apple cake with caramel rum sauce1

Apple Cake with Caramel Rum Sauce . $3.58

You know a dessert’s good when someone licks their plate (and it wasn’t me…I knew there was more in the kitchen.) That dessert is Apple Cake with Rum Sauce – one of my favorites when I was a child. Perhaps a Midwestern thing, I know very few people who’ve ever tasted this wonderment. This is very like a Sticky Toffee Pudding.

My Grandmother's Apple Cake with Rum Sauce - on my Great Grandmother's Wedding Plates
My Grandmother’s Apple Cake with Rum Sauce – on my Great Grandmother’s Wedding Plates

The top is a little browned and crunchy, the inside moist, dense, a bit chewy and a bit cake-like, all at the same time. The beautiful sauce envelops this somewhat homely concoction…some of soaks in the top as the rest pools around it on the plate…I do want to note that some people prefer the cake cooked less.

How pleased I was to find this childhood favorite in my Grandma’s recipe box…I’ve no recollection of my Mom making this, although my little Sis does. I do remember it was often served by the lunch ladies at my school. I’d have traded anything on my plate for another piece of this.

Apple Cake isn’t meant to be served on its own…the simple, caramelly Rum Sauce is a requirement, not an option! Note that this Caramel Rum Sauce isn’t quite the same as the more well-known Rum Sauce that often is served with bread pudding. That Rum sauce is a rather clear, milky sauce, sweet and buttery, while this one is a darker, caramel one.

I like to take this just a bit over the top by serving it with a barely sweetened whipped cream. Just the faintest grating of nutmeg over the top…and of course, I think it’s fitting to serve it on one of the plates my Great-Grandfather picked up at the General store along with a ring when he asked my Great-Grandmother to marry him in 1891.

My Great Grandmother came to the States before him, accompanying a cousin who was to be married, and leaving him behind. My Great Grandfather joined her several years later, and wasted no time after they were reunited!

The cost is bit more expensive than some desserts but you’ll find it unlikely that someone will want seconds…it is that satisfying.

Apple Cake with Rum Sauce,

serves 15

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 cups apple, peeled and finely diced, about five average

Cream sugar and shortening or butter, add eggs one at a time. Mix dry ingredients and whisk together; add to sugar mixture. Mix in apples by hand. This will look thick and strange – it’s ok, just forge ahead. You’ll think I forgot the liquid in this recipe, but as the apples are mixed in, the juices moisten the cake.

Spread in a 9 x 13 pan, bake at 350 degrees for one hour. The top should look dried and a little darkened in places. Test by pressing lightly on the top of the cake, when the indentation comes back up, the cake is done.

Notes:  This batter is really thick and you will have to spread it into the pan – you haven’t made a mistake!  This is the perfect recipe to use an apple/corer/slicer.


Cake Per Serving: 257 Calories; 8g Fat (26.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 28mg Cholesterol; 320mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 2 Other Carbohydrates.

Rum Sauce, makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rum

Mix ingredients in saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer 2 – 3 minutes until slightly thickened. It will thicken more as it cools, and it should be loose. If it is cooked too long and thickened more than it should be, you’ll likely find it cloying. It can be flavored with other flavors instead of rum.


For Sauce, Per Serving: 118 Calories; 8g Fat (60.6% calories from fat); trace Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 24mg Cholesterol; 67mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
apple & potato peeler
apple & potato peeler

Strategies Applied:

If you like to cook or bake with apples or potatoes, consider buying what I call an apple/potato peeler, corer slicer. They’re not expensive and make short work of preparing a number of different items.

  • Apple:  Look for apples in the fall at the best price, and watch for them in January and February at a lower cost. In January, the apples in the cold storage need to be sold off quickly, and there is a glut of apples coming out of gassed storage.  Bought at 88 cents a pound, an apple is about 5 1/2 ounces. Cost: $1.50.
  • Shortening: A complicated ingredient to price, it’s certainly out of fashion due to the trans fat, but does give an exceptional texture to the cake. Buy it in the fall during the Thanksgiving to Christmas sales; coupons are often available. The whipped kind is not as good of a value although they often look more inexpensive. I’m going to have to guess at about 20 cents.
  • Sugar: Look for sugar on sale, which usually happens around the holidays. While any holiday generates a sales price, the best sales are generally from Thanksgiving to Christmas, when coupons are abundant. 2 1/2s cup is about 20 cents.
  • Eggs: Stock up on eggs when they’re inexpensive, normally during Holiday weeks. Low prices in my area range from free (often with other purchases) to anywhere from $1.89 for 18 eggs. They last for weeks in the fridge – The date on the container is a ‘buy’ date, and you can expect them to last a good six weeks past that date. If you pick up two or three packages when they’re at their low, you’ll rarely need to pay full price.Refrigerate right away and never store in the door; eggs keep best in a colder part of the refrigerator, in their own box. (Then put your partially used vegetables in the door where you’ll see them and remember they need to be used ASAP – the half a bell pepper or onion, etc.)  In doubt about an egg? If it floats in water, discard, just to be on the safe side. If they float, it means the egg inside is drying out, not that it is bad in any way. Cost for 2 eggs, about 20 cents.
  • Flour: Buy around any holiday when it is on a great sale price, especially the winter Holidays. I freeze all flour products when I bring them into my home for three days to avoid any issues. The five-pound bags are often much less expensive than the larger bags and are on sale so often, that it isn’t necessary to buy the larger bags unless one does a lot of baking. Sometimes coupons are available for the brand names during the sales. 5 pounds for $1.55 (Aldi’s) is about 17 cups, unsifted, 9 cents a cup. Cost for the recipe 18 cents.
  • Brown Sugar:  Both Brown Sugar and Powdered Sugar go on sale before Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter – just the time there are great coupons out there. You may find lesser sales around other holidays, too. I generally pay between 60 and 99 cents for the two-pound bags – I don’t like to run low because the regular price is around $2.39. Cost for 1/2 cup is 10 cents.
  • Whipping Cream: Whipping cream varies wildly in price – look for it on sale around any holiday. Store brands are often less expensive than brand names, often half the price. If you aren’t using it to whip, consider if 1/2 and 1/2 will work and be less expensive. If you’re looking at a pint container, milk is about 8 cents a cup, so a pint of half and half should be roughly half the cost of the 8 ounce whipping cream, less the 8 cents to be cost-effective. If you just need a bit, consider if you can use the rest in another recipe or save out a bit from another recipe to use in this one. At Aldi’s, $1.79 for 2 cups: cost: 45 cents. I haven’t tried, but I think you could be able to substitute evaporated milk in this.
  • Butter:  A bit of a splurge, cost and calorie wise – but for taste and health, I’d rather use real butter than trans fat laden margarine or oils. Yes – they do have trans fat, even if the label says they don’t. Harvard, for instance, says unequivocally: “The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats and to avoid trans fat.” While butter isn’t a healthy fat, many feel that trans fat is worse than saturated. Buy on deep specials, often around the holidays with store coupons. I shoot for $2.50 a pound and freeze, where it stays fine for months. Cost for this recipe: 1/2 cup is 8 tablespoons, 65 cents.
  • Other ingredients: negligible

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • Serve this with ice cream or whipping cream, with the sauce or without.
  • This would be good with about 3/4 cup of toasted walnuts in the recipe.
  • Flavor the sauce with vanilla or even orange – or almost any type of liquor that might go with the flavor of the apples.
  • Make it with pears! Why have I never thought of that before…I think I’d cut back the cinnamon to a teaspoon and use almond in the caramel, and almond if I used a nut in the cake.
  • Using a bit of sea salt sprinkled over the caramel gives it a special feel and a bit of a modern touch.

My Pay Off:

A dessert that certainly looks homey but packs a whole lot of flavor punch. Seriously, people go nuts over this dessert. The best part is they look a little skeptical at first – then you get to watch their face light up when they taste it. Then they start making the little happy food noises…It’s cake – it has calories, but not as much as some, and it does have a wee bit of fruit: 1/2 serving per slice.

Apple Cake with Rum Sauce made Fall 2011; repriced in 2014 for nearly a buck and a half less…

3 thoughts on “Apple Cake with Caramel Rum Sauce . $3.58”

  1. Oh.My.Goodness! I have recently discovered the beauty of dark rum & I love baking with it [made rum & vanilla cupcakes yesterday!]. I am soooo Pinning this – will make next time apples are really cheap.

    1. This is really an old-fashioned family favorite! I actually have apples on the table to make again – and I think I’ll try to take a better picture…I hope you’ll make it and let me know what you think!

      The rum in the sauce is amazing, especially since it’s combined with caramel. It’s not overwhelming at all, just a hint that leaves a subtle flavor. Will I sound strange if I say it’s “satisfying” or “warm?” It’s like coming home on a dark, drizzly evening and seeing the lights in the window and knowing everything inside is warm and cozy.

      I hope you’ll post your cupcakes – they sound very interesting and I bet the rum makes plain old vanilla just sing.

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