Apple Cake layers: 1 c unsalted butter, softened 2 c granulated sugar 4 eggs 2 t vanilla extract 2 t baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 4 c all-purpose flour 4 c apples (I used golden delicious), peeled and grated or chopped 1 c pecans, chopped (optional) Instructions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined. Blend butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined. Add dry ingredients and mix, then add apples and nuts. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height. Crumble topping: (for top of cake layers and cake filling) ½ c unsalted butter, softened 1 c all-purpose flour 1 c brown sugar 1 c pecans, chopped Mix all ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl. Divide in half; use half of the mix to sprinkle over the tops of your cake layers before you bake them! Bake cake layers for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired. After your cake layers are done, spread the rest of the crumble topping onto a piece of foil on a baking tray – don’t spread it out too much or it might all burn, but the thinner you spread it the more caramelized and toffee-like it will get. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-18 minutes, until the edges are caramelized and crunchy. Cake fillings: Cooked Apples 2 Golden delicious apples, chopped 1 T caramel Cook apples and caramel together over low heat until the apples are soft; remove from heat and cool. Caramel sauce can be purchased at grocery stores (or my favorite brand is available on Amazon), but if you’re up for an adventure and want to make your own – AverieCooks.com is the home of my favorite of all the recipes I’ve tried so far! No caramel recipe is fool-proof, but this one gave me the least trouble with burning and crystalizing. Caramel Sauce Recipe + Instructions <- click! Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting: 8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened 16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened 6-7 c powdered sugar 1-3 Tablespoons milk 1/3 c caramel sauce 1 T clear vanilla extract 1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter) Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined. Additional Supplies/Equipment: – 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) – Small piping bag & tip – this set has been one of my favorites! – 2-3 red apples of your choice – I used Pink Lady apples – Caramel apple dipping kit (or bag of caramels to melt down) – I found homemade caramel sauce a little to thin for dipping apples – skewer for dipping apple in caramel – Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper – not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use) Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting. With a small piping bag, pipe a rim of frosting around the outer edge – this will keep your filling from showing through to the outside of the cake. Spread cooked apples, toffee crumble, and a drizzle of caramel over the cake layer, and center the next cake layer on top. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers. Now you’re ready to crumb-coat . If you’re unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it’s just what it sounds like – a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting. Okaaaay – now it’s time for the caramel drip! I put my caramel into a squeeze bottle for this part, but I’ve seen people use piping bags for this for this also. Make sure your cake is chilled – I think I probably left mine in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, and I’ve heard putting your cake in the freezer for 10-20 minutes is a good way to get drips to set. I warmed my caramel just slightly (about 5 seconds in the microwave) to thin it so it would pipe a bit more easily. Slowly pipe the caramel around the upper edge of the cake, pausing every inch or so to let more caramel fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge to set the drips. I don’t feel like dipping apples needs that much explanation – but since I used a type of caramel that needed to be melted down in a saucepan, I found it easiest to put a skewer into the top of the apples to dip them, and then roll them in the toffee crumble pan. I set them on a plate to chill in the fridge so the caramel would set. With the whole apple I wanted on top of the cake, I removed the skewer once I had the apple positioned. Cut another dipped apple into sections – I rubbed some lemon juice onto my slices to keep them from turning brown. Arrange the slices on top of the cake, and sprinkle with more bits of toffee crumble. Add another of caramel drizzle for good measure if you like – and step back and admire your work! Make this recipe? Let me know how it went – or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!