Fresh Apple Cake

There’s something about baking this homemade fresh Apple Cake that warms the soul! It’s the perfect Fall dessert when apples are in season and it’s super easy to make! Plus that, your house will smell amazing!

Apple cake slice with glaze on white plate.

This is my Grandma’s apple cake recipe. Fresh apples are the key ingredient and you only need to peel and core three big apples!  Use Honeycrisp, Fuji or Gala apples for best results.

I found this vintage recipe in a Piggly Wiggly bag of recipes I inherited from my Grandmother. The first time I made it I thought, “oh dear…this batter is thick!”

But, as I continued the instructions, it turned out perfectly…I’ve added an Apple Butter glaze because…who doesn’t like glaze?

Why you’ll love this recipe!

This old fashioned apple cake recipe uses simple pantry ingredients you probably already have on hand.

  • Simple ingredients – nothing fancy or complicated! Apples, flour, sugar, eggs and a few others…and there’s no butter in this apple cake recipe! 
  • Easy – the hardest part is coring the apples, seriously! After that, it’s lickity-split simple!
  • Flavorful – apple cake (with or without pecans or walnuts…your call) has a really nice texture and it’s not too sweet; just the flavor of baked apples

What I especially like about this particular fresh apple cake recipe is that there’s no cinnamon…I’m not a big fan of it and every other apple recipe has cinnamon…this is a pleasant surprise!

You can add cinnamon if you like, or use a little Apple Pie spice – it contains cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice – three warm spices that pair beautifully with apples.

Here’s what you’ll need

First, get an apple corer. Trust me. The rest is a breeze.

The cake batter ingredients are:

  • Honeycrisp apples – 3 large ones or 4 small ones
  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar-white granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Oil -vegetable oil or canola oil
  • Salt

The glaze ingredients are: butter, brown sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, Apple Pie spice and a pinch of salt.

Fresh Apple Cake ingredients labeled on counter
Fresh Apple Cake ingredients

How to make it

This scratch apple cake is pretty easy to make with just a few simple steps:

  • The first step of marinating the chopped apples in sugar is critical to the recipe.
  • This step is essential: Do Not Skip It
  • Core and peel the apples. Chop them into fine pieces.
  • Place cored and diced apples in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle 2 cups of sugar over the diced apples; combine well; cover and refrigerate for 1-hour.
  • This marinating step is critical to the recipe as the sugar and apples form a liquid that thins the batter.
Three cored and peeled apples in a glass bowl

The batter is initially thick but, once you add the sugar coated apples and the liquid that forms from them, the batter thins out….. do not freak out when you first make it!

Process shots how to make apple cake in a collage
  • First, core and peel the fresh apples, dice the apples into small pieces (you want very small chunks of apple) and place them in a bowl and sprinkle sugar over them; combine well; cover and let sit in the refrigerator for one hour. 
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F
  • Next, lightly oil and flour your cake pan and set aside – you can use a tube pan or Bundt pan for this moist apple cake recipe
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; (if you’re adding cinnamon, add it now); you can do this by hand; you don’t need a stand mixer or electric mixer
  • In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients: lightly beaten eggs, oil and vanilla extract; add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and combine well
  • Next, add in the diced apples and the sugar liquid to the cake batter if;you want to add chopped pecans to your fresh apple cake, add them to the batter now and combine well
  • Pour batter into the prepared baking dish
  • Bake for 50 minutes; check for doneness by using a toothpick or skewer to test the center of the cake

Make the glaze

Melt one stick of butter in a small saucepan; add brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla extract, Apple Pie spice and a pinch of salt; Heat until sugar is dissolved and the glaze begins to bubble a little; remove from heat and let it sit a few minutes; drizzle over the warm apple cake

The glaze recipe makes about 1 cup, which is plenty to drizzle over the cake, however, if you want additional apple butter glaze for individual cake slices, you might want to double the glaze recipe.

Recipe Tips

  • Once the toothpick comes out clean, transfer the baking pan to a wire rack and allow the apple cake to rest for 15 minutes
  • Kind of apples to use: I recommend Honeycrisp apples; they seem to be the best apples for this delicious cake
  • Note: this easy apple cake recipe does not contain any cinnamon as many other apple cake recipes do. Please feel free to add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to your cake batter if you prefer
  • Or add 1/2 teaspoon of Apple Pie Spice to the batter. Personally, I like the simplicity of the simple apple flavor with a little crunch of chopped pecans
  • If you want to make this apple cake recipe in a loaf pan, you might need two baking pans to hold all the batter; this would make a nice apple coffee cake
  • Cut cake slices with a serrated knife; the cake tends to crumble when cut with a normal knife due to the texture of the apples and pecans
  • You might wanna double the glaze recipe…this recipe makes enough to drizzle over the top, but it’s so good, you might wanna make more for each slice!
  • My cake “puffed-up” on top after I baked it…so the bottom wasn’t level on the cake plate; if this bothers you, level it out with a knife before you plate it

Serving suggestions

  • I prefer to serve this delicious apple dessert with a nice cup of coffee or a cup of afternoon tea
  • You can also serve it with a scoop of ice cream which is always a big hit

This old-fashioned fresh apple cake takes about 50-minutes to bake, but as all things go, the actual baking time depends upon your oven.

My oven is old and I had to cook mine for an additional 10 minutes…check the center with a knife or bamboo skewer to determine when it’s done. The knife/skewer should come out clean.

Allow the cake to cool before turning it out on a platter; you can loosen the warm cake with a spatula first.

Sliced apple cake on white plate with glaze

Fresh apple cake is probably one of the “healthiest desserts” you’ll find. Fresh apples with all natural ingredients and no preservatives…perfect for any occasion!

If you make this recipe, please leave a rating and comment below! I love to hear from you!

Apple cake with glaze on blue plate.

Fresh Apple Cake

Vintage homemade fresh apple cake with an apple butter glaze
5 from 23 votes
Print Text Recipe Rate
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Marinating time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 16 slices
Author: Anecia Hero

Equipment

  • Apple corer

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups apple , cored, peeled and finely chopped, (about 3 large apples)
  • 2 cups sugar . to sprinkle over apples
  • 4 whole eggs .lightly beaten
  • 1 cup oil .vegetable or canola; plus a teaspoon for prepping pan
  • cups flour .all-purpose; plus a teaspoon for prepping pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt table
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans (optional) See recipe notes
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or Apple Pie Spice (optional) See recipe notes

Glaze Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter , salted or unsalted
  • cup brown sugar packed
  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon Apple Pie spice
  • pinch of salt to taste (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, combine peeled, cored and finely chopped apples and sugar; cover and let sit in refrigerator for one hour
    4 cups apple, 2 cups sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Lightly oil and flour pan; set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt)
    2½ cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Add lightly beaten eggs, oil and vanilla extract to dry ingredients; combine well
    4 whole eggs, 1 cup oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add apples and their sugar liquid and pecans (optional) to batter; stir until well combined. If you like cinnamon in your apple cake, add it now. Combine well
    4 cups apple, ½ cup finely chopped pecans (optional), ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or Apple Pie Spice (optional)
  • Pour batter into prepared pan
  • Bake for 50 minutes; check for doneness with a knife or skewer; allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before removing cake from pan

Glaze

  • Melt butter in saucepan on medium heat; add brown sugar, powdered sugar, Apple Pie spice, vanilla extract and salt; cook until sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble a little; remove from heat and let set and thicken for a few minutes; drizzle over cake
    1 stick butter, ⅔ cup brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon Apple Pie spice, pinch of salt, ¼ cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)

Notes

  • Make sure you finely dice (almost mince) the apples-you do not want big apple chunks in the cake 
  • Do not panic if the batter is thick at first! Once you add the apples and their sugar liquid, it thins.
  • If you want a hint of cinnamon, add 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon of Apple Pie spice to the cake batter.
  • The original recipe called for a cup of pecans; you can use either finely chopped pecans or walnuts-or eliminate nuts altogether  
  • If you use any kind of nuts in your cake, be sure to mince them finely…the cake doesn’t slice very well with big chunks of nuts
  • Prior to removing cake from pan, run the straight edge of a knife around the perimeter of the cake to loosen
  • For best results, use a serrated knife to slice cake
Glaze: 
This recipe makes 1 cup of glaze.
  • You might wanna double the glaze recipe; this makes enough to drizzle over the cake, but there’s not much left to drizzle over individual slices
Key to slicing a pretty apple cake: 
Make sure your apples and pecans or nuts are diced into very, very small pieces! (almost “minced”)
I made this once and didn’t dice the pecans enough and it didn’t look so pretty when I sliced it. It was good, but didn’t slice like I wanted. Tiny pieces!!!

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 378kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 2gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 320mgPotassium: 64mgFiber: 1gSugar: 33gVitamin A: 195IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
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7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We love this cake!! I call it “ the travel cake” because someone in the family always makes it to eat when we go somewhere on a longer trip!! It’s always one to have at home, too!! Can’t count the many times I have made it!!!

  2. 5 stars
    Best cake ever! My mom made this cake and I had lost her recipe, so when I found SmartyPants Kitchen, I was elated!!!!
    Wonderful cake to eat right in your hand, on the way out the door, like my sons like to do. I do not use the glaze, because it is so delicious as is, so it is possible to grab and go! :). I also mix a little cinnamon with my sugar to marinate my apples, simply as a family favorite combination.
    Thank you for the great recipe!!!

  3. 5 stars
    This was the best apple cake I’ve ever made or had. The only change I did was put melted butter & brown sugar in the pan and added thinly sliced apples on top. Then I added a few golden raisins to the batter and spooned the batter on top. It was amazing. I am going to make the next one with chopped pecans added to the batter.