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Applesauce Layer Cake With Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

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Slightly spiced and super moist applesauce layer cake goes perfectly with a soft and luscious caramel cream cheese frosting.  This cake is stunning and is perfect for fall gatherings.

layered applesauce cake with soft and creamy caramel cream cheese frosting and a big slice missing showing the layers.

Layers of soft and delicious applesauce cake wrapped in a tasty caramel cream cheese frosting make for a perfect fall dessert. This cake and frosting combination really is something to get excited about. 

Once you make the caramel cream cheese frosting for this, you will find yourself coming up with excuses to make more. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

When trying to come up with a tasty dessert to serve at a fall party, it seemed a nice moist applesauce cake would do the trick nicely. I wanted it to have just a hint of cinnamon, but not too much.

I wanted the apple, vanilla and almond flavors to really mingle and star in this show. Oh gracious, they were definitely a match made in… well, dessert heaven!

The Applesauce Cake

This recipe makes three nine inch cake layers. That makes for a nice tall cake that really makes a great presentation.

It is also great for feeding a crowd. So it is perfect for a fall party, family reunion or even holiday dessert.

The caramel and apple combination is always a huge hit, so you might as well make a big cake anyway. That way you aren’t wishing you made more.

Luckily the batter is really easy to put together and all of the applesauce in the cake makes the layers so moist and delicious. And the simple ingredients are mostly pantry staples, so it might not even require an extra trip to the grocery store.

It’s ok if the batter looks a little bit broken after you add the eggs and applesauce. It will come back together when you add the dry ingredients.

As with most cake recipes, you don’t want to overmix the batter once you add the flour. Too much mixing can cause the glutens to develop and makes for a chewier cake.

The cakes are done with the top bounces back when lightly touched with a finger. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then tip them out to cool completely before starting the frosting.

The Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

It didn’t take much thought at all to know the frosting should have caramel tones in it.  While I absolutely love the creamy caramel sweetened condensed milk frosting, I had something a little softer in mind.

I thought about starting with a completely new recipe, but why reinvent the wheel? So I tinkered with what I already knew was amazing to make it more what I had in mind.

It turns out all it needed was more cream cheese!  That makes it easy and creamy and adds a little extra tang to balance out the sweet caramel.

Close up of round layered applesauce cake with smooth caramel frosting.

This is one of those frostings you could eat with a spoon. Or maybe you should eat it with sliced apples!

First of all it is not tooth achingly sweet. It is creamy, soft, luscious and a perfect balance of caramel and cream cheese flavors. As you can imagine, it was the perfect foil for the apple cake.

I will confess that I love a beautifully decorated cake as much as the next person. In fact I go for the slice with the big frosting flower every time, because more frosting is always my thing!

But I do not have an artistic bone in my body, so I keep my cake decorating simple. Mostly spread it on, top with sprinkles. You know, the fancy stuff! 😉

slice of applesauce cake with layers of soft caramel cream cheese frosting on dessert plate with fork.

This time I decided to get super fancy and chop a few peanuts to sprinkle on top.  That way it was just like a caramel apple!

Luckily this cake tastes so good you don’t need a bunch of intricate decoration. As soon as the first person takes a bite and shuts their eyes as they let out a “mmmmmm,” everyone will be sold!

Making The Cakes Ahead of Time

Feel free to bake the cakes several days or even several weeks ahead of time. It is a great way to save time if you are hosting a party.

Just let the baked cake layers cool for a while on the wire racks and then wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them until the day of the party.

Then all you have to do is whip up the frosting and spread it on.  In fact that is my favorite way to do cakes.  It spreads out the work and I think helps the cake be extra moist and delicious!

If you are a frosting fanatic like me, check out my Frosting 101. It goes through the different types of frosting and links to all sorts of delicious recipes!

layered applesauce cake with soft and creamy caramel cream cheese frosting and a big slice missing showing the layers.

Applesauce Cake With Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings: 24 Servings (A 3 Layer 9 inch cake)
Author: Carlee
Slightly spiced and super moist applesauce cake goes perfectly with a soft and luscious cream cheese and caramel frosting.  This is the stuff fall dreams are made of!
4.82 from 16 ratings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients
 

Applesauce Cake

  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ cup butter softened
  • cups granulated sugar
  • cups light brown sugar packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • cups applesauce

Frosting

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • ½ cup butter
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 16 oz cream cheese softened

Instructions
 

Applesauce Layer Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and prepared 3 9 inch cake pans.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until well mixed and no clumps are present.
    3 cup all-purpose flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, 1½ teaspoons baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • In your mixer, cream the vanilla, almond extract, butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon almond extract, ¾ cup butter, 1½ cups granulated sugar, 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until mixed.
    3 large eggs
  • Mix in the applesauce. It is ok if it looks a little curdled at this stage.
    2¼ cups applesauce
  • Stir in the dry ingredients until just mixed and then divide batter among the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes test done. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then tip onto wire racks to cool completely.
  • You can make your cakes ahead of time. Just wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze until you are ready to decorate.

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a saucepan, bring the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar and butter to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly and allow to boil for 3-5 minutes. The frosting should be like a thick pudding.
    14 oz sweetened condensed milk, ¾ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup butter
  • Cool caramel mixture to room temperature. This may take a while, but you can put it in the refrigerator to speed the process if you want to. When cooled, it should be thick enough to almost hold it's shape.
  • Whip cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Add cooled caramel mixture and beat for at least a couple of minutes.
    1½ teaspoons vanilla extract, 16 oz cream cheese
  • Spread over completely cooled cake.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 420kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 5gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 309mgFiber: 1gSugar: 45g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.82 from 16 votes (15 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Kristen

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

I am at high elevation, about 4,700 ft, and I was wondering if this recipe would do ok baking at high elevation? Or do you have any tips for adjusting for elevation?

Carlee

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

I don't have a lot of experience baking at high altitude. However, I have seen advice to raise the temperature by 15-25 degrees and then reduce the bake time a bit. This is a pretty moist cake to start with, so I would think you should have plenty of leeway before it dries out.

Kari

Monday 24th of April 2023

Loved by my whole family. Sent the rest over to a neighbor, also loved! Thank you for the recipe, it's a keeper.

Carlee

Tuesday 25th of April 2023

Yay, I'm so glad everyone liked it! I need to make it again one soon.

Gini Lang

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Thank you so much..looking forward to making it !!

Gini Lang

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

Sorry but that should read from Gini Lang......

Think Lang

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

The recipe and the reviews sound wonderful..my question is how long would I bake this in a 9X13 pan at the stated 350 degrees?? Thank you so much..

Carlee

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

I haven't made it in a 9x13, but I would guess it will take around 45 minutes.