Apple Pie Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Hello my lovelies!  I hope your week is going well.  I haven’t done a recipe in awhile, so I thought it was time.
Sometimes you work on a recipe – and work and work on it.  You put your heart and soul into it and it’s fabulous.  So fabulous you plan on passing it down to your children and your children’s children, etc.
This is not one of those.
I came up with this recipe when I realized that I had an unused can of apple pie filling and no pie crust.  Sure, I could have made a homemade pie crust, made a streusel topping and called it Dutch Apple.  But that’s not how my mind rolls.
I was seriously just sitting on the couch thinking about what to do when I suddenly thought of cake.  Cake + apple pie filling = Apple Pie Cake!  I had a Eureka! moment and nearly scared TBG out of his pants.  Then I used him as a sounding board.  We were in agreement that there should not be a repeat of the sugary sweetness that was the buttercream frosting used on Q’s Hello Kitty cake.  Nope.  So then what?
Cream cheese!  Yes!  Perfect.  But when you think “apple pie”, you don’t think “cream cheese”.  Hmmmm…
Caramel!  Caramel apples!  Caramel Cream Cheese!  Score.  And thus, the recipe was born.
As you can tell, I don’t really put too much thought into my recipes… and that works for me.  Unfortunately that on-the-spot thinking transfers into the baking process.
In throwing things together, I found myself short on ingredients and without a car.  I went door to door in my neighborhood for a quarter cup of milk – no one was home or they were out of milk, too!  Time to rethink.
I eventually said “screw it” and used a bit of water.  I don’t recommend it, though my cakes turned out fine.
Then, when it came to making the caramel, I barely had enough butter.  Seriously.  I’m out of butter now.  Which was bad, because normally cream cheese frosting is made with… butter.  Yep.  Now I didn’t have butter for the frosting.  Rethink again.
The caramel.  Of course!  It can act as a liquid and a solid.  Well, it did in this case.  Welcome to my brain, people.
Lesson:  Make sure you have everything you need for the recipe you’re going to make before you start baking!  Also, it may be easier to use store bought caramel sauce.  Just for the record.
Shopping List:
 
For cake
  • 3½ cups (324 g) sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon  (11 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 227 g) butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract (I used clear, but regular is fine)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk (whole is best, but 2% will suffice)
  • Wilton Cake Release™ Pan Coating (or whatever you use to get cakes out of the pan)
For salted caramel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, separated into 6 pieces
  • 1/2 heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For frosting/filling
  • 1 tbsp caramel sauce (above)
  • 2 pkg 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1 can prepared apple pie filling, any size
  • 1 plastic or piping bag
To Create:
Preheat oven to 350° F
Prepare cake pans (butter and flour, or cake release, plus baking strips, if using)
For cake:
  1. In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.  (I use my trusty hand-mixer)
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating them in each time.  Add vanilla and mix.
  4. Alternating them, beat in flour and milk.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Set aside, in pans, to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer out of the pans onto cooling racks.  Cake should be completely cool before frosting.
For frosting:
  1. Start with the caramel, if making it from scratch.  On medium heat, in a medium saucepan, start heating up the 1 cup of sugar.
  2. Constantly stir with a rubber spatula.  It will (eventually) turn into an amber-colored liquid.  It takes awhile, but it does.
  3. Once the sugar is in this liquid state, add the 6 pads of butter.  Warning: the caramel will bubble fast, so be careful.  Keep stirring.
  4. Very slowly add the heavy cream.  Since it’s colder than the caramel liquid, the reaction is to bubble and spit.  So… very slowly.
  5. Allow to boil for one minute, in which time it was thicken and rise.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  6. While the caramel is cooling, place cream cheese in large bowl.  Adding powdered sugar one cup at a time while beating the cream cheese, until it’s thick and creamy.  Do taste tests to make sure it’s not too sweet.
  7. Once caramel is cool enough, add a tablespoon to frosting and mix to combine.  Taste and add more as needed.  Store remaining caramel in an airtight container for up to two weeks in fridge.
Preparing the Cake:
  1. On top of bottom layer, using a plastic bag or piping bag, pipe a line just inside the rim of the cake.  Fill the center of cake with apple pie filling.  If the apple chunks are too big, feel free to pulse them in a food processor or blender first.  (DO NOT PUREÉ.  You’ll have applesauce.)  Spread it out, keeping within the confines of the frosting line.
  2. Carefully place the top layer over the filling.
  3. Frost like crazy!  Get it everywhere.  I did.
  4. Drizzle a little extra caramel over the top to make it pretty.

Devour and enjoy!  It was the perfect day to make this, since it was stormy.  A little Autumn in the hot Utah Summer.

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