Self-taught baker Lyndsay Sung is the creator Coco Cake Land, a website focusing on making and decorating beautiful cakes. The Vancouverite’s new book, Plantcakes: Fancy + Everyday Vegan Cakes for Everyone, is filled with recipes for—and mouth-watering photos of—decadently sweet creations made from plant-based ingredients.
Red and orange autumn leaves, shiny apples plucked from trees—and a slice of apple caramel cake for meeee! Haha. Many years ago when I was an office temp receptionist, one of my favourite “let’s make my day better” power moves was packing a granny Smith apple in my lunch along with a generous handful of caramel squares. Take a crunchy bite of apple, pop a chewy soft caramel in your mouth, and you’ve got instant caramel apple! In this recipe, freshly grated apple cake and caramel buttercream team up with oatmeal cookie crumbles to create a perfect fall vibes cake. Bonus: leftover oatmeal cookie crumbles are a sheer delight layered in yogurt parfaits or liberally sprinkled on top of ice cream.
Apple Caramel Cake With Oatmeal Cookie Crumbles
Makes one 7-inch 3-layer cake
2 ½ cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil
½ cup (140 ml) unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup (150 g) light brown sugar
½ cup (100 g) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (300 g) grated apple
Oatmeal Cookie Crumbles
5 tablespoons (75 g) granulated white sugar
¾ cup (75 g) rolled oats
⅓ cup (46 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted plant-based butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
See recipe for Salted Caramel Buttercream below.
Reserve some of the salted caramel to decorate the cake.
Make the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Prepare three 7- × 2-inch round cake pans by spritzing them with vegetable oil and lining with parchment paper circles cut to size. Spray again with oil to prevent sticking.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the vegetable oil, applesauce, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing until combined, 15–30 seconds. Fold in the grated apple.
Bake the Cake
Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. Give the pans a light tap on the counter to reduce any air bubbles. Bake for 22–25 minutes, until the cake edges are lightly browned, the cake springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only moist crumbs.
Let the cakes cool completely in their pans set on top of wire racks.
Make the Oatmeal Cookie Crumbles
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, rolled oats, flour, and salt. Sprinkle in the butter, toss to coat, and then mix until well incorporated.
Using a spatula, spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 18–20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Let cool completely in its pan set on top of a wire rack.
Once cooled, break up into cookie crumbles with your hands or lightly bash it with a rolling pin.
Assemble the Cake
Fill and frost the cake using the salted caramel buttercream. While building the cake layers, follow the dugout pool method to carve out a small pool in the center of the buttercream and add some extra salted caramel to the layers. Continue on until the final frost stage. For the photo above, I used an au naturel style for the second layer of frosting.
Decorate the Cake
Decorate the cake with a piped salted caramel buttercream border on top, or an artful array of piped dollops or drop stars. You can also add drips of salted caramel to the outside of the cake. To preserve maximum crispness, add the oatmeal cookie crumbles in various-sized pieces to the top of the cake just before serving!
This cake will taste freshest enjoyed within a day of making it, but can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to three days.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
Makes enough for 1 large cake or 24 cupcakes
1 cup (200 g) granulated white sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp water
½ cup (125 ml) plant milk
2 tbsp unsalted plant-based butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
Salted Caramel Buttercream
1¾ cups (392 g) unsalted plant-based butter, room temperature
2 cups (260 g) icing sugar, sifted + more as needed
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Make the Salted Caramel
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar, corn syrup, and water over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Let the mixture boil without stirring until it reaches a medium amber color, about 10 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the plant milk (it will bubble up ferociously, so go slowly). Whisk in the butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Let cool completely; it will thicken as it cools.
Use ¾ cup (185 ml) salted caramel for the buttercream (below), and reserve the rest for decorating the cake with caramel drips. Leftover caramel will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks—it is delicious drizzled on ice cream or stirred into yogurt.
Make the Salted Caramel Buttercream
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract, and ¾ cup (185 ml) of the salted caramel on low speed to combine, using a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. If the frosting seems too loose, add 1 tbsp of icing sugar at a time to thicken it until it is creamy and spreadable, being careful not to over-sweeten.
Excerpted with permission from Plantcakes: Fancy + Everyday Vegan Cakes for Everyone by Lyndsay Sung, published by Appetite by Random House. ©2023. All rights reserved. Discover more recipes.