This Apple Cider Cake + Cinnamon Maple Buttercream is super soft, moist, and fluffy. Comes with elevated flavors of the Fall season through the combination of apple cider, warm spices, and a maple-infused buttercream. A definite crowd-pleasing treat for Apple Picking season or any special occasion. Dairy-Free, Vegan, + Gluten-Free options.
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It's officially apple cider season and this week's another themed week on Orchids + Sweet Tea! Can you guess what it is? If you've been following my blog for sometime then you're aware that I've done apple week each year around this time for the past two years or so. However, I wanted to make things a little interesting by infusing two themes together and creating "Apple vs. Sweet Potato Week"----kicking things off with this Apple Cider Cake + Cinnamon Maple Buttercream!
Granted, I know that both bring an entirely different taste and feel, I find that most people like both or at least have them in their top faves list! So, why not see which recipes you guys love the most! Haha.
Personally with this cake, I wanted to create a bold flavor profile of the apples, bursting with both apple pie and apple cider flavors from the spices and actual apple cider used. Whether you chose to make your own Homemade Apple Cider or your purchase your favorite quality brand, this cake is sure to be your newest family fave this season!
How to Make Apple Cider Cake + Cinnamon Maple Buttercream
This apple cider cake as I’ve mentioned before is super easy to whip together and doesn’t require anything special when it comes to ingredients except for the apple cider if that's a specialty for you. To start, you simply create the buttermilk by adding the milk + lemon juice together and letting it sit for a few minutes. Then beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, add in the other wet ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
Divide the batter into prepared cake pans, bake, and let cool completely. Make the buttercream, assemble by frosting, decorate as you feel, and wallah. Slice and enjoy!
Ingredients for Apple Cider Cake
Here's what you need to make this apple cider cake batter and topping:
All-purpose flour. I use organic flour from Bob's Red Mill.
Cake flour. You can also use all-purpose four if you don't have cake flour.
Apple cider. This adds a burst of authentic apple cider flavor. You can make this on your own or purchase your fave quality brand.
Baking powder for leavening.
Cane sugar. You can ensure that this is vegan-friendly by it being certified organic.
Eggs. These act as a binder. You need them to be at room temp.
Apple pie spice. This adds a warming spice profile to this cake. You'll need cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and allspice.
Canola oil. This adds moisture to this cake. I always use organic for a healthier option, however, you can sub with coconut oil, olive oil, or melted butter.
Butter. I like to use unsalted. You can sub with vegan butter for vegan option.
Vanilla extract. This complements the flavors.
Cinnamon. This adds additional Fall spice flavor along with the apple spice to this cake Also used for the buttercream.
Buttermilk. You can use dairy-free or regular (if you're not restricted to a vegan diet)! This includes your fave plant-based milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
Apples. I love using Gala or Honeycrisp apples, for decor, if using.
How To Make Your Own Apple Cider
If you'd prefer to make your own batch of apple cider, no worries---I've got you covered! You can make your own apple cider easily in a slow cooker, which is the easiest way to do so without requiring your full undivided attention. Of course, you can slowly simmer everything over the stovetop if you don't own a slow cooker.
How to Reduce Apple Cider for This Cake
If you'd prefer to have a more concentrated apple cider taste within your cake, you can easily reduce your cider by following these steps:
Pour your apple cider in a saucepan, about 2 cups which we'll then reduce to ¾ cup.
Turn on the heat to low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once you hit the 10 minute mark, be sure to check on your apple cider every few minutes (4 minutes or so), stirring occasionally until your cider has reduced to the desired ¾ cup.
Remove it from heat and allow it cool completely before continuing the recipe.
However, I do occasionally use Super-Fine Cake Flour which adds a nice airiness and fluffiness to your cakes as well.
How to Make Apple Cider Cake with Cake Mix
Whether you choose to make the batter of this apple cider cake from scratch or with cake mix, you won't be disappointed. Simply implement a few teaks and you'll enjoy this cake as if you made it entirely without a mix! If using your favorite box of regular vanilla cake mix, simply turn it into this Apple Cider Cake by purchasing TWO boxes and:
Instead of using vegetable oil, substitute with the canola oil or other subs as listed in this recipe.
Add a little baking powder to the mix (perhaps 1-teaspoon or so per box).
Use organic cane sugar instead of standard white sugar.
Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour (per box) to the cake mix to add more "body" to your cake.
Replace the water with both the buttermilk + apple cider. Divide the amounts in equal halves, depending on the amount of water requested for in the cake mix.
Be sure to add the apple pie spice as the recipe states.
Make the cinnamon maple buttercream and add it to the layer + top of the cake per usual.
Tips for Making The Best Cake Every Time
TIP #1: HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS
To make and decorate this apple cider cake, you'll need a hand-mixer, spatulas (big + small), piping bags + tips, correct baking pans and parchment paper.
TIP #2: COMBINE BAKING POWDER + ACID
The essential ingredient combos for a light, silky cake texture is baking powder and an acid (usually vinegar or buttermilk if the cake calls for it). When acid and baking powder reacts, it creates bubbles and helps to create a nice rise for your baked goods, leaving an airy texture.
TIP #3: SIFT!
One of my favorite tricks to a perfect cake has been to ensure that ALL of my dry ingredients are sifted. It's an extra step, but the results are a light, fluffy, and fully combined cake batter.
TIP #4: AVOID OVER-MIXING
When mixing your cake batter, it’s so important to add the dry ingredients and wet ingredients alternately. Then, as soon as everything is combined very well, STOP! Over-mixing creates a more dense cake.
How To Make Your Own Apple Pie Spice
Again, if you prefer to purchase a store-bought blend, I love using McCormick Spice's version of this for quality. However, making your own blend is super easy and only requires a handful of spices similar to chai and pumpkin spice. Plus, you can store any leftover spice mix in an air-tight container or jar, which stays fresh like many other spices for up to 6 months at room temperature. You'll need the following:
4 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
SHOP MY FAVORITE BAKEWARE ITEMS AND ACCESSORIES FOR THIS CAKE!
Here, I’ve curated a list of bakeware essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baking treats, especially with this Apple Cider Cake with Cinnamon Maple Buttercream. Everything from my fave cake pans, parchment paper, mixing bowls, hand-mixer, and more. SEE THEM HERE!
Why You’ll Love This Apple Cider Cake
It's very easy to whip together and uses a handful of ingredients.
Has a great dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free options.
Ready in LESS THAN 1 hour and WORTH THE WAIT.
Warm and comforting apple cider sweetness + spices with every bite.
Perfect amount of layers with a delicious cinnamon maple buttercream that adds a beautiful touch!
Makes for the perfect sweet treat for the entire family.
Can I Make This Apple Cider Cake Vegan?
Yes! To make this cake entirely dairy-free + vegan, simply omit the unsalted butter and eggs and use vegan butter instead and add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to plant-based milk instead of lemon juice. Also, feel free to use coconut oil as a substitute for canola oil, if desired.
Can I Make this Apple Cider Cake Gluten-Free?
If you would love to make this apple cider cake gluten-free, then substituting all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour is the easiest option. It’s a special blend of gluten-free flours, starches, and xanthan gum, which makes this cake just as soft, fluffy, and airy as the original! They also have a great All-purpose GF flour that works great as well.
Can I Make Apple Cider Cupcakes?
Sure! To turn this apple cider cake recipe into individual cupcakes, simply divide the batter between about 30 cupcake wells. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the centers are set.
How to Store Leftover Apple Cider Cake
Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
½cupdairy-free "buttermilk" + 2 Tbsps(See Notes; You can also use full dairy if desired!)
CINNAMON MAPLE BUTTERCREAM:
5cupsorganic powdered sugar, sifted
1cupunsalted butter, softened at room temp.
¼cuppure maple syrup
3-4TbspsAlmond milk(You can also use full dairy if desired!)
MAKE THE CAKE:
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (with butter) AND line with parchment paper the bottoms of TWO 8-inch cake pans (for thicker layers) or THREE 6-inch cake pans.
In a bowl, whisk together the milk and lemon juice and set aside for 5-10 minutes until everything "activates" to create the dairy-free "buttermilk".
In a large bowl, whisk together both the flours, baking powder, apple pie spice, and salt until combined.
In a bowl, add the butter and sugar, beating them together using a hand-mixer (on high-speed), until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the eggs (one at a time) followed by the vanilla and oil, mixing until combined. On low-speed, add in the dry ingredients followed by the apple cider and then the 'buttermilk' and continue to mix until combined and the batter is smooth, about 3-4 minutes. NOTE: The batter should be thick, yet slowly run off the whisk once lifted.
Divide the batter evenly into each of the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean when tested in the centers.
Remove cakes from the oven and let them rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes and placing them onto a cooling rack to fully cool. NOTE: Let them cool for at least 1-2 hours in a cool place.
MAKE THE CINNAMON MAPLE BUTTERCREAM:
Simply beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the powdered sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, and milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency----smooth and fluffy. NOTE: Add more milk (1 tablespoon at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).
Place the first cake layer on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with buttercream. Now, top with 2nd layer and add more buttercream atop that layer, spreading it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly and thinly. NOTE: If making a 3-layer, be sure to repeat step 1 of assembly once again before getting to the final layer.
Once fully frosted, add small little designs of the buttercream using a piping bag + tip around the sides and top of cake. Chill for 5 minutes to ensure that buttercream sets. Top with sliced sliced apples, if desired. NOTE: For a fancy moment or occasion, add florals or greenery atop cake for a Fall vibe!
When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Slice and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
FLOUR: You can also use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour for a fluffier texture.
APPLE CIDER CUPCAKES: This recipe yields about 30 cupcakes. Simply bake for 18-20 minutes instead, until centers come out clean.
BUTTERMILK: For a dairy-free 'buttermilk', use ½ cup Almond milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice. For a dairy option-----Add 1 cup of organic heavy cream + 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes, until it thickens.
VEGAN OPTION: To make this cake entirely dairy-free + vegan, simply omit the unsalted butter and eggs and use vegan butter instead and add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to plant-based milk instead of lemon juice. Also, feel free to use coconut oil as a substitute for canola oil, if desired.