Salted Caramel Apple Skillet Cake has a super moist cake, loaded with apples and topped with a whipped salted caramel frosting.
We first made this Salted Caramel Apple Skillet Cake last Fall, after a trip to the apple orchard. We found the recipe in the New York Times and couldn’t wait to try it. What a dessert!
Fair warning – this cake is super rich and dense with sweet apple flavor, and the whipped caramel buttercream frosting is quite sweet, so a small slice will go a long way. But a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt on top of the cake offsets the intense sweetness, plus it adds a surprising crunch in every bite. We couldn’t stop eating it!
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Baking Apples – Use apples that are well-suited for baking and keep their shape when cooked or baked. We used both Granny Smith and Braeburn for their slightly tart flavor as well.
- Sea Salt – We used a fine sea salt to sauté the apples a bit before baking, but your typical iodized table salt will also work in this step. However, for the garnish, you’ll want a coarse or flaked sea salt.
- Soft Caramel Candies – Don’t swap in jarred caramel sauce or sugar-free caramels – only soft caramel candies such as Werther’s will work in this recipe.
Chef’s Tip –
Use flaked sea salt to garnish this cake. It’s a naturally occurring, crispy, flaked salt that perfectly offsets the sweet cake and frosting – plus it adds a nice crunch to each bite of cake.
Special supplies needed
- 10-inch oven-proof skillet
- Mixer – Ideally, use a stand mixer as you’ll be creaming the butter and sugar in the batter for a few minutes. You’ll also use your mixer to whip the frosting.
How do I make Salted Caramel Apple Skillet Cake?
- Sauté peeled and diced apples, brown sugar, butter and sea salt in a saucepan until slightly softened. Set aside to cool.
- Mix the cake batter, then stir in the sauteed apples.
- Pour the batter into a buttered, oven-safe skillet.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting by whipping together butter, confectioner’s sugar, and melted caramel candies. Once whipped and fluffy, add cream and vanilla.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Let sit for at least two hours to set up.
- Sprinkle with coarse sea salt before serving in thin slices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this Salted Caramel Apple Skillet Cake ahead of time? Yes – in fact, this is one of those recipes that tastes better the next day as the flavors meld.
How do I store any leftovers? You’ll want to keep this cake covered and refrigerated due to the butter and cream in the frosting.
This recipe has way too much sugar! Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the cake or frosting? Yes – if you read through some of the comments from the original New York Times recipe, many readers successfully cut back on the amounts of sugar in both the cake and frosting. We haven’t tried doing so ourselves, so we can’t give you more specific suggestions.
You might enjoy these other apple cake recipes:
- French Apple Cake
- Apple Topped Cake
- Cream Cheese Apple Cake
- Best Apple Cake Ever
- Sweet Potato and Apple Cake
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt (could also use table salt)
2 large baking apples, about ¾ pound total (I used one Granny Smith and one Braeburn), peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup butter (1 stick) plus more to butter the skillet
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few grinds fresh nutmeg
¾ cup butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
7 ounces unwrapped soft caramel candies (we used Werther’s). Do not use jarred caramel sauce, or sugar-free caramels
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Flaked sea salt, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium saute pan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in brown sugar and salt.
Once the sugar is dissolved, add the apples and cook until the apples are just starting to get soft, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Butter a 10-inch ovenproof skillet and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar for 4-5 minutes on medium high until light and fluffy.
With mixer running on medium, add in one egg at a time, letting each egg mix in before adding the next. Scrape the bowl and mix again.
Add vanilla and mix again.
In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
With the mixer running on low, slowly add in the flour mixture and mix to combine. Scrape and mix just until incorporated.
Remove the bowl and fold in the cooled apple mixture including all of the liquid.
Scrape the batter into the prepared skillet and bake 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The original recipe said to bake for 30-35 minutes but mine still had an unset center at 35 minutes so I baked it for ten more minutes. Ovens vary so please make sure you test with the toothpick before removing from the oven. Try to insert the toothpick into cake and not a piece of apple so you get a true test.
Let cool in the pan completely and do not start the frosting until the cake is totally cooled. I made my cake the day prior and refrigerated it overnight.
When ready to frost, place softened butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream on medium high for 4-5 minutes until the butter is pale and creamy.
Add one cup of confectioner’s sugar at a time and mix slowly to combine. Repeat for remaining two cups of confectioner’s sugar and beat to a creamy consistency.
This next step can make or break the frosting. Unwrap the 7 ounces of soft chewy caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl that has been first lightly sprayed with kitchen pan spray.
Microwave in 20 second bursts to melt the caramels. Mine took about one-minute total. The caramels should be creamy and slightly hot. They will cool and harden quickly, so do not let them sit before going to next step.
Remove the paddle and scrape in the melted warm/hot caramels.
Quickly reattach the paddle and whisk to combine the hot caramels into the butter and sugar mixture. Don’t try to add the caramels with the mixer running. The stream of hot caramel will just get wound around the top of the paddle and harden.
Once the mixture is smooth and silky, add the cream and vanilla and mix to combine.
Scrape the frosting onto the cooled cake.
At this point, I found the frosting too loose to cut the cake so I refrigerated the frosted cake until the frosting was set, about two hours.
When ready to serve, sprinkle on the flaked sea salt, cut into eight pieces and serve right out of the skillet.
The frosting is extremely sweet and the flaked sea salt offsets the sweetness. The cake is rich and frosting sweet so you could easily get 10 portions from this cake.
Keywords: Salted Caramel Apple Skillet Cake