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Salted caramel apple skillet cake

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m practically pelting you with salted caramel. I apologize for getting in a rut and dragging you along with me. You deserve better.

But. It’s salted caramel. I can’t help it.

When I get into cooking ruts, it’s normally a red flag for me to keep it the heck off my blog, lest I write about nothing else for weeks. (I spared y’all from my zucchini obsession earlier this summer — you’re welcome. Although I should’ve shared the zucchini butter because it was totally groovy.)

But I sort of feel okay about the salted caramel. It’s just so dang awesome, both in pies and cakes.

And, of course, licked right off the spoon in all its various cooking stages. (Quality control, people. con.trol.)

Me and apples have a long and happy baking history. I used to spend my autumn weekends creating incredibly complex, competition-level apple pies, obsessing over the sweet-and-spicy balance of the filling, and decorated with no less finesse than one does a celebration cake.

The outer corner of my right eye starts twitching when I think about reliving those hours huddled over pie crusts and bubbling apple filling. {shiver}

Nothing makes me happier than a free-form dessert — no fussing, no pitpicking. Mix, pour, stir — that’s right up my alley.

Along with butterflies and fluffy clouds and perfectly imperfect heirloom tomatoes, it’s a cosmic reward that caramel is so easy to cook up. Heat sugar until it liquefies into brown caramelized goodness. Stir in some butter. Sprinkle generously with the best salt in your pantry. Add some cream, if that’s your thing (it’s definitely mine). And boom! — sweet and salty dream sauce.

Oh, and I also {heart} my iron skillets — everything just cooks so beautifully in them. You’d think a cake would burn to a crisp, but it just doesn’t. And cast iron can be had for a song — completely affordable at Target (they carry the U.S.A.-made Lodge brand), and an absolute steal at flea markets.

Karen xo

Print This Recipe

Salted Caramel Apple Skillet Cake

for the cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup lukewarm milk, heated to about 100°F
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

for the salted caramel apples
2 tart apples, peeled cored and thinly sliced (I used winesap apples)
1 splash lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 big pinches fleur de sel or sel de gris
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk

10″ cast iron skillet

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare the cake batter: Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the egg in a medium bowl until scrambled, then slowly add the milk, followed by the butter, whisking all the while. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla paste. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined – the batter will be loose. Set aside.

Make the salted caramel: Spread out the sugar evening in the bottom of the skillet and place over medium heat. When the sugar begins to melt, use a heat-safe spatula to stir gently until the sugar liquifies. Turn the heat to medium-low. Keep an eye on the caramel: if it turns very dark or begins to smoke, pull the pan off the burner and keep stirring for several minutes. Add the butter and salt and stir until combined.

Assemble the cake and bake: Add the spiced apple slices to the skillet, turning and mixing until well coated with the salted caramel. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and stir.

Spoon the cake batter over the caramel apple mixture. Swirl the spoon through the pan to mix the batter with the caramel. Place the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake – cast iron retains heat exceptionally well and will continue baking the cake for a bit after coming out of the oven.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream or, my preference, vanilla bean or cinnamon ice cream.

Prep Time: 10 minutes       Cook + Bake time: about 50 minutes       Yield: 6-8 servings

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Thursday 28th of March 2013

The last time (and first time) that I tried this,my apples siezed up the caramel, too. I have made caramel before, so I think my heat was too high and then I added everything too quickly. I still made the cake though. The slices that had the huge chunks of caramel and apples were awesome :) I am making it again, right now,without the apples(I have a child who will not eat cooked fruit or veggies). The caramel process when much smoother. It ended much lighter, too. I cannot wait to try it!!! Thank you for this recipe :)


Tuesday 25th of September 2012

Seriously, no need to apologize for the salted caramel - as far as I'm concerned, it's one of the great culinary inventions :). This looks terrific and is going on my list of apple recipes for fall!

Brittany @ Brittany Cooks

Sunday 23rd of September 2012

Do you have any issues with the cake sticking? It seems like the caramel would just stick to the bottom of the skillet. I actually just tried to make this cake and it was a total disaster. It was completely my fault, I added the apples before adding the butter and salt to the caramel and ended up with caramel rocks. I improvised something else, it's in the oven as we speak, but was so mad at myself! I was looking forward to this cake all week. Ah well, I'll try again some other time I guess.


Sunday 23rd of September 2012

Oh, no! Don't you hate when that happens? Yeah, the butter needed to be added to the caramel first. Caramel is crazy sensitive and will seize at the slightest provocation - here, it was the apples, which probably cooled the caramel too much. The butter will make it saucy and less sensitive before the apples go in. And then the cream will further smooth things out in prep for receiving the cake batter. In my cast iron pan, the only things that stuck were small exposed pieces of apple - I could've turned the cake out of the pan if that had been my intention. There actually isn't any sign of liquid caramel in the baked cake - it becomes part of the batter. I hope your next try turns out as you expect! :)


Friday 21st of September 2012

YUM! Can you post the zucchini butter recipe, please?!!?


Tuesday 18th of September 2012

As with bacon, there can never be too much salted caramel. Don't stop now, you're on a great caramel roll.