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Apple Cider Caramel Cake

serves 8-10

Apple cider reduced into a rich caramel sauce is baked right into this decadent, buttery cake. Bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger round out the flavors. The cake is great on its own, or with coffee or a scoop of ice cream.


4 3/4 cups apple cider
1/3 cup bourbon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split in half, seeds scraped
1 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring pan
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup bourbon
4 dashes Angostura bitters
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Granny Smith apple, coarsely grated and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated


prep: 20 minutes
total: 2 hours 45 minutes


large saucepan
9-inch round cake pan or 2 loaf pans
parchment paper
large bowl
measuring cup
baking sheet
wire rack


1. First make the caramel: In a saucepan, combine 4 cups of the cider, bourbon, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, cinnamon stick and half the vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes and then add the cream. Simmer over medium high heat until reduced to about 1 cup, roughly 35 minutes. Transfer to a large measuring cup and let cool slightly. Remove and discard the vanilla bean and the cinnamon stick. Let the caramel cool for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or two loaf pans. For the round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper; for the loaf pans, cut a long strip that will cover the bottom of the pan and two sides. Grease and flour the paper.

3. In a smal bowl, combine the flour, flax meal, salt, ground cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. In a measuring cup, mix the remaining apple cider with the canola oil, bourbon and bitters.

4. In a large bowl, whip the butter until glossy and pale, 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and the remaining vanilla bean and seeds, and then beat until smooth, 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides between additions, 5 minutes. Stir in the grated apple and grated ginger. Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the cider/oil/bourbon mixture and mix at medium-high until smooth. 

5. Spread half of the batter into the prepared cake pan, or into both loaf pans. Layer half of the caramel over the batter, avoiding the edges of the pan and then lightly spread the remaining batter on top, being careful not to mix the layers together. Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, or the loaves for 25 minutes, rotating them and then baking for another 15 minutes.
6. The finished cakes will be springy when touched, and a skewer will come out clean when inserted. Let cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes and then turn the cake(s) out onto a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Peel away the parchment paper and let cool completely. Serve drizzled with the remaining caramel.
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