Caramel-Glazed Apple Cake with Brown Sugar-Brown Butter Apples

Apples caramelized in brown sugar adorn this delicious autumn cake, made with plenty of spice, walnuts, and fresh apples. It’s the perfect fall dessert but is also delicious for breakfast whenever you might have a craving for spiced apple-nut bread. 

We had a wonderful family reunion in Michigan a few summers ago, and my cousin Cindy brought her famous caramel-glazed apple cake to one of the gatherings. There was a bit of a build-up to this cake, and everyone was absolutely raving about it at the party. I was having such a good time chatting with long lost cousins that it took me forever to get to the dessert table, and when I finally did there was not a slice of apple cake to be found. In fact, the cake plate had been cleared too! Disappointment set in, but since I cannot let a great recipe pass, Cindy kindly sent me the recipe for this perfect autumn dessert. Now that I’ve made it five times, I totally understand why everyone was raving about this cake. It is fabulously delicious!

I have two warnings about this cake, however. The first is that you might not be able to stop eating it once you start, so begin with a small slice so you can go for seconds! And, the second is to be sure to use Crisco or butter to grease the pan, and then spray it with cooking spray and then go over all of that with a light dusting of flour. The first time I made it, I used cooking spray and thought that would be just fine, but I ended up with a huge mess when I tried to turn the cake out onto a plate. It came out in crumbles and I had to piece it all back together. As you know, necessity is the mother of invention, and to make it look presentable, I caramelized apple slices to hide the holes, which turned out to be both a pretty and delicious addition to the cake! The next three times using the butter/Crisco and spray approach, the cake turned out perfectly—no problem at all!

Caramel-Glazed Apple Cake

Servings 20 small servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom the recipe calls for mace, but I prefer cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups diced apples (peeled and cored) I used Fuji and Honey Crisp, but you can use any apple you like.
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Garnish

  • 2 medium apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Caramel Glaze

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  • In large bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and oil; beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
    Sift together dry ingredients; add to egg mixture gradually, beating constantly.
    Add vanilla and combine thoroughly.
    Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and fold into batter with walnuts. The batter will be very thick.
    Spoon into well-greased (Crisco) and floured Bundt pan or large tube pan. Bake at 325° for 65-75 minutes or until cake tests are done.
    Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and cool completely on wire rack. When completely cooled, glaze with Caramel Glaze (recipe follows).
    Garnish the top of the cake with caramelized apple slices (recipe follows.) Wrap leftover cake tightly in plastic wrap; keeps un-refrigerated for up to two weeks. Makes 16 to 20 small servings.

Caramel Glaze

  • In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar, cream, and vanilla.
  • Bring to a rolling boil and boil rapidly about two minutes or until the mixture thickens to coat a spoon.
  • Cool slightly and spoon over the cake so that glaze runs down the sides. Makes about ½ cup of glaze.

Caramelized Apple Slices

  • Melt butter in a large skillet. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • Place apple slices on top of the mixture and continue to cook over medium heat, turning halfway through. The sugar will begin to caramelize the apple slices and they will turn a nice golden brown color. Carefully lift each slice and place in a fan-shaped fashion on top of the cake.

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