Cake in a Crate

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- Caramel Apple Spice Cake


This morning, I woke up and it was fall. Just like that. Sweater weather.

So many of us associate fall with the harvest: the return of root vegetables and weeknight dinners, stews and savory scents, cinnamon and bags of apples and hot baked breads.

My food memories of fall are endless, vibrant little films that replay every year when I'm transported back by a sight or a sound.

  • Stirring the booyah kettle at the fall festival
  • Campfire songs and foil dinners and bread-and-jam pies made on the pie iron
  • Mom's apple crisp
  • Loads of tater tot hotdish
  • Sorting and trading Halloween candy with my best friend Morgan
  • Chili in the crockpot
  • Soup parties that I had during high school
  • Kettle corn at the flea market
  • Fresh baked cookies at the school store

If you haven't caught on by now, I'm from Minnesota, and it was a pretty Prairie Home existence.

The crème de la crème of fall was apple picking and the baking that ensued. Year after year, we schlepped out to the just-barely-countryside to visit Pine Tree Apple Orchard, a pick-your-own farm with a hayride and a pumpkin patch and a home-churned cinnamon ice cream that remains among the best I've ever had. We'd leave with our arms full of our pickings and all the proper confectionaries -- jugs of apple cider, hot cider donuts, apple butter, and apple turnovers.

In the week that followed, my stepdad and I would make our signature apple pie, an adaptation of the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook recipe using Granny Smiths and butter flicked just so to create a well-textured crust.

All this goes to say that this year, we're making apple cake. Not just any apple cake, mind you, but one very special Caramel Apple Spice Cake. I can hardly resist. And when I say we're, I mean me and you, dear reader. Think applesauce, loads of cinnamon, and a caramel glaze for the ages. A two-bowl creation, it's the perfect way to whet your health-conscious appetite while serving up spices that no Starbucks experience could replicate.

It's in the shop at starting yesterday, and will stay there through the rest of the fall.

You know what this means, right? Baking season is finally here! WE ARE SO EXCITED. So put away your ice cream (unless it's the cinnamon kind!) and don your aprons, darlings. And stay tuned for weekly cake + cookie releases from Cake in a Crate.


Applesauce cake is an interesting phenomenon, popularized during ration era World War II, when eggs were scarce. As nature would have it, fruit purees, most notably apples, are excellent egg replacements due to their ability to simultaneously bind and leaven baked goods while retaining moisture. The familiar apple flavor plus the availability of jarred applesauce made it ideal for snack cakes, the everyday sort of cake that could be served with tea or even breakfast(!) (This during the Golden Age, when Americans ate cake on the daily.) Applesauce cake made a comeback in the 70s when "healthy eating" first came into vogue, and it's experiencing another renaissance today thanks to the clean eating movement.


  • Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze,, Merrill Stubbs
  • Applesauce Cake, The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer
  • Caramel Icing, A Piece of Cake, Susan G. Purdy



  • Simply, I'm looking for a cake/muffin hybrid here, with some spring in its step. Bob’s all-purpose flour blend uses gafava flour (garbanzo fava, don't be scared), sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and potato starch, and it does just the trick.


  • Applesauce and vegan cake are a match made in heaven. It's easy to make your own applesauce, but in a pinch, I use Vermont Village, which is unsweetened and contains no preservative nasties.


  • Who needs 'em? See above.

Cinnamon spice

  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and that's it. (Lots of it!) I used a 3:1 ratio of cinnamon to nutmeg.

Caramel glaze

  • I made a glazed version of my favorite no-burn caramel sauce, which some of you may know from the Chocolate Turtle Cake. This one adds a bit of maple syrup and vanilla to the mix. (Note: coconut cream is not the same as cream of coconut! The latter contains sugar and all sorts of additives. The former is just the good stuff, skimmed off the milk. We source ours from Native Forest.)

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

BAKE TIME: 45 minutes

ASSEMBLY TIME: 15 minutes

MAKES 1 standard 8”x4” loaf cake or 12 cupcakes


1 1/4 c Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour (gafava flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, guar gum)

1/4 tsp guar gum

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2/3 c coconut sugar

1/3 c maple syrup

1/3 c coconut oil

1 c applesauce


1 can coconut cream

1 c coconut sugar

2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 c walnuts



Preheat oven to 325F. Line bottom and sides of loaf pan with parchment paper. Alternatively, you may coat the pan with oil.


In a large bowl, combine coconut sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, and applesauce and stir until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, guar gum, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Careful not to overstir, as this may create bubbles in the batter.


Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until cake passes the toothpick test. Remove and place pan on cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then remove cake from pan and continue to cool for 30 minutes or more.


While oven is still hot, place walnuts on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes at 325F. Crush by hand or with food processor and set aside.


Heat all ingredients on medium heat until boiling. Continue stirring while boiling for two full minutes. Remove from heat and place in freezer or refrigerator until pan is cooled and sauce has slightly thickened. Remove before serving at room temperature.


Top cake with fresh apple slices, if desired. Sprinkle with crushed toasted walnuts and pour caramel glaze over top to your liking. Serve sliced with a cup of hot tea or coffee.