Candied apples were never my cup of tea. The contrast between the sweet exterior and the fresh apple always seemed too one dimensional to me. Caramel apples, on the other hand, deliver a wonderful contrast between crisp, juicy, sweet-tart apples and rich, soft, buttery caramel that is perfectly indulgent. I often make them in the fall, as the summertime heat can make the caramels too sticky to enjoy, and I also like to use the flavor combination of apples and caramel in other baked goods. These Salted Caramel Apple Mini Bundt Cakes are definitely inspired by caramel apples, but they’re easier to make and much less messy to enjoy.
The little cakes are packed with fresh shredded apple. Shredding the apple ensures that you get a good apple flavor and a good texture, without the mushiness of applesauce or too-large apple chunks that could throw off the look of the finished cakes. The buttermilk cake batter is spiced with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, which blend nicely with the fresh apple and give the cake an aroma reminiscent of freshly baked apple pie. The cakes are moist and tender on their own, but they are outstanding once they are finished with a drizzle of caramel frosting.
The buttery frosting is made with caramel sauce and a generous pinch of salt that cuts its sweetness. I used a homemade caramel sauce, but any store brand will work. If you can find a salted caramel sauce, you are welcome to use that and omit the salt from the frosting recipe. I opted to drizzle the frosting on so that there was a nice balance of apple and caramel flavors in the cakes, however you can be more generous if you’re more of a caramel-lover.
I baked these cakes in a mini bundt pan made by Wilton that has 12 nonstick cavities about the size of the cavities on muffin pans. Using a mini bundt pan – also sometimes called a bundlet pan – gives the finished cakes a very cute look and makes for a lovely presentation. I recommend buttering and flouring the pan to ensure that you get a clean release, even if your pan is nonstick. If you don’t have a mini bundt pan, you can bake these cakes in a regular muffin pan and drizzle them with the frosting when they are cooled, just as you would with the mini bundts. If using the muffin pan, you can either use muffin liners or grease and flour the cavities to eliminate the need for them.
Salted Caramel Apple Mini Bundt Cakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup shredded apple (not applesauce)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Generously brush the insides of a 12-cavity mini bundt pan with a bit of melted or softened butter, then coat with flour. Tap out excess flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by shredded apple and vanilla extract. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Transfer batter into prepared pan, filling each cavity almost to the top. There is enough batter for 18 mini bundts, so you can fill a second pan or bake the first back and repeat with remaining batter.*
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Turn cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Makes 18 mini bundt cakes.
Salted Caramel Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caramel sauce (storebought or homemade)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat together butter, caramel sauce, salt and vanilla. Gradually blend in confectioners’ sugar, mixing at high speed, until the frosting is not runny and is thick enough to drizzle generously over the cakes. If you desire a more spreadable consistency, simply blend in more confectioners’ sugar to stiffen the icing.
*Leftover batter can also be baked in a muffin tin and the less picture-perfect cakes can be eaten and enjoyed by the chef!!