Cakes and Bakes, Delicious Desserts, GBBO - Season 13

GBBO Season 13 – Week 6 Signature: Apple Cake

The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 13 Challenges.

Since replicating Season 8 of the Great British Bake Off wasn’t enough, I decided to try my hand at a different season! This time, I am working on season 13 which is the most recent season! This season had some great bake ideas as well as some not-so-great ones (but we’ll get there when we get there).

So, I figured, let’s do this all again! One of the big challenges I wanted to attempt this time around was coming up with original ideas for the signature and showstopper challenges instead of doing a recreation. On your mark… Get set… Bake!

It has been a little slow going but I made it episode six! And Episode six is one of my favorites (in theory); it’s Halloween week! I think they did a Halloween week as a theme for Noel Feilding (one of the co-hosts) because he has been asking for something spooky for a while! And the signature challenge to kick off the week is an apple cake.

Apples are truly synonymous with fall. I remember going to the orchard and picking out apples so an apple cake feels like it would fit right in with Halloween week. The problem is, I have already baked what I think is the best apple cake when I was doing my Season 8 Challenge.  

But I wasn’t completely happy with the decorations that I did last time, so I wanted another shot at that (Although I am still not completely happy with the results). I also made some slight changes to the cake since I wanted to see what would happen when I prepared the ingredients a little differently than I did before.

Check out the Season 13 Great British Bake Off Page to see other bakes from this series or the Make section for more recipes! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and how the recipe works for you!


There was a surprising amount of ingredients needed to make this cake but, at the same time, less than I was expecting. Over the several different components, there were a lot of overlapping ingredients that are being used.


Apple Cake

To really pack the flavor into the cake, I wanted to add the apple into the batter in two different forms. One is shredded apples (without the skin) and the other is in the form of apple juice.

But I wanted to treat the apple juice before adding it into the batter by boiling it down to get a concentrate. Concentrated juice means concentrated flavor, right?

While the juice was concentrating, I beat together the butter, sugar and eggs. This was done in steps over the course of about 10 minutes but, I didn’t really want to go into the details. I did this over a long course of time to get as much air into the mixture as possible. More air would make the cake fluffier.

In a smaller bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices). Then I folded the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. I did this portion by hand because I didn’t want to knock the air out of the mixture if I could.

Lastly, I folded the shredded apple and the apple juice concentrate into the batter to put that flavor into the cake! What is an apple cake without apples? Then I divided the batter into three tins, as evenly as I could make it, before baking.

Caramel Buttercream

To make caramel buttercream, I needed to make caramel and buttercream and then combine them together. First, I needed to make the caramel because it needs to cool down before I can add it into the buttercream.

To start, I dissolved sugar in water over the stove and brought it up to a caramel consistency. While the sugar was brought up to a boil, I also heated up the cream to an almost boil. I want to add the cream into the sugar because it will make creamier caramel. But adding cold cream into hot sugar will immediately cause the sugar to solidify.

So, I added hot cream into hot sugar to make sure that the two melted together to create the consistency that I wanted. I cooked them together for a moment to get them fully incorporated (and to the same temperature) before putting the caramel to the side to cool (about an hour).

While waiting for the caramel to cool, I whisked up the butter, added powdered sugar, whisked some more, added cream cheese, and whisk until it was light a fluffy. And that was all I needed to do before added in the caramel.

Then it was time to whisk some more. I added vanilla extract at this point and the buttercream turned to be a light brown. And so delicious. I seriously could just eat the whole bowl which is odd coming from me because I typically hate buttercream that has butter in it. I chilled the cream until I needed it.

Toffee Apples

I wanted to make some toffee apples to put in between the cake layers. I found myself back on the stove, cooking up caramel as a mixture of water and sugar. Once the sugar dissolved and reached a rich caramel color, I added in the apples.

I removed the mixture from the heat and let it sit to thicken up. This didn’t go exactly as I expected. I think I underestimated the water in the apples. Which I will need to take into consideration moving forward. But the apples were still toffee’d, so it worked for the most part.

Apple Caramel

The last part of this recipe was making the decorations. I needed to use molds for this because I thought the bubbles of caramel would look good. Instead of making caramel (for the third time) with water and sugar, I swapped out the water for apple juice.

I wanted that apple flavor to be in decoration as well. The caramelization process was the same except that I used a thermometer to make the sugar instead of just eyeballing it, as I normally do.

Once the mixture reached the right temperature, I poured the caramel into the prepared mold. My brain did something weird and thought that the pumpkin mold I had was an apple mold. Not sure why. My brain just stuttered… But I didn’t have an apple mold, so I just went with it.


The last step of the whole process is to assemble all of the layers together. I made a layer of cake, a layer of buttercream, and then a layer of toffee apples. Then, I repeated making these layers until I reached the top of the cake.

I tried again to make a smooth layer of icing and I think I have realized that I never make enough buttercream to do anything more than a crumb coat. So, I will try hard on the icing decoration with the next cake.

Some red icing decorations would have been nice to really invoke the apple feel. I put the caramel decorations on and let it go!


I did find that shredding the apples dispersed the flavor throughout the cake more without having a large chunk of apple. This gives a more consistent texture throughout the cake which can be nice for people who don’t like the cake itself to have variation in texture.

As for taste, it is difficult to go wrong with apples and caramel. Especially caramel. And it feels so fall since caramel apples are a stable of the season (although I am still not sure how to eat them).


Cooking with Fruit

When cooking with fruit, it is imperative to remember the water content of the fruit that you are using. In the decorations I used apples without thinking what the water in them would do to the caramel. It caused the caramel to slowly melt as the moisture slowly dissolved the caramel. This caused caramel streaks to run down the side which… I kind of liked it.

But it is important to keep these things in mind as it can make a cake soggy if the water content of the fruit is not taken into consideration or cooked out in some way.


Apple Caramel Cake

This apple cake is rich with apple flavor and an undercurrent of spice and caramel make it a deliciously rich cake! 
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert


  • Silicone mold for caramel decorations


Apple Cake

  • 1 ⅓ Cup Apple Juice
  • 1 ⅖ Cup Unsalted Butter about 1 cup and 7 tablespoons
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 5 Eggs beaten
  • 2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 ¼ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Teaspoon Ground All-Spice
  • 1 Apple peeled and shredded

Caramel Buttercream

  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese approximately ½ brick
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Toffee Apples

  • 2 Apples peeled and cubed
  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar

Apple Caramel

  • 3 Tablespoon Apple Juice
  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar


Apple Cake

  • Cook apple juice until thickly concentrated.
  • Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter (for about 2-3 minutes) and then add granulated sugar and beat for another 5 minutes.
  • Gradually add in eggs, about one egg at a time.
  • In a medium size bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground all-spice.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined. Add in apple juice and shredded apples.
  • Divide the batter into 3 tins and bake for 20-22 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove the cakes from the pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Caramel Buttercream

  • Combine granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons of water into a medium pan over low heat. Allow the sugar to fully dissolve.
  • Turn up the heat on sugar until it comes to a full boil and starts to gain a golden-brown color. Simultaneously, heat up the cream until it is almost boiling.
  • Remove the sugar from the heat and add in the hot cream. Return the mixture to heat and whisk for one minute. Chill for an hour.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter for 2-3 minutes. Add in powdered sugar and mix for 5 minutes. Add in cream cheese and mix until combine.
  • Add in cold caramel and vanilla extract and whisk until fully incorporated. Chill buttercream until ready to use.

Toffee Apples

  • Cut apples into 1 cm chunks.
  • In a medium pot, put granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons water over medium to low heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve. Turn the temperature up to a higher heat and let the sugar boil until it turns a rich caramel color.
  • Remove the sugar from the heat and mix in the apples. Let sit for 3 minutes in the pot, or until the caramel has thickened.
  • Remove apples from the sauce.

Apple Caramel

  • In a medium pot, put granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons of apple juice over medium to low heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve. Turn the temperature up to a higher heat and let the sugar boil until about 300° Fahrenheit.
  • Remove from heat and pour into molds. Allow to fully cool.


Apple Caramel is difficult to tell the “doneness” by color since the apple juice naturally makes the mix darker, so temperature is better indicator of “doneness” than color.
Keyword Apple, Apples, Cake, Caramel, Spice

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