Apple Cake

This easy apple cake recipe is the perfect autumn treat! Moist, tender, and deliciously spiced, it's a wonderful dessert, breakfast, or afternoon snack.

apple cake

I first tried this apple cake recipe on a gray, rainy Monday. I had a mountain of work to plow through, but I managed to carve out enough time to chop the apples, whisk together the batter, and pop the cake in the oven. Like magic, it transformed my day! There’s something about a really simple, really good baking recipe that can brighten my mood in an instant, and this apple cake recipe did just that. It’s a breeze to make, and it yields a moist, tender cake that’s perfect for dessert, breakfast, or an afternoon treat. It’s jam-packed with apples, and brown sugar and cinnamon fill it with rich, spiced flavor. If you ever need a way to lift your spirits on a fall day, make this apple cake.

The recipe comes from Yossy Arefi’s new book Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings, which comes out on Tuesday, but you can pre-order it now! It’s a gorgeous collection of 50 snacking cake recipes that are easy to make and acceptable to eat at any time of day. When you get your hands on it, you won’t be able to choose what to make first. Each of Yossy’s cakes looks more fun and delicious than the next. In addition to this apple cake recipe, I have my eye on her Almond Butter Banana Cake, Citrusy Almond Cornmeal Cake, Simple Sesame Cake…I could list the whole book! More than anything, this book will make you want to bake.

In the introduction, Yossy writes, “It’s a simple luxury to bake a snacking cake for yourself or your friends and family. I hope this book inspires you to do it often, and with abandon.” Let’s make apple cake!

Apple cake recipe ingredients

Apple Cake Recipe Ingredients

According to Yossy, a snacking cake should be “low stress,” and it shouldn’t “require much besides a reasonably stocked pantry, a bowl, and a whisk.” Living up to the snacking cake standard, this easy apple cake recipe calls for basic pantry ingredients:

  • Apples, of course! They fill this cake with autumn flavor, and they make it nice and moist.
  • Dark brown sugar – I’m usually not particular about using light or dark brown sugar in baking recipes, but I highly recommend using dark brown sugar here. It gives the cake an extra-rich, molasses-y flavor.
  • Eggs – They make the apple cake wonderfully light and puffy.
  • Oil – For moisture and richness. I used olive oil here, and it worked perfectly, but a neutral-flavored oil like avocado, canola, sunflower, or grapeseed oil would be great too.
  • Vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg – They add warm, spiced flavor to this fresh apple cake.
  • Salt – Don’t skip it! It really makes the sweet, spiced flavors pop.
  • All-purpose flour – This cake is all about the apples, so you don’t need much flour – just 1 cup.
  • Baking powder and baking soda – For lift.
  • Walnuts – For crunch! You’ll stir some into the cake batter and sprinkle more on top.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Diced apples on a cutting board

How to Make Apple Cake

Because Yossy’s cakes are intended to be simple, everyday treats, almost all of them are made in a single bowl. That includes this easy apple cake recipe! Here’s how it goes:

First, peel and dice the apples. The pieces can vary in size a little based on the natural shape of the apples; aim for 1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks.

Hands whisking cake batter with a metal whisk

Second, whisk the brown sugar with the eggs until they’re pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Then, whisk in the oil, spices, vanilla, and salt.

Whisking wet and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl

Next, add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and whisk until well-combined and smooth.

Apple spice cake batter

Use the edge of the whisk to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure your batter is evenly mixed.

Folding diced apples and walnuts into cake batter

Then, add the apples and HALF the walnuts. (I accidentally dumped them all in at first – oops!) Use a rubber spatula to fold them into the batter.

Easy apple cake recipe

Pour the batter into a prepared baking pan, and use an offset spatula to gently smooth the top. Finally, sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the cake, and bake!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Fresh apple cake in a baking pan

Apple Cake Recipe Tips

  • Use good baking apples. You want tart, firm baking apples that will hold their shape in this cake. I used Gala apples, and they were excellent here. Pink Ladies, Mutsu, Jonathan, McIntosh, or Granny Smith apples would be good choices too.
  • Spread the apples evenly in the pan. To make sure that you get plenty of apples in every slice of this cake, use a spatula to evenly spread the apples in the pan after you pour in the batter. Yossy writes that they should be “well dispersed and go all the way to the edges of the pan.”
  • Tap the pan on the counter before you put it in the oven. This will help the apples settle in the pan, releasing any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter.
  • Let the cake cool before slicing and serving. As with all baking recipes, it’s tempting to devour this delicious cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. However, if you allow it to cool, it’ll have a moister, more cohesive texture and stronger spiced apple flavor. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, remove it from the pan and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon apple cake on a cooling rack

Serving Suggestions

I’m always happy eating a slice of this cinnamon apple cake plain, with or without a cup of coffee or tea to go with it. However, if you’re craving something a little more decadent, don’t hesitate to dress it up! Yossy recommends serving it with the Crème Fraîche Whip on page 180 or the Maple Coffee Glaze on page 91 of her book. It’d also be fantastic with a dollop of coconut whipped cream or traditional whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi

Apple Cake Recipe Variations

Trust me, you’re going to love this fresh apple cake recipe as written, but if you don’t have the right size pan, or if you’re craving another fruit, don’t worry! Here are a few ways you can change it up:

  • Give it a flavor boost. In this apple cake recipe, Yossy lists two ingredients as optional: whiskey and instant espresso powder. I omitted both, and the cake came out great, but if you want to intensify the flavor of this cake, go ahead and add them in. You’ll find Yossy’s recommended measurements in the recipe below.
  • Use pears. Another great fall treat! Replace the apples with chopped peeled pears, and use hazelnuts or pecans instead of walnuts.
  • Use peaches. This variation is at the top of my list to try next summer! Swap the apples for chopped peeled peaches or nectarines, and make sure to skip the espresso powder. This cake softens quickly, so eat it within a day.
  • Make a square cake. Yossy offers instructions for baking every cake in the book in different pans! How handy is that? The original recipe calls for an 8-inch square pan, but as you can see, I used a 9-inch round pan instead. The baking time is the same for both pan shapes – 30-40 minutes.
  • Make a loaf cake. Another pan option for ya! If you choose to make a loaf cake, the baking time will be longer, 45 to 55 minutes.

Let me know what variations you try!

apple cake

More Favorite Fall Treats

If you love this cinnamon apple cake recipe, check out Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings! I’m obsessed with this book, and I think you will be too. 🙂 In the meantime, enjoy one of these cozy fall treats next:

Happy baking!

Apple Cake

rate this recipe:
4.96 from 63 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Serves 8
This easy apple cake recipe is the perfect fall treat! It's moist, lightly spiced, and jam-packed with tender apples. If you don't have an 9-inch round baking pan, you can bake this cake in an 8-inch square pan or a 9x5-inch loaf pan. See the post above for baking times. Recipe reprinted from Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings by Yossy Arefi with permission from the publisher.


  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 small apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional


  • Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or coat a 9-inch round baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar and eggs until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Add the oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and whiskey and espresso powder, if using. Whisk until smooth and emulsified.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk until well-combined and smooth.
  • Use a rubber spatula to fold in the apples and ¼ cup of the nuts.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to gently smooth the top, making sure the apples are well dispersed and go all the way to the edges of the pan. Tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup nuts over the cake.
  • Bake until puffed and golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. There may be a bit of moisture on the tester from the apples. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge and carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack. Then invert it again so that it's puffy side up, if desired.
  • Store the cake, wrapped tightly, at room temperature or in the fridge for up to two days.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Evelyn

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness, this is good. I had in mind it would be perfect with morning coffee and it is that. It is not a jiffy recipe, so I made it in the afternoon with the idea of eating it the next morning. Haha, of course we did not wait until the next morning — we ate a piece still warm out of the oven. It is not super sweet. My husband prepared the apples for me and he cut the apples in about 1-inch cubes. I wasn’t about to criticize when he helped me with the most work part of the recipe. It would probably be good to cut them like the recipe says, but nice chunks of tasty apples were just fine.

    • Evelyn

      5 stars
      I forgot to mention, I did include the whisky and espresso.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Evelyn, I’m so glad you loved the cake. It really is the perfect morning treat!

  2. Annie

    5 stars
    I added extra apples (maybe 1 cup extra) and didn’t add walnuts, whisky or espresso. Finished the top with real maple syrup. Easy recipe for a delish light desert!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Mary

    5 stars
    I had some extra apples and was looking for a simple apple cake recipe and this was perfect. It is going to be added to my favorite recipes list. I made the cake yesterday, it’s almost gone and planning to make another one tomorrow!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Oh I’m so glad you loved it!

  4. Kaye Knop

    5 stars
    Just made this cake ~ due to a few with health issues I used Keto Flour and Monk Brown sugar… Fingers crossed it works. Looks and smells fantastic!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Kaye, I hope you enjoyed the cake!

  5. Anna

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice already this week! So delicious and easy. And I substituted King Arthur’s GF flour and it worked wonderfully.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Anna, I’m so glad you loved the recipe. Great to know that the GF flour worked too!

  6. Ali from

    5 stars
    I am the worst baker and live at a higher altitude outside Aspen, CO which does not help and this cake came out perfect and was so easy! I hesitated on the whisky but glad. used it as it added a subtle depth of flavor. Did not have espresso powder on hand but will try that next time. The perfect fall treat for one of the fall crops we do have here in CO, apples!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ali, I’m so glad your cake was perfect!

  7. Leslie

    4 stars
    Can I make muffin toppers or muffins instead of a 9” cake? How would you recommend adjusting the cooking time? I just thought freezing them individually would keep them moist and I could take out only individual portions as needed.

    Thanks for your help and time,
    Blessings from our Lord and Savior Jesus 🙂

  8. Sarah

    5 stars
    This was scrumptious! We ate it for dessert and breakfast. It didn’t last long. It wasn’t too sweet and had a delicious flavor. It was probably be making a return appearance very soon.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  9. Nicole-Ann

    5 stars
    This recipe is phenomenal! I omitted the nuts and added a bit more cinnamon than recommended and it came out beautifully spiced. I might add a few caramel or butterscotch chips in lieu of nuts next time I make it…

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Catherine

    5 stars
    I made this cake and it is delicious. I made a few changes using 5 ounces of applesauce instead of oil and a 1/2 cup of sugar instead of 3/4 cup. I baked it in a loaf pan and it was done in 40 minutes. It’s definitely a keeper.

  11. Susan

    5 stars
    Love this cake! I had to improvise as I had no brown sugar. Strangely I did have blackstrap molasses and used it instead of brown sugar. I also added ground cloves. I made a dusting of white sugar, cinnamon and cloves and used that to dust the pan with after greasing it with coconut oil. I did use coconut oil as I will not cook with corn oil. Instead of espresso, I used 2 tsp. Of Nescafé instant hazelnut coffee dissolved with a bit of water. Love this cake and easy to modify ingredients with VERY DESIRABLE results.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Susan, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

      • Susan

        When I cook, I improvise. I think that is why I am not great as baking but this recipe was really flexible, loved it!

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          I’m so glad you loved it!

    • Chris Russo

      this sounds wonderful. I want to use molasses instead of brown sugar too. I’d skip the coffee a that’s not my thing.

  12. Leslie

    Hello it’s Leslie again:)

    Does this cake freeze well?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      it does!

      • Viktoria

        5 stars
        Hey Jeanine! Could you please tell me how to unfreeze this (any!) cake?

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          Hi Victoria, I’d just leave it at room temp or microwave it!

    • Susan

      Yes, it does freeze well! Just be sure to have it wrapped really well.

  13. Leslie

    Can I use baking cocoa instead of the espresso coffee?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Leslie, I would just skip it, it’s an optional ingredient and delicious with out.

  14. Kayne

    Simple recipe and the cake is delicious! I reduced the brown sugar to 1/2 c and it was the perfect level of sweetness for me. Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Reba

    5 stars
    This is so yummy! I baked it once and had to make it again. It’s in the oven now and I can’t wait for a warm piece of it. The whiskey is wonderful in it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  16. Amber

    5 stars
    I loved this cake! I baked it for 35 minutes and it was perfectly golden brown and delicious.

  17. Gretchen

    5 stars
    This is delicious! I was hesitant to add the whiskey and espresso powder but I’m so glad I did! It just adds that depth of flavor without a noticeable whiskey or coffee taste. 30 minutes and it was perfectly cooked through (at sea level).

  18. Bev

    5 stars
    I took this apple cake to a party last week and everyone said they loved it. I added a 1/4 tsp. of allspice.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was a hit!

  19. Janie

    I made this tonight and it is the first recipe from your wonderful site that was a failure!
    The entire center is gooey, but the edges are perfectly baked and very tasty. I used a springform pan so I am trying to rebake the center (I have little hope), but the outside edges are edible so it’s not a total loss. I live at high altitude, so expect that is the culprit!
    I followed the recipe exactly.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Janie, I’m sorry to hear, it’s come out perfectly for us every time. I don’t have experience with high altitude baking and how that would change things.

    • Ali from

      4 stars
      I had the same thing happen and we live at 7,000 feet, and used the same kind of pan. I guiltily ate the perfect outside, then put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes until the minute was cooked through. It puffed up and then collapsed. I wasn’t serving it to guests, so it didn’t matter that it was a mangled mess by the time i cut it into it into mismatched pieces–it still tasted really good!

      Here’s a helpful page I found about how to adjust ingredients and oven temps at altitude. It’s really about getting your baked goods to rise slower. In both cases, our cakes rose too fast and left the middle undercooked.

  20. Jeannette Pomeroy

    HI! This cake is wonderful. I have made it to recipe. To make a lower fat version, I substituted applesauce for the oil. One little dish of unsweetened applesauce for the 1/3 cup of oil. It is spectacular without sacrificing any flavor

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.