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Spiced Honey Cake with Caramelized Apples

If you’re looking for a cozy recipe to celebrate fall, look no further than this Honey Spice Cake With Caramelized Apples. A moist cake flavored with warming spices is topped with tender, buttery apple slices for a snack cake worth getting excited about.

Apple picking is one of my family’s favorite fall activities. We get a modest amount from our own apples, then head over to the local farms to fill up bags and bags with apples. We make multiple trips every autumn, then turn all the apples into applesauce, apple bread, apple pancakes, pies, and crumb cakes. Then we dehydrate a crazy amount for healthy snacking all winter long. I will be posting about how we dehydrate apples soon – it’s so easy!

Another great way to enjoy apples? By caramelizing them. Just cook sliced apples in butter and sugar, then spoon the tender slices over pancakes or on top of ice cream. I also love using them as a simple cake topping, like we are doing here with a spiced honey snack cake.

Overhead shot of Spice Cake With Caramelized Apples squares

What is a Snack Cake?

A snack cake is essentially an everyday kind of cake: it’s rustic, it’s simple and usually only has one layer. It’s not a tiered cake frosted to perfection, but a cake you can make on a whim.

If your current whims lean towards fall spices, freshly harvested apples, and enjoying baked goods alongside a warm cup of chai, then this spice cake recipe is exactly what you need right now. It’s the perfect recipe for welcoming fall and celebrating apple season. (Apple season is always worth celebrating, right?) This simple cake has a tender crumb (you can thank the yogurt for that!), a lovely golden color, and, of course, it’s topped with apples. Once you make it, I think it’s going to find a permanent spot in your fall baking rotation.

Don’t get me wrong, though—this snack cake manages to be both an everyday cake and a cake that’s worthy of serving for a special occasion. It’s so pretty when topped with apples and served with ice cream. In fact, thanks to the combination of honey and apples I’ve made this for friends celebrating Rosh Hashanah in the past!

Overhead shot of spice cake ingredients

What You’ll Need

While this ingredient list looks long, it’s mostly pantry items that you probably have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need to make this Spice Cake With Caramelized Apples recipe:

For the cake:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Kosher salt
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice and freshly grated nutmeg.
  • Unsalted butter
  • Light brown sugar – Dark brown sugar also works.
  • Egg – Let it come to room temperature before you start the recipe.
  • Honey – Use a thin, pourable one, not a thick, creamed honey or Manuka honey.
  • Plain yogurt – I always like using full-fat yogurt in baking, but a reduced fat variety is fine, too.
  • English breakfast tea – Brew a strong cup and then let it cool.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream – Optional, but it definitely elevates the whole experience because ice cream melting over warm apples is heavenly.
Overhead shot of apple slices on cutting board

For the apples:

  • Gala apples – You can substitute another apple that stands up well to baking and cooking.
  • Unsalted butter
  • Light brown sugar

Spice Cake Variations

If you want to switch things up a bit, here are some variations to try:

  • Add some chopped walnuts to the apples in the last minute of cooking time—just enough to toast them and coat them in the caramel sauce.
  • Frost the cake with homemade cream cheese frosting to up the decadence factor.
  • Swap a firm pear for the gala apples.
  • Add a handful of raisins or finely chopped walnuts to the cake batter.

How to Make Spice Cake With Caramelized Apples

As a snack cake, this recipe is easy to whip up. Here’s how to make it:

Prepare. Place the oven rack in the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a square cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Overhead shot of dry spice cake ingredients

Mix the dry and wet ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl, then in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer (affiliate link), cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, followed by the honey, yogurt, tea, and vanilla.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix on the lowest setting until just combined. 

Bake the spice cake. Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan and bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out can, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (affiliate link) for 10 minutes before serving.

Overhead shot of caramelized apple ingredients

Caramelize the apples. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high; once it’s melted, add the apples and sprinkle them with a tablespoon of brown sugar. Sauté them, stirring often, until they’re tender and beginning to brown, then add the remaining brown sugar and increase the heat to high. Gently stir the apples until the sugar melts and the apples turn golden brown.

Over head shot of Spice Cake With Caramelized Apples

Serve. When the cake has cooled, run a butter knife along the sides, then invert it onto a large plate or cutting board and cut it into squares. Serve with the apples and a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream.

Tips for Success

Here’s how to make a perfect, moist spice cake:

  • Let your ingredients warm up a bit. Letting the egg and yogurt come to room temperature allows them to hold more air when you beat them, which yields a lighter, fluffier cake.
  • Use kosher salt. Or, if you want to use table salt, use a little less. Kosher salt has larger crystals than table salt, so you can’t make a one-to-one substitution.
  • Adjust the baking time for cupcakes. As with most cake recipes, you can make this in cupcake form—it will make about 12. You can bake them at the same temperature, but reduce the time in the oven by half.

How to Store Spice Cake

Keep the apples in the refrigerator and warm them up when you want to serve the cake. The cake itself will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Since it doesn’t have frosting on top, you’ll need to wrap the cake well to keep it from going stale. You can freeze the spice cake for up to 2 months.

Spice Cake With Caramelized Apples on plate with skillet in background

Spiced Honey Cake with Caramelized Apples

Closeup of Spice Cake With Caramelized Apples on plate in front of wire rack
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This spice cake is easy to make and full of flavor—especially when topped with warm caramelized apples!

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 16 servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • A few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup warm (not hot) English Breakfast tea
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional accompaniments: whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream

For the apples:

  • 6 Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar


Make the Spice Cake:

Put the oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8-inch square cake pan with non-stick spray (I used Pam).

In a large bowl, gently whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer, cream the softened butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the honey, yogurt, tea and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a hand held mixer on the lowest setting, just until everything is combined. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before attempting to remove the cake.

Make the caramelized apples:

While the cake is baking, make the caramelized apples. Peel and core each apple, then cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon light brown sugar. Saute apples until almost tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Increase heat to high and gently, but briskly, stir the apples until the sugar melts and apples are golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool.


Once the cake has cooled run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, then invert the cake onto a plate and cut into squares.

Serve slices warm or at room temperature, topped with the caramelized apples, along with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream

Keywords: spice cake recipe, snack cake, apple spiced cake, rosh hashanah cake

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