This Walnut Apple Cake is here to bring you some of the best flavors of fall! With four layers of a walnut-studded apple cake, maple buttercream frosting and a maple caramel drizzle, this cake is the perfect way to kick off the season.
Happy September! I hope you all had a lovely Labor Day, and got to enjoy some time off. I spent the long weekend with all my in-laws in a little cabin in the mountains of Washington state. It was absolutely beautiful out there, and it was also so good to be together with Ben’s whole family, which only happens a couple times a year.
Today, we are back to the grind and now that Labor Day has come and gone, I am so ready for fall! Here in Chicago, the air has already been getting cooler and the days are getting shorter, which has definitely helped put me in the mood for fall baking. I’ve been dreaming up plenty of fall recipes for you and putting them to the test. I can’t wait to share all of them in the next couple months!
Now, as much as I hate to say goodbye to the sun, the vacations, and the outdoor activities of summertime, there’s so much to love about fall. To me, fall means apple picking, autumn leaves, sweater weather, football games, and above all, pumpkin everything! But we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves! We’ll have to save the pumpkin topic for a different post…
Because this cake is all about apples! If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that a trip to the farmer’s market is one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning. Of late, I’ve been excited to see some early season apples show up at the farmer’s market. So, a couple weeks ago, I grabbed a few on a whim and got to work on this walnut apple cake.
And I have to tell you, I could not get enough of this cake! Seriously, I would have been content to eat the whole thing without frosting it. You’ll love the diced apples baked into the cake, the slight crunch from the walnuts, and the fall spices that will make your house smell amazing! Is there anything better than filling your house with the smell of fall baking??
Now, even though I wanted to eat this cake straight out of the oven, I did frost it in the end! Because what makes a good cake even better? Frosting, of course! After going back and forth considering different fall flavors to pair with this walnut apple cake, I finally landed on a maple buttercream. It’s made with real maple syrup –and yes, you have to get the good stuff!
We’re also using pure maple syrup to make a yummy maple caramel drizzle for this cake. No need to be intimidated by this caramel sauce, it’s pretty simple to make. You’ll need only 5 ingredients, and just over 15 minutes of your time. In case you were wondering, I poured the entire batch of caramel on top of this cake; I think it was the perfect amount. Feel free to double the recipe if you want extra caramel sauce for ice cream, or apple crisp, or whatever else you can dream up!
Finally, I decorated the cake with a few whole apples, to give it some rustic charm. To position the apples, I put each one on a skewer cut to the height of the cake. If you have plans to go apple picking sometime this fall, this walnut apple cake would be the perfect way to show off your picks! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Walnut Apple Cake with Maple Buttercream and Maple Caramel
Walnut Apple Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 pinch allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 3 cups apples, peeled and diced (about 3-4 medium size apples)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Walnut Apple Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Then grease and flour the sides.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt) in a medium-size bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat together the oil and sugars on medium-high speed until well combined.
Beat in the vanilla and greek yogurt.
With the mixer on low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition.
Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining half of the dry ingredients.
Fold in walnuts and apples.
Divide batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 42-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
Let cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
Once cakes are done, make the caramel. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and maple syrup over low heat. Stirring frequently, heat until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes).
Add butter to pan and heat until melted, stirring occasionally.
Add cream, stir, and continue to cook mixture over low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes).*
Remove from heat, add salt and stir. Pour caramel into a glass jar and let cool while you make the buttercream.
Beat butter on medium-high speed (using the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) for about 3-4 minutes, until fluffy and light in color.
Turn mixer to low speed and add powdered sugar gradually, mixing until incorporated after each addition.
Add vanilla, maple syrup, and salt. Beat until combined.
With the mixer on medium speed, add heavy cream one tablespoon at a time.
Beat on high until buttercream is light and fluffy.
To Assemble the Cake
Once the cakes are completely cool, level each cake and then slice each one in half horizontally (so you have 4 layers).
Put a little buttercream on a cake board so the cake will stick, then place the first layer on top.
Top with about 1/2 cup of buttercream and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Repeat with the second and third layers.
Place the fourth layer on top of the cake, upside down (so the bottom of the cake layer forms the top of the cake).
Frost the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (a crumb coat). Then, chill the cake for about 20 minutes.
Use the remaining frosting to finish frosting the cake, and smooth it with an offset spatula and/or cake scraper. Chill again for at least 20 minutes.
Spoon the caramel sauce around the edges of the cake, pushing it just over the edge so it drips down the sides of the cake. Then, fill in the center of the cake with caramel and smooth with the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula.
Decorate as desired. To decorate with apples: place each apple on a skewer cut to the height of your cake, then position each apple as you wish.
*The caramel should thicken, but will probably still look a little thinner than you think it should. Don't worry, it will continue to thicken as it cools.