apple pie layer cake.

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial

You know it, I know it, we all know it: we have discussed these stack-happy little Momofuku cakes before. I love making them, you love telling me how much work it would be to even attempt one of these. Is it work? Yes. But have I said that it’s not as hard as you may believe it is? Also, yes. Do you think I’m lying? Perhaps. So I decided for this cake, I would take you behind the scenes a little and show you exactly what goes in to making one of these things. Shall we?

Before we begin, I’m going to reference back to the other Momofuku cakes we’ve already discussed. Lest you think I’m short-changing you on verbal instruction here, I promise you I’m not. If you want in-depth guidance and tips on stacking cakes like this, see my post on the carrot layer cake + pumpkin ganache. For more tips, or if a sprinkle-filled birthday cake is more up your alley, head over to the confetti birthday layer cake. If you’d like a sneak peek at the Momofuku cake I’ve neglected to post but will be coming soon? Head over to my Wee One’s state fair birthday party post, which featured the chocolate malt layer cake.

So let’s get to it: I made this cake back in October for my own birthday. It was a dreary week and I would have loved the photos to be better, but alas; my birthday waits for no one. It was raining; my apologies. With these cakes (and really any cake) it’s extremely important that you get all your ingredients incorporated together. Not just wet, people; they need to become one with each other. Have you ever had a cake bake into sort of a mottled, slightly hilly thing? It’s because you didn’t follow the directions. Layering cakes requires a smooth surface; please take the time to beat your cake batter into submission as the instructions indicate. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with this:

barely brown butter cake for apple pie layer cake.

Look at that; perfectly smooth, evenly golden cake. You couldn’t ask for a better starting point, and it will bolster your confidence while you make your layers.

When it is time for stacking, make sure all your ingredients are prepped, at the correct temperature, and in easy-to-manage dishes. The last thing you want to be doing is fumbling around with things when you’re trying to make one of these cakes, so don’t begin until you know you have everything out and ready to go.

After you’ve lifted your cake from the pan, you’ll cut your first two layers, just like this, using your 6-inch cake ring:

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

Done. Now, use the biggest pancake spatula you have and slide it gently under each cake circle, and using your hand for support and guidance, lift it out onto a separate sheet of parchment to sit.

Next, you’ll cut the remaining circle using the leftover cake, like so:

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

I know many of you have asked me how I do this; well, this is how. Not as hard as you imagined, right? I’m not cobbling together lots of crumbs, I’m just maximizing my cake surface here. If you do it correctly, you’ll have at least a half-piece of spare cake to eat.

When it’s time to layer, it’s best to work carefully and consciously; if you’re not paying attention and miss a step, you basically ruined your cake. Sure, there are ways to cover it up so no one knows it, but guess what? You know it, so it’s still a ruined cake. Don’t forget little things like:

  • setting your cake ring onto your cardboard cake circle
  • lining your cake ring with the first acetate strip
  • paying attention to what “half” or “a third” of any given ingredient is, which may cause you to run out before you finish
  • letting all your components sit out to get to room temperature, if you’ve stored them in the fridge

Here, the layering begins with the cake, cake soak, and liquid cheesecake:

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

As a rule, I start from the middle and work out to the edges. I find that it’s easiest to get the most out of each layer with minimal damage to the layer below it. Even when piling on, blob first in the center, then spoon ingredients around that center, then spread from center to edge.

The next layers to this cake are the trickiest: the crumb, apple pie filling, adding the second acetate strip, and layering the next cake layer:

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

Gentle and purposeful movements are key here. Once the crumb is on the cheesecake, it’s not moving, so use wisely. Over-working the apple pie filling on the crumb layer below can cause the crumbs to work themselves up through the filling, and you don’t want to do that. Once you slide that second acetate strip in, you have to deal with the fear that is dropping that cake layer in. Best way to do it? Trust fall. Really, I mean it. Hover your cake circle above the cake ring, line it up with the acetate strip so it doesn’t catch on the way down, and let go.

Breathe; you did it! Time for round two, which is the same as round one:

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

You did it! Now it’s just time for the frosting, and off it goes into the freezer. your work is done here.

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

Quite a few of you have asked if this whole process is messy. Answer: yes.

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

Although I would say it’s more crumbly than messy, because the crumbs are really the only thing which gets all over the place. As always, for projects like this, I recommend an empty dishwasher at the ready; it makes cleanup so much easier to just shove things in there and hit “go.”

Once you’ve made the cake, feel free to make it yours. Obviously I’ve done that with some of the past ones. I think the birthday cake would look fun with a bunch of the cookies sticking out of it, but I enjoyed the crumb pile as well. I loved the plastic animals and pennant garland on the chocolate malt cake. Since this was made in October, apples were in season and I was big into the idea of hayrides and bonfires. I went with it. Behold:

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

Apple bonfire. You know what that’s made out of? The flames are homemade apple chips, and the woodpile are their discarded skins, baked with cinnamon and sugar until they crisp up and roll into twigs. Although I wasn’t in love with the twiggy part of this in terms of flavor, I liked the concept, and I’ll perfect both the flames and sticks in the future. I used this recipe for the twigs and just sort of winged it with my apple chips: coated some slices in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and threw them in alongside the twigs to bake.

And then, well…it was time for cake.

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

I don’t know if this is my favorite cake, because honestly, all four that I’ve made have been wonderful, each one very different from the next. I adored this cake, but they are all so vastly different that it makes them very difficult to compare. I loved the individual components of this one quite a bit: the liquid cheesecake is divine on a spoon, the crumb is spectacular, the apple pie filling is actually apple pie filling, so no complaints there. The brown butter cake is otherworldly; it’s a beautifully textured, flavorful stand-alone cake, and I’ll be adding it to my list of “anytime/any frosting” cakes.

My only complaint, if it truly is one, is the very top; the pie crumb frosting. It’s the second time I’ve made it (I played around with it in an earlier recipe that never hit the blog) and both versions I’ve done just haven’t hit the mark for my own palate. It’s very sweet; I’m probably overly critical of frosting, and if you love a sweet hit of something on your cake, you may die over this. For those of you who lean towards less sugary sweet, here’s what I would do: make a double batch of the liquid cheesecake and pile some on top in place of the pie crumb frosting. It’s thick enough to work very well as a stand-in.

apple pie layer cake: a tutorial.

I hope that was helpful, especially if you’ve thought about attempting a cake like this. I know I love it when cookbook authors take the time to photograph steps of recipes which could be hard to visualize, like the turns in a croissant dough (even with photos, I have a difficult time understanding that particular process), so maybe this makes it easier should you attempt it. It really isn’t so difficult; you just have to find your own rhythm with it.

I always say it with these cakes, but don’t let the large amount of words below fool you: you just have a few simple things to make, and it just happens to all be listed in one place. None of the recipes which go into this cake are difficult at all, I promise you. I do recommend you spread this project out over two days. Here’s how I do it:

  • Make brown butter cake and place in oven
  • While cooking, make your pie crumb and get it ready for the oven, also prep what you can for liquid cheesecake
  • Pull cake out, slide pie crumb in
  • While pie crumb bakes, finish cheesecake and get it ready for the oven
  • Pie crumb out, reduce temperature, slide cheesecake in

How simple is that? And then all you need to do the next day is whip up your cake soak and make your pie crumb frosting if you’re using it. If you’re doing the apple chip/stick thing I did for decoration, decide where you want to fit that in. Strategy works as well in the kitchen as does anywhere else; smart planning makes things go faster (and better), period.

Go cake!

Adapted from the always-incredible must-have, the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi.

Apple Pie Layer Cake

for the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown butter*
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the crumb:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water

for the cheesecake:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 large egg

for the apple pie filling:

  • 1 medium-sized lemon
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

for the cider soak:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider (original, not cinnamon, if you see that in your store)
  • 1 teaspoon tightly packed brown sugar
  • small pinch cinnamon

for the pie crumb frosting**:

  • 1/2 recipe pie crumb
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

*I make brown butter by throwing 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter into a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. It will get foamy on the surface. Pour it into a small glass bowl and let it sit for a minute or two until it has separated into three layers: foam on top, clear yellow in the middle, milk solids on the bottom. Skim off the top carefully, and pour the liquid into a small frying pan, leaving the milk solids behind. Heat the now-clarified butter in that frying pan over low heat until brown and fragrant, but not burned. Remove from heat and let cool. You’ll have more than needed for this recipe, so save the remaining and use it in your next batch of cookies. 

**you can skip the pie crumb frosting if you’re choosing to use a double batch of liquid cheesecake to frost your cake top. You truly do need to make a double batch, however; you won’t be able to stretch a single batch out enough to cover it.

Make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a lipped quarter sheet pan (I use a 10 x 13 “brownie pan” that’s easily found at Target or anywhere else) with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper, overhanging the sides by an inch or so. Spray the parchment lightly with the cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together your cake flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Combine the butters and the sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together on high speed for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add your eggs and mix on medium-high for another 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Beat for 6-7 minutes, until the mixture is white, twice the size of your original butter and sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. That last part? So important…this is what separates mottled, bumpy cakes from smooth, even ones. After about 6 minutes, stop your mixer, and scrape down the sides and into the bottom. Take a look at the batter and be honest with yourself: do you see streaks? If you have any doubts, keep going until there are no streaks or uneven patches and it looks like those ingredients have been together their entire lives. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again.

With the mixer on low speed, add your dry ingredients and mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your mixture comes together. I like to scrape down the bowl once during this process just to get the loose dry stuff that clings to the sides. When you’re done, scrape down the sides of the bowl again and mix for about 30 seconds more to get all the lumps out.

Pour your lovely, completely homogenous batter into the center of your prepared pan, using a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly out towards the sides. Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking at the 22 minute mark for doneness. You know how I feel about dry cake, so don’t overdo it. You have some wiggle room because you’re doing a cake soak and the whole bit, but an overdone cake makes even more of a mess than a perfectly done one, and your sides may not be as smooth when you cut your rings. Your cake will rise and puff but remain dense, and it will be done when the center is no longer jiggly. It should bounce back when you touch it gently in the center; if you’re still unsure, check it with a wooden skewer in the center.

Remove your cake from the oven and place the entire pan onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Bake the crumb:

If you’re making this right after your cake, wonderful: keep your oven at 350˚F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until evenly distributed.

Add the melted butter and water and stir using a small wooden spoon to incorporate the wet with the dry. This will take a few minutes, because you want to make sure everything is even. I use a folding motion and scrape the bowl with each stir; it helps to get the leftover dry ingredients hanging out on the bottom. Use a spatula towards the end if you feel like it would help.

Spread the clusters into the middle of your prepared sheet pan and use your spoon or spatula to spread them out evenly into small clusters, breaking them up as you go. Bake for 22-24 minutes, checking at the 20 minute mark for doneness. They should be golden and slightly moist when you take them out; they will harden as they cool. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.

Bake the liquid cheesecake:

note: if you’re going to do the double batch, get excited: you’ll have plenty of leftovers. Remember when you’re putting the cake together that when I say “half” it means half of a single batch, so don’t go crazy. When you bake this, use a 9 x 13 Pyrex glass baking dish versus the 8 x 8 size.

If you’re doing this directly following your crumb, then turn your oven down to 300˚F. Starting with a cold oven? Preheat to 300˚F (obviously.) Spray an 8×8 glass baking dish (or 9×13 for a double batch) lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric mixer), beat your cream cheese for two minutes until creamy and soft. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, add the sugar, and mix for 2 minutes until the sugar has dissolved into the cream cheese. Scrape down the sides of your bowl again.

Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Stream in the milk, whisking as you pour, making sure your cornstarch doesn’t lump. Add your egg and whisk again until your slurry is homogenous.

With your mixer on low speed, stream in the egg slurry and beat for 3-4 minutes until your mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, checking for any unincorporated ingredients.

Pour the cheesecake batter into your prepared pan, place in the oven, and bake for about 15 minutes. Check it: when it’s done, your cheesecake filling should be firmer and more set towards the outside and still a big jiggly in the center. If it seems too jiggly, give it another 5 minutes. Still seems too liquidy? That’s ok; give it a few more minutes and then just trust it. Don’t go over about 25 minutes total. Don’t let it begin to brown or poof up, because that’s when you’re bordering on overdone.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely; like any cheesecake or curd tart, it will continue to bake itself and set while cooling. When cooled, it will be very much like a no-bake cheesecake in texture.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

oh my gosh, I know, right? so much to do. Time to make your apple pie filling:

Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water big enough to hold and cover your apple slices. Discard peel and seeds.

Peel your apples, then halve and quarter them. Put each apple quarter on its side and cut a small slice down the length of the apple to remove the core and seeds. Now cut each apple quarter lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise into fourths, giving you 12 pieces from each apple quarter. Drop your pieces in the lemon water as you slice.

Once you’re ready to cook, drain the water from the apples and discard the lemon water. In a medium saucepan, combine the apples with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently to coat and cook evenly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-6 minutes, so the apples release their liquid and soften, but not so much that they get mushy. There’s a trick to this depending on your apples: if your apples are soft but you feel like your sauce is too thin, that’s ok. Simply remove your apple pieces to a dish and set aside, leaving the sauce behind. Let the liquid keep simmering for a few more minutes until thickened. Remove to the bowl your apples reside and let cool completely.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make your pie crumb frosting (optional, if you’re using it):

combine the pie crumbs, milk and salt in a food processor or blender, puréeing until smooth and homogenous, about 2-3 minutes.

In a large bowl, add your butter and confectioners’ sugar and cream together on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, add your pie crumb mixture, and start your mixer on medium speed. Once things start to combine, raise your speed to high and continue to beat until smooth and everything is incorporated, about 3 minutes.

I think it’s easiest to use this immediately, because frosting which has been chilled is always more difficult to work with. You can store it in an airtight container for up to 1 week if needed.

Make your cider soak:

Whisk together the cider, sugar and cinnamon. Blammo; cider soak. I usually do this just before assembly time.

To assemble your cake:

The whole point of this post was the picture tutorial, right? So scroll back up to the photos of the step by step assembly; it’s every step of the process. I’ll outline it below. For more detailed instructions, check out my post for either the carrot layer cake with pumpkin ganache or the confetti birthday layer cake. Before you begin, look at my bullet-pointed tips at the beginning on how to prep your workstation. Most importantly, make sure everything is at room temperature prior to starting. Here we go.

Layer One:

  • Set your cake ring on a 6-inch cardboard cake circle
  • Line the bottom of the ring with an acetate strip.
  • Set your first cake circle (this one will be the scraps from the third circle, so you’ll form them in the bottom and tamp them together using your hand)
  • Soak the cake with 1/2 the cider soak using a pastry brush
  • Spread 1/2 (a single batch) of the liquid cheesecake evenly over top
  • Sprinkle 1/3 pie crumbs evenly over top
  • Spoon 1/2 apple pie filling over top, spreading gently and being careful not to unearth crumb layer

Layer Two:

  • Add the second acetate strip between the first strip and the cake ring, so it stays tight to the cake ring and gives you space to complete your cake
  • Drop the second cake circle down into the cake ring, using the Trust Fall method described above
  • Now, same as the first: soak, spread cheesecake, sprinkle crumbs, spoon pie filling, all in the same amounts as the first layer

Layer Three:

  • Add a third strip of acetate here if needed, to keep your cake lined all the way to the top, tucking it in as you did with the second one. I find I need a third strip because the apples add volume to this cake.
  • Layer your final (prettiest) cake circle on top
  • Cover with either the pie crumb frosting or with some of the extra (second batch) of liquid cheesecake
  • Slide into the freezer to chill for at least 12 hours (or up to 2 weeks, but who is going to wait that long, really, to eat this.)

To serve:

Remove from the freezer and pop it out of the cake ring base. Think of how you would unearth a tart from the base: just use pressure from your fingers to push the cake up through the cake ring to release it. Unfurl from its acetate strip nest and place in the fridge to thaw, at least three hours before serving. Don’t forget to remove the wrapping from your cake immediately following freezer removal: if you try to unwrap it at serving time, you’re going to mess up the sides a bit and you’ll need to smooth them back down with a spatula.

Slice your cake into wedges and serve.

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  • Reply Brianne January 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Oh. Oh my goodness. When I read through Milk Bar, I tried to visualize how to assemble one of these cakes. You just displayed my brain here. Some things: 1) That trust fall thing? Scares the crap out of me. 2) I’ve long had plans to make liquid cheesecake just to consume it all with a spoon. There would probably be strawberries involved, though. And probably some graham crackers. 3) I love your cake topper! It’s super creative and resourceful! Now I’m going to dream of Milk Bar all afternoon.

    You never cease to amaze me.

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      That i managed to display your brain here is an honor. 🙂
      1. i promise you can do the trust fall. it goes in easier than you’d think.
      2. oh, man; all i can say to that is DO IT. GO with your instincts on that one. it’s DIVINE. get the strawberries and graham crackers involved too.
      3. thanks! I want to make the chips and twigs better from a taste perspective, but as a topper, they were really cute. I like it when you can eat the decorations. 🙂

      *blush face* thanks, brianne. 🙂

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats January 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

    ok, you’ve inspired me. i’m going to make confetti cake for my birthday. i only have 2 months to prepare, anguish over it, get discouraged, and then quit.

    BUT… there is a chance (though it may be small) that i will stick with it, read all of your momofuku cake posts 2394823423 times, stay motivated, and not mess anything up. or at least, not mess enough of it up to completely ruin my cake.

    I’m going to read the confetti cake one now. right now. LET THE MOTIVATION (and planning) BEGIN! Now… where on earth do I find these acetate strips?

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      you. will. do it. i believe in you and the power that i KNOW sprinkles and cake have over you.

      Everything you need for the Momofuku stuff (and truly, maybe in life) can be found on Amazon. but let’s chat, because i had to sift through lots of choices to get to the most economical and reasonable quantities/versions.

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island January 25, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I don’t think I have it in me to attempt this, but you are now officially my cake hero!

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      i bet you do have it in you. I’ve seen your work! 🙂

  • Reply Faygie Moorvitch January 25, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Looks like it came out great! I’ve made the birthday cake and the pistachio cake, as you know, but I really want to make this one! None of us have birthdays in the fall, though, and this cake just SCREAMS fall to me. I guess I’ll just have to find some other reason to make it.

    And I love the bonfire on top 🙂

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      it really is a very “fall” cake, isn’t it? And it’s a lot harder to find apple cider any other time of year around here, so I had to wait for my birthday to do it (it was slated for the Wee One’s birthday, but i couldn’t find apple cider yet in late August). I know you’ll think of a reason; Columbus day, perhaps? 🙂

      I still want to see a post on your version of the birthday cake. I love comparing notes with you about these (and i still need to make the whole pistachio cake! Time for another amazon order.) I really want to make that chocolate chip/passion fruit one, but i have yet to find an even close to reasonable price for passion fruit puree.

      That bonfire was just fun to do. I had to.

      • Reply Faygie Moorvitch January 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

        Your Columbus day totally made me laugh!

        I’m sure I can find some reason or another; I have lots of time to figure it out. (Maybe I can make it in honor of YOUR birthday. Wanna come to LA for a party? 🙂 )

        • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm

          short answer: TOTALLY, YES. I would love to come to LA for my birthday party. What could be better?

  • Reply sara January 25, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    So pretty! This is seriously gorgeous and looks absolutely delicious! 🙂

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks Sara! It was so, soooo good. Words somehow don’t describe it as well as i’d like them too. Layers of wonderful, really.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats January 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    all I can say is WOW. That is one serious cake. I’m very very impressed with your cake baking and assembly skills, as well as your dedication…and most importantly, your attention span. I totally want a piece of it. But really, should you be baking your own birthday cake?! You better get Stella an easy bake oven so she can contribute to your next birthday.

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      I think Stella got to mix some of the dry ingredients for this one; she’s great with a whisk, and dry ingredients are not at all tempting to eat. 🙂 You know, i think it’s all a matter of want: i wanted this cake really, really bad. The dedication and attention span just happen as a result of a genuine need to know what an apple pie tastes like when sandwiched between layers of cake and cheesecake. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley January 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Complete and utter respect, lady! You’ve mastered Milk Bar layer cakes and made them so accessible AND so inspiring to us that I want to try making one. Ah. I said it. I want to try it! Plus I feel the polished-messy look of Milk Bar layer cakes is a huge step up from my usual messy-messy look for layer cakes. 🙂

    And the apple bonfire is awesome. Seriously.
    Happy (very belated) Birthday!

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks, Ashley! I feel like after this one, I can say honestly that they’re fun to do because i’m less apprehensive about them now than when i did my first one. Just like the cookies, it’s all a matter of doing things in an order, and with patience. You have to commit, but if you do, it’s really not difficult.

      I’d say it’s a piece of cake, but…you know…no drum kit handy. 😉

      secret: I frost regular cakes like an insane person. I can’t do the sides! Which is why i love these so much; no sides to gloop all over the place. and the bonfire was a nice addition for me, just to transition from “exact/following instructions” to free forming something. Thank you! you’re sweet.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog January 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    You. Are. My. Hero!

    This is such a helpful step-by-step post. All I need to do is locate and buy cake rings and acetate strips. Or, just a thought, I can skip the entire process and join you for cake at your place 😉

    • Reply shannon January 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Sheesh! You’re the one who posts awesome stuff like a madwoman; we can be each others’ heros, how about. 🙂

      I wish i could do more step by step posts, but a two year old in charge of photography = mixed results. Also frosting on the camera. You can either get all the stuff you need on, or you have a standing invite to my house for the next cake stack. You pick. 🙂

  • Reply Kimberly January 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Amazing! This is why you’re the RFT’s 2013 Best Food Blogger! Bravo!

    • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks so, so much, Kim! I’m still sort of in shock about all that; what a fun night, but it was a surprise to win, for sure. I’m looking forward to (someday?) meeting all of you in person.

  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina January 25, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I’m going to need you to make my birthday cake. It’s in August, soooo…you know. We have time to brainstorm.

    Also, I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one sitting on posts from October. 😀

    • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      how about this for a plan. your birthday? August. the Wee One’s birthday? Also august. which means, how about flying everyone up and we can have DUELING BIRTHDAYS! You know you love party games…

      honey, no: i still have a cake from LAST AUGUST to post. i bet more of us do it than don’t do it. the cooking part is the easy part. Writing? pesky.

  • Reply Kim Beaulieu January 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Okay so, um, ah, I have a birthday coming up I need someone to bake a cake for. It’s in 360 days, you free?

    Totally dig this stacked cake. It’s hard sometimes to get those momofuku recipes to turn out right. They need step by step photos like you do. Would make it so much easier for folks to follow along. Otherwise you just end up saying the last part of their name over and over again while making the recipes. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.

    • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      that can be arranged: i would love to make a cake for you, although i fear movita is actually the real Queen of Cakes. i saw that horse awesomeness, and that girl can make a frosting.
      agree: they’re different. or rather, i guess they can be, and they do require you pay attention and sort of strategize through them. There’s a great sequence photo in the book of them putting together their banana layer cake. it’s just a side view, but it’s like a film strip (remember those!) of the cake going up. really awesome.
      oh…we’ve all done that. 🙂

  • Reply Willow January 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Love this! I was beginning to feel like I was the only one who writes really long instructional posts describing everything in as much detail as possible. 😛

    I’ve never made a stacked Momofuku cake before, but it’s definitely something on my list to try some day. Thanks for tutorial and all the tips!

    • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      that’s why i love your posts so much; i completely get that sort of detail-oriented writing about random things like cake. I catch myself sometimes and i’m like “seriously; shut it” but then i realize that someone out there is maybe going to find it helpful. right? 🙂

      You definitely could do it; it’s not easy, and it’s not hard, but i think given what i’ve seen you do that you have the personality for it. I really think it’s what these cakes boil down to; i think anyone has the ability to do it, but it takes a certain dedication and patience.

  • Reply movita beaucoup January 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

    One day you will have your own baking school. It must happen. You’d be the best teacher ever.

    • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      the PRESSURE. we can co-own. also we can have electives in traditional folk-dancing. please.

    • Reply Carla September 16, 2013 at 3:41 am

      Agree! You write/explain so well. You make this daunting recipe look easy to do.

      • Reply shannon September 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm

        aw, thank you, Carla!

  • Reply john@kitchenriffs January 27, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Excellent post. Extremely thorough instructions and explanations. I’m usually not a fan of photos illustrating every step in a recipe, but yours are particularly helpful. The ones on assembling the layer of cake of pieces kind of reminded me of a high school geometry exam question (I knew there had to be some practical use for geometry, and you illustrate it nicely!). Good stuff — thanks.

    • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks, John! I’m not always a fan of step by step photos if they feel like overkill either. I like it when they serve a purpose, so I try to limit the “steps” photos unless they provide a visual explanation. These cakes tend to need a bunch of visual explanation, for sure. 🙂 The cake rings do very much look like a textbook, i agree.

  • Reply Katherine @ eggton January 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I LOVE the look of this post. So wonderfully put together. You can tell it took a lot of work doing all the pictures. I like the changes to the home page, too—the fact that you can see more than one post with the rest continued after the jump. It’s awesome. I also love that you told us how you plan your time when it comes to making this over 2 days. So helpful, as usual!

    • Reply shannon January 29, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Someday, the Wee One will be old enough to point and shoot the camera. until then, this is one of the few posts i take so much time to shoot! 🙂 and thank you; i’m trying to sort of fine-tune things and do a little spring cleaning, if you will, so i’m happy you noticed. After doing so many of these, i wish everything could be made over two days.

  • Reply Kitchen Butterfly April 24, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Oh I love Momofuku, and I know how intense and time consuming some recipes can be. I do totally think they’re so WORTH it and this is no exception. Well done and thanks for the inspiration.

    • Reply shannon April 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      “Intense” is such an appropriate word for many Momofuku recipes, i agree! I have always tried to convey (with varying degrees of success, i’m sure) how worth it their recipes really are; you just really don’t get the specific flavors and combinations they’re going for in other books. It may not be for everyone, but it’s such an exciting thing to have in your library, for sure. Thank you!

  • Reply Judy May 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

    What a great tutorial. I think almost anyone could make these yummy cakes with your detailed instructions.

    • Reply shannon May 14, 2013 at 6:30 am

      Thanks, Judy! I hope so: I like to make it easy for me and everyone else to do things like this. 🙂

  • Reply Eva | Adventures in Cooking May 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Oh my gosh, this sounds realllllllllly good. What an awesome and impressive cake!!! I have to admit, crumb apple is probably my favorite pie ever, eating it in cake form would be pretty much the best thing ever.

    • Reply shannon May 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks, Eva! I loved this cake; there was a reason i waited to make it until it was my own birthday. If you’re a fan of crumb apple pie, then you should give this one a whirl; it’s so good. And worth it, even though there’s lots of steps.

  • Reply simi August 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    This is AMAZING ! I will be so afraid to attempt this. I love crumb apple, but this is 5 times better…what a great tutorial.

    • Reply shannon August 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      oh, don’t be afraid! I strongly believe anyone can do this. It just takes a few pieces of the right equipment and a little patience. If you ever want to attempt this and have questions or need help, let me know. It’s a really fun cake, and delicious. Worth the work, for sure.

  • Reply ATasteOfMadness September 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    This definitely looks worth the effort! This cake looks fantastic, great tutorial!

    • Reply shannon September 4, 2013 at 5:31 am

      Thanks! i promise you it really is worth the effort, and i hope if you make it, the tutorial helps with the process!

  • Reply Malou September 3, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Hello Shannon,

    I am in the Philippines right now (I think I told you about my family emergency) Here I am trying to squeeze some blogging time and your apple layer cake compelled me to write a comment here. Well after attending the Food Forum, I am hesitant to use the word “awesome” hahah. but indeed your post and the steps you shared here is awesome hahah. Kidding aside, I’m inspired to bake, to de-stress myself while I”m here.

    Thanks for the blog love. I hope to see you around!

    • Reply shannon September 4, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Hi Malou! You did mention your family emergency, and i’m impressed that you can carve out the time to work right now! After the food forum, i’m scared to use words like “amazing” and “delicious” so i get it. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words about this apple pie layer cake: i loved making it, and the tutorial was fun to do because so many people have said they just knew they couldn’t do it, and i wanted to show them they could. I hope you can find some time to bake while you’re away! Always a nice de-stresser, and I hope everything goes well for you. Talk soon!

  • Reply The Sketched Chef December 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Wow, this is so impressing!.
    It looks absolutely stunning, great recipe

    • Reply shannon December 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

      thank you so much!

  • Reply sonia January 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Shannon, This is a terrific post ! I loved ur apple pie cake, made with so much love and hardwork. It’s wonderful to see your each and every post. Hope to see more of your creative endeavors ! Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

    • Reply shannon January 12, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Hi Sonia, and thank you so much! It was a fun cake to do, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes the flavors in this. A very happy new year to you and yours also!

  • Reply broma bakery January 23, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    so ridiculously beautiful. and that apple bonfire? wat.

  • Reply c arendt September 16, 2014 at 10:34 am

    your post was so helpful, thank you! i think i came up with a way to fix the too sweet frosting, replace whole milk with the buttermilk and it is perfect (except i found all the salt to be a tad much, am i alone on this?)

    • Reply shannon September 27, 2014 at 5:20 am

      Hi Cara, so sorry it took me a minute to respond! Usually i’m better at that: my apologies. I’m happy you tried this cake! The frosting was very sweet: almost bitingly so, and i’m happy you found a solution! i think the buttermilk in for the regular milk sound genius, and i’m going to have to remake this to see how it works in the cake (perfect timing, since apples and cider are in full swing here!). I also think the salt is a little much here, but it had such a strong flavor going, it was difficult to tell what was coming from what direction. I’d definitely decrease the salt, especially when taking down the sweetness with the buttermilk. Sometimes all frosting needs is a pinch, or nothing.

  • Reply Caramel Apple Cake | lemonsandlimabeans November 16, 2015 at 8:18 pm

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  • Reply Christina April 15, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Your cake looks really good and sooooo tasty!)
    I’ve just took my biscuit out and I’m so nervous and little bit upset with it.
    Really was hoping that everything will be fine, especially with a biscuit 🙁
    But it’s not…. The buiscuit didn’t grow up in sizes….Keep silent that is far away from perfect doubling:((((
    Ugh, it’s really pity!!!!
    Your layers just embodiment of the perfection!

    Could you help me and say what I can do wrong?
    What’s depend on splendor of a biscuit?


  • Reply Paula September 26, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Shannon – Have you every made any of Christina’s cakes in a larger size, like 8, 10, 0r 12 inch? I’ve made three of the 6″ and all have been successes. I need to make a wedding cake and will need two tiers; probably 10 and 8 but I may add a 6 on top for three tiers? Would like to know if the recipes double well.
    Love your tutorials. Thanks for posting them!

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