This caramel apple cake is a layered spice cake full of apple pie filling. It is also topped with cinnamon caramel frosting and a salted caramel drip. This is the perfect fall cake recipe! It is full of so many spices and the combination of caramel and apple is so delicious.
This apple cinnamon cake is if you took a caramel apple pie and put in cake form! The cake layers are a brown sugar spice cake that is full of apple pie filling with a drizzle of salted caramel.
The best part about this cake besides the filling, is the frosting! The frosting has both cinnamon and salted caramel. It is perfect for this cake!
Try these caramel apple cheesecake bars.
Why This Caramel Apple Cake Recipe Works
- Spice layer cake- This is a three layer cake that is full of 4 different warm spices!
- Apple pie filling- The filling is made using brown sugar and cinnamon. The filling has a great cinnamon flavor.
- Salted caramel sauce- The sauce is used for drizzling on the cake layers, frosting, and as a drip!
- Caramel cinnamon frosting- This frosting is a easy buttercream recipe that isn't overly sweet.
- Caramel drip- This part is optional. I used the salted caramel to drip it down the sides of the cake.
Ingredient Notes for Caramel Apple Cake
Here are some notes on the ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Unsalted butter- For the cake, it needs to be melted and cooled to room temperature before using. For the apple pie filling, it can be cold before you melt it in the pan. For the caramel and the frosting, it needs to be softened.
- Brown sugar- I used light brown sugar.
- Eggs- Pull the large eggs out 2 hours before using.
- Sour cream- Use full fat sour cream or greek yogurt. Pull this out 2 hours before baking.
- Buttermilk- Use full fat or reduced fat buttermilk. Pull this out 2 hours before baking.
- Sweet Apples- I used gala apples. If you want a more sour taste, use granny smith apples. I don't recommend honeycrip apples because they will be too sweet.
- Cornstarch- This helps to thicken the pie filling.
- Powdered sugar- Make sure this is sifted for a smooth frosting.
- Dairy free- You can use your favorite dairy free options for this recipe!
- Gluten free- I haven't tested this gluten free. Let me know if you do.
- Buttermilk- You can also do 1 cup of milk with 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let it sit for 10 minutes before using.
Step By Step Instructions- Spice Cake Layers
Here is how to make and bake the moist cake layers. The cake batter can be made by hand, no electric mixer needed for this part.
STEP 1: Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and ground nutmeg.
STEP 2: Mix the wet ingredients. In a large bowl, use a whisk to mix the melted butter (make sure it is cooled!), brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla extract, sour cream, and eggs.
STEP 3: Add flour mixture and buttermilk. First, add half of the dry ingredeints and buttermilk and whisk until almost combined. Then, add the rest of the dry ingredients and buttermilk. The batter should be smooth.
Make sure you don't overmix the batter.
STEP 4: Pour. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans.
STEP 5: Bake. Bake the cake for 22-25 minutes. If a toothpick comes clean in the middle of the cake, it is done baking.
Let the hot cakes sit in the hot pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Step By Step Instructions- Apple Filling, Caramel, and Frosting
STEP 1: Apple filling. First, cut the apples into thin slices. (Make sure to peel them.) Then, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch.
Heat the filling for about 5 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon. It will thicken. Make sure to cool it completely before using in the cake.
STEP 2: Salted caramel. See my salted caramel recipe for more tips and tricks to make salted caramel. First, heat the sugar completely in a saucepan until all the sugar crystals are melted. Let it turn amber in color.
Next, take off the heat and add the butter, warm heavy cream, vanilla, and salt.
See below for instructions on making the cake ahead of time.
STEP 3: Frosting. Using a mixer, beat the butter on high speed for 3 minutes. Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer. Then, add the powdered sugar. Add half at a time.
Next, add the cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and salted caramel. It should be a fluffy frosting.
Making The Cake Ahead Of Time
I strongly recommend making the cake layers, caramel, and apple filling ahead of time.
After the cake layers are cooled completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Freeze up to 1 week. Thaw for 1 hour before decorating.
Make the caramel ahead of time, and pour into an airtight container and place in the fridge up to 5 days. Heat in the microwave for 15-30 seconds until melted. Make sure it isn't hot.
Once the apple filling is cooled, store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can add this to the cake cold.
Assembling the Cake Tips
- Items that will be helpful in cake decoration: turntable, icing offset spatulas, straight icing spatula, cake scrapper, cake leveler (or a bread knife), and a cake carrier.
- If you have any uneven cake layers, use a serrated knife or cake leveler to cut the top, so they are perfectly even.
- Place the first cake layer down and spread ½ cup of frosting over the cake using an offset spatula. Pipe a ring of frosting around the border of the cake.
- Spread half of the apple filling on the cake. Use a spoon to drizzle caramel on top of the apples.
- Repeat with the second cake layer. Place the last cake layer down with the bottom of the cake facing up.
- Fill the holes on the cake with frosting. Frost the cake in a light layer of frosting and freeze for 15 minutes. This is the crumb coat layer. It also helps to keep the filling from spilling out.
- Frost the rest of the tender apple cake. Freeze for 10 minutes before applying the drip.
- The caramel sauce for the drip should be a pourable consistency, if not heat in the microwave for 10 seconds. Pour some of the sauce into a piping bag.
- Pipe a small amount of caramel over the edge of the cake. Let it drip down naturally. Pour the leftover caramel on the top of the cake.
Yes you can! It will make 24 cupcakes. Half the recipe for 12 cupcakes. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
You can use 2 9-inch cake pans, or 4 6-inch cake pans, or a 9X13-inch cake pan (half the frosting recipe for this pan).
I cut the apple into small slices. Then, cut each slice in half.
- You can add small chopped apples to the batter for a full apple cake.
- You can skip the caramel drip to save time.
- Cake pans: I use Wilton 8-inch cake pans.
- Parchment paper circles: I used 8-inch parchment paper circles for the bottom of the pan. I love to use the premade circles, so I don't have to cut it out of regular parchment paper.
- Baking spray: I use the nonstick spray that has flour in it.
- Offset spatula: I use this to easily spread the frosting or fillings.
- Cake turntable: I use this nice Ateco cast iron turntable because it is high quality and it spins seamlessly. Some other turntables are a little jerky when they turn.
- Cake scraper: I use a metal scraper to get smooth cakes.
- Piping bags: I like these 18- inch piping bags since they hold more.
Storing and Freezing
Store this apple cinnamon cake in an airtight container like a cake carrier. Store in the fridge up to 5 days.
The cake taste best at room temperature.
The cinnamon apple cake can be frozen in individual cake slices. Wrap the slices in plastic wrap and freeze up to 30 days. Thaw for 1 hour before eating.
Other Recipes To Try
Try These Caramel Recipes
- Caramel cheesecake
- Apple pie cookies
- Salted caramel brownies
- Caramel apple cheesecake bars
- Caramel pumpkin cheesecake bars
Caramel Apple Cake
- 3 ½ cups All-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon Baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon Ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
- 1 cup Unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 1 ¼ cup Brown sugar packed light or dark
- ¼ cup White granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- 4 Large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup Sour cream room temperature
- 1 cup Buttermilk room temperature
- 1 cup White granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoon Unsalted butter room temperature and cubed
- ½ cup Heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
Apple Pie Filling
- 3 Apples gala
- 3 tablespoon Unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup Brown sugar packed light or brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
Cinnamon Caramel Frosting
- 2 cups Unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 cups Powdered sugar sifted
- 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 tablespoon Salted caramel
- 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with baking nonstick spray.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg. Set aside.3 ½ cups All-purpose flour, 2 teaspoon Baking powder, 1 teaspoon Baking soda, 1 teaspoon Salt, 2 teaspoon Ground cinnamon, 1 ½ teaspoon Ground ginger, 1 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
- In a large bowl, mix the melted butter (make sure it is cooled), brown sugar, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and sour cream. Use a whisk to make sure it is mixed until smooth.1 cup Unsalted butter, 1 ¼ cup Brown sugar, ¼ cup White granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract, 4 Large eggs, ½ cup Sour cream
- Add in half of the dry ingredients and half of the buttermilk and mix until almost combined. Add the other half of the dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk. It should be smooth.1 cup Buttermilk
- Pour the cake batter evenly into the three cake pans. Bake for 20-24 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cakes sit in the hot pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
- Make sure to make this ahead of time, so the caramel can cool completely. Start by pouring sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat the sugar until all the sugar crystals are melted. Use a whisk to mix it.1 cup White granulated sugar
- Let the caramel turn amber in color. This takes less than 30 seconds. Take off the heat immediately.
- Add in half of the butter and mix until combined. Add in the rest of the butter. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until warm. Add in half of the cream and mix. Then, finish adding in the cream. Add in the vanilla and salt.4 tablespoon Unsalted butter, ½ cup Heavy cream, 1 teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- Pour the caramel in a separate container and cool completely.
Apple Pie Filling
- Peel and slice the apples. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apple slices, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Heat until the apples starts to bubble. Heat for 5 minutes until mixture thickens.3 Apples, 3 tablespoon Unsalted butter, ⅓ cup Brown sugar, 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
- Cool the apple filling completely before using.
Cinnamon Caramel Frosting
- In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar. In a separate bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter on high speed for 3 minutes.4 cups Powdered sugar, 2 cups Unsalted butter
- Add in half of the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Add in the rest of the powdered sugar and mix.
- Add in vanilla, salt, salted caramel, and cinnamon. Mix on high speed until creamy.1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon Salt, 1 tablespoon Salted caramel, 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- Use a serrated knife or a cake leveler to cut the domes off the cakes so they are even.
- Place the 1st cake layer down. Spread ½ cup of frosting over the cake. Pipe a border of frosting around the edge of the cake. Spread ¾ cup of apple pie filling in the middle. Drizzle salted caramel on top of the apples.
- Repeat with the second layer. Place the last cake layer with the bottom of the cake facing up. Pipe frosting in the cracks of the cake. Then, use a cake scrapper to smooth the frosting.
- Freeze for 15 minutes. Place the frosting in the fridge while the cake freezes. This allows the frosting not be as soft. Then, frost the rest of the cake.
- Freeze for 10 minutes to set the frosting. Place the caramel in a piping bag. Then, pour little drips of caramel over the cake. Then, pour the rest of the caramel on top.
- If topping with any decoration. Freeze for 10 minutes before topping.