December 10, 2015
At Home with Friends


Apple, Raisin, Pecan Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to make a spice cake. This recipe fits the bill and takes the idea of spice cake to the new heights.

It’s dense and simply loaded with chunks of apples, bourbon soaked raisins and a full 3 1/2 cups of toasted pecans. The cake by itself is sensational, and frosted with a Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting — it’s spectacular!

While I thought the Gingerbread Pumpkin Mousse Trifle would be the star of Thanksgiving desserts, this cake stole the show. This hits all the autumnal dessert notes: apple pie, pecan pie, spice cake. This recipe can stand in for all of them.

Traditional spice cake is usually frosted with a cream cheese frosting. This one gets a Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s so divine, I had people asking if there was any leftover frosting. As it turns out, the recipe makes extra frosting which I planned to freeze and use later on cupcakes or toasted date nut bread. It was a good idea, but when Dano found out there was extra frosting, he opted to take it home as his Thanksgiving leftover treat.

This is just my kind of recipe: Totally complex in flavor and texture and so easy to make! I even made the cake ahead and froze it, and thawed and frosted it while my turkey was in the oven.


EVENT: Thanksgiving

SERVES: 16 People


1 cup cake flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups chopped, peeled apples

3 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans

1 cup raisins, allowed to plump in 1/2 cup bourbon for 20 minutes


10-inch springform pan, greased with butter and floured


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, all spices and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Slowly blend in the flour mixture and combine thoroughly.

5. Drain raisins, reserving bourbon.

6. By hand, stir in the apples, pecans and raisins.

7. Pour the batter into a 10-inch springform pan and bake 1 1/2-2 hours until a tester inserted in the middle comes out dry.

8. Remove cake from oven.

9. Brush top of cake lightly with reserved bourbon.

10. Cool in pan on wire rack until completely cool.

11. Wrap in plastic wrap and then foil. Store two weeks in airtight container in the freezer.



EVENT: Thanksgiving

YIELDS: 3 cups *


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons unsalted unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1-lb. cream cheese, room temperature, cut into 2” chunks


1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water, cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

2. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down crystals from the side of the pan.

3. Cook over low heat until a medium light amber color forms. Don’t overcook or you will have burnt sugar frosting.

4. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the butter. When butter is incorporated, slowly whisk in the vanilla and cream, stirring until the sauce is smooth.

5. Transfer the caramel into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at low speed, using the whisk attachment, about 5 minutes. Beat in the cream cheese, 1 cube at a time, until all cream cheese is fully incorporated.

6. Transfer the frosting to a bowl and refrigerate until very firm, at least 6 hours.

7. Frost the top and sides of the cake if desired.

* A NOTE: This yields more than needed to frost the top and sides of this cake. Freeze any extra in airtight container, 2-3 months.



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