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Spiced Applesauce Cake with Buttermilk Caramel Sauce

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This may look like a plain Jane cake. Its appearance is pretty basic but don’t let its simple looks fool you. This is one delicious treat. It was one of many I had researched looking for the perfect apple cake. I had a stack of recipes to try for German apple cakes, Jewish apple cakes, all kinds of apple cakes and this little gem was among them. Not an apple cake like the others in the pile, an applesauce spice cake.


The first time I made this, I was shocked at how good it was. The second time I made it, we were headed to a dinner gathering at a friend’s house. An hour before we had to leave, I decided to make a cake. Yes. A cake. An hour before we had to leave. It was this cake. Not a multi layered, frosted confection, but still a “mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredients, put ‘em together and spread them in a greased pan,” cake. The process actually goes by rather quickly and I had some extra time soooooo, I thought I would dress it up with a delicious caramel sauce to make it feel a bit more special.


I made it so late that I had to take the hot pan from the oven to the car. It was a casual get together with good friends so I wasn’t worried about letting the cake cool at their house during dinner. I certainly wouldn’t mind if someone arrived at my house with a freshly baked cake still hot in the baking pan.  While the initial reaction to “Ooh, what did you bring?” was certainly not overwhelming, one bite and all I heard was, “Mmmmm”, my friends clearly surprised at the delicious apple spice goodness that this cake delivers in spades.


The cake is easy to pull together and full of fall flavor. There are no apples to peel and chop. Keep applesauce in your pantry and you’ll always be ready to bake this special treat. Cinnamon, ginger and clove are the perfect blend of spices to make your kitchen smell like fall.  The spices you have in your pantry will do just fine, but when you use really good spices, you’ll taste the difference, so use the best you can. I used Vietnamese cinnamon and Chinese ginger.  My cloves were your typical grocery store variety.


Now the caramel sauce…I shared this recipe in yesterday’s post,(see same recipe with updated photos here.) This stuff is CRAZY good! Buttery, rich and smooth, it’s amazing how easy it is to make. Just mix a few ingredients in a sauce pan and in less than 10 minutes you’ll have a luscious buttery rich sauce!   (I only made half of the sauce recipe for this cake and we had plenty to drizzle on each piece. If you really want to splurge, go for the full amount and store any leftovers.)


By the way, this delicious cake doesn’t need any sauce to make it taste good. It’s perfect and amazingly delicious on its own…but make the sauce anyway.   Once you make it, you’ll find a million opportunities to use it.


Spiced Applesauce Cake with Buttermilk Caramel Sauce.  You’re not going anywhere in the next hour are you? I didn’t think so. Make this cake.

(I’ve got some updated photos that are much more flattering of this delicious cake here.  Check it out!)

5 from 2 votes

Spiced Applesauce Cake with Buttermilk Caramel Sauce

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8” or 9” square cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Then, beat in the applesauce.
  5. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Expect the mixture to look a bit curdled. This is normal.
  6. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 35-40 minutes. (If you're making the caramel sauce, you can start it once the cake is in the oven or even while its cooling. It will be done in plenty of time to top the cake.)
  7. Cool cake in pan 15 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  8. Top each serving with warm caramel sauce, if desired.

Recipe Notes

*Store plain cake (without caramel sauce on it) in a covered container at room temperature.

*Caramel sauce should be refrigerated separately.

*See sauce recipe for further storage details.

*This cake stays moist for at least three days and probably more, but it rarely lasts that long in our house.

Cake Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce
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