This Caramel Apple Poke Cake is absolutely delicious, you’d never guess it was vegan! Spiced apple cake, full of caramel then topped with TruWhip Whipped Topping is all you need for an incredibly easy dessert that comes together quickly!
This post has been sponsored by TruWhip. Recipe and opinions are my own.
This vegan caramel apple poke cake is one of the easiest cakes you’ll make. In fact, people will think you slaved all day over it! It’s sweet & spicy, gooey and creamy and just screaming “EAT ME!”. It’s the holiday dessert you’ve been dreaming of.
WHAT IS A POKE CAKE?
If you’ve never heard of a poke cake before, it is a cake that goes back to the 70’s as a way to increase sales for Jell-O. It was a clever trend that simply jazzed up a boxed white cake mix by poking holes into it after baking, then filling those holes with colorful liquid Jell-O. Once refrigerated and set, that flavorful, moist cake was then slathered in whipped topping, making it a staple at potlucks and pool parties.
These days, you can find all types of poke cakes online and they’re not relying on boxed cake mixes or packets of gelatin anymore. The best modern poke cakes start with homemade cake then poked and drizzled with a variety of flavorful toppings to sweetly fill in all the nooks and crannies.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE THIS DELIGHTFUL CARAMEL APPLE POKE CAKE
The best thing about this caramel apple poke cake is that not only is it simple to make and tastes amazing, there’s also no fancy or hard to find ingredients.
In fact, what I didn’t already have in the pantry, I found right away at my local Sprouts. Which if you’re already following a vegan or free-from diet, there’s probably a store you frequent for your allergy-friendly baking needs.
For the spice cake, you’ll need to make sure you have flour (1:1 gluten free blend also worked in my test batch), sugar, baking powder & baking soda, salt, apple pie spices, dairy free milk, vinegar and oil.
For the caramel sauce, I simply used 1 can of evaporated coconut milk and boiled it over the stovetop using this method from The Big Man’s World. If you prefer, you can grab a jar of caramel from the supermarket instead.
As for the whipped topping, I took lead from the original recipes of the 70’s but veganized it by using TruWhip’s Vegan Whipped Topping.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CARAMEL APPLE CAKE
Caramel Apple Poke Cake starts with a vanilla cake base that was spiced up with all the fall flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. It’s similar to my Applesauce Bundt cake, with a little variation.
Once you bake it up to golden perfection, poke holes all over the slightly warm cake and drizzle it with caramel sauce. Allow the caramel to set then top it with whipped topping and more caramel sauce.
Sounds amazing doesn’t it? Well let’s break it down a little more than that.
THE APPLE SPICED CAKE LAYER
In a small bowl, make your vegan “buttermilk” by mixing dairy-free milk and vinegar then letting it rest for 10 minutes. This will make it curdle a little which mimics buttermilk. Then whisk in the oil.
Slowly pour the milk/oil mixture into the dry ingredients and simply mix until everything is combined. Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll end up with a heavy, dense cake.
Pour your beautiful apple spiced cake batter into a sheet pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
DREAMY CARAMEL SAUCE FILLING
Now there are two ways of doing this.
You know I love baking from scratch which is why I chose to make my own caramel. But the other reason is because of my son’s food allergies. Sometimes it’s just difficult to find a store-bought brand that is both safe AND Vegan. But if you have one you trust, then this is a great place to add a little shortcut.
However, if you’d like to try your hand at making caramel, then I highly recommend doing so. It’s pretty much just filling a pot with water overtop of your sweetened condensed coconut milk in a can. Bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 2 hrs. Remove from hot water, let cool (dunk it in an ice bath if you lack patience like I do), then enjoy!
Filling the cake with the caramel couldn’t be simpler! Just poke the baked cake all over with a wooden spoon handle to make holes about 1 cm deep, then just pour over that caramel! The key is to allow the caramel to sink in, then do it again. It’s amazing how much caramel sauce this cake will hold.
THE FROSTING LAYER
Because of that gorgeous, sweet and sticky, caramel sauce is sweet enough, this poke cake is topped with TruWhip’s Vegan Whipped Topping.
Although I love my vegan buttercream, I find that using a whipped topping not only makes this cake lighter, it also makes it balances out the sweetness and allows all those spices to shine through.
And honesty, I find it easier to just use whipped topping, especially when you can use a brand like TruWhip that not only tastes good, but is:
- Certified Vegan
- Non-GMO certified
- No artificial colors or flavors
- No hydrogenated oils
- No preservatives, trans fats OR high-fructose corn syrup
How many does the cake serve?
A 13x 9″ sheet pan will make about 24 slices or 12 extremely generous servings. This caramel apple cake recipe can be used to make 14 cupcakes or two 8-inch cake layers.
How should the cake be stored?
Due to the whipped frosting, the cake must be stored in the refrigerator.
How long does the cake keep for?
The caramel apple poke cake will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. Cover with cling wrap to keep it fresh longer.
Up to 5 days if you leave the whipped topping off until you’re ready to serve.
Can the cake be frozen?
The cake can be frozen, either frosted or unfrosted, and can be stored for up to 2 months. If freezing, wrap well in plastic wrap and allow to defrost in the fridge fully before serving. I recommend freezing without the whip though.
Where can I find TruWhip Plant-Based Whipped Topping?
You can click here to visit TruWhip’s store finder, but a few large retailers that carry it are Kroger, Whole Foods, Albertsons and Sprouts.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE ULTIMATE DAIRY-FREE CARAMEL POKE CAKE
This cake is just so easy to make, but here are a few tips to help you bake a perfect cake every time.
- Don’t leave out the vinegar – Adding it to your dairy-free milk creates a type of “buttermilk” which helps bring texture, flavor and moisture. If you run out of apple cider vinegar, don’t worry! Substitute the same quantity of lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Use a wooden spoon handle – Once the cake is slightly cooled, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes halfway down into the cake. This creates the best-sized holes to fill with caramel sauce without going all the way through.
- Use a spoon – Most recipes say to pour the caramel sauce over the cake, but I like to take my time and spoon it into each hole. Doing this, I find that I am able to fill each cavity about 3 times as it is absorbed into the Apple Spiced Cake. Then, I pour 3/4 of what remains overtop of the cake. The last 1/4 is to drizzle on top after the whip has been added.
- The fridge is your friend – Trust me when I say that you want to use your fridge several times, don’t skip this! The first time will be after you make the caramel sauce, because this will allow the caramel to thicken more so it doesn’t slid off your cake. The second time, is to allow the caramel layer to set once its pouring onto the cake. Lastly, since your cake will be covered in TruWhip vegan whipped topping, the fridge will keep it from melting right off of it.
I’ve made this Caramel Apple Poke Cake 3 times this past week and every time it gets devoured so fast. Whip it up your next Holiday, share with your quarantined friend pod or make any random week night because it’s that easy!
- 2 cups Dairy-free milk of choice
- 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour (*or 1:1 Gluten free Blend)
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1 3/4 Cup Organic Cane Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 Cup Neutral Oil
If you are making your own sauce, I recommend doing this first.
- In a small saucepan, add your can of coconut condensed milk and cover with warm water, about 1-2 inches above the can.
- On medium heat, heat up the saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Once it begins to simmer, reduce to low and cover. Simmer for 2-3 hours. The longer you simmer, the darker the caramel.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using tongs, remove the can from the water and submerge in a bowl of cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes, to cool down. Once cool, carefully open, and transfer to a bowl or jar.
Apple Spice Cake Layer
- Preheat oven to 350° and lightly coat 9x13" pan with non-stick spray.
- In a small bow, mix together dairy free milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit 10 minutes to curdle.
- Using a large bowl or the stand-up mixer bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt then whisk until blended.
- Whisk oil into "buttermilk" then pour into the flour mixture then use the whisk attachment and blend on medium speed, just until incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Pour into prepared cake pan then bake 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.
- Let cake cool until its just slightly warm then using the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes into cake (be sure not to go all the way through).
- Slowly fill holes with cooled caramel sauce, allowing it to soak into the cavities. Feel free to do this several times and the caramel gets absorbed, leaving room for more. Once holes are filled, spread caramel sauce onto top of cake, reserving a little for drizzling at the end. Refrigerate to allow caramel layer to set. (*If its too warm or runny, the whipped topping will slide right off).
- Spread whipped topping on caramel layer right before serving then drizzle with remaining caramel. If you prefer, you can dollop whipped cream on individual servings.
*I tested this using Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free flour and it turned out well. If using another brand, you may need to add a little more liquid.
**IIf not dairy-free or vegan, any Sweetened Condensed Evaporated Milk will work.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 212Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 90mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information is only an estimate based off of using an online calculator. Numbers will change depending on brands used.