Soft, tender Apple Cider Cake is the perfect fall treat. It's made with three layers of cake and frosted with a delicious brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream for a silky finish. This cake is a fun family celebration dessert for all your fall festivities.
Once apple cider hits the shelves, I know fall is approaching quickly. It's a classic seasonal ingredient that adds a delightful flavor to this cake recipe, especially with the combination of fall spices. This apple cider cake is not only made with a deliciously flavored batter, but it is decorated with a dreamy brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream. It's the perfect cake to celebrate the season, while enjoying an afternoon of pumpkin carving, or even after a day of apple picking.
Why this recipe works
- It's a tender cake paired with a creamy, silky frosting.
- Tastes like a spice cake enhanced with an apple cider flavor.
- The cake and buttercream can be made ahead of time.
- Option for making into a tall 6-inch cake.
Before you begin
Take out the following baking equipment.
Digital kitchen scale
Three 8-inch round cake pans
Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
Stand mixer whisk attachment
Allow all your ingredients to come to room temperature.
Read the recipe through from start to finish.
As a fall cake, this recipe calls for spices that are delicious in apple pie such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The ratio of these spices can be varied to your taste. If you also enjoy ground allspice, you could add some into your batter or even a hint of ground cardamom.
Sour cream plays several essential roles in this cake. It adds moisture, the acidity and tanginess add a more complex flavor to the batter, and the extra fat adds another layer of richness. In cake recipes, you can usually substitute whole milk with sour cream for these added benefits.
Apple cider is the star of this cake. It imparts a slightly tangy enjoyable flavor. For cakes, whole milk or buttermilk is usually used as the liquid binding ingredient as their protein promotes a soft crumb structure. However, because the cider does not contain protein, sour cream makes up the difference resulting in a delicious tender cake.
Traditionally Swiss meringue buttercream is made using granulated sugar. However, because this cake is fall-inspired by using spices and cider, brown sugar is used to make the buttercream. It will produce the same silky-like consistency but gives a slightly caramel-like flavor that pairs well with the apple cider as well as other cakes including spice, carrot, or even chocolate.
What's the difference between apple cider and juice?
Apple cider and apple juice look and taste different. But do you know what makes them different?
Cider is made from apples that are ground into a consistency similar to that of applesauce. This mixture is wrapped and put through a press, leaving only the juice, which in turn is bottled as apple cider (in other words, unfiltered apple juice). Often you will find that cider is unpasteurized and therefore must be refrigerated once it's opened or else it will ferment.
Apple juice, on the other hand, has been filtered to remove any solids. Additionally, apple juice is pasteurized to increase shelf life. It has more of an apple taste and less of a tangy flavor than apple cider.
How to make apple cider cake
Prepare cake pans. Using butter, grease the sides of three 8-inch round cake pans and lightly dust with flour. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves until evenly combined.
Cream butter and sugar. Beat together the softened butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high until smooth, light, and creamy. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
Add eggs, vanilla, sour cream. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla until well mixed. Add the sour cream and beat to combine and scrape the bowl to ensure even mixing.
Add dry ingredients and cider. Reduce the mixer to low speed. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the apple cider to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until just combined.
Bake. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes in a preheated oven.
Cool. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack before filling and decorating with buttercream.
How to prevent common cake mistakes
Sometimes a recipe doesn't always come out as we hoped. Here are some tips for preventing common mistakes when baking a cake.
- Measure by weight. For the most accurate and consistent results, measure all your ingredients by weight. Using measuring cups and spoons can vary depending on specific variables, such as using sifted flour vs. unsifted, packing down your ingredients, etc.
- Do not overmix your cake. Only mix until all the ingredients have just come together evenly. Overmixing cake overdevelops the gluten and will result in a more dense, chewy cake.
- Grease your baking pan. Sure, it's easy to skip this step, especially when using a nonstick pan. However, regardless of the material, always grease and flour your baking pan to prevent your cake from sticking, especially in the corners.
- Do not open the oven door. It's so tempting to open the oven door to check on your cake during the baking process. However, avoid this common cake mistake and instead open the oven door at the 30-minute mark to check for cake doneness. Opening your oven too early and too frequently can result in a sunken cake center.
Tips and takeaways
- Using dark-coated cake pans will cause your cakes to bake more quickly, and the outside of your cakes will become darker. This occurs because dark metal pans absorb and distribute heat much more rapidly than light color metal pans. If you are using dark pans, reduce your oven temperature to 325°F/163°C. In general, I would use lighter pans for more even baking.
- For taller cake layers, you can bake your cakes in three 6-inch cake pans.
- It's essential to ensure that your meringue for the buttercream is cool enough before adding your butter to it, otherwise, you will have a soupy mess. Once you add your butter to the meringue, if it is slightly runny, do not worry. Continue to whip the mixture on high, and it will come together. Be patient!
- For a bonus flavor, substitute the pure vanilla extract in the buttercream with the seeds of 2/3 of a vanilla bean pod. The vanilla seeds combined with the brown sugar adds a lovely flavor to the frosting.
If you love apple desserts, then try these other recipes...
Make sure to tag me @thesweetoccasion on Instagram and leave me a review below if you make this Apple Cider Cake. I'd love to see your creations and read your feedback. And if you would like to make this recipe later, be sure to pin this recipe using the button on any of these images. Let's make every occasion a sweet occasion!Print