Before I go into further detail on how delicious this was, I feel as though I should warn you that there are quite a few components to this cake (especially if your making your own applesauce). For me, it was totally worth it, but I image not everyone will feel the same.
Using a really good homemade applesauce went a long way in this recipe. I happen to have a recipe that I adore, and it worked like magic in this cake producing a dense, moist cake bursting with apple flavor. My recipe calls for Boiled Cider, an all-natural product available from King Arthur Flour. Normally, I shy away from this sort of specialty product, but this is an exception. It is made by reducing apple cider down to a syrup, and through this process, the syrup captures an extraordinarily intense, crisp apple flavor. It is a wonderful addition to any apple dish. Get yourself some!
As for the caramel sauce, I'd say pure decadence about sums it up. I physically had to remove it from the house when I was done assembling the cake because I couldn't stop opening the jar for another bite... and then another. Disgraceful? Well, yes, but it was so rich and creamy and utterly irresistible...
You know, what surprised me the most about this recipe though was the old-fashioned cooked buttercream. It had a nice sweetness to it with a hint of caramel flavor due to the addition of a small amount of the caramel sauce. It was a perfect pairing with the apple cake, plus it brought back memories of my grandma Bushie, which is always special.
I should note that I did take a few minor liberties when assembling this cake. Nothing earth shattering, just a few tweaks to make it my own. I chose to smeared caramel on each of the cake layers before I filled them with buttercream so that each bite would have a little taste of the delicious caramel. I also added peanuts for authenticity. See, nothing much really.
Please do make this. It is so fantastically delicious. A total Fall winner!I HIGHLY recommend it! It will bring much joy to your taste buds!
CARAMEL APPLE CAKE
For The Applesauce
- 3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- 1/4 Boiled Apple cider
- 3/4 cups apple juice
- 2 tablespoons of brandy
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons honey (I like clover honey)
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
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. Chill sauce to room temperature before adding to cake batter (see recipe below).
For The 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
Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.
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.
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. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.
For The Caramel Sauce
Yield: about 2 cups
- 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
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. 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), remove it from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.
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.
For The 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.
Place one of the cake layers on the cake base and level off the top. Put a thin layer of caramel sauce on the layers and then spread caramel buttercream on top. Next, add another layer of cake and level and frost as you did with the first layer. Trim the top of the last layer and then place it on top of the cake bottom side up. 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 fro the fridge and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides. Use the remaining caramel to drizzle over the top. Add chopped peanuts, if desired.