Happy Friday! I made six different types of pie dough today, and will be a busy wee bee working on pie for you over the weekend just in case you need some last minute pie ideas! I’m kinda going for twists on classics rather than standard pie recipes, and I am well aware I am VERY late to the game, but we are going to run with it anyway, k?
Today’s recipe is a super fun one because I made it as a collaboration with my friend Mike! I invited him over to my house to make cake, which, as Rich said, is a very good way to quickly get to know me quickly, and turns out it was! Mike and I have been IG friends for a while and finally decided it was really stupid that we live in the same city and haven’t met up before, and I am so glad that we remedied that!
We got a little bit fancy, and made this apple cider layer cake with a spiced salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream, and an ombre finish. To make the cake, we subbed boiled down apple cider for the milk in one of my favourite layer cake recipes, and it came out amazingly. I would almost describe the taste as ‘juicy’? So, so good. We paired it with a Spiced salted caramel Swiss Meringue buttercream, which is basically a Swiss Meringue buttercream with a whole lot of spiced caramel stirred into it. The caramel gets its spice from warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, and worked so perfectly with the apple cake. The caramel alone would be a great addition into your holiday baking, as it is a nice spicy twist on a traditional salted caramel sauce. Amazing on ice cream.
We finished the cake off with an ombre finish, which we achieved by mixing some of the buttercream with some cooled melted chocolate. This is a super easy way to get an ombre, and gave a really delicious variation in flavour. If you don’t want to do the ombre and just leave this as an apple cider cake with a spiced caramel buttercream that would work just fine too!
It is always so fun shooting with another blogger to see how they do things - I had so much fun!
A few wee tips:
If you’re not from America, apple cider is basically just cloudy apple juice - it is processed with the skins on. Cloudy apple juice will work great!
Make sure you give the caramel adequate time to cool. Either make it before you make the cakes and leave to cool in something that’s shallow so that it has a lot of cooling surface area, or make it the night before. You want it just below room temperature for mixing into your buttercream.
If you don’t want to reduce down the cider, the cake is based on this vanilla cake recipe which will work great too!
This works great as a sheet cake - you will need about half the amount of buttercream, but the batter bakes up in about 45-50 minutes in a lined 9”x13” pan.
Crumb coat the cake first using the spiced salted caramel and then make your ombre colors - the dark is from mixing buttercream with melted dark chocolate, and the lighter is from mixing a little of the chocolate mix and the caramel buttercream to give a middle shade.
Apple Cider Layer Cake with Spiced Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Makes one 8”, 3 Layer cake -
Reduced Apple Cider
1500g apple cider
Apple Cider Cake
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
330g reduced apple cider
120g sour cream
600g all-purpose flour
3 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp salt
345g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Spiced Salted Caramel
250g heavy cream
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground dried ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp flaky sea salt
Spiced Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
250g egg whites
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
900g (8 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
500g spiced salted caramel sauce
200g dark chocolate (we used 65%), melted and cooled (for making the ombre)
- PROCESS -
REDUCED APPLE CIDER
Place the apple cider in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer until it has reduced to 400g of liquid - to do this I place a bowl on my scale and weigh the liquid and then pour it back into the saucepan to keep reducing. This takes about an hour for me - set a timer for 40 minutes and check the quantity, and then check every 5-10 minutes from there, checking more frequently as it nears being done.
Transfer to a container and chill until cool.
APPLE CIDER LAYER CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Grease three 8” cake pans, and line with parchment paper on the bottom.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, reduced cider, and sour cream.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt. Mix briefly to combine.
With the mixer on low, add the butter a cube at a time, until fully incorporated and the mixture looks like sand.
Add half of the wet ingredients into the mixer. Mix until just combined, then add the second half of the wet ingredients. Mix on medium speed until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give a few folds with a rubber spatula to ensure that no dry ingredients remain.
Divide the batter between your three cake tins (I prefer to do this by weight - see notes). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cakes are springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes in their pans, then turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
SPICED SALTED CARAMEL
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and spices. Heat over low until warmed. Place the sugar in a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly. The sugar will start to form clumps, then begin to melt. Cook until is it amber in colour, then remove from the heat and immediately add all of the butter. Be careful as the caramel will bubble rapidly. Once the butter is incorporated, add the cream and stir well. Stir in the salt, and pour into a glass jar. Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate if making ahead of time, but bring back to room temperature before using.
SPICED SALTED CARAMEL SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until they are snowy white and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Add 500g of the Spiced salted caramel sauce and mix well to combine.
Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add in the vanilla bean paste. Mix for a further 2-3 minutes, then switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low for one minute to remove any air.
Set aside 500g of the buttercream, and mix the melted and cooled chocolate into it - this will be your ‘dark’ layer
Level off the cake layers.
Secure one of the layers of cake to a cake turntable using a little buttercream. Add about a cup of buttercream onto the first layer of cake, and smooth using an offset spatula. Place the second layer of cake onto the first, pressing very lightly to secure, and sealing the joins with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat the layering process - add a cup of buttercream, then top with the third layer of cake - I like to put this one upside down to ensure that the top of the cake is flat.
Crumb coat the cake - to do this, apply a thin layer of buttercream over the surface of the cake, and smooth with a bench scraper or icing smoother. Refrigerate the cake for 30-45 minutes, until the crumb coat has set.
Mix a little of the chocolate buttercream with the caramel buttercream to make a ‘mid’ colour.
Create an ombre effect by spreading the bottom ⅓ of the cake with the dark chocolate buttercream using an offset spatula, the middle ⅓ with the middle colour, and the top with plain caramel buttercream. Do not worry about getting super straight lines - you will blend these later. Blend the sections by spreading lightly with your spatula, applying more buttercream as needed. Spread buttercream on the top of the cake using an offset spatula.
Smooth the buttercream on the outside of the cake using a bench scraper, scraping down between passes. Fill in any gaps, and add additional colour where needed to give you a nice transition of colour. Continue until you are happy with the finish.
If you would like to add texture, using an offset spatula, create a pattern on the side of the cake by holding the spatula against the cake and rotating the turntable, slowly moving the spatula up the side of the cake. Smooth off the top edge.
Transfer the remainder of the buttercream into three piping bags, each fitted with a french star (ateco #866) tip. Alternatively you can blob them all into one bag to give you a marbled look on the top. Pipe blobs of the buttercream on the top of the cake.
Chill the cake until ready to serve. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to bring to room temperature.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge