Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce

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Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce and pecan streusel

Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce and pecan streusel

Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce and pecan streusel

Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce and pecan streusel

Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce and pecan streusel

They had to dig me out from under a mountain of flour, sugar, and apple peels before I could write this post, but it was worth it! Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you, please, with the perfect apple cake.

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Amanda from Cinnamon Scrolls to see if I’d like to take place in a holiday baking roundup with a host of terrific Canadian bloggers — naturally, I leapt at the opportunity! But afterward, I began racking my brain to try to think of something we traditionally baked during Hannukah, and came up blank. My grandmothers serve wonderful desserts, but the dishes change from year to year: mandelbrot, stewed rhubarb, chocolate chip meringues, crumb cakes, sugar cookies, gingerbread cake.

And then it hit me: I should make apple cake! Apple cake, in its various forms (from the sharlotka in Russia to the apfelkuchen in Germany) has long been a staple of Jewish desserts, and it had the advantage of being both seasonal and something I was certain my grandmothers could help me with.

As luck would have it, each of them had not one but two recipes for apple cake. I’ll just combine bits and pieces of each recipe to create one all-star recipe!, I thought, ever-so-optimistically. And when the first cake was a disaster, I just brushed off my apron and headed down the street for more apples.

And then the second cake was a mess.

As was the third.

I must say, by the fourth dud that optimism was sure as hell wearing thin.

But then the fifth cake was a thing of beauty. I’d been so sick of apple cake by that point that I hadn’t even sampled it before serving it to my family. But after I dished out slices one by one, I cut a small one for myself and took a reluctant bite: it was heaven.

First, you’ve got a sweet-and-salty crunch from the pecan streusel drizzled in salted caramel sauce, which gives way to a tender cake spiced just with a hint of nutmeg and some ginger, and melt-in-your-mouth pieces of apple in every bite. An alternative title for this might be “Realtors’ Cake,” because you could sure sell some houses with this beauty baking in the oven — it’s so good that not only does your kitchen fill with the scent as it bakes, but your hallways, your bedrooms, and I daresay even your neighbours homes. And it will continue smelling like heaven long after the cake has been demolished, which, if you’re anything like my family, will take no time at all.

Happy holidays, my darlings.



For more holiday recipe inspiration, please check out these incredible recipes by my fellow blogger friends! You can find us, too, on social media if you search for #CdnBloggerTraditions

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares by My Kitchen Love
Caribbean Sorrel by Chew Street
Chocolate Truffle Hedgehogs by Cocoa Bean, The Vegetable
Coco-Kalikimaka Cookies by The Chewy Life
Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars by The Cinnamon Scrolls
Gingerbread Cake with Maple Whipped Cream (Vegan) by The Refreshanista
Gingerbread Cake with Warm Caramel Glaze by Eat, Live, & Play
Peppermint Chocolate Snowball Truffles by The Busy Baker
Polish Gingerbread Cookies (Pierniczki Tradycyjne) by Liv for Cake
Vegan Caramel Popcorn by The Viet Vegan

Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Serving Size: 8-12

A real holiday treat, with streusel for crunch and melt-in-your-mouth apple slices in every bite.


    For the streusel topping:
  • 1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed (100g) brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (95g) chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • teeny pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup (75g) canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
  • For the cake:
  • 4 medium (700g) apples, Cortlands or Macs are best
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbs (150g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (100g) room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
  • 1/4 cup (70g) apple cider, room temperature
  • For the salted caramel sauce:
  • 3/4 cup (150g) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbs butter, cubed
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. For the streusel topping:
  3. Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, and mix until they come together. Place bowl in the freezer.
  4. For the cake:
  5. Peel the apples, and chop them into small, half-inch chunks. Set them (and the cutting board) aside.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
  7. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together by hand for a minute and a half (building some nice muscles there!), until the mixture thickens and becomes pale. Briefly whisk in the oil and the apple cider.
  8. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and whisk a couple of times until just incorporated. Add the apples and fold them in gently a few times with a spatula.
  9. Pour the batter into the greased springform pan, and sprinkle with the streusel topping.
  10. Bake at 350F for 55-70 minutes (time will vary depending on your oven), until golden-brown on top and a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If at any point, the topping seems to be browning too quickly, cover the top of the cake with aluminum foil before continuing baking.
  11. Allow to cool completely for a couple hours before serving.
  12. *For the caramel sauce:
  13. In a medium pot, gently stir together the sugar and water. Turn the heat to medium-high and stop stirring. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and begin to caramelize. This will take between 5-10 minutes. Once the mixture begins to have streaks of gold, give the pot a gentle swirl, and remove from heat completely when it turns a dark amber. Immediately pour in the cream, and BE CAREFUL: it will steam up a lot! Whisk the cream in completely, then the butter and the salt. Return to medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until slightly reduced. Allow to cool, and pour into a jar. Drizzle as much as desired on the cake, and save the rest for ice cream.
  14. Leftover cake will keep at room temperature for a couple of days; leftover caramel keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge.

*Caramel sauce can be made up to 5 days in advance

Traditional Christmas Treat Roundup: Canadian food bloggers share their special family secret recipes!
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36 Responses to “Apple cider cake with salted caramel sauce”

  1. Ellie October 21, 2017 at 6:20 AM #

    I made this for my husband’s birthday last night and he, his brother and dad absolutely loved it. I served it with un-sweetened apple compote (to use up the rest of the cooking apples) and spiced mascarpone cheese so that they could all choose their level of sweetness for the dessert, and served it with a small glass of cider and it was beautiful – hubby said it was one of the best things I’d ever cooked! Thank you!

    • toughcookie November 14, 2017 at 10:20 AM #

      That’s wonderful to hear, Ellie, thank you so much! I’m glad it was such a hit!

  2. Kai January 6, 2016 at 3:28 AM #

    Beautiful photography!

  3. Trudy@eatliveandplay December 20, 2015 at 9:44 PM #

    You definitely are one tough cookie! It’s a good thing you didn’t give up because that cake looks beautiful. Will be giving this a try.

  4. Anja @ December 19, 2015 at 9:06 AM #

    This really does look like the perfect cake. Holiday menus are already set, but I’m absolutely adding this! YUM!

  5. Lily @GastroSenses December 18, 2015 at 7:54 PM #

    Oooh, that oozing caramel looks so inviting! Yum!

  6. Kellie December 18, 2015 at 2:05 PM #

    Geez, those pictures are amazing. I’m drooling my face off.
    Thanks for sharing such a gorgeous post, even with all the trials and challenges you made my day.
    Beautiful work.
    Kellie from Princess and the Yard Ape

    • toughcookie December 18, 2015 at 2:26 PM #

      Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by, Kellie!

  7. Jason Sandeman December 18, 2015 at 11:09 AM #

    Testing recipes can be frustrating for sure! You can be your own worst critic and there isn’t someone you can mutter behind their backs. Such is the breaks when you are the head chef. LOL.
    I once had the same deal with a signature soup. I’d take it to the Executive Sous chef every day that I made it, and every single time he had something to say to fix it. It got to a point where I wanted to kill him. One day I finally made it and he said to me, “Tastes like Campbells!”

    I was elated! LOL

    So, I know exactly how you feel here! Great looking cake. I agree that Courtland would rock for this cake, and not only because I have a few in the crisper from when I went picking them this fall.

    • toughcookie December 18, 2015 at 2:26 PM #

      It’s a time-consuming, and often frustrating process, to be sure! But on the plus side, at least the results are always edible! 😉 I’d hate to be developing…glue, or a mathematical formula, for example, haha!

  8. Justine @ December 18, 2015 at 10:20 AM #

    Alanna, this recipe sounds absolutely decadent, and your photos are just stunning. Your images have such a rich and inviting quality. They’re so distinctly you!

    It’s been great connecting with you in 2015, and I wish you all the best in the new year. Happy Holidays!

    • toughcookie December 18, 2015 at 2:24 PM #

      Thanks Justine, and I feel the same way about you — you leave the loveliest comments, and I’m so happy I got to know you! Funny what you said about my ‘style’ — I feel like I can see it so clearly, but have trouble seeing my own! Funny how that’s the way it goes. Happy Holidays to you + your loved ones!

  9. Wanda December 18, 2015 at 10:11 AM #

    You had me at salted caramel! Looks divine 🙂

  10. Isabelle @ Crumb December 18, 2015 at 10:09 AM #

    So I guess the fifth time’s the charm? 🙂 I think we’ve all been there when it comes to recipe development… at some point, you’re so freakin’ sick and tired that you can’t even stomach looking at another cake or cookie or whatever that you could barf.
    I’m glad you stuck it out, though, because this one’s a beaut! Pinned it to try out over the holidays. Cake with fruit in it totally counts as breakfast, right? 🙂

    • toughcookie December 18, 2015 at 2:22 PM #

      Totally, absolutely counts. In fact, I think the food pyramid recommends it, no?

  11. janet @ the taste space December 18, 2015 at 10:02 AM #

    I am always in awe of people who can whip up new baking recipes. There seems to be a science to it and it was nice you persevered. Learning from each batch made this one more special.

    • toughcookie December 18, 2015 at 2:21 PM #

      Janet, if there’s a science to it, I’m calling it “crazily experimenting with no idea what the outcome might be”! But I must say, at least the failures were tasty!

  12. Olivia @ livforcake December 15, 2015 at 9:58 PM #

    Wow, 5 (!!) attempts at this recipe?? I would have called it quits after the 2nd failure, so kudos to you for sticking it out! This cake looks and sounds amazingly delicious and is now on my list-of-things-I-still-need-to-make-this-holiday-season. Delicious! Stunning photos as usual :).

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 12:00 PM #

      You’re too sweet, Liv 🙂 I must admit, five attempts is a rarity for me, but what’s a girl with a deadline to do? Haha, in some ways, each effort just made me more stubbornly determined to find a winner.

  13. Samantha @mykitchenlove December 14, 2015 at 10:54 PM #

    Yum! Perfectly seasonal and good for you keeping up the effort to make this cake! 🙌🏻 gorgeous photo and it sounds delicious!

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 11:59 AM #

      Thanks for stopping by, Samantha!

  14. Ilona @ Ilona's Passion December 14, 2015 at 6:45 PM #

    The cake looks so great. Beautiful photos!

  15. Charlene December 14, 2015 at 5:54 PM #

    This looks delicious Alanna – can’t wait to try it! Though if I made that caramel sauce 5 days in advance it wouldn’t make it on to the cake! lol

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 11:58 AM #

      Haha, all the more reason to make a double batch, Charlene! 😉

  16. Angela @thechewylife December 14, 2015 at 5:00 PM #

    The fifth time is the charm, I see 🙂 This is such a beautiful cake with beautiful photography, well done! My mom and I just came back from the local produce market and guess what? We bought like, 6 pounds of apples! Now I know what to do with them!

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 11:57 AM #

      Angela, I hope you get a chance to try it! Haha, one of the original recipes called for 8 (8!!!) apples, but it seemed to me like no sane person would want to peel, slice, and grate all of those.

  17. Florence December 14, 2015 at 3:38 PM #

    I love that I don’t have to go out to buy a whole bunch of ingredients and then only use a spoonful. I’m sure it is delicious!!

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 11:56 AM #

      No doubt we’ll be enjoying it for many Friday dinners to come, Grandma!

  18. Amanda | The Cinnamon Scrolls December 14, 2015 at 1:18 PM #

    This looks and sounds incredible, Alanna! So much respect to you for persevering through four fails! I usually call it quits at that point, but I’m so glad you didn’t! What an incredible recipe and story about your family’s traditions. Thank you so much for being a part of this collab and sharing with us! Happy holidays!

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 11:56 AM #

      And thank YOU, Amanda, for organizing it all! It was such a pleasure to be a part of!

  19. Lisa | The Viet Vegan December 14, 2015 at 11:35 AM #

    Oh my gawwwdd I hate when a recipe continuously fails. It’s so frustrating haha. Kudos to you for peeling all those apples! I bet you’re a pro at it now XD

    I love your photography, its so dark, moody, and that drizzle looks like the bomb. Happy Holidays!

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 11:55 AM #

      Haha, I actually don’t mind peeling apples because as a kid, we always used to nibble on the peels, and now I do the same as an adult! Thanks for the kind words, Lisa!

  20. Mel @ The Refreshanista December 14, 2015 at 8:42 AM #

    I’m glad you kept trying because this cake looks crazy delicious! I love apple cider and I love salted caramel, I bet it’s a match made in heaven when they are together! I definitely want to give this cake a try 🙂

    • toughcookie December 16, 2015 at 11:54 AM #

      They definitely ARE a match made in heaven! Thanks for stopping by, Mel!