This apple cider cake is full of delicious apple flavor from concentrated apple cider and fresh apples baked inside. Combined with a delicious (and also dairy free) caramel buttercream, this is the perfect cake to make this fall!
Apple cider cake means a few things:
- Fall is coming
- its almost my birthday.
- people are going batsh*t crazy over pumpkin flavored everything.
I’ll admit it, I’m not a huge pumpkin fan.
I don’t hate it- I will take a pumpkin flavored dessert sometimes, but a pumpkin spice dessert, never. I just can’t handle the strong spice flavors, I’m not into it.
To get a handle on both of the above situations, I bring you this apple cider layer cake with (dairy free!) caramel buttercream.
I make a version of this apple cider layer cake every year around this time because it usually coincides with one of the Jewish holidays and then sometimes with my birthday.
Every year though I look for which recipe I used the year before and obviously can never seem to find it, so this year I decided to be super organized, write it down, and blog about it so I will always know where to go.
How To Make This Apple Cider Cake
This year’s apple cider layer cake has so many goodies in it. Concentrated sparkling apple cider, chopped apples, and brown sugar for a more caramel-y taste.
The smell of this cake while its baking is something sent from heaven!! Even my kids were like “woah what is that smell?” Usually that means something else coming from them, but in this case it was a good thing.
Now lets talk about the dairy free caramel buttercream.
I have been on a hunt for a good dairy free caramel sauce FOR YEARS. No exaggeration. I remember asking my chef instructors in culinary school and that was in 2012.
I know nothing really compares to butter and cream, but sometimes I need a dairy free alternative for kosher dietary reasons.
OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS I DID IT.
Ok, so I basically have been terrified of making caramel sauce always because of so many reasons- for one, I am so nervous I am going to burn the sugar because theres only a small amount of time between amber colored sugar and burnt sugar. Two, I have burned myself so many times and still have scars, physical and emotional.
So I thought, how could I adapt it to what I need?
Then I remembered that I have an obsession with Trader Joe’s coconut cream, and I basically sub it for all my cream needs in a lot of other recipes like these chicken soup enchiladas, and even add it to this cauliflower pear soup to cream it up, so why not try to sub it here and see what happens!
It happened. It was awesome. I love it. We are now best friends.
This dairy free caramel sauce looks, and acts the same way a dairy caramel sauce would.
Keep it in the fridge, take it out a few minutes before you want to use it, and then drizzle it on anything and everything, or just eat it with a spoon. It doesn’t have a huge overall coconut taste to it. I do however love coconut, so even if I tasted it I wouldn’t mind so much.
I did an even swap from Sally’s recipe for the butter and cream with earth balance and Trader Joe’s coconut cream, but I did reduce the amount of salt by half because I thought it was just a litttttttle too much.
Then added some of the sauce to a basic buttercream recipe, and filled and frosted the whole cake with it.
Slices apple super thinly and then lay them down on the cake, overlapping them around and around to look like a giant rose.
Obviously I drizzled more caramel sauce on top because this apple cider layer cake is something worth going batsh*t crazy over.
Apple Cider Layer Cake with Dairy Free Caramel Buttercream
- Ingredients for the cake:12 oz. sparkling apple cider1 medium size gala apple peeled, cored, and diced small. Plus 1 medium sized apple cored and sliced thin, for garnish.4 cups all purpose flour1 tablespoon baking powder1 ½ teaspoons baking soda1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon½ teaspoon kosher salt1 ½ cups brown sugar½ cup granulated sugar1 cup vegetable or canola oil4 large eggs¾ cup rice or soy milk or regular milkFor the dairy free caramel sauce: (Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction)1 cup granulated sugar6 tablespoons Earth Balance or margarine, diced½ cup coconut cream- not milk! Such as Trader Joe's brand and preferably cold. ½ teaspoon kosher saltFor the dairy free caramel buttercream:1 cup Earth Balance, cold or margarine, softened 3 ½- 4 cups confectioners sugar3 tablespoons dairy free caramel sauce1 teaspoon rice or soy milk
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spray 3 -9” baking pans with baking spray or line them with parchment paper.In a medium sized pot, add the sparkling cider and bring it to a boil. Continue boiling until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the diced apples to the cider and put the mixture in the fridge to cool.In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix and set aside.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugars and oil, and beat on medium speed just until combined.Turn the mixer to low add the eggs in one at a time after each one is incorporated. With the mixer on low, add in 1/3rd of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Next add half the rice milk, mix, and then another 1/3rd of the the flour mixture.Add in the last of the rice milk along with the cider mixture, mix until combined and then add in the last of the flour.Pour the batter into the prepared baking pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake edges separate from the pans and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.Cool.To make the caramel:In a medium sized pot over medium heat add the sugar and stir continuously with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon.As the sugar heats up it will clump together and turn a golden amber color. Keep stirring well and eventually the clumps will melt.Stand back and add in the Earth Balance or margarine. The coldness of the margarine will cause the sugar to boil vigorously so make sure you are not too close.Stir until the margarine melts, and then slowly add in the coconut cream, standing back again!Add in the salt and stir until combined.Allow the caramel to cool just a little, then add it to a heat proof container.To make the buttercream:In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add in the cold Earth Balance or margarine and the confectioners sugars and mix on medium speed until combined.Add in the rice milk, and caramel sauce and continue to mix on medium speed. You may have to scrape down the bowl once or twice to mix it well. To assemble:When the cakes are cool, slice off the dome tops with a long serrated knife to make them straight and even.Place one cake layer on a cake board or plate, and top with ⅓ cup or so of buttercream, smoothing it out evenly over the cake. Add another cake layer, and more buttercream.Top with the last cake layer and frost the whole cake with the remaining buttercream.Take the apple slices (for garnish) and arrange them along the top of the cake, and then drizzle the top with the caramel.Keep in the fridge and enjoy!
- Squeeze some lemon juice on the apple slices that are for garnish, it will prevent them from turning brown.
- If the buttercream is too liquidy, add in more confectioners sugar. If it is too dry add in more liquid starting with ½ teaspoon at a time.
- Its best to use the Earth balance straight from the fridge because it melts quickly. If the buttercream softens quickly, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to harden slightly.