Browned Butter Apple Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Sheet cake

The secret to this apple-intense poke cake? Boiled Cider, a tangy reduction of fresh apple cider. Take a bite of this tender cake, and you’ll find the best kind of surprise: pockets of tart boiled cider syrup hiding under a thick coat of cream cheese frosting. Don’t miss our guide on more ways to spice up your fall baking with boiled cider!

Browned Butter Apple Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Makes about 12 servings
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (198 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams)
  • 1½ teaspoons (9 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • 3 cups (375 grams) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole buttermilk
  • Boiled Cider (recipe follows)
  • Cream Cheese Icing (recipe follows)
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook until butter turns a medium-brown color and has a nutty aroma, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and place in a small bowl. Let cool in an ice bath, stirring every 5 minutes, until butter solidifies, about 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan; spray pan again.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat browned butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean paste.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using a wooden skewer, poke holes all over cake. Pour cooled Boiled Cider over cake. Spread with Cream Cheese Icing.

Boiled Cider
Makes about 1 cup
  • 4 quarts (3,840 grams) apple cider
  1. In a large saucepan, bring cider just to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the consistency of maple syrup is reached, about 2 hours. Let cool completely before using

Cream Cheese Icing
Makes 6 cups
  • 16 ounces (450 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • 3¾ cups (450 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add butter, and beat until creamy, about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla bean paste. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth, about 2 minutes. Use immediately.


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  1. I just wanna confirm in the boiled cider recipe, it calls for 4 quarts of apple cider. Is that per haps 4 cups? Because 4 quarts is a gallon, I’m assuming that it might be a typo. Thanks for any help.

    • Hey Katie,

      Four quarts is correct! We called for four quarts because in certain grocery stores, you can only buy cider in quart sized containers, so thought this would be easiest for our bakers when buying ingredients. Happy baking!


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