This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This is a classic recipe for homemade, fresh Apple Cake made with lots of Granny Smith apples and flavored deliciously with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and orange zest. It’s a quintessential recipe to have in your recipe boxes for Fall! Similar to my Apple Coffee Cake but with less ingredients and less steps. Read: so easy!
I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe for Fresh Apple Cake with you all today! It’s a super-simple recipe that is made from scratch using pantry ingredients and fresh apples peeled and diced to keep your cake moist and fresh. It’s truly a delicious recipe you will want to make again and again. Simplicity at its best.
What is the Difference Between a French Apple Cake and this Apple Cake?
While some of you might not know the difference between the two, there is a difference! A French Apple Cake is a custard-like cake flavored with rum and no spices. A plain Apple Cake, like this recipe, is a butter-based cake batter flavored with warm spices that has a tender and moist crumb-texture. While both apple cakes are delicious, they are very different desserts.
How to Make Apple Cake
Start my prepping your 8 or 9-inch round pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper and/or spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together. This includes, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Whisking is basically the poor man’s way of sifting the ingredients to make them light and airy so they incorporate easily into the cake batter with less mixing. Less mixing means less gluten that is formed which in turn means your cake is more tender.
Prepare the Apples
Even though this is a smaller 8 or 9-inch round cake, it is filled with 3/4 pound of Granny Smith Apples that are peeled, cored and diced small. It’s about two medium sizes green apples.
Best Apples for Apple Cake
While any apple will work in this Apple Cake Recipe, Granny Smith are most commonly recommended because of their texture after baking and lower moisture content. Some other kinds of apples while sweeter fresh, bake up a little grainy and that doesn’t exactly yield the best finished product. Also, while you want some liquid from the apples to keep your cake moist, some types of apples can leave your cake soggy which again doesn’t a good cake make. These are just some of the reasons Granny Smiths reign supreme not only for this recipe, but for my Apple Pie, Salted Caramel Apple Crumble and Buttery Apple Crisp recipes.
Should You Peel Apples for Apple Cake?
Yes! I would recommend peeling, coring and dicing your apples for the best Apple Cake. Apple peel after being baked are a little chewy and are kinda-sorta really ugly. While completely edible, I much prefer peeling my apples.
Make the Apple Cake Batter
Cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and orange zest together in the bowl of a stand mixer until completely smooth. This can take 2-3 minutes. Use the paddle attachment for stirring.
Add in the dry ingredients completely into the wet and stir until just combined. Scrape all the edges and bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is completely smooth and evenly mixed.
Bake the Cake
Fold in the fresh apples by hand using a rubber scraper. Spread into prepared cake pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. This cake will puff up slightly, but because of all the fresh apples, it won’t have a huge rise which is totally normal.
Cool your cake at least 20 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely. While I like enjoying my apple cake slightly warm with a little powdered sugar, you can definitely enjoy at room temperature completely plain or with some whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream. (For an extra special treat, try my homemade vanilla ice cream. Yum!)
Should You Refrigerate Apple Cake?
While this cake will stay completely fresh on the counter for up to two days covered with plastic wrap, it will last an extra day or two in the refrigerator. You absolutely do not have to keep it in the fridge but if you’re trying to keep it fresh a little longer, be sure to wrap it well and store in the fridge. Of course reheat it gently in the microwave before enjoying.
If you have extras or happened to make this cake in advance, you can absolutely freeze it for up to three months! Wrap any left over pieces or the whole cake in a layer of plastic wrap and then transfer to a freezer zip top plastic bag. Freeze for up to three months. To defrost, transfer to the fridge for 24-48 hours to defrost or simply microwave at 50% power until warm.
Why Did My Apple Cake Fall Apart?
There are two main reasons why an apple cake would fall apart: (1) it was simply too warm when you were trying to cut and serve it or (2) you used too many/the wrong kind of apple. See notes above about picking and choosing the best kinds of apples for a recipe like this.
Other Fall Favorite Desserts
- Pumpkin Donuts
- Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler
- Apple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Danish
- Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Apple Turnovers
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch cloves
- 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest optional
- 3/4 pound granny smith apples peeled, cored and cut into a small dice
- powdered sugar for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan or a square 9 inch x 9 inch baking pan. Set aside. (Alternately, you can spray with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment and spray paper again lightly with more nonstick for extra insurance.)
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves into a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, and orange zest on medium speed for 3 minutes.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, just until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold the apples into the batter. Spread into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool, dust with powdered sugar, cut into pieces, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Would it work to use Jonathan Apples?
They might make the cake end up with a different texture (I don’t know how smooth, grainy or watery Jonathan Apples are after they are baked) so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but you are welcome to try it! My recipe states using Granny Smith apples for the best finished apple cake.