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Caramel Apple Brown Ale Cake


Caramel Apple Beer Cake4


I was once asked to write a piece about apples for a print magazine. Seems easy enough, I did grow up on a farm flanked by apple orchards.  But here’s the problem: I tend to be a bit opinionated about certain things. Most issues bring out a very "live and let live" spirit in me, but ask my opinion and I’ll tell you.

For instance, this exchange happened recently:

I was at Nordstroms Rack recent perusing the discounted designer shoes and a woman had her foot stuck into a particularly hideous pair of white and black slingbacks. "You look stylish, can I ask you a question?" She asked as I tried to squeeze past her. I said yes, of course. "Do these look good on me?"

As any man can tell you, the immediate answer should be "Of course, you look fantastic, no one has ever looked better in mid-range kitten heels!" But I’m not typical, and I never want to hear that. I want the truth, sorry Jack Nicholson, I can handle it. So I assume if you ask a complete stranger—rather than the man whom you’re letting see you naked on the regular— you want the actual truth. If you don’t, don’t ask me.

"No, those are terrible." I said, in a sympathetic tone.

She looked genuinely shocked, as if she’d cobbled them herself in an elf-infested cottage. "They aren’t flattering to your toes, they don’t seem to fit well and the pattern looks dated. Try these." I said, grabbing her a slightly higher heeled pair with a more muted pattern and a larger opening at the toe. They were also a half size bigger.

"But I’m not a 7 1/2." She said as she slid her foot into the perfect fitting pair of shoes.

"Yes you are, just try them on. No one can see the size." They looked great on her, "See, your legs look longer, your toes look smaller and that shoe goes with more things."

"Oh, wow. Thank you." She bought them. And to this day I imagine her saying a silent thank you to the girl in the discount clothing store for talking her into buying them every time she gets compliments on her favorite pair of shoes.

I’m going to do this for you right now with apples, like I did for that print magazine.

Caramel Apple Beer Cake

Don’t ever, under any circumstance, ever, ever, cook with a Red Delicious apples. It’s a giant mistake and your baked goods will suffer. Like a vapid 22-year-old in a mini skirt holding a cosmo at a trendy bar: all the good qualities are on the outside. Sure they look good, but nothing on the inside is worth the stunning good looks. The flesh of a Red Delicious is mushy, mealy, and breaks down during cooking.

What should you use? I’m so glad you asked. You need an apple that can take a punch. You need one that has a bit of a sour bite to balance the sugar in your recipe. I love Honey Crisp, although some can tend to be a touch sweet and occasionally mushy (but that’s rare and usually for an overripe apple), SweeTangos are fantastic but hard to find. Granny Smith is an easy go-to, although a bit more sour than other varieties. However, the flesh stands up to baking, and the tartness is a great balance to the sweetness of a baked good.

Just don’t ask my opinion about your shoes or produce unless you’re prepared for the truth. But then again, I think you can handle it.


Caramel Apple Brown Ale Cake


For the caramel layer:

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown ale
  • 2 tbs cream
  • 2 large SweeTango or Granny Smith apples sliced

For the cake layer:

  • 1 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup brown ale
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • Add the butter, white sugar and brown ale to a saucepan over high heat. Stir until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Allow to boil without stirring until dark amber color, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the cream, allow to cool until the bubbling stops.
  • Arrange the apples slices in a cake pan or deep dish pie pan that has been well greased.
  • Pour the caramel over the apples.
  • Ina large bowl stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, white sugar and brown sugar.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the eggs, beer, cream, melted butter and vanilla, stir until just incorporated.
  • Pour batter over apples.
  • Bake at 325 for 45 minutes or until golden brown and top springs lightly when touched.
  • Wait precisely ten minutes, invert on a serving plate to remove from pan.



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Christine Presto September 3, 2014 um 12:22 pm

Oh my goodness, this looks amazing, and I’m very surprised to see so few ingredients (a plus for me!!). I can’t wait to go grab some apples and get this one cooking – delicious!! Thanks for the recipe, as always!


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 3, 2014 um 1:07 pm

I need you to be around me all the time!! Shoe shopping is so hard for me. Apples and baking I feel confident with though, and I agree! Honey crisp all the way! This cake looks perfect – love the brown ale in it.


Liz @ FloatingKitchen September 3, 2014 um 6:50 pm

Love this Jackie and I completely agree! I would NEVER eat a red delicious, let alone cook with them. Bleck. I love going to the farmers market and finding interesting heirloom varieties. So much more character and they taste fantastic. Can’t wait to try your cake!


Tieghan September 3, 2014 um 8:34 pm

This is perfection on so many levels! And yes, honey crisp for the win!


Sophia @ NY Foodgasm September 4, 2014 um 8:09 am

OMG I loooove honey crisp and I love that you do not apologize for your opinion. More so this Apple Cake is the shit! YUM!


Katie @ Butterlust September 4, 2014 um 11:41 am

haha great story! maybe your [second] life calling is to be a personal shopper? this cake is all that is fall and i can’t wait to make it in December when the weather finally cools off in Texas 🙂


Thalia @ butter and brioche September 4, 2014 um 3:14 pm

How delicious does this apple cake look.. totally craving a slice right now. Pinned!


ami@naivecookcooks September 4, 2014 um 7:01 pm

This is one gorgeous looking cake!! It screams fall!


My Kitchen Stories September 4, 2014 um 10:40 pm

I always applaud honesty. Don’t beat about the bush. Here I wont beat around the bush. I’m making this cake this afternoon


Samantha @ Carpe Cibus September 5, 2014 um 5:37 pm

THANK YOU for not biting your tongue! I can barely stand eating red delicious apples, let alone baking with them. Thank God I live in the birthpalce of Honeycrisp, Sweetango and Haralson!


Daniel October 3, 2014 um 9:08 pm

My favourite apple for cooking sweet goods has to be belle de booskop, it’s farm enough it’s real tart and has an amazing depth of flavour including slight bitterness.

The granny smith does have great tartness, but I find it’s overall flavourprofile to be one-dimensional and dull. Completely uninspiring. The Honey crisp is to me too sweet and too watery.

But to each his or her own. It’s just a matter of experimenting to find your own personal


Shannon December 14, 2014 um 9:51 am

First failed attempt 🙁 guess I didn’t cook caramel long enough and the apples floated to top and was all mixed in with batter. It’s a delicious caramel Apple bread pudding 🙂
Will try again.


Steven October 23, 2016 um 4:47 pm

Our neighbours went apple picking and were kind enough to drop off a big bag of apples on our porch. I used two of the beautiful Ontario apples from that bag to make this cake as a thank you to them. Here was part of their texted review; "That apple cake is . We’ve been eating it from the plate like animals. I’d love the recipe. Thank you so much. We need as much cake as possible in our lives. Always."
I told them I made the entire recipe up by myself and took full credit. Just kidding – I forwarded them the link to this recipe. The only concerns I had while making it was there seemed to be a lot of liquid emanating from one of the cakes as it baked – should I have let the apple slices sit on paper towel for a while first to absorb some moisture?
When I added the cream to the caramel (which I let cook longer as it was still a light colour after 5 min.) it seemed to shock the mixture. Should I have let the cream reach room temperature before adding it to the bubbling caramel? In any case, the cake was a complete hit with my neighbours and my family. I made two so that we could cut into one to taste it. That way if I really screwed it up I wouldn’t take the second one over to the neighbours! 🙂


Jackie October 24, 2016 um 11:04 am

"I told them I made the entire recipe up by myself and took full credit." Hahaha! You totally could.
For the cream, that always happens. Just keep stirring. Even at room temp, it’s such a huge temperature difference that the caramel gets angry about it. Apples all have such huge differences in water levels, it’s hard to say. If you consistently have that issue, it’s probably a good idea.
So glad you liked the cake!


Steven October 23, 2016 um 4:51 pm

Addendum – I forgot to say that I used a great Canadian beer – Flying Monkeys' "Deep Tracks American Brown Ale" for this recipe!


Jayme August 11, 2018 um 1:46 pm

Looks nummy but what size cake pan?


Jackie August 12, 2018 um 12:12 pm

either 9 or 10 inch will work


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