This is a simple toffee apple cake with warm fall flavors of cinnamon and brown sugar and chunks of tender apple. The cake is lovely on its own, but spectacularly good served with a warm buttery toffee sauce.
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I'm the first to admit that I have a tendency to overthink things when I entertain. I can spend hours poring over cookbooks trying to craft the perfect menu.
But looking back, my favorite hosting experiences were the ones where I kept things simple. With tried and true, uncomplicated recipes that I could make ahead and that didn't break the bank.
This apple cake with toffee sauce is the perfect embodiment of that philosophy. It's a simple recipe you can easily make ahead, and it is absolutely guaranteed to please everyone at your table.
The cake is tender and moist with juicy chunks of apple, and the warm toffee sauce really takes it over the top. Imagine a caramel apple in cake form.
The inspiration for this dessert comes from a sticky toffee pudding I often make at the holidays, but with an apple cake instead of a date cake. I've also made it with this banana cake (with the toffee sauce instead of frosting), which is also amazing!
What's the difference between toffee sauce and caramel sauce?
In case you were wondering (as I was), the difference between a toffee sauce and a caramel sauce is just the temperature it is cooked to. Because caramel is cooked to a higher temperature, it has those toasty, slightly bitter notes.
This toffee sauce is more of a mellow, but no less delicious, flavor. It's also easier to make and no candy thermometer necessary!
How to Make this Easy Toffee Apple Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan. If using a cake pan, also line the bottom with parchment paper for easy cake removal.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
- Peel, core and cut apples into small chunks, until you have 2 cups of apples (2-3 medium size apples). I used sweetango, but other good varieties are granny smith, fuji, or honeycrisp. You want a firm apple that will hold its shape when baked.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla. Mix on medium high speed until combined. Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled at this point.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and mix on low speed until just combined.
7. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the apple pieces until well distributed in the batter.
8. Spread the thick batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce. Combine butter, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan.
10. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve the cake warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful or two of toffee sauce over the top.
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A few more great holiday cakes
Toffee Apple Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups apples cut into small chunks
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 inch round cake or springform pan. If using a cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper before flouring the pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until well combined. Don’t worry if it looks curdled at this point.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Add the apples and mix on low speed, or stir with a spoon, until evenly distributed.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. If using a cake pan, run a knife between the pan sides and cake, turn out onto a wire rack and remove the parchment paper. If using a springform pan remove the sides.
- While the cake is cooling, combine the butter, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.
- Cool slightly and spoon over cake servings.