Caramel-Apple Walnut Cake

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Yield: One 9" round cake, 10 servings

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Chunks of toothsome fresh apple, embedded in a delicious vanilla-scented cake, are complemented by walnuts and caramel. Lightly salting the walnuts adds to the flavor of both nuts and caramel. Read our blog about this cake, with additional photos, at Bakers' Banter.

Caramel-Apple Walnut Cake

star rating (18) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: One 9" round cake, 10 servings
Published: 01/01/2010



  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • salt
  • 1/3 cup caramel cut from a block, or about 12 to 15 unwrapped candies
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk



  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tips from our bakers

  • Can you use low-fat sour cream or yogurt in the cake? Yes; the cake won't be as tender. Can you use nonfat? Yes; the cake will be rubbery. Ah well, dieting is such a tradeoff, isn't it?
  • Can you use skim or low-fat milk in place of the cream or whole milk in the caramel topping? See above. Use a bit less: say, 2 tablespoons skim milk, or 2 1/2 tablespoons low-fat milk. The sauce won't be as thick and rich.


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan at least 2" deep; or a 9" springform pan.

2) Spread the walnuts in a single layer in an ungreased pan, and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, until they're a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and sprinkle very lightly with salt. Set them aside.

3) Beat together the sugar, butter, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and vanilla till smooth.

4) Add the eggs. Beat till thoroughly combined.

5) Stir in the sour cream or yogurt alternately with the flour, using the low speed of your mixer. The batter will be stiff.

6) Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula as best you can.

7) Toss the apple wedges with the sugar and vanilla till apples are thoroughly coated.

8) Arrange the apples atop the cake, pushing them into the stiff batter gently so they're partially submerged.

9) Bake the cake for 65 minutes, till it's golden brown on top and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

10) Remove the cake from the oven, and turn it out onto a rack, apple-side up.

11) Place the caramel and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat till the cream is showing bubbles, and the caramel is soft.

12) Stir the caramel and cream till smooth.

13) Spoon the caramel over the cake, dripping it down into the crevices around the apples.

14) Scatter the walnuts on top. Serve warm, or at room temperature.


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  • star rating 12/05/2014
  • Arya Baker from KAF Community
  • The first time I made this cake, it was spectacular. Mind-blowingly delicious. I quote, "This might be the best cake you've ever made!" The second time, it was merely mediocre. I didn't do any shenanigans with the recipe either time. I followed it exactly. So it could have been the apples or humidity or a mistake on my part. But when the stars align, this cake is absolutely out of this world.
  • star rating 03/09/2012
  • jadeskiss83 from KAF Community
  • I absolutely loved this cake. It was like a cross between an apple pie and coffee cake and was just divine. Loved the way that the caramel penetrated the cake as the night when on and just made it just delicious. I was a little worried about the cake being dry as some of the other reviewers noted so I added a tablespoon of oil to the batter with the butter and started checking for doneness at about 45 minutes, super moist. It took about 55 minutes for mine in a 9 inch springform pan. Loved this cake.
    We love that you did your research before baking! Thanks for sharing your success and tips that will help other customer/bakers. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 10/31/2010
  • pattibos from KAF Community
  • This cake is, in a word, AWESOME! I fixed it (almost) exactly as written. I was a little concerned about prior reviews noting that the cake was dry...I adjusted the temp on my oven...baking it for about 30 min. at 325...the rest of the time at 350. With that adjustment in the temp, it was approximately 75 minutes of baking time...but, definitely, NOT DRY! I started testing it at about the 60 min. mark, increasing time in 5 minute intervals until the cake tester came out clean. I used Honey Crisp apples and sliced each apple into about 18 slices, nestling them into the batter and layering them over the top of the cake. I also waited until the caramel sauce was almost room temp before spooning/drizzling/brushing it onto the cake; perfect! Thanks, KAF, for another amazing recipe. This is a fall recipe keeper!
    Thank you for giving this recipe a try in spite of some of the challenges presented by other reviews. And thank you for all your tips! Elisabeth @ KAF
  • star rating 10/24/2010
  • jlightfritz from KAF Community
  • Excellent autumn cake! Used vanilla yogurt and honeycrisp apples, Moist cake and very flavorful...enjoyed by everyone!
  • star rating 10/04/2010
  • krebsiebaby from KAF Community
  • I did not have a problem with a dry cake as others seem to have had. My family literally devoured it. I used a different caramel than the standard square one. Since there is no heating time given for melting the caramel, I cut them in half and just guessed. Needless to say I kept a close watch on the microwave. When the cream started boiling around the edges, I took the bowl out and stirred until smooth - much like you would if you were melting chocolate. Also I used Pink Lady apples which are quite firm and tart as well. We all loved the contrast of all the flavors and textures.
  • star rating 09/06/2010
  • mummydice from KAF Community
  • I used more apples and chopped them and added to batter, soooo moist!!!
  • star rating 01/02/2009
  • Kelly from
  • This was one of the most wonderful cakes I have ever had, and can be used as a dessert, coffee cake or for brunch. Roasting and salting the walnuts is a must. I served it for the holidays and got rave reviews. I used your wonderful Merkens caramel and I know that was one thing that made this so wonderful. Quality ingredients does make all the difference in the outcome.
  • star rating 10/18/2008
  • Joyce from FL
  • I didn't have a 9" springform pan, so I used my 10" one, and of course, I watched the cooking time (done to perfection in 45 minutes). I also used three medium-sized apples (each cut into 8 wedges) to have a few more slices to place across a 10" cake. All I can say is yummy, delicious, moist... and so enjoyable. This cake is a big hit with my family! This is one recipe that I'll definitely be making every Fall when I crave a treat made with apples :-).
  • star rating 10/01/2008
  • I felt that for all of the time and ingredients in this apple cake recipe that it was a big disappointment . The cake was completely cooked at 50 mins yet the recipe states to cook it for 65 mins. the cake was very dry and bland .I made the cake for my family and co-workers and no one enjoyed it .
  • star rating 09/30/2008
  • Marguerite from Mount Vernon, VA
  • The most difficult part of preparing this cake was finding caramels - who knew? Very simple cake to put together but definitely agree with other reviewers - extremely dry. I am careful to turn my products repeatedly when baking because I learned the location of my oven's hot spot the hard (and dry) way. Between turning, shaving 20 mins off of the recommended time, and covering it with parchment to slow the browning, it still came out too dry - except for the very top portion which had the benefit of moisture from the apples. Personally, I wouldn't try it again simply because I tend to issue a ruling on the first attempt because there are a lifetime of recipes available - many exactly to my liking with no inventiveness on my part. One note of interest I'd like to share with beginners.....beware of all-butter cakes - always very dense and dry. If moisture is the goal, search for recipes that combine oil and butter (or shortening) and, trust me, do not attempt substitutions - they do not work. There is a huge difference in how each works in a recipe - regardless of the fact that it may have the very same fat content. Baking is chemistry - if you don't like the recipe, as written, move on. Happy baking!!
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