Caramel Apple Cake with Applesauce


4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups sweetened applesauce

Caramel Sauce:
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups whipping (heavy) cream, room temperature

Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
1½ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup Whipping (heavy) cream
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup caramel sauce

1 cup Caramel Apple M&M's - crushed



1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare 2 - 8 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. 

2.  Start preparing your cake Batter:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.

4.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.  Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.

5.  With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the applesauce, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and applesauce, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.

6.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. 

7.  Prepare the Caramel Sauce:
In a medium size heavy-bottomed pan combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir gently to avoid splashing the mixture onto the sides of the pan.

8.  Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches a temperature of 300 degrees F, a hard crack stage. While the syrup is cooking, wash away any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan by wiping upwards with a damp pastry brush so the sugar crystals don’t fall back into the syrup.

9.  Immediately remove pan from the heat and remove the candy thermometer. Let stand about 1 minute to let the bubbling subside. 

10.  Add the butter and whipping cream and stir until combined.  Let cool completely. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

11.  Prepare the Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
In a medium size heavy-bottomed pan add sugar and flour; whisk together to mix. Add the milk and whipping cream and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil; boil and whisk for another minute. Remove from pan from the heat.

12.  Transfer the hot sugar mixture to a large bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat the mixture at high speed, about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is cool. 

13.  Reduce the mixer to medium speed and add the butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time and mixing 20 to 30 seconds after each addition.

14. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the Buttercream is thick and smooth, about another 3 to 5 minutes.

15. Slowly drizzle in the caramel sauce and continue beating another minute.

16.  Once the cakes are completely cooled you can begin to build your cake.  First, you will want to crush the Caramel Apple M&M's in a zip lock bag using a rolling pin.  These will be added to the cake! 

17.  Place one of the layers on a cake plate. Spread about 1 cup of the frosting on top. Sprinkle the crushed M&M's on the frosting. 

18.  Place the second cake on top of the M&M's and frosting.  Frost the top of the cake and then finish with the sides. 

19.  Drizzle some of your homemade Caramel Sauce on the cake and add some whole Caramel Apple M&M's if desired. 

20.  Refrigerate the cake 30 minutes before serving to firm the frosting and caramel before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.