How To Make Apple Cake


Apple pie. Dutch apple pie. Caramel apple pie. French apple pie. Okay, I got it, there are about a million different apple pie recipes. (Five million, actually, according to Google.)

But you don’t see apple cake very often. Which doesn’t make any sense to me, because this thing is awesome. It’s my wife’s great-great-grandmother’s recipe. Yes, the same one we got the bread bowl from.


6 medium apples (about 4 cups)
1¼ cups sugar
2 cups flour
3 large eggs
¾ cups oil
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt


Pre-heat the oven to 350° and peel the apples.

I’m a bit crazy about getting every possible bit of apple when I chop them. But my wife was making this cake, and she prefers getting it done faster. So I learned a different way to chop them. Just cut quarters off the outside, leaving a square plug with the seeds in it.

Then it’s easy to lay the pieces flat, slice and dice them.

With the apples set aside, combine the oil, vanilla and sugar and mix well.

Then add the eggs one at a time and mix each one in. Or you could beat the eggs together in a separate bowl and add them all at once.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a sifter.

Tap the rim of the sifter until it’s all in, then mix again.

Stir until there are no lumps.

At this point the batter is already delicious. And you’ve got some diced apples standing by. So …

Now add half the diced apple and half the chopped nuts.

Mix carefully, so you don’t crush the apples, then pour into a greased and floured 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Distribute the rest of the apples evenly over the top of the cake and press them into the batter. Then top with the rest of the nuts.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. You might have to hunt around to find a spot you can stick it in without hitting an apple.

Let it cool for a couple of minutes, but unlike most cakes you’ll want to try some of this hot from the oven.

Some people like to put a caramel topping on this. I like it straight.

And that’s it.

If you don’t eat this all within the first day or two, cut it and wrap individual pieces tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. It does not keep for very long. Trust me on this one.

Apple Cake

Apple Cake


  • 6 medium apples (about 4 cups)
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cups oil
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Peel the apples and dice to small bite-sized pieces. In a large mixing bowl combine the oil, vanilla and sugar and mix well. Beat the eggs and mix in. Sift in the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and mix just until combined.

Add half the diced apple and half the chopped nuts. Mix carefully and pour into a greased and floured 9" x 13" baking dish. Distribute the rest of the apples evenly over the top of the cake and press them into the batter. Then top with the rest of the nuts.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


  1. Yay cake! Always much better than pie. Though such treasonous sentiments cannot be spoken aloud in my home, where apple pie is revered above all else. Except by me.

  2. That looks so delicious – what a wonderful cake! I hope I’m not being sacrilegious here when I say it would be fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – oh yum!

  3. Oh, my mom just came down and made that with my girls and it was scrumptious. But I can’t imagine it lasting too long, lol.

  4. Kristin, I think I like the cake better, too. Although part of that is that I’m super picky about the pie, and it’s much rarer to get one I really like.

    Stephanie, I thought I was going to have ice cream with it. I didn’t know until the cake was done that the girls had finished it the night before.

    Humincat, we messed up and put the (covered) baking dish on the table next to the window. With the sun coming through. So yeah, warm cake with warm fruit on top … I had to toss half of it. I still well up when I think about it.

  5. Nice, apple cake rules. My sister makes one that is killer, but she won’t share the recipe. I’ll have to make this and call her while I’m eating it. Heh.

  6. Bah, I’ve said it before, but I hate secret recipes.

    1. Does hers taste better because yours isn’t as good?

    2. Would you rather be known as the person who makes the greatest cookies in the neighborhood, or as the person who invented chocolate chip cookies?

    Sharing is good.

  7. Sortin'ItAllOut says:

    I just had to comment on this one! I just LOVE my mother’s apple cake! It is so good, and in my opinion not only is apple cake better, but also so much easier to make than pie (I fight with pie crust).

    My favorite way to eat it is to heat it, then add milk.

    I could eat the whole cake without cooking it–with the dipping method shown. So true! Apples and apple cake batter are delicious.

    Grammy’s Recipes

  8. Yes, I think it’s easier, too.

  9. This looks amazing. I think I would like it with the caramel sauce for an extra special treat.

  10. “Bah, I’ve said it before, but I hate secret recipes… Sharing is good.”

    Hear, hear. I would rather share the joy, myself. But then again, that’s why I blog.

  11. Meg, I haven’t made it myself yet, but here’s the caramel recipe I’m planning to use. If you use less honey it should stay thinner and you should be able to pour it over the cake.

    Bob, it’s a movement! I’ll have to do a No Secret Recipes logo.

  12. Mike Stockman says:

    I made this today with butter instead of the oil, just because I like butter in baking. The batter is much stiffer that way (not nearly as runny as it looked in the photos), but it came out great. Great recipe. It also got lots of compliments when I brought (most of) it to a party tonight.

    Should I have done anything else differently when I substituted butter for oil? Butter comes with some added moisture, but the resulting cake didn’t seem overly moist. Just right, I’d say.

    Oh, and I also left out the nuts. Can’t stand nuts in my food. Baker’s prerogative.

  13. Did you melt the butter before adding it? I’m asking because I’d like to try it that way next time. I’ve substituted butter for oil in frying, but never in baking. (That’s my wife making the cake, she’s the baker.)

  14. “Bob, it’s a movement! I’ll have to do a No Secret Recipes logo.”

    Nice. If you make one, I’ll put it up.

  15. This is so great — I love the look of this recipe and can almost taste it.

    I also love seeing so many men talking about baking a cake recipe. Love you guys!

    I agree with the “No Secret Recipes” movement too!

  16. This looked so easy that I broke my rule about baking desserts and tried it out this morning!

    So good that there weren’t any leftovers! thanks for the recipe…

  17. This looks really good. I made a recipe called Apple Pie Cake the other day from this site and I doubted the length of time it needed in the oven. That was stupid. I should have just followed the directions as it wasn’t done. I plan to try it again this week. I topped it with Cream Cheese Frosting. Yours looks really yummy, added you to my blogroll!

  18. Sweet Bird says:

    That looks outstanding. I’m so making that.

  19. This is so not fair. I put up three, four, sometimes five recipes a week. But every time I put up one of my wife’s recipes everyone says they’re going to make it.

  20. Mike Stockman says:

    Did you melt the butter before adding it?

    No, I just softened the butter in the microwave a bit (I keep my butter in the freezer, so this was necessary), then mixed it with the sugar until it was fluffy, then vanilla, eggs, etc.

    I always like butter better than oil (or, heaven forbid, Crisco) for baking, although there may come a day when my cardiologist gives me a different opinion.

    I remember reading something about how melting butter is very different from just soft butter, probably in my Alton Brown cookbook, but I can’t recall why right now.

    If you do make it again with butter, post any different results so I can figure out if mine came out similar to the oil version.

  21. What a cake!

  22. Mike Stockman says:

    Oh, and one more thing: I found that your photos, and my result, didn’t really look as appetizing as it really tasted. No offense. It just looks kind of like a lumpy rice krispies treat. Sorry. Tastes great, though.

    So if anyone has any suggestions for improving the presentation value of this recipe, I’m sure we’d all benefit.

    Or maybe I’m just being overly sensitive to appearance. Feel free to tell me to shut up and eat my cake.


  23. “It just looks kind of like a lumpy rice krispies treat.”

    Mike, I just saw a recipe on a blog yesterday of an apple cake that was very pretty, the apples were on the bottom, hidden inside the cake. Maybe try that?

  24. Mike Stockman says:

    Thanks, Amanda. That’s probably a good idea. It occurred to me as I was making it to include all of the apples in the batter, instead of half in the batter and half on top. I’m sure it would taste fine that way, but might still look odd.

    Another possibility would be to dice 3/4 of the apples and mix them in the batter, and only slice (not dice) the remaining apples and lay them in a single layer on top.

    Fortunately, experimenting to see what works best isn’t such a chore. :-)

  25. Mike, shut up and eat your cake. :-)

    Seriously, though, I thought it looked pretty yummy. Of course I could be projecting, because I knew how good it tasted.

    Hmm, that’s a tough one. How can I tell when it looks delicious, rather than simply reminding me of something that I know first-hand really was delicious?

  26. MMMMMMMmmmmm cake…..

    You have inspired me to make this today!

  27. Rachel, my mother-in-law just made one last night. I think I’m going to go steam some of it for breakfast.

    Oh, and she topped it with powdered sugar. Yum.

  28. Drew, I made this cake tonight and it was a big hit. My daughter is allergic to raw apples, but can have them cooked. She loved it, and the flavor was really nice. Thanks for the recipe!

  29. Wendy, I've never heard of that. What is it in raw apples that is destroyed by cooking? And just how "cooked" do they need to be?

    Oh, and I'm glad your daughter liked it. :-)

  30. I'm not sure exactly what it is in the apples that changes when cooked. She ate tons of apples when she was little, but if she eats them now, her throat and lips start to itch. It may not be a full blown allergy, but maybe just a sensitivity…we haven't wanted to see how far it goes for fear she won't be able breathe or something. When we first noticed it, it was just the peel she couldn't eat, then later the whole apple. She can have applesauce, juice, pie…anything where it's cooked with no problem. Maybe it's an enzyme or something. My mom is the same way with cherries. Can't eat them raw, but can eat them cooked. We are a weird family!

    The cake has totally disappeared…for this family of four to devour a cake in one day is, well…unusual. It's so good!

  31. I'm gearing up for this now that apples are in season again. YAY! Does it matter what type of oil you use? I'm still a beginner. :)

    Thanks! Love all your recipes (especially both of the macaroni and cheeses).


  32. Traci, I really love tart apples, so I'd happily use Granny Smith in just about anything. They're pretty firm, though, so you definitely know when you're biting into a piece. If you want a more even texture, start with something softer like a McIntosh.

  33. Thanks Drew! I love the tart ones too and was hoping they would work. I was actually asking about the oil. I only keep olive oil around, and there seems to be a lot of internet debate as to whether vegetable and olive can be used interchangably. Do I need to use vegetable or canola, or am I ok with the olive oil?

  34. D'oh! You said oil, not apples. I'm so used to answering the other one.

    Okay, texture-wise the olive oil will be the same. Extra virgin may have a noticeable flavor, though some people like that in baked goods. (I'm not one of them.) I always use olive pomace, which is more refined. It matches extra virgin for health properties, but has no flavor and a high smoke point.

  35. Hey Drew!
    I know this is a year later after you posted this recipe, so I don’t know if you’ll see this but my “apple cake” is in the oven as we speak. Smelling up the entire apartment for when my boyfriend gets home from work! I was looking through your pictures after I threw the cake in and noticed that the cinnamon inside the bowl looked much a lot more than a teaspoon. Should I have put more in? Or is it kind of a “more cinnamon” preference that you and your wife like?
    Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes.
    Can’t wait to try more!!!

  36. It does look like more — I don’t know what’s going on there — but 1 teaspoon is what we use.

  37. I just made the cake and am anxiously awaiting it to cook. However, my batter was so thick -not at al like yours in the picture. I went over everything, and I’m sure i did everything correctly. Whether it turns out like yours or not, I’ll chalk it up to personal error on my part and try the cake again. It looks too good not to master. I love baking and this cake looks too good not to get right.

  38. been cooking this apple cake for 2 years allways a big hit. only thing i do differnt is add a half teas. of nut meg. because i think it gos well with the other ingre.

  39. I added a crumble like with Apple crisp. Oats, butter n brown sugar. It made presentation beautiful. Thanks for the great recipe!

  40. Does it have to be baked in the pan that you suggested or can it be baked in a different pan, like a bundt cake pan etc.?

    • This is a very dense, very moist cake. Something with a deeper cross-section, like a bundt pan, would take much longer to bake. I’m sure it would work, but the cooking time would be much longer.

  41. Rosemarie Ygoña says:

    i just try it

  42. I made this cake last night! It was AMAZING. but i decided to leave out the peacans and cook it in a bundt pan! The Bundt pan only took about an hour. Very Good!

  43. thank you sir!


  1. […] in my What’s On The List folder, I noticed I had saved this “delectable looking” Apple Cake by Drew Kime on his blog which “ironically” is called How To Cook Like Your Grandmother […]

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