Go Back
+ servings
Apple cider cake with maple vanilla bean buttercream, with one slice cut.

High Altitude Apple Cider Layer Cake

Heather Smoke
Moist and subtly spiced apple cider cake, frosted with fluffy maple vanilla bean buttercream, is the perfect cake for fall and holiday gatherings.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 55 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • Stand Mixer


Apple Cider Cake

  • 3 cups apple cider, reduced to 3/4 cup
  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Maple Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder (optional)
  • ⅛ - ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp maple extract
  • 2-4 tbsp milk or cream, if needed for desired consistency

Dried Apples Garnish

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large apple



  • Pour the 3 cups of apple cider into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then continue to boil until it's reduced down to 3/4 cup. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F, and spray three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • Add the reduced apple cider, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla, and whisk until combined, about 10-15 seconds.
  • Divide the batter between the greased pans. Bake on the center oven rack for about 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Set the pans on a cooling rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely before frosting.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, meringue powder and salt, mixing on low to combine.
  • Add the vanilla bean paste and and maple extract. Increase speed to medium and whip for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until very light and fluffy. Add the milk as needed for desired consistency.
  • Remove the cooled cakes from the pans. Stack, fill and frost with the buttercream.

Dried Apples

  • Combine the water and lemon juice in a bowl.
  • Thinly slice the apple (unpeeled), about 1/8 inch thick. Leave the core intact, but remove the seeds. Soak the apple slices in the water and lemon juice for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
  • Lay the apple slices in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Dry the apples in a 150-degree Fahrenheit oven, for about 1 1/2 hours, turning every 30 minutes. Note that the apples won't be crisp at this point, but dry enough to use as a cake garnish. For crisp dried apples, continue to dry in the oven, turning occasionally, until completely dry and crunchy.
  • Before the buttercream crusts over, decorate your cake with the dried apple slices.


Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container or cake carrier, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
Keyword Apple Cake, Apple Cider, High Altitude, Maple, Thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!