Caramel Apple Party Cake
Source: Jen Musty, Batter Bakery
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on September 16, 2017.
This multi-step cake is best prepared in advance, and finished just before serving. The beautiful presentation is perfect for a fall or holiday table! All components can be made ahead, and the cake flavor and texture will improve overnight. Have ready three 9” cake pans, an offset spatula, and a lazy Susan or cake turntable for best results!
Rye Spice Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1½ cups rye flour (Capay Mills preferred)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ pound butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
½ cup apple cider
1½ cups buttermilk
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
½ cup heavy cream, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
3-4 tart apples (such as Devoto Orchards Mutsu), cored, peeled, and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
8 ounces butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 ounces powdered sugar, sifted
To prepare the spice cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together the flours, spices, leavening, and salt in a small bowl.
Using a mixer, cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla on low until smooth and barely fluffy. With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl after adding, then mix on low until fully incorporated. Combine the apple cider and buttermilk, and add the liquid alternately with the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Divide the batter into three 9” pans that have been greased and lined with parchment; each pan will have approximately 1 pound 5 ounces batter.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until the cakes spring back and a skewer inserted in the centers come out clean. Allow to cool completely before unmolding from the pans.
To prepare the caramel apples: If making the caramel ahead, do not add the apples until you’re ready to serve; otherwise the moisture from the apples will make the caramel runny.
Pour the sugar into a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Allow the sugar to melt, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and amber in color. Reduce the heat to low, and add ¼ of the butter, whisking quickly and carefully to incorporate. Add ¼ cup of the cream, whisking quickly and carefully to incorporate. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the remainder of butter and cream. Once all the butter and cream is added, remove from the heat and add the vanilla and salt. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any sugar rocks.
If making the caramel ahead, allow it to cool and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat to liquefy, add the apples, and allow them to cool to room temp before using on the cake. If using immediately, add the apples to the warm caramel, and allow to cool to room temperature.
To prepare the cream cheese frosting: It is essential that butter and cream cheese are the same temperature; otherwise you will end up with lumpy frosting.
Add the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until completely smooth. Do not be tempted to turn up the speed! Scrape down the sides. Add the vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated. Add the sifted powdered sugar in two additions, scraping down the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl between each addition. Mix on low speed until completely smooth.
If making the frosting ahead, store it in an airtight container in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and remix on low speed for a few moments before frosting cake.
To finish the cake: Trim the cooled cake layers as needed so that they are flat. Place the first cake layer on a flat, decorative plate or cake board on top of the turntable. Scoop approximately 1 cup of cream cheese frosting into the center of the layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly across the cake layer while slowly spinning the turntable. Repeat with the second cake layer and another 1 cup of frosting. Place the third cake layer face down, bottom side up, to complete the stack.
Divide the remaining frosting in half. Half will be used for the sides of your cake, to frost in “semi-naked” fashion. Place a small amount of frosting on your spatula, and spread it evenly along the edge of the cake, crumb coating the cake. Repeat, until sides of the cake are completely coated. Scoop all remaining frosting onto the top of cake, and spread evenly and neatly across the top of your cake, finishing with whatever swoops and swirls you would like.
At this point cake should be chilled, ideally at least one hour or overnight, to set the frosting.
After chilling, carefully top the cake with the caramel apples. The caramel should be at room temperature, so it moves easily, but NOT WARM, or it will melt the frosting. Start at the center of the cake, and allow the caramel to move towards the edges and drip down the sides.
Place the cake on your party table immediately. Reserve any remaining caramel apples for serving, once the cake has been sliced and plated.