Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Icing

It's time to share another recipe from my dinner party. This one is a perfect fall desert, with lots of spice and a delicious caramel icing. One of the things I love about this recipe is you can make it a day ahead and it's still wonderfully moist. You could even argue it's better on the second day. I've made this recipe numerous times trying to perfect it and I love how the final has turned out. It's not overly sweet, which is typical of my cakes. Instead the extra sweetness, for the person with a sweet tooth, comes from the caramel you put on top.

The caramel icing is so good. It's hard to not eat it all before putting it on the cake! The thicker the icing is the harder is will be when it cools. I prefer to thin it with some cream after making it and then pouring it on individuals slices of cake. The pictures at the top of the page show how I both poured a thinner icing and spread a thicker icing. No matter how you do it or like it, I'd recommend not put the icing on the cake until you serve it. If you want to make a layered cake with this recipe, you certainly can, simply double it. However if you do this, the icing works better to use between the layers and on top, but not on the sides. I actually prefer my layered cakes without icing on their sides, otherwise I think the cake gets too sweet and I feel like I'm primarily eating icing instead of my favorite part, the cake.

What You'll Need - makes 1 - 8"x8" square pan or 1 - 9" round cake pan
For the cake:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. dried ginger
1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice 
1/4 tsp. unrefined sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 apple, skinned and chopped into small pieces

For the icing:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk or cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4. tsp. unrefined sea salt

Getting Started
For the cake: Pre-heat oven to 350˚ and have all ingredients at room temperature before starting.

1.  Grease and flour a 8x8 square baking pan or a 9" round cake pan. I'd also recommend lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl beat butter until light and creamy, then add honey and beat for a couple minutes more.

3.  Next add one egg at a time to butter mixture beating well. If your butter starts to have a curdled look to it, don't worry, that's fine, it will all come together fine at the end.

4. In a small bowl, mix together all of your dry ingredients. In a second bowl mix together your buttermilk and applesauce. Starting with your dry ingredients, alternate back and forth adding dry ingredients and then wet ingredients. It should be 1/3 dry, 1/2 wet, 1/3 dry, 1/2 wet, 1/3 dry.

5. Fold in the chopped apple.

6. Spread cake batter in pan and bake for approx. 25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into center of cake comes out clean.  Depending on how you are serving the cake, it can be left in the pan to cool.

 7. Slice the cake right before serving.

For the icing:
1. In a small pot, melt together brown sugar, milk/cream, butter and salt. Allow mixture to come to a boil over medium high heat.

2. Continue to heat until mixture reaches 235 degrees (soft-ball stage). This will take around 10 minutes, then remove caramel mixture from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.

3. Once caramel has cooled some you can add milk/cream to thin if desired. Don't pour or spread caramel icing onto cake until you are ready to serve it.

4. Icing can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for several months. Simply re-heat in a small pan adding some milk to help thin it. 

5. Once cake is slice, "ice" each individual piece and serve while the icing is warm. Yum!!!

Enjoy and if you try this recipe let me know what you think!


  1. Oh, my goodness this looks amazingly delicious. I am not a huge sweet eater - although I appreciate them. This I know I would love! The caramel icing is what puts it over the top! I rarely "ice" a cake anymore - we like ours plain with a little something like ganache or now this! thanks for sharing with us at the hearth and soul hop!

  2. What a beautiful post. Each time I visit, I feel like I'm looking at a work of art! This cake looks moist, spicy and dripping with sweet goodness. Wow! I'm hungry, and I wish I had a slice beside me now. Thank you for sharing such a delightful fall dessert.

  3. This cake looks delicious, spice cake is such a treat. thanks so much.

  4. I love a good spice cake. That's usually what would grab my attention. But holy cow, that icing just looks amazing. There's no way I could make that while I was alone because I'd eat it all myself! Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  5. I LOVE the looks of your cake! I was thinking about making something just like this over the weekend (it's that time of year!)

  6. Oh Terese! This looks AMAZING and I am going to bookmark it right away so I can try it in the near future. It has everything I need in a dessert! Apples and caramel! I always loved those caramel apples as a kid. Thanks so much for sharing it on the hearth and soul hop this week. All the best! Alex@amoderatelife

  7. I can almost smell those warming spices - a lovely addition to a cake. I adore apples in baking.

  8. Oh that is just fantastic! I really love your posts and this one makes me want to go to the store and make a batch of this. I love it!

  9. Wow, Therese, that's a really good cake! I made it today for Max's first birthday cake, and Wow! The cake is so moist it's like pudding and it is delicious! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  10. Hi Carrie, I'm so glad you like it and that it turned out for Max's birthday! I hope he had a wonderful day and you were able to do the things you wanted to do. Hope to see you soon.

  11. Christy, Monet, Melynda, Butterpowerbikem, Lauren, Alex, Sally and Alisa, Thank you all for your wonderful comments and I hope you each enjoy trying the recipe and love every bite!

  12. This is the 3rd year in a row that I've made this cake for Max's birthday! This is a great cake for fall birthdays. Thanks again for sharing it!


    1. Glad he likes it Carrie! I haven't made it in a while, I think I might need to change that this week! We have an apple tree with plenty of apples that need to be used up!

  13. I substituted 2 cups of all purpose flour ( I made sure to convert accurately) instead of using the wheat flour since I didn't have any on hand. The cake itself was too mushy, maybe because I used a different type of flour, or perhaps the apple was too juicy. The cake itself was not sweet or spicy enough in my opinion, but I suppose the glaze balances that out.


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