This Caramel Apple Cake is the perfect Fall dessert! Perfectly spiced, with tender apples, rich caramel, moist cake and a crumbly top! It tastes like a Dutch apple pie, but in cake form.
This Caramel Apple Cake is such a fun dessert, and SO delicious! We love Fall desserts, like my Apple Crisp, and Candied Almonds. This is one of my Dessert recipes you’ll definitely want in your collection!
CARAMEL APPLE CAKE
This time of year is confusing to me… it’s technically still Summer, and the weather certainly hasn’t cooled off… yet I’m shifting into Fall-mode. I get cravings for soups and chili, and everything apple/pumpkin!
Thankfully, my family doesn’t mind my indulgence into anything and everything Fall, so I’m hoping you all won’t either 😉
Even though pumpkin seems to get most of the Fall credit, I’m a huge apple fan. Apple pie, apple crisp, caramel apples… the list goes on.
This caramel apple cake is moist and delicious, with a crumbly topping that’s similar to a Dutch apple pie. It comes together quickly and uses apple pie filling to make this dessert even easier.
Even though this cake has caramel in it, I also love to drizzle some liberally on the top! Store-bought works just fine, but if you’re feeling extra decadent, try making your own.
HOW TO MAKE CARAMEL APPLE CAKE
- Prepare pan/oven and filling. Preheat your oven, grease the pan, and coarsely chop the apple pie filling. I do this in my food processor, but you can use a knife if you prefer.
- Make the topping. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.
- Make the batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices) in one bowl. Combine the wet ingredients (apple filling, sour cream, applesauce, vanilla and egg) in another bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until no flour streaks remain.
- Assemble the cake. Transfer half the batter to prepared baking pan, then top with caramel and remaining batter. Sprinkle with crumbly topping.
- Bake the cake. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through.
- Cool and serve. Cool cake on wire rack, then serve topped with additional caramel sauce and/or more apple pie filling.
ADDITIONAL BAKING TIPS
- ROOM TEMP INGREDIENTS – for the best results when baking this cake, your cold ingredients (like butter and eggs) should be at room temperature so they can incorporate fully into the batter. Except for the butter for the crumbly topping, that should be COLD.
- USE REAL BUTTER – this isn’t the time to use shortening or margarine. Those perform differently in baking recipes, and this recipe was only tested using real butter.
- USE FRESH INGREDIENTS – some of these are obvious, like using non-expired eggs, but did you know using older baking soda/baking powder can affect the way your cakes bake? Over time, leavening agents (which is what baking soda and powder are) lose their efficacy, and won’t give your cakes that beautifully soft texture.
If you’re unsure if your baking soda or powder are still good, drop a pinch in some hot water. If it fizzes, it’s still good! If not, then you’re in need of some new ingredients.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
- MORE CRUMB CAKE-LIKE TOPPING – if you prefer a more crumb cake type of topping, with big pieces of streusel, you can definitely do that here! Down in the recipe notes section below I’ll detail the ingredients and instructions for that.
- FRESH APPLES – I’ve only tested this recipe using apple pie filling, but if you really want to use fresh apples, I’d guess that you’d need about 2 1/2 cups of diced apples, and you’d want to add a few Tbsp of sugar to them, along with a pinch of cinnamon to mimic the flavors of the apple pie filling. You’ll also want to add about an additional 1/4 cup of applesauce to account for the moisture in the filling.
- HOMEMADE CARAMEL SAUCE – normally I use store-bought caramel sauce for convenience, but if you have some extra time, you have to try my browned butter salted caramel sauce. It’s out of this world!
- OIL – if you wanted to substitute the applesauce for a neutral-flavored oil (such as vegetable or canola), that would work just fine.
- TOPPING OPTIONS – obviously caramel is a great choice, but so is some bourbon vanilla ice cream!
MAKING AN APPLE CAKE AHEAD OF TIME
Like most cakes, this apple cake definitely tastes best when enjoyed the day you baked it. However, since the apples help keep it moist, it can still be enjoyed the next day, so if you’re pressed for time, you can make it the night before.
Leftover cake should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container and consumed within 3 days. It could also be refrigerated and will last up to 5 days that way.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE
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- Cake Pan – I’ve had several of these cake pans for years and they still look brand new… so easy to clean and they last!
- Pastry Cutter – not a necessity, since you can use alternative methods to work the butter in, but this pastry cutter holds up well, and makes the job so much easier!
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- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar (packed) or granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 20 oz can apple pie filling
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup caramel sauce plus more for topping
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter diced
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a 9 inch round baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add apple pie filling to food processor and pulse just a few times, until apples are coarsely chopped. Set aside.
MAKE THE CRUMBLY TOPPING
- Add crumb ingredients (butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon) to a mixing bowl and use a pastry cutter (or two forks, or your fingers) to cut the butter into the other ingredients until mixture resembles a wet sandy consistency. Set aside.
MAKE THE CAKE BATTER
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a separate bowl mix together the apple pie filling, sour cream, applesauce, vanilla, and egg. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir to combine, until there are no dry patches.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
- Spoon half of the batter into the pan and smooth it out into an even layer.
- Top with caramel sauce, then top with remaining cake batter, again smoothing it into an even layer.
- Sprinkle top with prepared crumbly topping and bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
COOL AND SERVE
- Place cake pan on wire rack to cool. Serve topped with additional caramel sauce and/or more apple filling.
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- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
In a mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pour in melted butter and whisk to combine.
Slowly add flour and mix with wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until no streaks of flour remain.