Caramel Apple Poke Cake is the perfect fall dessert loaded with apples and walnuts, oozing with caramel and smothered in spiced cream cheese frosting!
This Poke Cake is a show stopping dessert! The spiced apple cake is baked, poked with holes, then filled with caramel for an incredibly tender, cake literally seeping with flavor. This Poke Cake is better if prepared the night before and refrigerated, making it a fabulous make ahead dessert. I’ve included tips and tricks and everything you need to know about how to make the best Caramel Apple Poke Cake of. your. life.
I am so excited to share this Caramel Apple Poke Cake recipe with you today! While there are many versions of this poke cake recipe out there, I haven’t seen one made completely from scratch without any cake mixes – and you can taste the difference!
This Caramel Apple Poke Cake is wonderfully soft and moist, infused with irresistible warm Fall spices, oozing with pockets of luscious caramel and bursts of tender cinnamon apples and crunchy walnuts. The Apple Cake is stand alone delicious. The Homemade Caramel Sauce is lick-the-pan delicious. Combine the two together and you have scrumptious union of epic proportions worth your time – and your taste buds.
What is a Poke Cake?
I love poke cakes from my Lemon Poke Cake to my Poke Turtle Brownies, to this Caramel Apple Poke Cake! If you aren’t familiar with poke cakes, they are cakes that are poked with holes freshly after baking. The holes are then filled with a sweet liquid or filling from caramel, and condensed milk to syrups and pureed fruit. The filling settles in the holes and soaks into the cake, infusing the cake with not only flavor but tenderness as well.
How do You Make Poke Cake?
This Caramel Apple Poke Cake begins with a homemade rich apple spice cake. The cake itself is very simple to make, but I’m going to walk you through it and include some tips and tricks for guaranteed success every time.
- Spices. This poke cake is infused with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg which we whisk together in a large bowl then reserve some spices for the frosting – no double measuring but double the flavor!
- Dry Ingredients. To the remaining spices in the large bowl, whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined. Some readers might wonder why we are not using cake flour in this poke cake recipe. We want to use all purpose flour instead of cake flour because we want a sturdier cake due to the caramel we are going to pour into the nooks and crannies.
- Cream Butter and Sugar. With a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar over medium high speed for a full 4 minutes until very light and fluffy, scraping down sides as needed. I like to use a handheld mixer for more control, and that way I don’t have to scrap down the sides, but a stand mixer will work great. Take care you cream the butter for the FULL FOUR minutes because fluffy creamed butter and sugar will help us achieve a moist, fluffy poke cake.
- Add Room Temperature Eggs. With the mixer running on medium, add vanilla followed by eggs, then egg yolk, ONE at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears after each egg. Take care you use room temperature eggs because the yolks whisk together more easily which promotes more even distribution into the batter resulting in light, fluffy cake (because eggs trap air). Cold eggs result in a more dense cake. To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, add whole eggs to a bowl of warm water.
- Don’t OVERMIX! Gradually add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture in thirds, alternately with buttermilk in between each third, beating until just combined after each addition. Don’t overmix the cake batter or the gluten will develop resulting in a tough, dry, dense cake. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can easily make your own. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar to a measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Stir to combine and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes ( the mixture will begin to curdle).
- Apples and Walnuts. Stir in apples and walnuts just until combined. We want the apple slices to be relatively small, about 1/4” chunks so they cook by the time the cake is done and so they are more evenly distributed throughout the cake. The walnuts are optional but I HIGHLY recommend them!
- Bake. Bake Caramel Apple Poke Cake at 350 degrees F until a wood pick inserted near the center of cake comes out clean, approximately 45-50 minutes. Take care to not overbake your poke cake or it won’t be as tender. While your cake is baking is the perfect time to make our 5 Minute Easy Creamy Caramel Sauce!
- Poke! Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes then poke holes about an inch apart with the back of a straw all over the cake. If you don’t have a straw then anything around that size will work.
- Pour. Pour caramel over cake and spread into holes with a spatula so each crater is filled with oozing carameliciousness. You can use store-bought caramel but I promise you will go crazy over my Homemade Caramel Sauce. It is SO easy, takes just a few ingredients and is rich, creamy, buttery and 1000X better than store bought. You will NOT regret making this caramel from scratch!
- Refrigerate. Refrigerate the Caramel Apple Poke Cake overnight to allow the caramel to permeate the cake and works its magic. If you are in a hurry, you can refrigerate the cake for as little as 30 minutes (to let the caramel set so the cake is easier to frost) but the cake is 10X better if refrigerated for an extended period of time.
- Frost. Frost poke cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting then sprinkle with toffee bits. Toffee Bits add a fabulous “candy apple” flair to the cake, but you omit them and just use walnuts if you prefer – or both! Toffee Bits are found in the baking aisle. The most common brand is Heath and they are called, “Bits-O-Brickle Toffee Bits.”
Can I make Poke Cake Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can make your Caramel Apple Poke Cake 100% ahead of time! After the poke cake has been refrigerated for 30 minutes, you can frost it at that time then return it back to the fridge to serve later. Bring to room temperature before serving or microwave individual servings.
Looking for more Apple Recipes?
- Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies
- Mini Caramel Apple Pies
- Toffee Apple Pound Cake
- Caramel Apple Pie Blondies
- Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Apple Dip
- Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Pie Dumplings
- Apple Pie Pancake Bowls
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