Have you heard of apple butter? It is seriously a brilliant achievement in spreads. Not only does it taste phenomenal on a slice of toast on a Sunday morning with a little scrambled eggs, but it also can act as a substitute for the arduous peeling and slicing of apples usually required for an apple cake. Apple cake made easy!
I found this cake recipe when looking for something autumnal to make for Daddy-o’s 81st birthday. I wanted a spice cake – no apple peeling/chopping work – and maybe a caramel frosting of sorts. What I came up with was this apple butter cake, a caramel icing for the filling on the inside and cream cheese cinnamon frosting for the outside. But what is this “apple butter” stuff? I’ve heard of apple sauce, but apple butter? I don’t believe stores in Mass. carry this fabulous spread, so I ordered some on Amazon. Upon arrival, I opened up a jar, scooped up a dollop with my fingers and gave it a try. YUM! A day later, dad’s cake was complete and the flavor combinations were simply divine. Dare I say “Autumn in a cake?”
Apple Butter Cake
3/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
6 Large Egg Whites, room temperature
2 1/2 Cups Flour
4 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
Pinch of Allspice
1/2 Tsp salt
3/4 Cup Apple Butter
1/4 Cup Milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides.
3. In your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
4. Add egg whites in two batches, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Then in another separate bowl, combine the apple butter and milk. I mixed in my small pyrex glass measuring cup because it has a spout.
6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Add the apple butter mixture and mix until well combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
7. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for about 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
8. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 3-5 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
Caramel Frosting Filling (for the inside layers of apple cake and leftovers went on top of some rogue chocolate cupcakes at this party):
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
9 Tbsp Salted Butter, cubed & room temperature
3/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream, room temperature
4 Cups Powdered Sugar
2-3 Tbsp Milk
1. Pour sugar into an even layer in a large saucepan and heat on med-high heat. Whisk until melted. 8-10 min.
2. Once the sugar has melted, stop whisking and allow to cook until the sugar has turned to a little darker amber color. You may notice a nutty aroma. The change in color will happen quickly, so don’t let it go too long or get too dark or it’ll burn. Remove caramel from the heat.
3. Add butter and whisk until combined. The mixture will bubble up, but keep whisking until all the butter has melted and combined.
4. Slowly pour the heavy cream into the caramel and whisk until incorporated.
5. Cool at least 10-15 minutes before using.
6. Pour about 1 1/4 cups of caramel to a mixing bowl (save about 3/4 cup for using on top of the cake for the drip design) and slowly add powdered sugar and milk until you have smooth, delicious caramel icing. You can add more or less sugar and/or milk to get the consistency you prefer.
Cream Cheese Cinnamon Frosting:
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of salt
4 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1. Place butter in your stand mixer and beat until fluffy, 2-3 min. Add cream cheese, vanilla and salt and continue to beat for another couple of minutes. Scrape sides of bowl as needed and beat until well mixed.
2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar gradually and mix until smooth and combined. Add ground cinnamon, scrape down the sides of the bowl and then shoot up the speed on the mixer and give it a final super power mix for a couple of minutes until frosting is creamy, fluffed and ready for use!
I put the caramel in a frosting bag with a 3 tip to just slowly drip and drizzle the perimeter. I considered making the caramel pool all over the top too… but wasn’t sure how I could design an “81” on top of caramel. I used the 1M frosting tip for those simple poofs and a happy birthday frame from the local Stop & Shop. The autumn leaf shaped sprinkles were from Amazon and at the last-minute, I decided to use them to create that “81” on top – which in retrospect probably could have worked on top of a layer of caramel just fine – but you all know what it’s like when cooking and planning for a party. 🙂
Dad had a GREAT time and loved all his guests and gift card presents! Here he is with his sister after the happy birthday song. He always is so appreciative of his parties and seeing the family. Here’s to many more, daddy-o!
A couple of weeks later, I used the same cake recipe for cupcakes (it makes about 28) and filled them with my caramel recipe that’s a bit thicker than the one used to make the caramel icing. And covered with the same cream cheese cinnamon frosting. Just throwing in another way to utilize such a delicious and easy fall recipe!