When it comes to a glorious, awe-inspiring cake like this, all I can really say is: Um, For All That is Good and Righteous About Cakes, Make This Now. How’s that for awe-inspiring?
Seriously, this cake (perfected by my crazy awesome brother, who made it for me before we moved from Wisconsin) is the culmination of all things to love about the fall season.
The perfectly spiced, moist cake is studded with bits of juicy apple while ribbons of sweetened cream cheese swirl throughout. Drizzled with a creamy glaze and caramel sauce and you have me sitting here wondering why on earth this cake is not sitting in my kitchen right now. Let me amend that: I’m wondering why this cake is not sitting in my belly right now. (Jeez, not the whole thing, people, just a slice or three.)
I will be rectifying that immediately. And so should you, if you want my humble opinion.
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – this cake is quite simple in preparation and the beauty is that it actually tastes better the second day. So a huge bonus for me and you!
It can be made ahead of time for those times when you need/want a stellar dessert but the only time available to make it is 24 hours before you actually need the darned thing. Awesome!
Generously grease and flour a 9 or 10-inch bundt pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. Peel, core and dice 3 cups of apples. Toss the apples with the tablespoon of lemon juice to keep from browning. Add the dark brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla and toss to combine. Set aside.
Using a handheld electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the oil, sugar, and vanilla until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. The batter will be quite thick. Drain any excess liquid from the apples (if any) and stir the apple mixture into the batter. Don't overmix! Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese just until smooth. Add the 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla and egg and beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth.
Using a spoon or butter knife, make a trench in the center of the cake batter (going around in the circular shape of the bundt pan) about 1-inch deep (just scoop the excess batter to either side. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the trench. Try and keep the cream cheese mixture in a ring in the center of the cake so it has cake batter on either side around the circle. Once the cream cheese mixture is in place, use a butter knife to swirl the cream cheese mixture into the surrounding cake batter.
Bake the cake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (checking often as you may need to decrease or increase time based on your pan and exact oven temperature). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
While the cake is cooling, mix the ingredients for the glaze in a small pan over medium high heat. Allow the ingredients to come to a boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Pour the glaze over the cake while the cake is still in the pan. Let the cake cool in the pan before removing. Turn the cake out onto a serving plate and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve chilled or at room temperature, drizzling caramel sauce over each piece.
For the caramel sauce, mix the butter, brown sugar, half-and-half or cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thickened slightly. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until cold (or use slightly warm but not hot). If the caramel sauce has cooled in the fridge long enough to harden, warm slightly before drizzling on cake.
Make Ahead: this recipe actually tastes best the second day so you can make it ahead and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Caramel Sauce: also, if you are looking for other make-ahead components, the caramel sauce can be made and refrigerated for up to a week ahead of time.
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