Apple Pie Layer Cake

In the spirit of Fall, I wanted to make some pies! That was, until I remembered that pie crust isn’t my forte and thought better of it! Instead, I wound up making this Apple Pie Layer Cake.

It’s made with a tender spice cake layers, homemade cinnamon buttercream frosting and a delicious apple pie filling. It’s basically a pie and cake all wrapped up in four layers of deliciousness.

image of a beautiful apple pie layer cake decorated with colorful frosting

Making The Best Apple Pie Cake Layers

This layered apple pie cake recipe is based on my spice cake recipe. It makes incredibly soft and tender cake layers thanks to a combination of few special ingredients.

This first unique aspect of this recipe is that it uses both butter for oil. I find that using both oil and butter gives the cake a lighter texture without taking away all of the wonderful butter flavor.

image of a spice layer cake that's been leveled

Most spice cakes use oil and have a lighter texture, and that’s what I was after with this recipe.

This recipe also uses both brown sugar and granulated sugar. The brown sugar adds so much flavor and compliments the flavor of the ground spices.

Brown sugar has more moisture than regular sugar, and if you use all brown sugar it causes the cake layers to turn out a bit dense. I find that using half brown sugar and half granulated sugar creates the best texture.

The other special ingredient is apple sauce!! It adds moisture and flavor and also helps lighten up the texture.

Decorating This Layered Apple Pie Cake

The decoration of this cake was inspired by Milk and Water Baking Co. Their beautiful and vibrant frosting techniques have taken over Instagram by storm, and I couldn’t resist trying it out on this cake!

With the help of some gel food coloring I was able to combine a few different colors of frosting to make these colors.

From left to right, I used a Wilton 1B, Wilton 1M, Wilton 104 and Wilton 6B frosting tip to pipe this design.

However, you can use whatever frosting tips you have on hand! The goal is just to create a variety of textures and colors with your frosting, so this design is very flexible.

image of a beautiful apple pie layer cake frosting with colorful cinnamon buttercream

Substitutions and Swaps – Apple Pie Cake Layers

Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make in this recipe.

  • All-Purpose Flour: This recipe turns out best with AP flour but you can use cake flour or gluten free flour if needed.
  • Brown Sugar – You can use light or dark brown sugar in this recipe, but I prefer using light brown sugar. If needed you can use all brown sugar and omit the granulated sugar. However using both types of sugar gives this cake a great texture and flavor.
  • Granulated Sugar – If needed you can use all granulated sugar and skip the brown sugar, but I recommend using both types of sugar if possible.
  • Ground Spices – The ground spices are the star of the show. You can adjust the amounts a bit based on your preferences, but I don’t recommend leaving any of them out.
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Whole Eggs – If you have an egg allergy you can use 4 flaxseed eggs or 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce + 1 extra Tbsp baking powder.
  • Sour cream – You can also use full fat yogurt, buttermilk, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • Unsweetened Apple Sauce – I prefer using unsweetened applesauce, but you can use sweetened applesauce if that’s what you have on hand. You can also use additional sour cream in place of the apple sauce if needed.
  • Vegetable Oil – Any flavorless oil will work in this recipe! You can use vegetable, canola, or even sunflower oil. I don’t recommend using olive oil though, as it has a strong flavor that can clash with the spices in this cake.
image of a spice cake layer that has been leveled to make it easy to stack and make a layered spice cake

Substitutions and Swaps – Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Cream Cheese – If you don’t like cream cheese frosting, use additional butter in place of the cream cheese.
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Gel Food Coloring – I colored a bit of the leftover frosting different shades of orange and red to decorate the cake, but this is totally optional. You can also use natural food coloring if you prefer.
image of spiced cream cheese buttercream frosting

Tips for Making the Best Layered Apple Pie Cake

  • Properly measure your flour. Either spoon it into the cup measure, then level with a knife or use a kitchen scale.
  • Don’t overmix your batter! Mix on the speed the recipe recommends until the ingredients are just combined.
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better.
  • Don’t level your cake layers until they are completely cooled.
  • Make this apple pie cake vegan or dairy free! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the sour cream and heavy cream, vegan butter sticks in place of the butter, and additional applesauce in place of the eggs (see the note above in the substitutions section).
  • Make sure your buttercream is the right consistency before frosting your cake! It will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
  • If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, I recommend reading my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might’ve gone awry.

Making This Apple Pie Cake In Different Sizes

This recipe can also be used to make different sized cakes. You can also half or double the ingredients to make a half or double batch!

You can make four 6″ cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake the cake layers at 350F for 34-36 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

image of spice cake batter being poured into a greased cake pan

One batch of batter can be also be used to make one 9×13 inch apple pie sheet cake. Bake it at 325F for 40-50 minutes and use flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly. Then top the cake with the apple pie filling, and pipe some pretty swirls of cinnamon buttercream on top! You will only need a half batch of frosting to top a sheet cake.

You can also use this recipe to make a bundt cake! I recommend filling the pan halfway full, then adding the apple pie filling and topping with the remaining batter. Bake time can vary based on the size and type of pan you use, and can take anywhere from 45-75 minutes. I recommend using a toothpick to test for doneness and checking on it every 5-10 minutes once it’s been in the oven for 45 minutes.

The final variation of this recipe is cupcakes!! This recipe makes about 24 regular sized cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove the centers of the cupcakes and fill with apple pie filling, then top with pretty buttercream swirls!

image of apple pie cupcakes topped with pretty fall inspired buttercream frosting

Making This Apple Pie Layer Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • The apple pie filling will say good in the fridge for up to a week, so it can be made in ahead of time as well.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. The frosting locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this apple pie layer cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets and use the #chelsweets, so I can see your beautiful creations!!

Also leave a comment below and/or a rating to let me know your thoughts.

image of an apple pie layer cake that's been cut into to show its delicious apple pie filling.

Other Recipes You Might Like

Yield: 24

Apple Pie Layer Cake

image of a beautiful apple pie layer cake decorated with colorful frosting

This beautiful Fall-inspired apple pie layer cake is made with layers of tender spice cake and a delicious apple pie filling!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 32 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 47 minutes

Ingredients

Spice Cake Layers

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (300 grams)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (3 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (2 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113 grams) - 1 stick
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (224 grams)
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature (255 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (90 grams)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (105 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)

Apple Pie Filling

  • 1/2 cup of water (120 grams)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (6 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (25 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp water (30 grams)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch (30 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced apples, peeled and cored - about 1 1/2 large apples (200 grams)

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) - 2 sticks
  • 1 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (226 grams or 8 oz.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (3 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (875 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (30 grams)

Instructions

Spiced Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 8" pans with parchment rounds and grease with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Mix together 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp nutmeg in a large bowl until fully combined.
  3. Mix 1/2 cup of unsalted butter slowly into the dry ingredients on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain.
  4. Mix in 4 large eggs on low until just incorporated, 2 at a time.
  5. Add 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Mix on a low speed until just incorporated.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then beat on a low speed for a few more seconds to make sure everything is properly mixed together.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  8. Bake for 32-34 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.
  9. Flip the cake layers onto a wire rack to cool.
  10. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers once they're fully cooled.
  11. If you make these cake layers in advance and freeze them, let them thaw for about 20 minutes before making your cake. The cake layers should still be slightly cold to the touch, which will make it easier to assemble your cake.

Apple Pie Cake Filling

  1. While the layers bake and cool, prepare the apple pie filling
  2. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil at a medium high heat.
  3. Mix together the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar, 2 Tbsp of water and 3 Tbsp of cornstarch to create a slurry (to thicken the filling).
  4. Add this slurry to the saucepan and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens.
  5. Add in 1 1/2 cups diced apples and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes until the apples are partially tender (you don't want them to get too soft and turn to mush!).
  6. Remove from heat and set aside to cool fully.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the cinnamon cream cheese buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) and 1 cup of cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth.
  3. Mix in 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of salt.
  4. Slowly add in 7 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Half way through add 2 Tbsp of heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix.
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 TBSP at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Assembling This Apple Pie Layer Cake:

  1. Stack and frost the spiced cake layers on a greaseproof cake board using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of each cake layer and pipe a ring of frosting around the cake layer. Fill the center with 1/2 of the apple pie filling.
  3. Once all the cake layers are stacked, cover the cake in a thin coat of frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  4. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper then decorate as desired! I colored my leftover buttercream with some gel food coloring and piped some fun swirls around the cake using an open star and small french frosting tip.

Notes

This recipe can be made with a stand mixer or hand hand mixer. I like to use the paddle attachment when making the batter and frosting, but you can also use a whisk attachment or a large bowl and hand mixer.

I recommend making your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.

Make your frosting and filling ahead of time too or save any leftovers! Leftover frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again. The filling will stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 516Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 78mgSodium 248mgCarbohydrates 77gFiber 1gSugar 62gProtein 4g

25 thoughts on “Apple Pie Layer Cake

  1. Could I use cake flour (like Swans Down) instead of all-purpose flour? Would that change the amount needed? This looks so amazing! I just didn’t want to potentially ruin anything!

  2. Hi.. my niece and I made this for Thanksgiving. It was the star of the table! The recipe is fabulous and I have a new go-to buttercream recipe going forward. I wish I could post a picture of how beautiful it was decorated. Thank you Chelsweets!

  3. I forgot to get egg whites at the store. Can I use whole eggs instead? If so, should I reduce the number to be relatively close I. Volume to 7 egg whites? Like you said, I don’t really want 7 egg yolks hanging around. Or is there a specific reason, like consistency or something that requires no yolks? Thanks! I’m making this for a twist on Pi Day!

  4. Hi Chelsweets, your cakes look amazing! I was just wondering if it would be possible to make the apple filling in advance? Maybe a day or two? Would it sit ok in an airtight container in the fridge until I need it?

    Thank you!

  5. Hi! Is it better results if you follow by weight or by cups etc.? Thank you so much! I’m super excited to make this for friendsgiving!

Let me know what you think!