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Apple Cider Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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Super tender apple and spice cake layers filled with gooey caramel apple and coated in fluffy salted caramel buttercream.  Apple Cider Cake is like going apple picking but not having to get out of the car, all the tastes of fall in one delicious cake!

Finished and decorated apple cider cake

Today, we’re taking fall and putting it on a fork. Sweet and fall spiced apple cider cake, gooey caramel apple filling and salted caramel buttercream is what’s happening and it is so good.

Why you should make Apple Cider Cake:

  • tender cake with all the apple pie spices
  • pie-like filling with crisp apples and a twist of cinnamon caramel
  • Salted. Caramel. Buttercream.

All these things make it the perfect birthday cake for your favorite friend’s fall birthday….or even just a nice acquaintance that happens to have an October birthday. Hey, any excuse for tasty cake right?

overhead view of apple cider cake

caramel apple filling

A cake can look good, but the inside has to be just as good right? I’m pretty sure I don’t know anything as disappointing as a cake that looks nice but tastes mediocre. Well, that’s not happening to us.

Besides tasty, moist apple cake we have apple pie filling…simmered in caramel sauce. It’s gooey, it’s sweet, it’s crisp, it’s awesome.

The filling starts with a sauté of thinly sliced apples in a little unsalted butter. The goal is just to soften them and not to cook them all the way. Then using either my faaaaaav Small Batch Salted Caramel Sauce or a store-bought caramel sauce, bring it to a boil with a touch of cinnamon and let it cool. If you’re able, just stick the whole pan in the fridge.

The caramel filling won’t get super hard in the cool refrigerator like a regular caramel because of the water in the apples. You want the filling to be thick enough it doesn’t automatically absorb into the bottom layer cake. That wouldn’t be the worst thing if it does happen, still tasty.

Simmered slices of apple in cinnamon caramel sauce

When filling the apple cider cake, you’ll want to pipe a wall to hold it in. Pipe the salted caramel buttercream high enough so the caramel apple filling doesn’t squish out the sides when you place the top layer of cake. I found that two times around the cake was the perfect height.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

Maaaaaybe we just call this the best frosting ever instead? Granted, I’m biased so you guys can tell me but here’s what you need to know.

It’s got that soft, yet sturdy texture of a perfectly pipeable buttercream with hints of tangy cream cheese that keep it light. The salted caramel and confectioners sugar bring sweetness without being cloying. They also make for a breeze of a frosting to whip together.

Cake and slices of apple cider cake

TIP:  make sure your caramel is no warmer than room temp. I’d highly, highly recommend that if you’re making the caramel yourself that you make it the day before. Otherwise, that pipeable cream cheese buttercream will be a sad, soft, not pipeable mess.

Not sure about you guys, but I’m ready to stuff a forkful of this fall spiced glory in my mouth. If you make it be sure to tag #hungerthirstplay…or send me directions so I can come grab a slice, k thanks.

overhead view of apple cider cake

Apple Cider Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Two layer apple cider cake, sweet and full of warming spices, gooey caramel apple filling and salted caramel buttercream.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple desserts, fall baking, fall inspired cakes, holiday baking, holiday desserts
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Assemble: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Calories: 1018kcal
Author: Lauren

Ingredients

Apple Cider Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 ⅓ cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 ½ cups fresh apple cider

Caramel Apple Filling

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 apple peeled and thinly sliced
  • teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Buttercream

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • ¾ cup Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup walnuts optional

Instructions

Apple Cider Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round pans.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.  Whisk until combined and set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on medium speed.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix on medium speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Working in 3 batches alternate adding dry ingredients and apple cider, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix on medium speed until incorporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Divide the batter between the two cake pans.  Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs is fine.) For 9-inch cake pans, bake for slightly less time as the layers will be thinner, about 22 to 25 minutes.

Caramel Apple Filling

  • In a sauté pan, heat the butter over medium high heat.  Add the apple slices and sauté until coated in the butter and slightly soft, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle the cinnamon over the apples and add the caramel to the pan.  Reduce the heat to low and bring the sauce to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and let cool completely  in the refrigerator about 20 minutes until sauce is thickened.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter until pale and fluffy on medium high speed.  Beat in the cream cheese, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating until combined.
  • On the lowest speed add in the confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time.  Bring speed up to medium high and beat for 1 full minute.  Add the salted caramel sauce and beat for 2 minutes, stoping half way to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Assembling the cake

  • On the first layer of cake, pipe a wall around the outside edge.  About two times around should be high enough to contain the filling.  Fill the inside with the cooled caramel apple filling.  Top with the second layer of cake and press down lightly.
  • Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining salted caramel frosting.  Top with cinnamon sticks.
  • Optional:  Place walnuts in a plastic food bag and crush with a meat mallet or rolling pin.  Lightly stick to the bottom half of the frosted cake.

Notes

  • Since there is cream cheese in the frosting, store the finished cake in the refrigerator.  Take out about an hour before serving.
  • Chopped walnuts or pecans can be used instead of whole walnuts.
  • Store-bought caramel can be substituted for homemade Small Batch Caramel Sauce.  If opting to make the caramel sauce, be sure to allow for LOTS of time to cool.    I highly recommend making it the day before so it will be room temperature.  If using store-bought, Trader Joe's makes a salted caramel sauce that is almost identical to the linked recipe above!
  • This recipe can be converted into cupcakes and makes roughly 24 cupcakes.  For the filling, dice the apples small and stuff them inside the center of the cupcakes.

Nutrition

Calories: 1018kcal | Carbohydrates: 121g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 194mg | Sodium: 611mg | Potassium: 257mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 70g | Vitamin A: 1626IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 3mg

 

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Recipe Rating




Dee

Monday 19th of October 2020

Hi! This recipe looks amazing and I’m going to try it this week! Quick question- the store bought caramel sauce - does it have to be salted? I see one from Ghiradelli that has “sea salt caramel sauce” and then “caramel sauce”. Which one would work best? Thank you!!

Lauren

Monday 19th of October 2020

Nope! It doesn't have to be salted. If you want it to you could just sprinkle a little bit of salt in it, but it's delicious either way!

Nathalie

Sunday 22nd of December 2019

omg!!! Im making this cake for christmas perfect cake to go with my deep dish apple crumble pie and that pie is going to go right in the middle of that cake instead of the apple filling and for the finishing touch ill drizzle some salted caramel ist going to be perfect thank you for this recipe i know im gonna love it..xoxo

Lauren

Sunday 22nd of December 2019

yay! merry christmas Nathalie!

Vanessa

Monday 4th of November 2019

Hi Lauren,

This recipe is incredible and I cannot wait to try it out for a friend's upcoming birthday next week! Since there are only going to be a handful of us eating the cake, I'm going to experiment with dividing and baking the cake in 6-inch cake pans instead of 8-inch ones. Do you have any recommendations on baking time for the 6-inch modification?

Thank you in advance!

Lauren

Thursday 7th of November 2019

The bake time should be around 22-25 minutes for 6 inch cakes. Are you going to half the recipe?

Felicia Cox

Friday 11th of October 2019

I just made this cake and it's wonderful the caramel feeling is to die for. However I'm concerned about The salted buttercream frosting. I made it and b consistency is really thin. Is it the frosting supposed to be a little bit firmer?

Lauren Pariseau

Saturday 12th of October 2019

Hi Felicia - because of the sweetness of the caramel, there isn't quite as much confectioners sugar as a typical buttercream, plus the addition of the cream cheese will keep it from the traditional buttercream stiffness. If you'd like a thicker texture, you could either add more confectioner sugar (but it will be sweeter) or try adding a little cornstarch.

Becca

Saturday 21st of September 2019

Hi,

I'm planning to make this recipe but I only see baking instructions for cupcakes, not the 8 inch cake. Do you have a bake time for the layers? Thanks!

Lauren

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

Hi! Sorry for the confusion. The bake time for two 8-inch layers should be 25 to 28 minutes. Happy baking!!