fresh apple cake with caramel glaze

Does anyone else struggle with simple? I’m a perfectionist by nature and tend to overcomplicate everything, so in an effort to be more present, I’m embracing simple. Let’s start with this fresh apple cake – two bowls, no mixer required. While the cake bakes, there’s plenty of time to make a fast salted caramel glaze.

Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze | Tutti Dolci

Simple may not always be show-stopping, but the prettiest desserts aren’t always the most memorable. Filled with tender shreds of apple and warming apple pie spice, this effortless cake is completely satisfying.

Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze | Tutti Dolci

Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/4 cups peeled and grated apple*

Caramel Glaze
4 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Combine applesauce, oil, egg, buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl; add to applesauce mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in grated apples.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan; smooth top with an offset spatula. Bake for 25 to 26 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached and cake springs back to the touch. Remove from oven to cool in pan on a wire rack.

For the caramel glaze, combine brown sugar, butter, and cream in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter has melted completely. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sea salt until smooth; let cool 5 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar and milk until smooth.

Spread glaze over cooled cake; let set before cutting into squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days; serve warm.

*I used a mix of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples to give the cake dimension; use whatever mix of sweet and tart apples you like.

Yield – 10 squares
Calories – 205 (per square)
Carbs – 36

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  1. cristina says

    What a lovely autumn/fall cake with that glaze. Laura, what is the variety of those little apples in the pics? They’re so cute!! :)

  2. says

    Simplifying things this time of year is welcome by almost anyone who loves to cook and bake during these crazy-busy months pre-holiday season. No better way to be present and in-the-moment than enjoying a simple homemade spiced apple cake with a little embellishment of delicious glaze. A treat to relish during some quiet time. Love the whimsy in your photography here, too. Thanks for sharing, Laura!

  3. says

    Yes! I tend to over-do, when less would likely be more! (Especially more time!) This is a good time of year to focus on simplicity as the holidays can be so overwhelming. I am a fond believer of simple recipes. There is no need to spend all day in the kitchen when there are comforting and delicious recipes such as The Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze!

  4. says

    I am a complete perfectionist and cannot keep things simple for the life of me. I try SO hard sometimes. LOL! I am honestly driving myself insane. I need tips on how to not obsess over every teeny tiny detail! Have any? :)

    This cake is perfect in every way, as are your photos!

  5. says

    When it comes to baking I gravitate towards simple, always. I absolutely love apple cakes and the two-bowl preparation. Those Lady apples are so adorable! I had to pick up a few for one of my recent posts–couldn’t resist them!

  6. says

    Laura…there is such beauty in simplicity! And this cake is no exception. Sweet apples and your warm spices are all I need…though your salted caramel icing tops it off beautifully. And your photos….ARE showstopping! : )

  7. says

    First, I love cute apples like those sweet little ones in your pics! AND second, I want to devour that cake…..and that glaze….OH My! Gorgeous! Hugs, Terra

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