Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

A beautiful layered Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream. This gluten-free apple cake is wonderfully flavourful and the depth of buckwheat rounds out the warmth of the cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. The luxurious cream cheese buttercream spiked with homemade salted caramel turns this cake into a real celebration.

Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream on a cake stand on a wooden table.

I always smile patiently at the ‘I don’t normally like gluten-free cakes but this one is amazing’ comments. Of course it’s a compliment to my cake recipes but the reputation of gluten-free cakes is so disappointing. They are often dismissed as dry crumbly over-sweetened confections but this is a shame as gluten-free cakes can be incredibly flavourful, light and fluffy. You just need to use the right flours.

This Cinnamon Apple Cake is a perfect example. It often receives the kind of comments mentioned above. That’s if I have bothered to tell the recipient the cake is gluten-free at all. You would be hard pressed to realise otherwise as the flours chosen here both compliment the delicate spices and give exactly the right fluffy texture.

Spiced Cinnamon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream on a cake stand on a wooden table.

Gluten-Free Flours

  • Buckwheat Flour – This Apple Cake was actually adapted from a wheat cake which I had on the blog way back when. Even back then the main flour of choice which I used was buckwheat flour. A naturally gluten-free flour with an amazing flavour that pairs perfectly with the apple, spices and salted caramel. Want more info on Buckwheat Flour see here.

  • Sweet Rice Flour – One of my favourite flours. It is so incredibly useful as it’s a starchy flour which gives the cake excellent structure and bounce in the absence of gluten’s elasticity. To use too much of it in a recipe can lead to chewy dense cakes but just enough and it’s your gluten-free secret weapon. Want more info on Sweet Rice Flour – see here.

  • Potato Starch – Often you just need a bit of a filler and this is the function that I mainly use Potato Starch for. It’s neutral in taste and balances the cake out well so I don’t have to overuse other gluten-free flours which may overwhelm the texture or taste.

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If you need more comprehensive information on gluten-free baking then visit my Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Flours and my Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes.

A slice of Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream on a wooden plate with an apple slice and a spoon of caramel

The combination of the fresh Autumn apples, gentle spices, brown sugar and buckwheat make this cake so richly flavourful. The sponge is incredibly simple to make and requires no complex methods.

How to make Cinnamon Apple Cake

  1. Make the apple sauce by heating diced apple until they have broken down into a pulp. Set aside.Apple sauce in a saucepan
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time then vanilla extract.Process shot of Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream
  4. Sift together the flours with the spices and salt.Flour mix for Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream in a glass bowl
  5. Add the flour and the apple sauce to the batter alternately until the batter is smooth.Process shot of Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream
  6. Pour into two round cake tins and bake for 25 minutes.


Baker’s Tips

  • This cake uses freshly made apple sauce from the most flavourful eating apples you can find. I like to use Cox apples here but you can use braeburn, pink lady or whatever is in season where you live.
  • For cakes that use the creaming method, always use room temperature butter. Start the creaming off slow then ramp up the speed as the butter and sugar are mixed together. It should be pale, light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time just incase you get a bad one.
  • You add the flour and the apple sauce alternately in three goes, this ensures even mixing.
  • Always bake the cakes in the centre of the oven and once they are done leave to rest for a few minutes so the sponges have a chance to spring back from the cake tins.

Love apples? Then why not try these delicious recipes:

Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Apple Cheddar Thyme Crumble Cake
Apple Butter
Roast Pork Belly Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad
Apple Blueberry Maple Cake
Apple Scones

Close up of a cut Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

Of course Cinnamon Apple Cake is delicious by itself but by filling and covering the sponges with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream you are really upping the ante. We use homemade salted caramel and it’s so much easier to make than you think. If you’ve never made it yourself before don’t be scared by the hot sugar. It’s a pussycat as long as you don’t answer the phone or the door whilst tending to its needs.

Ingredients for homemade Salted Caramel

How to make homemade Salted Caramel

  1. Pour caster sugar into an even layer of a heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar has melted.
  2. Immediately add double cream and butter. Stir into the sugar until smooth.
  3. Add salt and vanilla extract then remove from the heat.

A bowl of homemade Salted Caramel

Caramel Tips

  • Use a heavy bottomed pan for sugar work. I always use enamelled cast iron pans as any burnt sugar mishaps can easily be removed. Non-stick pans seem to always get un-stuck.
  • Do not walk away from the sugar when it is initially melting. It can turn from a gentle toffee brown to raging burn in seconds. Instead towards the end of the melt just keep that saucepan swirling. If there’s a stubborn lump of sugar that won’t melt then prod lightly with a silicone spatula, hopefully it will break apart and melt instantly.
  • I always use a silicone spatula for stirring the caramel as once the sugar hardens it can break easily off without any stressful washing up.

  • When you add the cream and butter the caramel often aggressively bubbles up. Be careful and stand back.
  • If the cream and butter are too cold then the sugar may harden again, just be patient – it will re-melt.
  • As soon as you have poured the caramel out of the saucepan, fill the pan with hot soapy water and leave to soak for a few minutes to melt the hardened sugar around the edges and make the washing up easier.

The salted caramel recipe I have included below makes slightly more than you need for the buttercream. You can use this little excess for drizzling on the cake when serving. Or it can be your own special baker’s treat.

If you would like more Salted Caramel Cake recipes then why not try:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch Cups
Milk Chocolate Peanut Caramel Brownies
Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake

A slice of Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream on a wooden plate with an apple slice and a spoon of caramel, infront of the whole cake

Now you have an amazing Cinnamon Apple Cake with gorgeously silky buttercream but the bit I often struggle with when finishing a cake is how to make it look as good as it tastes. These easy peasy apple slices make the cake look incredibly fancy but they are a cinch to achieve.

How to Make Dried Apples for Cake Decoration

This quick method is ideal if you are just looking for a simple way to decorate your apple cake. The apple slices are not de-hydrated enough for storage but will last a 3-4 days on top of you cake.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 140°C fan.
  2. Slice the apples across the core very thinly.
  3. Place the apple slices as you are slicing them in water with fresh lemon juice. This stops the apple from browning.Apple slices in a bowl
  4. Dry the slices in kitchen towel then place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
  5. Turn off the oven and leave the apple slices inside with the door open until the apple slices have completely cooled.

Pro Tip

Don’t bother peeling or coring the apple, they are so pretty in their skins with the core providing an attractive star pattern in the centre.

A forkful of taken out of a slice of Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream on a wooden plate

Can you freeze Cinnamon Apple Cake?

Yes you can. It’s easier to store if you freeze the sponges by themselves individually. Wrap up well then remove them from the freezer the night before you want to decorate and serve.

How long does Cinnamon Apple Cake last?

Due to the cream cheese in the buttercream it’s better to keep in the fridge if you are not serving right away. It will keep for 3-4 days. An hour or two before serving remove from the fridge to bring up to room temperature.

If you make this Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own leftover creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream {gluten-free}

A beautiful layered Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream. This gluten-free apple cake is wonderfully flavourful and the depth of buckwheat rounds out the
warmth of the cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. The luxurious cream cheese buttercream spiked with homemade salted caramel turns this cake into a real celebration.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Servings: 16 people
Calories: 708kcal

Ingredients

  • 5-6 eating apples to achieve 300g sauce
  • 125 g buckwheat flour
  • 100 g sweet rice flour
  • 50 g potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • 280 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted Caramel

  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 450 g unsalted butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 120 ml salted caramel
  • 300 g cream cheese

Decorative Apple Slices

  • 1 apple
  • ½ lemon
  • Water to cover

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / gas mark 4 and line and grease 2 x 20cm round baking tins.
  • Make the apple sauce by peeling, coring and dicing the apples. Place in a saucepan with a tablespoon or two of water and heat gently with the lid on. Stir every so often until the apples have broken down. You should be able to mix them into a pulp with a fork. You need 300g of sauce so weigh out the correct amount and set aside to cool.
  • Sift together the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for 5-10 minutes in a food mixer or handheld beater until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, to the creamed butter and sugar and mix in well. Then add the vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour mixture alternately with the apple sauce, adding the flour in three additions and the apple sauce in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
  • Divide between the two cake tins.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack completely before filling and covering with the buttercream.

Salted Caramel

  • Tip the sugar into a small saucepan and heat on a medium temperature until the sugar melts. Do not touch with a spoon but you can encourage the melting by swirling the actual saucepan around occasionally if you like.
  • Stir in the double cream and butter carefully and be prepared for it to bubble up furiously, the caramel may harden slightly but just keep on stirring the bubbly mixture until the cream, butter and sugar are smooth.
  • Add the vanilla extract and salt, stir in quickly and remove from the heat.
  • Pour the caramel directly into a glass jar, seal and place in the fridge to chill thoroughly before using.

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • Cream the butter until soft then add the icing sugar and mix for about 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  • Scoop in the cream cheese and chilled salted caramel and mix in thoroughly.

Decorative Apple Slices

  • Pre-heat oven to 160°C/ 140°C fan / gas mark 3.
  • Fill a medium sized bowl ¾ of the way with water. Squeeze in the juice of ½ lemon and stir.
  • Cut the apple very thinly across the core. Don’t bother to peel or core.
  • Place all the apple slices in the lemon water for 5 minutes which helps to avoid apple browning.
  • Dry the apple slices thoroughly on kitchen towel then place on a parchment lined baking tray.
  • Place in the oven for 1 hour, turning the apples over halfway.
  • Turn the heat off the oven and leave the apples inside to cool.
  • Assembly
  • Generously sandwich the buttercream between the two apple sponges and cover the sides and top. Decorate with the apple slices.

Notes

Apple Sauce – Choose a sweeter apple rather than a cooking apple. I love Cox Apples but Pink Ladies or Braeburns are also delicious here.
How long your apples take to break down depends on the type of apple you are using. Cox Apples are quite soft so only take about 10 minutes to cook through.
Unsalted Butter – At room temperature means the butter will dent if you press into it gently. How long your butter takes to get to room temperature depends on the warmth of your kitchen.
Eggs – I always use medium. I recommend both breaking them into a separate bowl one at a time and before adding them to the batter. This is in case you have a bad egg. They are rare but they do happen. Or a double yolker which would mess with your quantities. Adding them to the batter one at a time gives more air to your cake.
Adding the flour and the apple sauce – I recommend adding in thirds alternately. This ensures even mixing into the batter.
Salted Caramel – do make it the day before if you can as it really benefits from a decent amount of chill time so the caramel can thicken. Otherwise it adds too much liquid to the buttercream. If you are running short on time, place in the freezer for 30 minutes to cool very quickly.
Storage – This cake is best eaten at room temperature but you should store it in the fridge to avoid spoiling the buttercream. Just remove from the fridge 1 hour before you want to serve it. It keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Decorative Apple Slices – The method given here is the quick method which is perfect for cake decoration as it leaves them a little malleable. They only keep for about 3-4 days. You can make the day before or whilst your cake sponges are cooling.

Nutrition

Calories: 708kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 140mg | Sodium: 263mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 1456IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg

This recipe was originally published in February 2016. It has been updated with revised recipe to amend the flours to gluten-free alternatives, new pictures and a more detailed method.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake {gluten-free}

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel. Happy Valentine’s Day!

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

To me, Valentine’s Day is really just an excuse for being a bit fancy. Not just any old flowers will do, it should really be roses. Not just any old bottle of plonk will do, it should really be champagne. If you think a bar of Dairy Milk will suffice, even if Fruit and Nut is your favourite, then you are kidding yourself. Valentine’s Day surely means an assortment of Paul A Young chocolate individually selected. And if there is not a Salted Caramel in there then Valentine’s Day might as well be off.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

So, if nothing says romantic to you than chocolate cake, then for one you are in fine company, and for two, the chocolate cake really needs to be intimately involved with Salted Caramel to make it Valentine’s Day worthy.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

When I transitioned my cake stall over to gluten-free then this Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake was the first to make the transition as it’s an absolute favourite of mine and my customers. It looks beautiful and it really delivers on chocolate flavour with a hint of espresso. If you are not a coffee lover then you can easily leave it out, bar a couple of teaspoons which helps to amplify the chocolate flavour. With both cocoa for richness and 70% melted chocolate folded into the batter, the result is true luxury. Buttermilk gives the sponge a gentle tanginess and using a light olive oil instead of butter makes the cake light and moist.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

To make the cake gluten-free I swapped plain wheat flour for a combination of oat flour and white rice flour which is a great alternative, especially as oat flour gives the cake a toasted butterscotch flavour that sits so happily here.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the best way to finish this cake, it smoothes over the sponge like a dream with it’s buttery silky texture and is never too sweet. It is so much easier to whip up than you think and the generous pouring of salted caramel into the finished buttercream amps up the end result to 11 and then some.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

I recommend treating yourself to a generous slice of Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake over Valentine’s Day. It’s ideal for lovers, broken hearts and happy friendships. Plus it’s just a little bit more fancy than your regular chocolate cake.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake {gluten-free}

A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Servings: 12 generous servings
Calories: 1046kcal

Ingredients

  • 125 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 165 g white rice flour
  • 60 g oat flour
  • 90 g cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 400 g buttermilk
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 160 g soft light brown sugar
  • 170 ml light olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract

Salted Caramel

  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 40 g butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt I used Fleur de Sel

Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 240 g egg whites around 8
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 200 g light soft brown sugar
  • 500 g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ quantity of salted caramel see recipe

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 170°C and line and grease 2 x 8 inch round cake tins.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bain marie then set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, espresso powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, sugars, olive oil, eggs and vanilla then beat into the flour mixture.
  • Finally mix in the melted chocolate until completely incorporated.
  • Divide the mixture between the 2 cake tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Turn out the cakes and cool on wire racks before filling with buttercream.

Salted Caramel

  • To make the Salted Caramel pour the caster sugar into a small saucepan into an even layer and heat on a medium temperature until the sugar melts. Do not touch with a spoon but you can encourage the melting by swirling the saucepan around occasionally if you like.
  • Once melted, carefully stir in the double cream and butter, the caramel may harden slightly but just keep on stirring the bubbly mixture until the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat then stir in the salt.
  • Chill the caramel for a few hours until it has thickened up.
  • Use half of the cold caramel in the buttercream, reserving the rest for drizzling over the cake.

Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • To make the Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • Heat the egg whites, caster sugar and light soft brown sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  • Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms firm peaks.
  • Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the buttercream will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  • Add the salt, vanilla extract and half of the chilled salted caramel. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Assembly

  • Spread the buttercream over one of the chocolate cakes, then place the second chocolate cake on top. Cover the cakes with a thin layer of buttercream as a crumb coat. This will ensure the first layer of buttercream catches all the loose crumbs of the cake. Place the cake in the fridge for an hour for the crumb coat to firm up.
  • Once the crumb coat is firm then cover the cake with the rest of the buttercream. Place back in the fridge for an hour for the second coat of buttercream to firm up which will help form a solid base for the caramel drizzle.
  • Warm up the reserved caramel in a saucepan for about 30-60 seconds until it is just at pouring consistency.
  • Pour the caramel all over the top of the cake, starting at the centre and working out, encouraging some of the caramel to drip over the side.
  • Serve the cake at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 1046kcal | Carbohydrates: 107g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 68g | Saturated Fat: 35g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 780mg | Potassium: 409mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 84g | Vitamin A: 1605IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 3.1mg

Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes

I sell my cakes at local farmers’ markets in London but lucky for those who don’t live nearby I also love sharing the recipes for all the cakes I sell and if you want to receive more of my cake stall recipes then I have a FREE mini e-book of the top 3 Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes which are on my stall including Fig, Almond and Salted Honey Cake, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes and Minted Brownies. The recipes are really special to me and if you want a copy of them then just click the button below!

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