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Apple Spice Cake with Boiled Caramel Frosting

A super moist spice cake with plenty of fresh apples and topped with a smooth caramel icing. You'll love this sheet cake for serving a crowd at your next fall get-together.
baking sheet with cake being lifted up.

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It’s just the perfect blend of fall flavors. Spices, caramel, apples. Amazing.
  • The icing is fun to make. You boil, you beat it, you pour it on top. Then it hardens into a slightly crackly delicious layer.
  • The cake is so moist. Vegetable oil and plenty of eggs are my favorite method for the best sheet cake. And it makes it easier since you don’t have to cream any butter. 😊

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on cutting board.
  • all-purpose flour
  • granulated sugar
  • light brown sugar
  • salt
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground allspice
  • cloves
  • eggs 
  • vegetable oil
  • applesauce
  • peeled and chopped apples 
  • butter
  • milk
  • powdered sugar

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🍴Instructions

Step One: prep

diced apples in hand.

Preheat the oven to 350° with the rack in the center. Peel and chop the apples

Step Two: make the cake batter

batter with dry ingredients, finished, and with chopped apples added.

Stir together flour, spices, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, vegetable oil, and apple sauce and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. If needed, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Stir in chopped apples by hand.

Step three: pour into pan

pouring batter with apple chunks into pan.

Pour the batter into a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan or a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Step Four: bake

fully caked sheet cake.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let it cool in the pan for at least 2 hours before making frosting.

Step Five: make the frosting

boiling and beating frosting.

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup butter, and 3 tablespoons of milk to a boil over medium heat. Whisk constantly so the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and use a hand mixer to beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Pour icing over cooled cake immediately so it does not harden in the pan.

Step six: serve

slice of frosted cake.

Allow the frosting to cool and harden for at least 20 minutes. It should set up very quickly and form a firm layer. Cut into squares and serve.

🥫 Storage instruction


I prefer to store any leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered. You can leave it out on the counter for a day or so, though.

🔍 FAQs

What type of apples are best for apple cake?

It doesn’t matter. Really. I usually use either Honeycrisp or Granny Smith because those are our favorites for eating fresh, and there’s no difference. Pick your favorite apple to eat and it will be great in this cake.

Can I make this gluten-free?

I haven’t tried it, but you may be able to substitute a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend with success.

Can I make this a layer cake? Cupcakes?

It is very moist and soft and sticks to the pan a bit. You can try it, but I wouldn’t risk it for a special occasion.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • This recipe is awesome with chopped pecans in the batter and on top of the frosting.
  • You can double the icing if you’d like a thick layer, but it’s very sweet.
  • Don’t forget to let the cake cool completely before icing it. Otherwise, the frosting will melt and not set up properly.

📘 Related Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

For an autumn get-together, you’ll love these recipes:

finished frosted cake.

📖 Here’s the recipe

close up view of finished cake.
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Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

Print Recipe
A super moist spice cake with plenty of fresh apples and topped with a smooth caramel icing. You'll love this sheet cake for serving a crowd at your next fall get-together.
Prep Time:30 mins
Cook Time:25 mins
Total Time:55 mins
Click here to grab a free seasonal e-cookbook!

Equipment

  • Rimmed jelly roll pan or 13 x 9 pan
  • 2 quart saucepan
  • Hand mixer

Ingredients

Apple Cake Batter

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup applesauce
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped apples about 2 large apples

Caramel Frosting

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350° with the rack in the center.
  • Make the cake batter. Stir together flour, spices, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, and apple sauce and beat with a hand mixer until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed. Add chopped apples and stir by hand,
  • Bake. Pour batter into a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan or a 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pan for at least 2 hours before making the frosting.
  • Make the caramel frosting. Bring ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup butter, and 3 tablespoons of milk to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute, continuing to whisk. Remove from the heat, and using a hand mixer, gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth, until the icing begins to cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over the cooled cake.
  • Cool and serve. Let the frosting cool and harden for at least 20 minutes. It should set up very quickly to form a firm layer. Cut into squares and serve.

Notes

If you’ve never made caramel frosting before, it can be hard to know when to stop beating.  As soon as you see any thickening, pour a very small amount on top of the cake.  If it runs off, it needs a little more time.  If it flattens and stays put, it’s ready!  Work quickly.
The batter will seem very thick when you pour it into the pan, but don’t add any additional liquid.  As the apples bake, they will add liquid to the cake. 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple cake with caramel frosting, apple spice cake, caramel apple cake, falll sheet cake
Servings: 20 slices
Author: Katie Shaw
Did you make this recipe?Tag me @heartscontentfarmhouse so I can see!

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