Recipe: Naked Apple Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting and Mini Butterscotch Apples

This is the cake for fall. The cake that will make people take their phones out and share it on social media, tagging it with #CakeGoals. The cake no one will let you cut into until they have the perfect picture for Instagram. This is the cake that will boost you to “legendary” status among friends and family. This is the cake that everyone will talk about — all the time. It’s just that good!

OK, so what is this cake? It’s a fresh apple-cinnamon beauty, and it’s the perfect way to usher in fall. It takes advantage of the “naked cake” trend and reveals its thick, rich layers of moist, apple-studded cake and fluffy frosting — that perfectly sweet caramel buttercream is the ideal complement to the traditional fall flavors of apple and spice.

But here is where it gets decadent: the homemade mini butterscotch-dunked apples adorning the top of the cake. The final touch? Caramel drizzled over every nook and cranny, of course!

Naked Apple Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting and Mini Butterscotch Apples

Cake Prep Time: 20 min; Bake Time: 30 min; Cooling Time: 1 hour

Frosting Prep Time: 5 minutes; Mini Apple Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cooling Time: 1 hour

Total time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Serves 12


2 1/2 cups peeled, cored and grated apples (about 3 small apples)

2 cups peeled, cored and diced apples (about 3 small apples)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

5 eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten

1 3/4 cups vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 sticks (1 cup) room-temperature butter

1 brick (8 ounces) room-temperature cream cheese

1/2 cup store-bought caramel

4 to 5 cups powdered sugar

1 cup chopped nuts

1/4 cup caramel sauce

1 cup butterscotch morsels

1 tablespoon shortening

2 green apples, whole

Other items needed:

Cleaned sticks

Melon baller

Cookie sheet covered with parchment or wax paper

Plastic disposable pastry bags


To make the Apple Cinnamon Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine grated and diced apples with lemon juice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in eggs. Stir to combine. (Mixture will be very dry.) Stir in oil and vanilla and then fold in the apples.

Divide batter among the three prepared pans and bake for 26 to 32 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in no longer wet. (Cakes may need longer, depending on the juiciness of the apple.) Allow cakes to cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

To make the Caramel Buttercream

Cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

With the mixer on low, pour in the caramel. Beat until combined, slowly add the powdered sugar and beat for a few minutes until really light and fluffy.

Slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and whip for 3 to 5 minutes.

To create Mini Butterscotch Apples

Using a melon baller, scoop out round sections of the apple. One apple should yield 6 or 7 mini apple balls.

Once you are done, dry off the tops as best you can and then insert a stick. Try to not go all the way through the mini apple.

In a medium microwave-safe kitchen glass (something tall that you can dip the mini apples into), melt the butterscotch morsels and shortening. Heat for 1 minute, stir, then heat in 10-second increments until fully melted.

Making sure the tops of the mini apples are dry, dip each mini apple into the butterscotch and then move to the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all mini apples are covered.

Allow butterscotch to harden. This will take about 30 minutes on the counter or 5 minutes in the refrigerator.

Optional: Roll mini apples in chopped nuts when the butterscotch is still wet.

When ready to assemble cake

Place 2 cups buttercream into a pastry bag. (You should have about 6 cups total of frosting and be able to fill three 12-inch pastry bags.)

Place first cooled layer of cake onto a cake stand. Pipe out dollops of frosting around the edge of the cake, going around the entire cake. Fill in the center with frosting as well. Spread 1/3 cup of chopped nuts in the center, not covering the dollops.

Add next layer of cake and repeat with dollops and 1/3 cup of chopped nuts.

Add the final layer of cake and pipe out dollops around the edge of cake. Pipe a dollop in the center.

Start placing mini apples on top of each dollop around the cake. Press them into the dollops of frosting and make sure they are steady. Drizzle caramel down the edges of the cake, allowing it to drip down the side. Sprinkle remaining chopped nuts around the cake. Chill until ready to serve. This cake is best served on the same day you prepare it.

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Amanda is a wife, mom, baker and the creative force behind She homeschools her four children, lives in the land of 10,000 lakes and is self-appointed president of the Committee to Get Ina Garten on Twitter. (Amanda tweets at @iambakertweets)

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