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This homemade apple cake is one of the best ways to use your favorite orchard-fresh apples. Flavored with warm spices and packed with tart apples and crunchy walnuts or pecans, this cake is delicious as-is or topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Three slices of homemade apple cake stacked on a white plate.

I know that we haven’t even gotten to Halloween yet, but I am already thinking about Thanksgiving dessert. I’m a dessert person, I can’t help myself! 

I’ve been working on a few apple desserts this year for you to add to your Thanksgiving dessert table alongside your pumpkin cheesecake and classic pecan pie.

First up is this homemade apple cake. It’s a cake you can bake the night before and top with some ice cream and caramel sauce when serving. Or you can make it for yourself and enjoy it straight from the pan…not that I have ever been tempted to do that.

THE BEST HOMEMADE APPLE CAKE

I absolutely love baking with apples and this homemade apple cake might be one of my favorite recipes yet.

That’s saying a lot, considering how much I love recipes like apple fritter bread, apple coffee cake, and caramel apple blondies.

But there’s just something about this homemade apple cake that hits all the right notes. 

Maybe it’s the tablespoon of apple pie spice, flavoring the cake with the warmth of cinnamon and allspice and cardamom. Maybe it’s the crunchy nuts and the cinnamon sugar topping. Or maybe it’s the two full pounds of tart apples in the batter.

Actually, it’s the way all of those things work together to create a cake that is moist and complex and flavorful yet still simple to make.

Slice of homemade apple cake set on two other slices.

HOW TO MAKE MY HOMEMADE APPLE CAKE

When a cake has this much flavor going on, you might assume it is fussy to make. But that’s totally not the case here! All you need is a mixer and you’re on your way to an awesome apple cake.

Ingredients you’ll need

For this homemade apple cake, you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon homemade apple pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup full fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cups chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • ⅓ cup coarse sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

I like using my homemade apple pie spice in this cake because it has all of the spices I love in one place. And yes, a tablespoon may sound like a lot, but I promise it is the perfect amount for this recipe!

If you don’t have apple pie spice, you could swap it out for ground cinnamon.

2 pounds of apples is typically equal to about 5 or 6 medium to large apples.

The nuts are optional, so don’t worry if you need to leave them out due to a nut allergy. This cake will be equally delicious without them.

One of the best parts of this cake is the cinnamon sugar topping. You could use regular cinnamon sugar if you like, but I like using coarse sugar. My favorite coarse sugar is the Sugar in the Raw turbinado cane sugar.

Helpful resources

  • Before getting started, make sure you know how to measure flour correctly, that way this homemade apple cake comes out perfect every time.
  • Don’t stress if your brown sugar hardens in the pantry. Use my tricks for how to soften brown sugar to save it.
  • Did you run out of brown sugar entirely? Make a simple brown sugar substitute to use instead.

Making this cake

To start, mix the dry ingredients together: flour, salt, apple pie spice, and baking powder. Set this aside.

Next, add the eggs and sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. You can also use an electric hand mixer. 

Beat the eggs and sugars together at high speed for 5 minutes. Don’t try to skip or shorten this step – it’s important to mix for the full 5 minutes for the texture of the cake. The mixture will increase in volume quite a bit.

Turn the mixer to low speed and add the oil, sour cream, and vanilla, mixing until just combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated, then fold in the apples and the nuts, if using.

Spread the batter evenly into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Mix together the coarse sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle this over the cake batter.

Bake the cake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Assembled homemade apple cake in a cake pan, ready to go in the oven.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Homemade apple cake can be served warm or at room temperature. I think it’s delicious while still warm from the oven! 

This cake is delicious on its own, but it’s even more delicious when you top it with a scoop of ice cream. Vanilla ice cream and cinnamon ice cream are both amazing! 

Want to really take it over the top? Give it a drizzle of salted caramel sauce and thank me later.

FAQS

How should I store this homemade apple cake?

Store the cake covered at room temperature for 1-2 days. It will keep longer in the refrigerator; store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.

If you store the cake in the refrigerator, you can warm a slice in the microwave for about 30 seconds before enjoying.

What types of apples are best for this cake?

My go-to apples for this homemade apple cake are granny smith. They’re tart and crisp and go well with the sweetness of the cake.

Other good options would include golden delicious, macintosh and cortland. I also got a chance to try some EverCrisp apples this year and they would be delicious in this recipe, too!

Do I really have to peel the apples?

No, you can get away without peeling the apples if you don’t mind the texture of the peels in the cake. If the texture is an issue for you, though, I do recommend peeling them even though it adds an extra step.

Can I use gluten-free flour in this homemade apple cake?

I have not attempted this recipe using gluten-free flour, but many readers have tried my recipes using a 1-for-1 gluten-free baking mix with success. 

My son/mom/cousin is allergic to nuts. What can I use instead?

The nuts are totally optional in this apple cake, so don’t worry about replacing them. The cake will still be delicious without them!

Can I use yogurt instead of sour cream?

Yes! I recommend using a full-fat greek yogurt in this homemade apple cake if you don’t have or don’t like baking with sour cream.

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Homemade Apple Cake

By: Jamie
4.41 from 5 ratings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Servings: 12
This homemade apple cake is one of the best ways to use your favorite orchard-fresh apples. Flavored with warm spices and packed with tart apples and crunchy walnuts or pecans, this cake is delicious as-is or topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon homemade apple pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup full-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cups chopped walnuts or pecans optional
  • cup coarse sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, apple pie spice, and baking powder.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugars on high speed for 5 minutes. The mixture will increase quite a bit in volume. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add in the oil, sour cream, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the apples and optional nuts.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. In a small bowl, combine the coarse sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle evenly across the top of the cake. Bake cake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream and salted caramel sauce.

Video

Notes

2 pounds of apples is about 5-6 medium to large apples.

Nutrition

Calories: 464kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 231mg, Potassium: 195mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 40g, Vitamin A: 183IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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