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Looking over an 8-inch round apple cider cake with brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream with rosettes on top and apple cider in the background.

Apple Cider Cake

  • Author: Maria
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 3 layer 8-inch cake 1x
  • Category: Cakes


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.



For the cake

  • 385 g (2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 7.2 g (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 3.4 g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 2.8 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 2.4 g (1 1/2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
  • 0.7 g (1/4 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
  • 0.5 g (1/4 teaspoon) ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 226 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 220 (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 165 (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 250 g (5 large) eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 g (2 teaspoons) pure vanilla extract
  • 240 g (1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 180 g (3/4 cup) apple cider

For the brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream

  • 150 g (5 large) egg whites
  • 385 g (1 3/4 cups) light brown sugar
  • 565 g (1.25 pounds) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 g (2 teaspoons) pure vanilla extract


For the apple cider cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C.  Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the softened butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-4 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla until mixed well.  Add the sour cream and beat to combine.  With the mixer on low speed and 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.
  4. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack before frosting.

For the brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream

  1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl and whisk together. Make a double boiler by placing the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (ensuring the bowl does not touch the water). Whisk constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture feels hot to the touch, about 4-5 minutes.  You should not feel any sugar granules when rubbing the mixture between your fingertips.
  2. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip the mixture on medium-high until the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, and the meringue is thick and glossy.
  3. With the mixer on medium, add the softened butter half a stick at a time.  Continue to whip until the mixture is smooth.  Mix in the vanilla until completely incorporated.  Frost the completely cooled cakes and enjoy.


6-inch cake variation:  For a taller cake option, grease and flour three 6-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper and proceed with the recipe.  Baking time may vary slightly due to the thicker cake.  However, begin checking for cake doneness at the 30-minute mark as each oven can vary in general.

Make-ahead:  Make cake up to 1 day in advance.  Keep in the baking pans, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.  Swiss meringue buttercream can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, bring the frosting to room temperature and re-whip for 5 minutes using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Freezing:  Freeze cake layers frosted or unfrosted for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.  Swiss meringue buttercream can also be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature, and re-whip for 5 minutes using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Keywords: apple cake, fall dessert, apple cider, Swiss meringue buttercream, brown sugar frosting