and mix just until well combined, be sure to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides halfway into the mixing.
- Fold in the reserved grated apples.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly.
- Transfer the cake to the oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
- Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan then invert the cake onto a cool rack and lift off the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding the caramel sauce.
For the Caramel Sauce:
- Place the cream, butter, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, if it begins to boil, reduce the heat and keep warm while you cook the syrup.
- In a large saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the syrup with the sugar over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring gently until the sugar is completely melted then leave it undisturbed without further stirring.
- Cook until the syrup reaches 340°
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and very CAREFULLY stir in the warm cream mixture (the mixture will bubble up toward the top of the pan then subside)
- Return the pan back to the heat and cook until the candy thermometer reads 235° to 237°F. Cool to room temperature.
- Place the cooling rack with the cake on a large sheet of parchment paper and drizzle the cake with the warm caramel. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
- We use the Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan for this cake.
- A baking spray can be substituted for greasing the pan, it works really well and very dependable.
- Leaving the apples unpeeled will add extra nutrition to the cake.
- Grate the apples with the grating disk of a food processor or by hand on a box grater.
- Be sure the cream mixture is hot before adding to the cooked sauce otherwise the temperature difference will cause the sauce to seize up.
- Use a large, deep saucepan when making the caramel and give your self some space from the pan when adding the hot cream mixture by using a long handled spoon as the caramel will bubble, foam and sputter to the top of the pan.
- To toast the pecans, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes in a 300°F oven.
- There will be more than enough caramel sauce. Store the remaining sauce in a covered container. It will keep refrigerated for 1 week and is freeze-able.
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Serving Size1 slice
Amount Per Serving Calories 445 Total Fat 39g Saturated Fat 13g Trans Fat 1g Unsaturated Fat 23g Cholesterol 99mg Sodium 486mg Carbohydrates 45g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 1g Sugar 39g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 2g