Little compares to the warm and inviting aroma of apple cake! Filled with lots of spices, brown sugar, and even the juice from the apples themselves, this is probably one of my ultimate favorite cakes, whether it happens to be apple season or not.
Apple Cake, a Cake for All Seasons!
I love it when the inspiration to whip up something deliciously sweet and fragrant comes out of sheer practicality and the need to de-clutter the fridge!
When I was recently looking to clean out my fruit drawer, I came across a big handful of gala apples that were not necessarily as crisp and fresh as I’d prefer as a snack; but they were perfect for use in a moist, delicious apple cake.
And because you’ll never need to prod me too much to get me into my kitchen to bake a cake (my personal weakness, and my way of expressing my love!), I was only too happy to oblige and put these apples to good use.
The buttery aroma is fantastic, and somehow, one slice never seems to be enough!
For the Best Apple Cake, You Need the Juice Too!
That combination of apples and spice baking away in a cake (or in apple hushpuppies, or in an apple snickerdoodle dessert) always reminds me a bit of an apple orchard or “U-Pick” farm that fries up some of those delectable and irresistible apple donuts or fritters on the weekends.
Don’t you love all those apple goodies…?
It’s one of the coziest scents that I can think of, one that contains the darker, more caramel nuances with the combination of butter, brown sugar, cider and cinnamon—it smells like fall!
And so, for my cozy apple cake recipe, I adore using fresh-pressed apple juice in the actual batter of the cake, as it provides extra flavor and a sweet, soft crumb; and I get this juice directly from the apples that I’m using in the cake.
A portion of the juice is added to the batter, and a portion is later used as a light “syrup” that’s poured over top of the baked cake, while it’s still warm, so that it gets absorbs for extra flavor and moisture.
Talk about “fresh-pressed” juiciness at its best!
Here’s how I make my apple cake:
- I preheat my oven to 350°, and spray my bundt cake pan with cooking spray.
- Using two bowls, I grate my apples on a box grater placing my grated apples into one of the bowls; then, I take handfuls of my grated apples, and squeeze them tightly over the other bowl to get all the juice out of them. Then I separate out two portions of the juice, one for the batter and one for the “syrup” at the end.
- Next, I whisk together my dry ingredients in a large bowl, followed by my wet ingredients.
- When ready, I add about 1/3 of my dry ingredients at a time into my wet ingredients and fold those in; I finish by folding in my grated apples along with about 6 tablespoons of the apple juice.
- I pour my batter into my cake pan, and bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until the cake is baked through.
- While the cake bakes, I prep my quick “syrup” by adding the rest of the apple juice, plus a touch of brown sugar, to a small sauce pan; I allow it to simmer for a few minutes until it slightly reduces and thickens, then set it aside.
- Once the cake is baked and finally turned out of the pan, I slowly pour the apple “syrup” over it and allow that to soak in.
- When the cake is completely cooled, I pour over my finishing touch, my sour cream drizzle!
This cake is unbelievably moist and delicious, and let me tell you, that “Country Apple Pie” scented candle in my kitchen has nothing on the aroma of this apple cake!
Tips and Tidbits for Apple Cake:
- “Them apples”: I like to uses gala apples for this cake, as they’re not super expensive and have lots of very “apple-y” flavor. Plus, they’ve typically got a good amount of juice in them, which is perfect for this recipe.
- Aromatic spices: Because I really want that apple flavor to shine in this apple cake recipe, I tend to stick to only a hint of ground cinnamon in the batter. But if you like a lot of spice, you can always add in more cinnamon than what my recipe calls for. You can even add a few others: all-spice, a touch of nutmeg, perhaps a hint of cardamom…
- Cake pans: With the bundt pan I use, it typically takes about 50-55 minutes to bake the cake. You could also use a 9×13” rectangular pan, and then it would take roughly 38-40 minutes, or two 9” can pans, which would take closer to 24-26 minutes. (These are rough times for the other pans—make sure to check as you bake.)
- Butter, for aroma: Melted, unsalted butter is my preferred fat in this apple cake—the flavor and aroma is wonderful! However, you can substitute vegetable oil, if you prefer.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Apple Cake Ingredients:
• 7 medium-small gala apples, unpeeled
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 1/4 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided use
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup melted unsalted butter, slightly cooled
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional garnish)
Sour Cream Drizzle Ingredients:
• 4 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
• 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
–Prepare the cake: preheat the oven to 350°, and mist a bundt pan, or similar style cake pan, with cooking spray.
–Prepare two bowls, and begin by grating the unpeeled gala apples (using a box grater onto) a work surface; then, take a handfuls of the grated apples, and squeeze as much of the juice out of them into one of the bowls as possible, and place the squeezed-out apples into the other bowl; repeat the process until all the grated apples have been squeezed of their juice, and set them aside for a moment.
–Strain the squeezed-out juice, and set it aside for a moment. (You will need a total of 3/4 cup of juice for the recipe, so if your apples yield more than that, feel free to drink the rest!)
–In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon, and whisk to aerate and blend; set aside for a moment.
–To a large bowl, add the 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, the granulated sugar, the eggs and the vanilla, and with a hand mixer, beat those ingredients on low for about 2 minutes until fluffy; next, add in the melted butter, and continue to mix for another 30 seconds or so, until incorporated.
–To the sugar/egg/butter mixture, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, and carefully mix that until incorporated; add another 1/3, and mix to incorporate, then the final 1/3 and again mix to incorporate well.
–Finally, add the grated apples into the batter along with about 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) of the reserved apple juice squeezed from the grated apples, and fold that in with a spatula until well blended.
–Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean; allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes.
–While the cake bakes, prepare your sour cream drizzle: in a small bowl, carefully combine the sour cream and the powdered sugar with a whisk until smooth, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water to reach your desired consistency; keep in fridge until ready to glaze your cake.
–Prepare your apple “syrup”: combine the remainder of the reserved apple juice (roughly 1/2 cup) with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small sauce pan, and allow it to very gently simmer for a few minutes until glossy and reduced by almost half.
–Once the cake is baked and has slightly cooled in the pan for about 15 minutes, carefully turn it out onto a wire rack, and poke a few holes with the wooden skewer into the top of it; pour the apple syrup/reduction over the turned-out cake very slowly, allowing it to absorb into the cake, but don’t worry if it doesn’t completely absorb—it will continue to do so as the cake cools.
–Once the cake is completely cooled, pour over the sour cream drizzle, allow to set, and serve!
Cook’s Note: This post was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!