Tom’s Twice-Baked Potato CasseroleJuly 1, 2023
Pumpkin Chicken ChiliNovember 3, 2023
Caramel Apple Spice Dump Cake
October is my favorite month and autumn is my favorite time of the year. After a long, hot summer it is so nice to have the aroma of soup simmering on the stove and the delicious scent of cookies baking in the oven.
Plus, I love perusing magazines and websites for holiday entertaining ideas and recipes. (Although the Thanksgiving menu is always the same at our house so I don’t know why I even bother to look sometimes…)
This recipe for Caramel Apple Dump Cake popped up from Southern Living (one of my favorite magazines) and I immediately knew I had to give it a try. I love my Grandma’s pumpkin dump cake and my mom craved Kraft Caramels when she was pregnant with me, devouring them by the bagful, so this recipe definitely piqued my interest.
If you are unfamiliar with dump cakes they are one of the easiest cakes you can bake. Usually, some sort of canned fruit or pie filling topped with a box of dry cake mix and chunks of butter so the topping has the crumbly texture of a strudel. The secret to dump cake? Don’t stir anything unless instructed otherwise.
This particular recipe has a few ingenious additions. Fresh apple slices are tossed with sugar and spices and Kraft caramels are sprinkled over the top making the best caramel baked apple … cake? strudel? cobbler? Take your pick, it’s hard to describe, but I think it comes closest to an Apple Betty.
(Tracy tip: A knife dipped in water makes it easier to cut the caramels so they don’t stick to your knife.)
Which apples to use? Southern Living recommends Gala apples, but I prefer Fuji or Honeycrisp. Both are sweet, firm, good for baking and should be arriving now (October) from Washington State.
The original recipe called for yellow cake mix but I went all in with Duncan Hines Spice Cake mix made with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. If you are going to use a yellow cake mix, I would add a ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg to your sugar and spice mix as called for in Southern Living’s recipe.
Speaking of spices, you can buy a premixed apple pie spice or make your own combination. I used Penzeys’ Cake Spice which has cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and star anise. Lots of flavor!
With or without a scoop of vanilla ice cream this is scrumptious but it is best served warm while the caramels are still melty. Wow!
1 ½ teaspoons Cake Spice or Apple Pie Spice (see note above)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 large apples (see note), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 (11 oz. bag) Kraft caramel candies, unwrapped and halved
1 (15.25 oz.) package spice cake mix
8 oz. (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Slice the butter and return the slices to the refrigerator until ready to use otherwise the softened butter is difficult to pick up and place on the cake.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, use a fork to combine the Cake Spice or Apple Pie Spice, salt and brown sugar. Add the apples and toss with two forks or spoons until all the apples are evenly coated. Spread the apples in the baking dish. Scatter the caramels evenly over the top.
Sprinkle the cake mix over the top completely covering the apples. Layer the butter slices over the cake mix, try not to leave any large uncovered spots or the cake may be dry in that area.
Bake until golden brown and a knife or pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Very slightly adapted from Southern Living’s Caramel Apple Dump Cake