This is over the top, even for me! Two moist layers of apple cake are baked with a graham cracker crust, sandwiched with spicy apple filling, and covered with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting. Because I love mixing textures, this cake also sports a crunchy streusel topping. I guess you could consider this part pie, part cake . . . and the essence of fall.
My first attempt at this recipe yielded a lovely cake that was so sweet I could barely eat a small piece. And you must not underestimate my tolerance for sweet things. The flavor was just what I had hoped for, but . . . wow. Really, really sweet.
So I went back and reduced sugar in the crust and the filling, and switched the buttercream frosting with cream cheese frosting. Now it’s just right!
Most homemade cakes involve a cake, filling, and frosting. But I’ve added two additional steps: the graham cracker crust and the streusel. In for a penny, in for a pound, as far as I’m concerned, but if you’re strapped for time, feel free to:
- Eliminate the streusel. Place the top layer so the graham crust is at the top, then just pipe around the edge.Still pretty!
- Skip the graham crust. No one will know. (My daughter would be aghast at this suggestion. We both love this crust on cakes.)
- Use canned apple pie filling.
|Autumn Apple Layer Cake|| |
- 2 cups (about 15 whole) crushed graham crackers
- ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup white sugar
- ⅓ cup oil
- 3 large eggs
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ cups coarsely grated apple (peeled and cored)
- 2 cups chopped apples (peeled and cored)
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (more for a darker color)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup butter, softened (if using unsalted butter, add ⅛ teaspoon salt)
- 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (more to taste)
- 1 pound powdered sugar (about 4½ cups)
- CAKE: Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray two 8-inch (2 inch deep) round pans with baking spray (or grease and flour them). Place a round of parchment in the bottom of each pan.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup brown sugar, and ½ cup melted butter. Divide between the two pans and press evenly, using a straight-edged measuring cup to pack the mixture very firmly. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar for 1 minute. Scrape sides of bowl. Continue to beat as you drizzle in the oil. Beat for 3 minutes, scraping occasionally.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
- Stirring by hand (or on low speed) add half the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
- Add half of the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix just until combined.
- Stir in remaining flour, then remaining buttermilk. Do not overmix.
- Gently fold in grated apples. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched lightly. If in doubt, give it a few more minutes; an underbaked cake will sink in the middle.
- Move cakes to cooling racks. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
- FILLING:In a medium pan over low heat, combine chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir often until apples begin to release liquid, then turn heat up to medium low and bring to a low boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk together cornstarch, lemon juice, and water. Add to boiling mixture. Stir and cook until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Apples vary in juiciness and you may need to add a little more water or a little more cornstarch slurry to achieve a spreadable filling. Allow filling to cool completely..
- STREUSEL: heat oven to 375 F. Combine white sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter. Crumble onto a small parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven when streusel begins to brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet.
- ICING:Beat butter and cream cheese together well, scraping bowl often. Add vanilla and cinnamon and beat until combined. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. For easy handling, chill for 30 minutes before using.
- ASSEMBLY:Place one cake layer, graham crust side down, on serving plate. Pipe a line of icing around the top, near the edge, creating a dam. Fill with apple filling and top with second layer, crust side down. Ice the sides of the cake, and lightly ice the top, then cover top with streusel, pressing firmly into icing. Pipe around top and bottom if desired.
And because I really love this next photo I’m going to leave it right here. I had it at the top of the page but took it down because several people on a cooking website said it looked like taco meat on top. And now all I can see is taco meat, when I know it is just a lot of cinnamon (and perhaps a minute or two too long in the oven). Taco meat. Pffft. Hey! Love me, love my streusel!
If you made it to the bottom of this post, I salute you! And I promise something easy for next time.