Where are all the caramel apple lovers? This one is for you!
Autumn is quickly approaching. Though the official first day of fall is September 23, the autumnal buzz of “pumpkin everything” is already in the air. Even though pumpkin spice is all well and good, I think it can be fun to celebrate autumn with a fall-ish treat that is as unique as it is delicious. This decadent Caramel Apple Cake represents many of the things I truly love about this time of year. The base is a moist apple cake, which is smothered in a delicious, creamy caramel sauce and topped by crisp crumbles of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Are you drooling yet? Let’s get started.
First, assemble your ingredients (listed in the printable recipe below) and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 9 inch baking pan by rubbing it down with some butter.
The Apple Cake
Take out a large mixing bowl and beat together your butter and sugar until its light and fluffy. Next, add in the egg, apple sauce, and vanilla. Beat until just combined.
Now you’re going to mix together your dry ingredients, separately. Whisk together the: baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mixing the dry ingredients together on their own ensures that the dry components will be well-dispersed throughout the cake batter (and that you won’t over mix the cake batter.)
After you’ve creamed together the sugar with the wet ingredients, and mixed the dry ingredients, it’s time to put them together!
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
At this point, you are going to add the component that gives this cake a pop of freshness: real apples! I like to use green apples, diced into very small pieces. They add a little punch of tartness that balances out nicely with the sweetness in the rest of the cake.
After you dice your apples into small pieces, simply fold them into your cake batter. Together with the applesauce, these bites of apple fill your cake base with an undeniably “apple-y,” flavor and texture.
Once your diced apple is fully incorporated, pour your cake mixture into the prepared pan and smooth it out.
Next, it’s time to work on the caramel icing (sauce? frosting?) I’m not sure which one this mixture technically qualifies as, but let me tell you: it is delicious. It’s also really simple to make. All you have to do is combine (softened) cream cheese with caramel sauce and mix it together well.
In addition to being the frosting for this cake, this mixture is also delicious as a dip for apple slices. But for the purpose of this recipe, all you have to do is spread the caramel mixture over your (unbaked) cake mixture.
The Final Touches
Every good caramel apple needs a few embellishments or toppings, and this cake is no different. It is topped with a delicious crumble of sweetness and spices. To make the topping, use your hands to crumble together: butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Once it’s well combined, sprinkle this mixture over your cake.
Finally, pop the entire thing into your preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes (maybe a few less, depending on your oven). As it bakes, the cream/cheese caramel mixture will get lovely and gooey and sink into your apple cake, and the topping mixture will melt and bake into delicious, spicy and sweet crumble. The topping should just be a little bit brown when your cake is done!
And there you have it: fresh pops of tart apple, rich caramel, and buttery spices…what a delicious bite of fall flavor!
This cake would be wonderful to serve guests under an autumn twilight sky or for the main treat at a Halloween party (though I don’t celebrate Halloween, we know many of you do). However, it’s also simple enough that you could just make it because you are excited about fall (I know I am!)
Let us know if you make it and if you love it!
Do you homeschool or enjoy doing educational activities with your children or grandchildren? If so, you’ll love these apple-related ideas and activities from two of our sister sites!
1 stick butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1 large, room temperature
¼ cup apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup flour, spooned and leveled
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¾ cup green apples, diced
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
½ cup caramel topping
6 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
1. Prepare an 9 x 9 inch pan.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. For cake: In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.
4. Add in egg, apple sauce, and vanilla. Beat until just combined.
5. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until
6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix until combined.
7. Gently fold in apples.
8. Pour into pan.
9. In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese and caramel. Beat until light and fluffy.
10. Dollop cream cheese onto cake batter.
11. In a mixing bowl, add topping ingredients.
12. Using your hands, squeeze butter into dry ingredients. Keep mixing until crumbly.
13. Sprinkle topping over cake.
14. Bake for 42-45 minutes, or until beginning to brown.