This simple and homey apple cake makes the perfect fall dessert. Packed with juicy apples and autumn spices, it tastes just like a slice of apple cake your grandmother would serve.
Over the years, I’ve loved experimenting with new recipes and getting creative in the kitchen, but I will forever adore simple, nostalgic desserts, like this classic apple cake.
This cake is moist and tender and one of my favorite apple dessert recipes. The autumn spices give it a warm flavor that’s perfect for fall. It’s loaded with juicy apples and it smells divine when it’s baking!
Ingredients and substitutions
Sugar: You can use either 1 cup light brown sugar, half a cup brown sugar (either dark or light) plus half a cup granulated sugar, or 1 cup granulated sugar. Brown sugar adds a wonderful flavor to the cake, so I like to include it, but’s completely optional.
Buttermilk: Although I love using buttermilk for this cake, I’ve also tried this cake using plain yogurt and milk. All options are great. If you use just milk, replace the 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in addition to the 1 teaspoon that’s already in the recipe.
Spices: I usually use 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger or cloves for a nice, balanced spice flavor, but you can add a bit or less if you’d like. I just don’t recommend leaving out the spices, because they really give this cake an amazing flavor.
Apples: This cake is loaded with apple pieces. You can always add more or less according to your desired taste and consistency.
How to make apple cake
- Combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
- Peel and cut the apples. Peel the apples and cut them into 1/4-inch cubes. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat room temperature butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add each egg, mixing between each addition to make sure it’s completely incorporated. Then, add the vanilla.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary to combine all ingredients.
- Fold in the apples. This is the final step before baking
- Bake. Pour the batter in a greased cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes in a 350°F oven. Allow to cool completely before slicing. I love dusting this cake with some powdered sugar before serving!
Ideas for add-ins and toppings
This cake is incredibly customizable. Here are a few of my favorite add-ins if you want to switch up the flavors a bit:
- Add orange zest of 1 orange to the batter.
- Add up to 1 cup cranberries.
- Add 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped nuts: walnuts, pecans, or almonds are great.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (in addition to the vanilla extract).
- Add 1 tablespoon rum or Calvados.
- Toss the apples with some lemon juice and Calvados for extra flavor.
- Before baking, sprinkle the top of the batter with a mixture of 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for a crunchy topping.
- Sprinkle the top of the batter with flaked almonds before baking.
- Top with cream cheese frosting after the cake has completely cooled. If you do, keep the cake refrigerated.
- Drizzle cake slices with a simple vanilla sauce.
More of my favorite apple recipes
- Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake: This showstopping cake is moist and tender and topped with beautiful and delicious caramel apples.
- Caramel Apple Pie: Juicy, caramelized apples take this apple pie to new heights.
- Caramel Apple Scones: Buttery, rich, and perfectly flaky, this scones are full of delicious apples and topped with decadent caramel sauce.
- Caramel Apple Rolls: Yeasted sweet rolls are filled with a delicious apple filling for an amazing morning treat.
- Apple Crumble: This classic apple crumble is topped with crunchy cinnamon streusel and tastes absolutely perfect. Best served with vanilla ice cream!
- 1 1/3 cups (180g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon combination of your favorite spices (ground nutmeg, cloves, ginger)
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup (160ml) buttermilk
- 250 g (about 2 cups/2 medium) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch cubes (cut first, then measure)
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and flour an 8" or 9" round springform pan (8" pan will yield a taller cake).
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and spices. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating it with buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Do not over mix. Fold in apples.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve cake warm or at room temperature.
Store cake at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Cake can be frozen for up to 2 months.
וויניDecember 9, 2014 at 6:17 am
מה לעשות – אנחנו מתים על עוגות תפוחים, והמשפחה (המורחבת) מוכנה לאכול כל יום עוגה כזאת.
עם חמוציות וגם אגוזים
ניראה לי שעם קרם הווניל שלך כל פרוסה תהיה חגיגה 🙂
Jess @ whatjessicabakednextDecember 12, 2014 at 11:49 am
This cake is stunning, Shiran! Nothing beats a classic, apple cake!
ShiranDecember 13, 2014 at 7:38 am
Thank you so much Jess!
Phoebe @ Feed Me PhoebeDecember 12, 2014 at 1:03 pm
The texture looks amazing! Would love to try a gluten-free version of this cake. xo
ShiranDecember 13, 2014 at 7:44 am
Thank you! If you try a gluten-free version, I would love to hear how it turned out!
NadiaOctober 12, 2020 at 4:02 pm
This cake is amazing. Soft, moist, and just lovely. Thanks for such easy yet amazing recipe!
JanelDecember 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm
This looks amazing! I love the old-fashioned feeling recipes that remind me of times with my grandparents. Thanks!
ShiranDecember 13, 2014 at 7:43 am
Me too! those are my favorites!
RosemaryDecember 14, 2014 at 3:57 am
Shiraz thanks for such a wonderful Apple cake live traditional cakes with spices
ShiranDecember 14, 2014 at 5:05 pm
It’s my pleasure Rosemary!
CFebruary 1, 2015 at 8:16 pm
What type of apples should be used?
ShiranFebruary 2, 2015 at 1:09 pm
You can use your favorite apples, to name a few: Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, McIntosh, Honeycrisp.
AnaJune 19, 2015 at 6:54 am
Just made this cake though I made to small changes – I grated two apples instead of cutting into cubes and I omitted the buttermilkand used the same quantity of vanilla yogurt. This turned out DELICIOUS 🙂
ShiranJune 19, 2015 at 8:32 am
These substitutions sound great! I’m glad you like it! Thanks for sharing 🙂
RSeptember 18, 2015 at 12:36 am
Wow… indeed yummy…
ShiranSeptember 19, 2015 at 5:43 am
Thank you 🙂
CynthiaOctober 13, 2016 at 11:27 am
I would Luv to make this cake…however, I’m confused on spices. Ms Shiran is it 1/2 tsp of “each spice”…or 1/2 tsp apple pie spice blend.
ShiranOctober 14, 2016 at 5:42 pm
Hi Cynthia, it’s 1/2 teaspoon in total, so for example 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/4 teaspoon cloves.
CrystalAugust 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm
Bought some apples this week and wanted to make something with it. Voila! Found this recipe. I made this today and it was fantastic – light, fluffy and a nice crumbly texture. This is not my first time making one of your cakes and I’m never disappointed!!! The only thing I do is cut back a bit on the sugar, since the sugar in my country comes from cane (sweeter than the us products). You need to make publish a book! Definitely would buy it!
ShiranAugust 26, 2018 at 12:59 pm
Thank you so much Crystal! I’m so glad you enjoy the recipes 🙂
NickiSeptember 9, 2018 at 10:08 am
Shanah tovah from the north. I have been keeping my summer weight down to 57kg but the holidays and this website are going to ruin that! I am making apple cake and stumbled on yours and the vanilla sauce. So those who don’t care if their cake is pareve will bite into a bit of heaven a la Shiran.
I recently came to the conclusion that I’d much rather eat dessert (anything with butter, cream, chocolate, caramel, nuts) than real food. Your desserts fit the bill!
Thank you and happy holidays!
ShiranSeptember 10, 2018 at 7:24 am
I’m glad you enjoy the recipes, Nicki! Shana Tova!
nupharJanuary 9, 2019 at 1:53 am
would this work in a loaf pan?
(תבנית אינגליש קייק?)
LinaApril 1, 2020 at 4:50 pm
Hi! I don’t have a spring pan. Can I use a regular cake pan? I have so many apples
SvitlanaJuly 15, 2020 at 4:53 am
This is the best apple cake recipe ever! The texture of the cake is amazing – it is so fluffy!
ElliotSeptember 15, 2022 at 2:58 pm
What kind and what size pan do you recommend for this cake? Thanks
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.September 18, 2022 at 1:58 am
Hi Elliot, you can make this cake in an 8-inch or 9-inch round pan. The 8-inch pan will be thicker so you will need to bake it for an extra few minutes.
AnjaOctober 29, 2022 at 8:43 pm
Thank you for this recipe. Had some buttermilk to use up and we just love apple anything. We used a little less sugar and 3 cups of Granny Smith Apples. The cake is moist and has a good flavor. Will Make again.
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.October 31, 2022 at 3:28 am
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Anja!
MarinaFebruary 5, 2023 at 11:51 am
Hi Shiran, I would love to try this recipe. Can you use homemade buttermilk. I usually use milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice for my other recipes. Also if I substitute the buttermilk with milk or yogurt. Are the measurement amounts the same as for the buttermilk listed on your original recipe. Thank you
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.February 7, 2023 at 1:55 am
Hi Marina, yes you can use homemade buttermilk for this recipe. If you want to make your own, I recommend combining 2/3 a cup minus 1 teaspoon, and then adding 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes until it curdles and use in the recipe as you normally would 🙂
MarinaFebruary 19, 2023 at 10:37 am
Hi Shiran, thanks for the buttermilk tip. I will try it. Also if I would like to use Greek yogurt and milk or just Greek yogurt instead of buttermillk. What is the ratio measurements. Thanks again
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.February 21, 2023 at 4:45 am
Hi Marina, you can use the same about of yogurt instead of buttermilk (2/3 cup).