Apple and sour cream cake

Bake this old-fashioned apple and sour cream cake with fresh apples, then top it with salted caramel frosting and extra apple slices.



Note: + Cooling time

1h 20m


  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Coles Australian Free Range Eggs
  • 1 cup (150g) plain flour
  • 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
  • 300g sour cream
  • 2 apples, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) salted caramel topping
  • 1 apple, extra, very thinly sliced lengthways

Salted caramel frosting

  • 70g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (120g) icing sugar mixture
  • 2 tbs salted caramel topping



Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm (base measurement) round cake pan and line the base and side with baking paper. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the combined flour and sour cream, in alternating batches, beating until just combined.


Spoon one-third of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with half the grated apple and drizzle with half the caramel topping. Continue layering with the remaining batter, grated apple and topping. Smooth the surface.


Bake for 1 hour 20 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 5 mins to cool slightly before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Meanwhile, to make the salted caramel frosting, use a clean electric mixer to beat the butter in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar, in batches, beating well after each addition. Beat in the caramel topping until smooth and combined.


Transfer the cake to a serving platter. Spread the cake with frosting and decorate with the apple slices. Cut into wedges to serve.

Serve with salted caramel topping

Dietary information


Apple cake recipe

Just like apple crumble and apple pie, apple cake is one of the best recipes you can make whenever apples are in season and great value. Luckily, we can buy apples year round so it’s easy to whip up an apple cake any time you like. Apple cakes tend to be rustic tea cakes flavoured with simple spices such as vanilla or cinnamon. Sometimes they include other fresh or dried fruits that are good matches for apple, such as blackberries or sultanas. An apple cake can be made using fresh or canned apples or even apple sauce, but we think apple cake recipes with fresh apples have the best flavour and texture. This easy apple cake recipe is a simple vanilla and sour cream butter cake rippled with fresh apple and sticky salted caramel. It’s topped off with a thick layer of salted caramel buttercream frosting and decorated with apple slices. Like cinnamon, salted caramel is a classic flavour match for apple, so we’ve used it in the cake, the icing and as a topping to make this cake irresistible.

Ingredients you will need for apple cake

An apple cake needs apples and there are 3 in this recipe – 2 of them are peeled and grated to bake into the cake, and 1 is thinly sliced for decoration. You can use any apple variety for this cake but remember some varieties brown more quickly than others, for example Pink Lady apples are slower to brown than Royal Gala. It’s best to slice the apple just before serving, but you can try brushing the slices with lemon juice to stop them browning too quickly.

The basic mixture for this apple butter cake recipe is a lot like the one in vanilla cake recipe, but rather than starting with a whole 250g block of butter and then adding milk to soften the batter, this recipe starts with half a block of butter and adds a whole carton of sour cream instead. Sour cream is the secret to a moist apple cake with a tender crumb. Take the butter out of the fridge at least 20 minutes ahead to soften it – if it’s too cold it will form lumps in the batter than can end up as holes in the finished cake. You only need 2 eggs for this cake – bring them to room temperature first too because if they’re too cold the mixture may curdle.

This easy apple cake uses 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour and 1 cup (150g) plain flour so the cake will rise, but not too much. With a rich, moist cake like this one, you don’t want it to rise too much before it’s cooked all the way through or it can sink in the middle. Plus, the acidity from the sour cream gives it an extra lift, which means you don’t need as much raising agent in the flour.

Equipment you will need for apple cake

With any cake, it’s best to have your equipment prepared before you start. Once the batter is mixed it needs to get it straight into the oven, not sit on the bench while you line your pan. Start by preheating the oven to 180°C so it will have reached the right temperature before the cake goes in – this helps it cook evenly. Then prepare a 20cm cake pan by greasing and lining the base and side with baking paper.

For mixing the cake batter, you’ll need an electric mixer, such as a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. The same goes for whipping up buttercream icing to decorate the finished cake. If you don’t have one of these, use a wooden spoon and a mixing bowl and be sure to beat long enough to make the butter mixture turn pale and creamy. 

You’ll also need a wire rack for turning out the cooked cake. After removing the cake from the oven, cool it in the pan for 5 minutes so it firms up slightly – if you remove the hot cake straight away it can fall apart. Then turn the cake onto the wire rack to cool completely. 

For this recipe, you’ll also need a box grater to grate the apples for the cake – or do this in a food processor if that’s easier – and a sharp knife or mandolin slicer to thinly slice another apple for the top. Plus, grab a skewer for testing the cake and a palette knife for spreading buttercream over the top and sides.

How to make the apple cake

Add the softened butter to your mixing bowl with 1 cup (220g) caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat them for at least 5 minutes or until pale, creamy and aerated. The smaller granules in caster sugar dissolve faster than regular sugar and create a finer crumb texture in the cake. 

To avoid curdling, add the eggs 1 at a time, beating until well combined between additions. If the batter split, don’t panic – when the flour is added it should come together.

Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the sour cream. This helps the wet and dry ingredients combine evenly.

Now you have your cake batter, you’re going to layer it in the prepared pan with 2 grated peeled apples and 1/3 cup (80ml) salted caramel topping. This will give you a delicious ripple of apple and caramel through the finished cake. Put half the batter in first – no need to smooth the surface yet – then top with half the apple and drizzle over half the caramel. Repeat to make another layer, then smooth the surface to so the cake will be even on top.

The moist batter and apple layers mean this cake takes longer to bake than you may expect – it should take about 1 hour and 20 minutes to cook through. Test it with a skewer in the centre – if it comes out wet, keep baking and testing every 5-10 minutes, covering the pan with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning. When the skewer comes out clean, remove it from the oven, stand for 5 mins then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

How to serve apple cake

While the cake is cooling you can make the salted caramel frosting. With a clean bowl and electric mixer, beat another 70g softened butter until pale and creamy, then start adding ¾ cup (120g) icing sugar mixture in batches. To avoid any lumps in the icing, beat well after each batch of icing sugar is added. Then beat in 2 tablespoons of salted caramel topping until well combined and the icing is smooth.

Once the cake is completely cool, you’re ready to decorate and serve. Get it on a serving platter and spread the top with salted caramel frosting. Pile the sliced apple on top. For a spectacular finish, drizzle with more salted caramel topping, letting it drip down the side of the cake. Cut into wedges to serve – you should get 12 serves from this cake, so it’s great for smaller celebrations.

Now get cooking

This apple cake recipe is a perfect all-rounder for simple celebrations or to enjoy with a cuppa for morning or afternoon tea. Want more fresh apple cake ideas? Master the art of apple cakes with Curtis Stone’s must-try recipes for caramelised apple upside-down cake and apple cinnamon custard cake. For a mixed fruit tea cake, try our blackberry and apple streusel cake. Or, for a sweet surprise, make our apple pie cupcakes and decorate them with homemade cinnamon apple chips. All out of apples? Grab a jar of apple sauce to make our spiced apple cake with brown butter icing . Plus, find more must-try cakes in our dessert recipes collection.

Nutrition Information

Per Serve

Energy: 1977kJ/473 Cals (23%)

Protein: 5g (10%)

Fat: 24g (34%)

Sat fat: 15g (63%)

Carb: 58g (19%)

Sugar: 39g (43%)

Fibre: 2g (7%)

Sodium: 214mg (11%)


  • How to store apple cake?
    Place any leftover apple cake in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days – to prevent the apple slices from browning, brush them with lemon juice.

  • Can I freeze apple cake?
    You can freeze the iced cake without the apple topping, but it’s better to freeze the uniced cake ahead, then thaw and decorate before icing. Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and foil, then freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Can I use this recipe to make apple cupcakes?
    Line 1/3 cup (80ml) muffin pan holes with paper cases and spoon batter evenly among the cases. Don’t overfill them – they should be two-thirds to three-quarters full to avoid the batter spilling over as it rises. Reduce the baking time to 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centres comes out clean. 

  • What oven setting should I use?
    All Coles recipes are tested using a conventional oven. If you have a fan-forced oven, reduce the baking temperature by 20°C from 180°C to 160°C.

  • Can I bake this cake in the air fryer?
    Air fryers cook cakes faster than conventional ovens, so use the same temperature as you would for a fan-forced oven – 160°C. Aim for 45–55 mins baking time and use a skewer to check the cake is cooked in the centre. If the top overbrowns, trim before decorating.

  • Can I make this cake gluten free?
    For a gluten-free cake, use gluten-free self-raising flour and wheat-free icing sugar mixture or sifted pure icing sugar. Remember to check all labels, including the decorations, to make sure you’re using gluten-free ingredients.

  • How can I make this cake healthier?
    Try it with wholemeal self-raising flour and wholemeal plain flour, and swap the sour cream for Greek-style yoghurt. You can leave out the caramel topping and serve the cake without icing.

  • What variations can I make on this apple cake?
    Swap the apple for pear to make a simple pear cake. For an apple and custard cake, swap the caramel topping in the cake for bought vanilla custard. For apple cinnamon cake, swap the salted caramel frosting in the cake for cinnamon sugar.

  • What other icings are good with apple cake?
    For maple icing, swap the caramel topping in the cake for maple syrup. For vanilla icing, swap the caramel topping for 1 tsp vanilla extract and x tsp milk.

  • What can I do with leftover apple cores and peel?
    Save your apple peels and cores, then use to make apple tea. Place in a saucepan with water (250ml per apple), 1 cinnamon stick and 3 cloves. Simmer for 10 mins, then strain.

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.