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Apple Cake with Caramel

This caramel apple cake is such a gem. It’s super moist, tender, and brimming with warm spices and plummy apples. It is just as delish with or without the caramel drizzle!

Slice of apple cake with caramel drizzle on a white plate.
This Apple Cake with Caramel features fall flavors, and is just as good with or without the caramel drizzle.

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

Caramel Apple Cake

Fall is synonymous with apples galore, and we’re here to embrace all of it. Our month of apple love included these tasty and healthier Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Holes for breakfast.  Not to mention these fluffy soft Apple Oatmeal Cookies and Baked Apple Donuts for afternoon pick-me-ups.  

I’ve been wanting to bake up an apple cake for ever since an old friend brought a tasty apple cake over to our house many years ago. Since then, this tender apple cake has been a family favorite every fall.

Why This Recipe Stands Out

  • This is one of the most tender cakes you’ll ever bake and eat, thanks to plenty of jammy apples.
  • Plenty of cinnamon and spices bring out fabulous fall flavors.
  • It’s a super easy apple cake that fits a 13×9″ pan perfectly, which feeds a crowd.
  • This apple cake is so darned good, it can be served all by itself, with or without the gooey caramel drizzle – but who doesn’t want stunning caramel?
  • If caramel isn’t your thing, serve this cake with Easy Vanilla Ice Cream.
  • This apple cake can be made the night before, as it keeps beautifully.

Key Ingredients

apple cake ingredients measured out in bowls
  • Oil: Olive oil works brilliantly in baking, without imparting any olive flavor. Feel free to use canola or vegetable oil, if you prefer.
  • Sugars: Brown and granulated sugars: we incorporate brown sugar for it’s classic depth of caramel-like flavors.
  • Spices: We aren’t shy with the cinnamon and nutmeg here; it melds wonderfully with apples.
  • Extract: Add vanilla extract for an extra boost of fragrant flavor.
  • Apples: Granny smith is our apple of choice, for its bake-friendly texture and sweet-tart flavor profile.
  • Caramel: For ease, we use melted caramel candies, but feel free to use homemade caramel, which is astounding.

Best Apples for Baking

There are several great choices when choosing apples that are good for baking. Here are a few tried and true favorites:

  • Granny smith apples are a classic choice for baking into apple pies, and they’re a great pick for apple cakes as well. Granny smith apples are known for their tart-sweet flavor profile, as well as their firmness. They bake up tenderly yet maintain shape without becoming mushy.
  • Honeycrisp apples are famous for their huge apple flavor and sweetness. Honeycrisp apples have a wonderfully crisp texture; when baked, they become tender without turning into mush. We love them in this Easy Apple Crisp.
  • Gala and Fuji apples both have a crisp, sweet flesh that works well for baking. They’re great in baked goodies such as this Moist Apple Fritter Bread and Caramel Apple Baked Donuts.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat oil and eggs until fully combined. Add both sugars and vanilla and beat until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture and use rubber spatula to fold together just until incorporated. The batter will be thick.
  4. Fold in the diced apples with spatula and spread batter into greased/floured pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Don’t over-bake. Cool cake completely on wire rack. Slice into squares to serve when cake is cooled.
  5. For caramel drizzle: Melt caramels and 2 tsp water in saucepan, stirring constantly just until melted. Will be very hot!
  6. Drizzle with fork over cake squares. Sprinkle powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.
Close up of a slice of apple cake with lots of caramel drizzle.
This cake can be dressed up with caramel sauce and powdered sugar.

Prep Ahead Tips

  • Apples can be peeled and diced ahead of time and sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice, or submerged in salted water to keep from browning. Just be sure to rinse and drain well before adding to the recipe.
  • Dry ingredients can be combined several days ahead of time.
  • If opting for homemade caramel sauce, you can make it several days ahead of time and simply reheat prior to drizzling.
  • Apple cake keeps well for 1-2 days at mild room temperature, or covered airtight and chilled in the fridge.

Commonly Asked Questions

What kind of apples should I use for baking?

It’s recommended to use firm and slightly tart apples for baking, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Braeburn. These varieties hold their shape well during baking and provide a nice balance of flavor.

Can I leave the apple peel on the apples?

Yes, you can leave the peel on the apples if you prefer; it’s really a matter of personal choice. The peel adds texture and additional flavor to the cake. Just make sure to wash the apples thoroughly before using them.

What spices are commonly used in apple cake?

Cinnamon is the most common spice used in apple cake, as it pairs well with the apple flavor. Nutmeg and cloves are also popular choices.

Can I add nuts to apple cake?

Absolutely! Chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans can be great additions to apple cake, providing extra crunch and sweetness.

Can I make this cake ahead of time?

Yes, this recipe actually tastes better the next day, after it has fully cooled overnight. Store it in an airtight container once it’s cool; it keeps well at moderate room temperature for a couple of days. If keeping longer, store airtight in the fridge.

What should I serve with apple cake?

We love homemade caramel sauce, vanilla bean ice cream, and stabilized whipped cream for options to serve your apple cake with.


Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Slice of apple cake with caramel drizzle on a white plate.

Apple Cake with Caramel

4.97 from 96 ratings
This apple caramel cinnamon cake is SUCH a gem. It’s super moist, tender, and brimming with warm spices and plummy apples. It is just as delish with or without the caramel drizzle!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 20
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F and move rack to middle or lower middle position. Generously grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan. Set aside.
  • In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat oil and eggs until fully combined. Add both sugars and vanilla and beat until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture and use rubber spatula to fold together just until incorporated. The batter will be thick.
  • Fold in the diced apples with spatula and spread batter into greased/floured pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Don't over-bake. Cool cake completely on wire rack. Slice into squares to serve when cake is cooled.
  • For caramel drizzle: Melt caramels and 2 tsp water in saucepan, stirring constantly just until melted. Will be very hot! Drizzle with fork over cake squares. Sprinkle powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.

Notes

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 2.1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1.8g | Cholesterol: 18.7mg | Sodium: 135.7mg | Fiber: 1.2g | Sugar: 24.7g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Low Lactose, Vegetarian
Method: baking

More to Bake and Eat

  • Pineapple Cake – this one is ridiculously moist, without any oil or butter added. You have to try it to believe it.
  • Best Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust – this apple pie is a reader-favorite, as it’s wonderfully delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
  • Winning Apple Pie Bars – these apple bars actually won first-runner-up prize at a local baking contest.
  • Apple Cookies (With Caramel) – if you love caramel and apples, you’ll adore these caramel apple cookies.
  • Gluten-Free Apple Crisp – even gluten-free eaters need some apple crisp in their lives, and why not make it the best recipe possible?
  • Dutch Apple Pie – when we’re a tad too lazy to make a double-crust apple pie, we opt for this Dutch apple pie with amazing streusel topping.

4.97 from 96 votes (62 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




61 comments

    • Wendy
    • 5 stars

    Fabulous recipe. My morning coffee group loved it. I made the homemade caramel sauce.
    Thank you

      • Amy Dong

      That’s fantastic, Wendy! 🙂

    • P Gill
    • 5 stars

    This recipe is such a gem!! I’ve made this 3 times over the last few months and it has been a hit every time, plus its easy to make.

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you loved this! 🙂

    • Ksenia
    • 5 stars

    There is nothing about this gorgeous falltime cake that isnt perfect! I love the spices, the Granny Smith apples, and the gooey caramel sauce. Great work!!

    • Michele
    • 5 stars

    I took this apple cake to a church potluck and it was a hit! Thanks you for a delicious recipe!

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