Apple Pie Layer Cake

Happy Birthday to Spoonful ‘O Sugar!!  My little blog turns 1 today. 🙂  I wanted to bake something special for my blog’s birthday, but couldn’t decide if I should make it cheesecake, pie, or a cake.  That’s when I remembered a very special cake that I posted in my first ever Friday Favorites.  It’s an Apple Pie Layer Cake!  This cake has layers of brown butter cake, liquid cheesecake, pie crumbs, apple pie filling, and a pie crumb frosting.  It’s a serious cake for a serious dessert lover.  The recipe was a bit daunting, but I split making it into 2 days so it wasn’t too bad.  A lot of hours in the kitchen, but well worth it.  This cake is THE BEST!  No lie, Josh (who doesn’t like cake), LOVES it!  It’s a pretty special cake for a happy occasion.

I have loved blogging this last year and look forward to what the next year will bring.  Thank YOU.  Yes, YOU.  You wonderful readers deserve the biggest thank you.  I have appreciated all of the support and warm wishes along the way.  I’d be happy to make this cake for all of you. 🙂

Apple Pie Layer Cake                Print Recipe Here

From Sweet Peony & Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook

makes 1 (6 inch) layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall; serves 6 to 8


1 recipe       Barely Brown Butter Cake
1 recipe       Apple Cider Soak
1 recipe       Liquid Cheesecake
1 recipe       Pie Crumb
1 recipe       Apple Pie Filling
1 recipe       Pie Crumb Frosting

1 6-inch cake ring
2 strips acetate (3” x 20”)

Directions to assemble the cake

Invert cake onto a piece of parchment paper or a nonstick liner. Stamp out two circles with a cake ring, these are your top two layers. The rest of the cake is for scaps (they will form the bottom layer of the cake).

Bottom layer

Place the cake ring in the center of a lined sheet pan. Line the cake ring with 1 strip of acetate. Place the cake scraps inside the ring and press down to squish the cake scraps into a flat and even layer.

Use half of the apple cider soak to coat this layer of cake, by using a pastry brush. Spread half of the liquid cheesecake over the bottom layer. Use the bake of a spoon to even it out. Now sprinkle 1/3 of the remaining half recipe of the pie crumbs on top. Gently press down to make sure the crumbs are stuck to the liquid cheesecake. Next, spread 1/2 of the apple pie filing over top of the crumbs, again using the back of a spoon to even them out.

Middle Layer

Gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate. This will make a ring of acetate that is about 5-6 inches tall, which helps support the height of the cake. Place one of the cake layers (the less-pretty one) on top of the filling and repeat the process used from the bottom layer.

Top Layer

Place the last cake layer on top of the filling. Use the pie crumb frosting to cover the top of the cake. Garish with what’s left of the pie crumbs.

Transfer the cake to the freezer and allow to freeze for at least 12 hours (at most, 2 weeks). Before serving, allow the cake 3 hours to thaw, popping out of the cake ring after removing from the freezer. Then carefully peel of the acetate and place the cake on a cake stand. Place cake in the fridge to thaw for 3 hours before serving. If you want, you can tightly wrap the cake in plastic and refrigerate it for up to 5 days.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Barely Brown Butter Cake

Makes 1 Quarter Sheet Pan

Ingredients for Barely Brown butter cake

40 g Brown Butter (2 tablespoons)
55 g Butter (4 tablespoons, 1/2 stick)
250 g Granulated Sugar (1 1/4 cups)
60 g Light Brown Sugar (1/4 cup tightly packed)
3 Eggs
110 g Buttermilk (1/2 cup)
65 g Grapeseed Oil (1/3 cup)
2 g Vanilla Extract (1/2  teaspoon)
185 g Cake Flour (1 1/2 cups)
4 g Baking Powder (1 teaspoon)
4 g Kosher Salt (1 teaspoon)

Directions for Barely Brown Butter Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper, set aside.

Start by browning the butter. Add 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe bowl and top with a plate. Microwave for 3-5 minutes (you can also do this on the stove top, minus the plate on top). The butter should have flecks of brown in it, if not, microwave in 1-minute increments until the flecks appear. Allow the butter to cool completely, stirring every now and then to incorporate the caramelized bits, this gives the butter great flavor.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butters and sugars with a paddle attachment until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape the sides. Now add the eggs and mix for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Scrape again.

Slowly add in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for 5-6 minutes. The mixture should become white and almost double in size because of its fluffiness. Keep mixing if it doesn’t look like this, this step is very important. Also be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl along the way.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add in the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until the batter just comes together, about 45 seconds-1 minute. Scrape the sides. and mix for another 45 seconds. All of the cake flour should be incorporated.

Pour the batter into prepared pan, smooth out with the back of a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. The cake should double in size and become puffy, yet buttery and dense. The cake should have some bound when poked in the center and should no longer be jiggly.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack. Can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Apple Cider Soak

makes about 60 g (1/4 cup)

Ingredients for apple cider soak

55 g Apple Cider (1/4 cup)
5 g Light Brown Sugar (1 teaspoon tightly packed)
0.25 g Ground Cinnamon (pinch)

Directions for apple cider soak

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until the sugars are fully dissolved.

Liquid Cheesecake

makes one 6” baking dish

Ingredients for liquid cheesecake

227 g Cream Cheese (8 ounces)
150 g Sugar (3/4 cup)
15 g Cornstarch (1 tablespoon)
2 g Kosher Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
25 g Milk (2 tablespoons)
1 Egg

Directions for liquid cheesecake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 6×6″ baking pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add in the sugar and mix for another 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk and then the egg until fully combined.

Turn the mixer on medium-low speed and add in the eggy mixture, 3-4 minutes until smooth. Scrape down the sides. Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 15-25 minutes. The edges will be set but the center will remain jiggly.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, this will finish the baking process. You can make this up to a week in advance, just store in an air-tight container in the fridge.


Pie Crumb

makes about 350 g (2 3/4 cups)

Ingredients for pie crumb

240 g Flour (1 1/2 cups)
18 g Sugar (2 tablespoons)
3 g Kosher Salt (3/4 teaspoon)
115 g Butter, melted (8 tablespoons, 1 stick)
20 g Water (1 1/2 tablespoons)

Directions for pie crumb

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick liner and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, and salt with the paddle attachment until well mixed. Add in the butter and water with the mixer on low speed. The mixture should form small clusters.

Spread these clusters on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, breaking up occasionally, until the crumbs are turning golden brown. They will still be a bit moist, but will harden up as you allow them to cool completely. Can be made in advance; store in an airtight container and leave at room temperature for up to a week or in the fridge or freezer for up to a month.

Apple Pie Filling

makes about 400 g (1 3/4 cups)

Ingredients for apple pie filling

1 Lemon
300 g Granny Smith Apples (2 medium )
14 g Butter (1 tablespoon)
150 g Light Brown Sugar (2/3 cup tightly packed)
1 g Ground Cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
1 g Kosher Salt (1/4 teaspoon)

Directions for apple pie filling

Fill a medium bowl with cold water, halfway. Pour in the lemon juice (this will help keep your apples fresh).

Peel, halve, and quarter apples. Now cut each quarter into thirds, lengthwise. Place sliced apples in the lemon water.

Drain apples and place them in a medium pot with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook, you don’t want the apples to get too mushy.

Place apple mixture in a bowl and refrigerate to cool down. Once completely cooled, you can store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Pie Crumb Frosting

makes about 220 g (3/4 cup), or enough for 2 Apple Pie Layer Cakes, or 1 generously frosted cake

Ingredients for pie crumb frosting

1/2 recipe Pie Crumb
110 g Milk (1/2 cup)
2 g Kosher Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
40 g Butter, at room temperature (3 tablespoons)
40 g Confectioners’ Sugar (1/4 cup)

Directions for pie crumb frosting

In a blender, combine half of the pie crumbs with the milk1-3 minutes.  and salt. Blend on medium-high until smooth and completely combined,

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beat with paddle for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides and add the contents of the blender with the mixer on low speed. Mix for a minute and then increase the speed and mix for 2 more minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. The mixture should be uniform and very pale.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Barely Brown Butter Cake

Put 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave with a plate over the top.

After 3-5 minutes, the butter should be browned. Let it cool, stir occasionally.

Add butters to mixing bowl.

Add 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar.

Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

With the paddle attachment, bream together the butters and sugars on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.

Add 3 eggs.

Mix for 2-3 more minutes.

Steam in 1/2 cup buttermilk,

1/3 cup grapeseed oil,

and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I used a pure vanilla).

Mix 5-6 minutes, until the mixture is almost white, fluffy, and completely homogenous.

With the speed on low, add 1 1/2 cups flour,

1 teaspoon of baking powder,

and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

Mix until incorporated.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper or a Silpat. Pour the batter into the pan.

Spread out evenly.

After 30 minutes at 350, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger. If the cake bounces back slightly and the center isn’t jiggly, the cake is ready! If not, leave in an extra 3-5 minutes.

Let the cake cool. It can be stored in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap for up to 5 days.

Apple Cider Soak

Add 1/4 cup apple cider,

1 teaspoon brown sugar,

and a pinch of ground cinnamon together in a bowl.

Whisk together until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Liquid Cheesecake

Put 8 oz. cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup sugar.

Mix for 1-2 minutes until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to a small bowl.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.

Whisk together.

Whisk in 2 tablespoons of milk slowly and in a steady stream.

Whisk in the egg.

Whisk until homogenous.

Steam the egg slurry into the mixer on medium-low speed.

Mix for 3-4 minutes until the mix is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides.

Line a 6×6 (8×8 in my case) pan with parchment paper. I know the instructions say plastic wrap, but that scared me a bit.

Pour into the pan.

The liquid cheesecake will take between 15-25 minutes. The edges will be set but the center will still be jiggly. Cool completely and allow the cheesecake to set. It can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Pie Crumb

Add 1 1/2 cups of flour,

2 tablespoons of sugar,

and 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt.


Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of water to melted butter.

Add the butter and water into the flour mixture.

Mix until small clusters start to form.

Spread the clusters out onto a parchment lined sheet pan.

After 25 minutes at 350, the clusters should be golden brown and still slightly moist to the touch. Let the crumbs cool completely. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or in the fridge or freezer for 1 month.

Apple Pie Filling

Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water and juice one lemon into the water. This will help keep the apple pieces looking fresh.

Peel 2 Granny Smith Apples.

Slice in half.

Slice in half again to get quarters.

Cut a small slice down the length of the apple to remove the seeds and core.

Slice each quarter into 12 pieces.

Add the apples to the lemon water as you are cutting.

Drain the apples when you are ready to start cooking.

Put 1 tablespoon of butter into a medium pot over medium heat..

Add the apples.

Add 2/3 cup brown sugar.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes and be careful not to cook the apples too much or they’ll turn into apple sauce.

Transfer to a container and put in the fridge to cool down. Once completely cooled, the filling can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Do not freeze.

Pie Crumb Frosting

Put 1/2 of the pie crumbs into a blender.

Add 1/2 cup milk.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.

Puree until smooth and homogenous (about 1-3 minutes).

Add 3 tablespoons of room temperature butter to mixing bowl.

Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.

Cream together for 2-3 minutes.

Add the crumb mix from the blender to the mix.

Mix until frosting is uniform & tan.

To Assemble the Cake

Put a piece of parchment paper on counter and invert the cake onto it.

Carefully peel off the parchment or Silpat from the cake.

Since I couldn’t find a 6″ cake ring, I used a 6″ bowl and cut around it to form my 2 cake circles.

Since I don’t have the cake ring, I used a mat that I have to measure pie crusts. This helped me see where 6-inches was when I was forming my bottom layer.

Start forming the bottom layer with the cake scraps.

Continue to form the bottom layer.

Dunk a pastry brush in the apple cider soak and brush onto the bottom layer.

Spread half of the liquid cheesecake in an even layer over the cake.

Sprinkle on 1/3 of the remaining 1/2 pie crumbs.

Spread 1/2 of the apple pie filling evenly over the pie crumbs.

Add one of the 6″ cake circles on top. Then brush the remaining apple cider soak to the top….I forgot this step. Whoops!

Repeat the steps and add the last circle of cake.

Frost the top of the cake with your pie crumb frosting.

Add the remaining pie crumbs to the top. I cleaned up around the edges since I was missing the cake circle and acetate.

I improvised and used some parchment paper to wrap around the cake.

Transfer to the freezer for at least 12 hours to let the cake and filling set.

The Finished Product!

Here’s to another great year!

6 thoughts on “Apple Pie Layer Cake

  1. That looks like a TON of work! Needless to say I am expecting this or something just as good when you come to visit me and the new baby! Miss you Fousy!

  2. Pingback: Top 12 Recipes of 2012 | Just a Spoonful of Sugar

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  4. Awesome recipe, I make it every year for my boy-friend’s b-day after trying ti last year.

    I also made chocolate-heavy black-forest version of this once: replace the cake with a cake-y brownie or dense chocolate cake, use the same cheese cake filling, replace the apple pie filling with cherry… and replace the frosting with chocolate gauche. Went over pretty well with chocolate-lovers 🙂

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