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Salted Caramel Apple Cake

This salted caramel apple cake gives all the Fall vibes! It’s made with tender spice cake layers, apple filling, and homemade caramel and is frosted with silky smooth caramel buttercream.

image of a slice of salted caramel apple cake on plate

Packing this Salted Caramel Apple Cake with Flavor

What really makes this cake so delicious is its filling! The apple filling in this cake tastes just like your favorite apple pie.

And then to really take things to the next level, it’s drizzled with homemade caramel sauce. It’s truly a match made in heaven. I swear I could eat the filling from this cake on its own and be happy!!

image of homemade caramel being drizzled on the filling of a salted caramel apple cake

Substitutions and Swaps in this Caramel Apple Cake

This recipe use quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have all of them on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made.

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten-free flour blend if needed.
  • 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!
  • Brown Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Eggs – If you have an egg allergy you can use a vegan egg replacer.
  • 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.
  • Vegetable Oil – You can use any flavorless oil in this recipe, so canola or even sunflower oil would work great!
  • Apples – You can use whatever brand of apple you like to eat! I find firmer apples like honeycrisp or granny smith work best in this recipe.
  • 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.
image of apple cake filling made for a caramel apple cake

Tips for Filling this Cake

Whenever you fill a cake with a soft fruit filling, it’s important to assemble the cake in a way that will keep all that delicious filling place.

The secret to successfully filling a cake with soft filling is to a pipe buttercream ring around each cake layer.

The frosting acts as a dam and keeps everything place as you crumb coat and frost your cake.

image of the filling of a caramel apple cake

I also find it super helpful to chill the cake in the freezer for about 10 minutes once it’s stacked.

This helps those buttercream rings stay in place ever better, and prevents any sliding that can happen when crumb coating a cake like this.

Making this Salted Caramel Apple Cake in Different Sizes

I used 8″ cake pans to make this cake, but this recipe can 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 7″ or 6″ cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake the cake layers at 350 F / 175 C for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

image of spice cake batter in 8 inch cake pans ready to be baked

One batch of batter can be also be used to make one 9×13-inch sheet cake. Bake it at 350F for 40-50 minutes and use flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly.

You can also use this recipe to make a Bundt cake! 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 36 regular sized cupcakes. Fill 3/4 full and bake for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Tips for Making the Best Caramel Apple Cake

  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale.
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better.
  • Don’t over-mix your batter, stir until the flour is just incorporated.
  • Don’t level and torte your cake layers until they have completely cooled to room temperature.
  • Pipe a ring of buttercream around each cake layer before adding the apple filling and caramel. It will help keep all that delicious goodness in place.
  • Make sure your buttercream is the right consistency. This will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
  • If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, read my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might’ve gone awry.
image of a slice of salted caramel apple cake on a plate

Making this 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! Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for a month or the freezer for 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • This apple cake filling can be made up to a week in advance if stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for a week. 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.
image of a slice of salted caramel apple cake on plate

Let Me Know What You Think

If you make this salted caramel apple cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets and use the #chelsweets so I can see your beautiful creations.

Other Recipes You Might Like

Yield: 24

Salted Caramel Apple Cake

image of a slice of salted caramel apple cake on plate

This salted caramel apple cake gives allll the Fall vibes! It’s made with tender spice cake layers, apple filling, and homemade caramel and is frosted with silky smooth caramel buttercream.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 32 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 2 minutes

Ingredients

Spice Cake Layers

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390g)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300g)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (300g)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10g)
  • 1 tsp salt (6g)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (6g)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (2g)
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (2g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113g) - 1 stick
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (224g)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, room temperature (380g)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (110g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)

Apple Filling

  • 4 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and cubed (800g)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (42g)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed (200g)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (5g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (1g)
  • 2 Tbsp water (30g)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch (15g)

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (84g)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature (76g)
  • 1/2 tsp table salt (3g)

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (454g)
  • 1/3 cup of caramel sauce - recipe above (108g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (750g)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream or whipping cream (15g)

Instructions

Spice Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line three 8" pans with parchment rounds and grease with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Whisk 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp nutmeg in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  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. In a separate bowl, whisk together 4 large eggs, 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients 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 32-35 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 Filling

  1. Peel 4 large apples, remove the core and cut into quarter inch pieces.
  2. Add the apple pieces, 3 Tbsp butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt into a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat, using a spoon or spatula to stir the mixture occasionally. Cook until the mixture begins to bubble, then reduce the heat to medium.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together 2 Tbsp of water and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch to make a cornstarch slurry. This will help thicken the filing. Pour into the apple mixture and simmer for 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook just until the apples are soft. If you over-cook them they'll fall apart and look more like applesauce than apple pie filling!
  4. Transfer the filling into a separate container and chill in the fridge. Once fully cooled, the filling can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week (it doesn't freeze well).

Caramel Sauce

  1. Next, make the caramel sauce. Turn stove to medium heat, and place a pot over the element.
  2. Pour in 1 cup of sugar gradually, adding 1/4 cup at a time. Wait until the sugar is mostly liquified then add the next increment of sugar.
  3. As the sugar melts, it will gradually deepen in color.
  4. Stir occasionally until the sugar is fully dissolved and is an amber color.
  5. Turn off the heat.
  6. Mix in 6 Tbsp of butter slowly (1 Tbsp at a time), then stir in 1/3 cup of cream and 1/2 tsp salt. The mixture will be very thin but will thicken as it cools.
  7. Pour into a separate container, then place in fridge to cool for 20 minutes.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  1. As the caramel cools, make the caramel buttercream.
  2. Beat 2 cups of butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, until smooth.
  3. Mix in 1/3 cup of cooled caramel, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp salt on a low speed.
  4. Slowly mix in 6 cups of powdered sugar on a low speed. Halfway through mixing, add in 1 Tbsp of heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix.
  5. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 

Assembling this Salted Caramel Apple 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 caramel buttercream on top of the first cake layer. Pipe a ring around the cake layer to act as a frosting dam to keep the apple filling in place.
  3. Carefully spread 1/2 of the apple filling inside the frosting ring. Drizzle half of the remaining caramel over the apple filing. Top with the next cake layer and repeat.
  4. Chill the cake in the freezer for 5 minutes once the cake layers are stacked to help lock the filling in place and make it easier to crumb coat the cake.
  5. Spread a thick coat of caramel buttercream around the cake using a large offset spatula to give it a beautiful textured finish.

Notes

Note: 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.

Tips for Making the Best Salted Caramel Apple Cake

  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale.
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better.
  • Don’t over-mix your batter, stir until the flour is just combined.
  • Don't level and torte your cake layers until they are completely cooled.
  • Pipe a ring of buttercream around each cake layer before adding the apple filling and caramel. It will act as a frosting dam and keep all that delicious filling in place.
  • Make sure your buttercream is the right consistency. This will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
  • If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, read my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might've gone awry.

Making This 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 a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • This apple cake filling can be made up to a week in advance if stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • 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 463Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 86mgSodium 231mgCarbohydrates 61gFiber 1gSugar 48gProtein 4g

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