Find plenty of deliciously warm and toasty pie flavor in this apple pie layer cake! This cake features spongy brown sugar cake layers, an easy apple pie filling, sweet caramel frosting, and an apple caramel drip! Quite literally the definition of sugar, spice, and everything nice.
what makes this apple pie layer cake so good?
- warm and toasty flavor. It's a flavor packed dream of cinnamon, apple, and caramelized flavor in every bite!
- moist layers of cake. Seriously. so. spongy!
- easy apple pie filling. Gives you that little bite of freshness between each layer, and specially crafted to make sure it doesn't leak or compromise the stability of the cake layers!
- fluffy caramel frosting. I mean, the name of it is enough to make me swoon.
- easy apple caramel drip on top. This part is optional, but it's a great use of the extra liquid from the cooked apples and adds a pretty little something extra to the cake!
how to make apple pie cake
Make the cake layers
1. Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.
2. Cream together butter, oil, and sugar.
3. Whisk eggs in, one at a time, to combine. Whisk in vanilla with the last egg.
4. Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients. Whisk in about ⅓ of the dry mix, followed by all of the sour cream, another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, buttermilk, and finish off with the remaining dry mix.
5. Pour batter into cake pans and bake.
6. Cool cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack. Cool completely before layering with frosting.
Make the apple pie filling:
1. Combine apple pie filling ingredients in a pan, and cook until softened.
2. Strain the liquid and set aside. Reserve the liquid for the drip on top of the cake if you'd like to include it!
3. Cool completely before using.
Make the caramel frosting:
1. Cream together butter and brown sugar.
2. Mix in salt and powdered sugar until dissolved.
3. Add caramel sauce and vanilla. Whip until light and fluffy! If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it out with some more caramel sauce or milk.
Layer and decorate cake!
1. Lay one of the cooled cake layers onto your serving plate or cake stand.
2. Spread a thin layer of frosting, and pipe a border along the edges. The bottom layer of frosting helps protect the cake from becoming soggy and the border helps hold in the apple filling!
3. Spoon in half of the cooked apples. Spread the filling out until it reaches the frosting border.
4. Repeat with the next layer of cake and the remaining half of the apples.
5. Lay the final cake layer on top and frost the outside of the cake.
(Optional) make the apple caramel drip:
1. Whisk together the cooled reserved sauce from the cooked apples and powdered sugar until you have a smooth icing. If the icing is too thin, whisk in some more powdered sugar. If the icing is too thick, whisk in some more of the sauce from the apples (if you have any left) or some milk.
2. Drizzle over the sides of the cake to create a drip. Add an apple on top for added décor if you'd like as well!
You can serve the cake right away, but it's a good idea to chill it in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes, or until firmed up slightly for cleaner slices!
- Don't overmix the cake batter! It'll ruin all the bubbles and lead to a dense and flat cake.
- Use the right apples! Whenever you're cooking or baking with apples, it's best to pick a type that holds its shape well but still tastes amazing and softens to perfection. Some of the best apples are Granny Smith (my personal favorite!), Braeburn, Fuji, Golden Delicious, or Honey Crisp.
- Don't over cook the apple filling. That'll just give you applesauce. Delicious, but not what we're going for here!
- Strain the cooked apples. Not only does the liquid make a great icing drip, but straining the apples also keeps the layers from slipping around and getting soggy!
- Use caramel sauce NOT syrup in the frosting. Caramel syrup is sweeter and has a thinner consistency than caramel sauce. Using sauce is better for the overall sweetness and texture of the frosting.
- Don't skip the salt. This is a sweet and sticky cake, so salt is super important when it comes to balancing out the flavor! Feel free to add an extra pinch of salt to the frosting if you'd like to mellow out the sweetness more to taste.
Keep your cake covered and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. I recommend letting the cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving as well so it's not too cold when you dig in!
This cake will keep for about 5 days in the fridge. It's not super important to cover the cake if it's not sliced. But once the inside cake is exposed, make sure to press a piece of plastic wrap on any visible cake layers, or cover with a cake server to keep them from drying out.
check out these other recipes!
Apple Pie Layer Cake Recipe
For the cake layers:
- 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup (120mL) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240g) sour cream, at room temperature
- ½ cup (120mL) milk, at room temperature
For the apple filling:
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter
- 5 cups (590g) peeled, cored, and diced Granny Smith apples *see notes
- ½ cup (100g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the caramel frosting:
- 1 & ½ cups (340g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups (780g) powdered sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup (60mL) caramel sauce (store bought is fine!) **see notes
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the apple caramel drip (optional):
- 1 cup (130g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 to 4 tablespoons reserved liquid from cooked apples or more to reach desired consistency
Make the cake layers:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter 3 (8 inch) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Lightly dust the sides with flour and tap out any extra. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour,, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, combine butter, oil, and both sugars. Cream together until well combined and light in color (about 1 minute with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed or 2 minutes with a whisk by hand). The mixture will still be grainy, but there shouldn't be any large clumps of butter.6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter,, ½ cup (120mL) vegetable oil, 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar,, ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- Whisk the eggs in, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla with the last egg.3 large eggs,, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Alternate mixing in dry ingredients and sour cream and milk. Start by folding in about ⅓ of the dry mix, followed by all of the sour cream. Mix in another ⅓ dry ingredients, all the milk, and finish off with the remaining dry ingredients. Take care not to over mix!1 cup (240g) sour cream,, ½ cup (120mL) milk,
- Divide the batter evenly into your prepared cake pans. Bake in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes for 5 minutes in the pans, then turn onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper, and set aside to cool completely to room temperature before layering.
Make the apple pie filling:
- Combine apple pie filling ingredients in a large skillet. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the sugar and butter are melted. Bring the mixture up to a simmer, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the apples soften. Take care not to overcook the apples or they'll lose their shape!6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, 5 cups (590g) peeled, cored, and diced Granny Smith apples, ½ cup (100g) packed brown sugar,, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Strain the apple mixture and reserve the apples and liquid in 2 separate bowls. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
Make the caramel buttercream frosting:
- In a large bowl, combine butter and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together until well combined and fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed).1 & ½ cups (340g) unsalted butter,, ¾ cup (150g) packed brown sugar,
- Add salt and powdered sugar, and mix together on low speed until the sugar is fully dissolved.1 teaspoon salt, 6 cups (780g) powdered sugar,
- Add caramel sauce and vanilla, and whip for 2 minutes on medium speed or until smooth and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it out with some more caramel sauce or milk.¼ cup (60mL) caramel sauce, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Place one of the cooled cake layers on your cake stand or serving plate. Spread a thin layer of frosting evenly overtop, then pipe a frosting border along the edges of the cake to hold in the apple filling (pictured above).
- Spoon half of the apple filling onto the center of the cake and spread the filling out to the frosting border. Repeat with another layer of cake, frosting, and apple filling.
- Place the last layer of cake on top and frost the outside of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
- (Optional) make an apple caramel drip: In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of the cooled reserved liquid from the cooked apples. If the mixture is too thick, continue whisking in some of the reserved liquid until it reaches an icing consistency.1 cup (130g) powdered sugar,, 3 to 4 tablespoons reserved liquid from cooked apples
- Drizzle the apple caramel drip over the sides of the cake and top with an apple if desired. You can serve the cake right away, but for cleaner slices, chill the cake in the fridge until firm (about 30-60 minutes).