Fall is almost here and we are craving apple desserts! Today we are sharing an amazing recipe for Apple Toffee Caramel Cake.
This dessert has so many favorite flavors for fall– moist apple cake layers, homemade caramel sauce, toffee bits, and a cinnamon cream cheese filling and frosting.
Keep this recipe in mind for all of your fall gatherings! It would make the perfect fall birthday cake or Thanksgiving dessert. SO good!
How to Make Apple Toffee Caramel Cake
*You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post. Here is a quick rundown of the steps!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the Pans: Grease and flour three 8 inch cake pans as usual. Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of each pan as cakes with fruit have a tendency to stick.
Flour Mixture: Next, in a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apple pie spice. Whisk for 30 seconds and set aside.
Butter and Sugar: In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or beaters if using a handheld mixer) , mix the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until fluffy.
Oil and Vanilla: Add the the oil and vanilla extract and mix until blended.
Eggs: Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing after each until the yellow of the yolk is blended.
Alternating Dry and Wet Ingredients: Next, with the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately. Begin and end with the dry ingredients (Three additions of dry and two additions of wet)
After the last addition, mix until just combined.
Next, pour the batter into prepared pans, smoothing tops with the back of a spoon.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool 10 minutes in the pans, on a wire rack- then turn out of pans.
Can this Cake be Frozen?
(I like to flip out my warm cake layers individually onto foil-wrapped cake boards. Then, I wrap them in plastic wrap while still warm, followed by aluminum foil and into the freezer they go!
Freezing is an optional step but one that I like to do when time allows. I freeze the warm cake layers for at least a few hours or overnight–but they will stay fresh in the freezer for up to three months!
Thawing: When you are ready to thaw, leave them wrapped on the countertop until condensation forms on the foil. Then unwrap and allow to continue to thaw at room temperature.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
This easy recipe for caramel sauce is SO delicious with our apple cake layers. We use it in between layers as well as for a caramel drip around the top edge of the cake.
Caramel and apples are such a fantastic combination, and this buttery homemade caramel is heavenly!
*Store-bought caramel sauce can be substituted for the homemade sauce in between the cake layers, however it may be a little too thin for the drip around the sides of the cake.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
If you love cream cheese frostings, you are going to want to dive right into the bowl of deliciousness. This Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting is so smooth and creamy and pipes perfectly too.
The slight tanginess of the cream cheese frosting pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the caramel and apple cake.
Tips for working with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream cheese frosting is softer than most buttercream frostings. I often refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes after preparing a batch if it seems a little soft.
As you fill and frosting your cake, if you notice that the layers are shifting a bit or if the frosting just seems too soft, pop the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.
I almost always do this chilling step after crumb coating my cakes, no matter what recipe I’m using– it just makes applying the final coat easier.
Also, if you are doing a lot of piping with cream cheese frosting, you may also find it helpful to swap between two different filled piping bags.
Have one piping bag in the refrigerator until you need to swap out for the other. (This is especially helpful if your hands are on the warmer side– this helps to prevent the frosting in the piping bag from melting too much!)
Assembling the Apple Toffee Caramel Cake
- First, place the first apple cake layer on the cake plate or cake stand. Using a piping bag with the tip snipped away, I piped a dam/ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake layer (about ¼-1/2 inch from the edge).
- Dam: Piping a buttercream dam is a good idea whenever you are working with softer fillings because it keeps everything contained.
- Next, spread the cake layer with a fairly thin layer of caramel sauce. Sprinkle with desired amount of toffee bits.
- Using a piping bag with the tip snipped away, I piped a spiral of buttercream on top of the caramel sauce and gently smoothed over it with an offset spatula. (If you’d rather, you could spread the next layer with buttercream and place it frosted-side-down on top of the caramel layer.)
- Repeat these steps for the second cake layer, and top with the third cake layer. Frost as usual with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
- I like to chill my cake for about 15-20 minutes after applying the crumb coat (thin coat of frosting) before going back in with the final coat. I then smoothed over the frosting around the sides of the cake with a metal bench scraper.
- As an optional step, I added a caramel drip around the sides of the cake using a piping bag with just a small bit of the end snipped away, and I also piped spirals of caramel on top.
- Finally, using a star tip 21, I piped a border of rosettes and shells around the top edge of the cake, and then a quick shell border around the bottom.
- I added little toffee bits here and there around the border also.
It’s finished! It looks like fall, doesn’t it? ;0)
And here’s a pretty slice…
We have more Fall Cake Recipes to Share!
We’ve made lots of fall cakes over the years! Here are just a few of our favorites below, but you can find the full collection here!: Favorite Fall Cake Recipes
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you try the Apple Toffee Caramel Cake, we would love for you to leave a comment below. Enjoy the recipe!
For the Apple Cake Layers
- ½ cup (1 stick) (113g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2 cups (400g) sugar
- ½ cup (107g) vegetable oil - I used Canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (3g)
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 3 cups (342g) Cake Flour - see Notes below for substitution
- 1 ½ teaspoon (6g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (3g) teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons (6g) Apple Pie Spice - See Notes below for substitution
- 1 cup (242g) buttermilk -See notes section for substitution if needed
- 2 cups (250g) apples, grated - Depending on the size of the apples you will need two or three. I used Granny Smith, any baking apple will be fine. Use the large holes of your grater to grate the apples
For the Caramel Sauce
- ½ stick (57g) unsalted butter (if using salted butter, do not add additional salt)
- 1 cup (217g) light brown sugar (packed into measuring cup)
- ½ cup (126g) heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon (2g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon (18g) light corn syrup
For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 sticks (or 1 cup/226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (total weight 452g) I use full fat cream cheese. Using reduced fat or the spreadable cream cheese will cause the frosting to be too soft. Soften slightly.
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt (2g) optional - it will cut the sweetness, popcorn salt is best to use because it is fine and dissolves faster
- 6 to 6 ½ cups (690g to 747g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon (3g) cinnamon
- Toffee bits for sprinkling on layers and decoration, we used Heath brand
For the Apple Cake Layers
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Grease and flour three 8 inch cake pans - Add a circle of waxed paper or parchment paper to the bottom of each pan, cakes with fruit can have a tendency to stick.
- In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apple pie spice. Whisk at least 30 seconds to blend. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer, mix the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the the oil and vanilla and mix until blended.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
- Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately. Begin and end with the dry ingredients ( 3 additions of dry and 2 of wet)
- After the last addition, mix until just combined, be careful not to over-mix. Fold in the shredded apples.
- Pour into prepared pans, smoothing tops with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few drums attached. Let cool 10 minutes, then turn out of pans.
Makes 7 ½ cups batter
Works well for cupcakes also - Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, the cupcakes will bake with no dome (flat)
For the Caramel Sauce
- Using a medium size sauce pan (deep enough to prevent boil over) melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the brown sugar and the remaining ingredients.
- Stir to blend, try to keep mixture off the sides of the pan. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the pot and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, check the pot making sure it will not boil over. Remove from heat. After it cools a bit, pour into a heat proof bowl. It will look too thin but keep in mind that the caramel thickens as it cools. You can refrigerate to speed up the cooling process.
Makes 1 cup caramel. It can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cut the butter into slices and add to the bowl of your mixer. Beat on low to medium speed until the butter is softened and smooth.
- Cut the cold cream cheese into pieces and add to the butter, beating at low to medium speed until incorporated. If you are using a hand mixer you may need to soften the cream cheese a bit more.
- Add the vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar and cinnamon beating on low speed until blended. Cover the bowl with a towel to keep down the cloud of powdered sugar.
- Increase mixing speed and beat until fluffy. Don't over beat or it will become too soft. If it becomes too soft, just refrigerate a short while to firm it up a bit.
- This frosting will pipe best if used while still chilled. You can make it in advance, refrigerate and when ready to use let it soften slightly (do not microwave) and remix
Will frost a 3 layer 8 or 9 inch cake.
Assembling the Cake
- Place the first apple cake layer on the cake plate or cake stand. Using a piping bag
with the tip snipped away, I piped a dam/ring of frosting around the edge of
the cake (about ¼-1/2 inch from the edge). (This helps to keep the filling
- Spread the cake layer with a fairly thin layer of caramel sauce. Sprinkle with desired
amount of toffee bits.
- Using a piping bag with the tip snipped away, I piped a spiral of frosting on top of the caramel sauce. (If you'd rather, you could spread the next layer with
the frosting and place it frosted-side-down on top of the caramel layer.)
- Repeat these steps for the second cake layer, and top with the final cake layer.
- Frost as usual with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
- I like to chill my cake for about 15-20 minutes after crumb coating before going
back in with the final coat. I then smooth with a bench scraper.
- I added a caramel drip around the sides of the cake using a piping bag with the
tip snipped away, and I also piped spirals of caramel on top.
- Using a piping tip 21, I added a border of shells and rosettes, and added toffee
No Buttermilk? If you do not have buttermilk, here is a substitution: Put 1 Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup then fill to the one cup mark with milk. Stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Substitution for Cake Flour - Measure out 3 cups all Purpose flour (plain in the UK). Remove 6 Tablespoons of the flour and replace with 6 Tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk to blend.
Substitution for Apple Pie Spice - you could use ½ teaspoon nutmeg and 2 teaspoons cinnamon or you could use only cinnamon 2 to 3 teaspoons
Cupcakes - For standard size cupcakes bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. The cupcakes will not have a dome, they will be flat but perfect for frosting.
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