This apple spice cake made with fresh apples and warm spices is perfect for fall baking. It's an easy two layer cake for any occasion or even just for snacking!
Why Make Apple Spice Cake?
Apples are abundant this time of year and they pair perfectly with fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger.
And THIS delicious apple spice cake is not as complicated as it sounds. You can keep it simple or dress it up fancy.
Another factor that makes it an easy apple cake is that it can be made with or without an electric mixer! It's really one of those cake recipes that look like you worked really hard but it's just as easy as making a plain vanilla cake.
You will need basic cake ingredients which you probably already have if you bake often: all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and granulated sugar.
I used a mix of granulated sugar and dark brown sugar. Brown sugar deepens the flavor and also holds more moisture in baked goods.
Eggs are also required and act as a binder for the cake. Along with vegetable oil, it also keeps the cake moist and soft.
All the flavor comes from the remaining ingredients! For the apples, I used a mix of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples. Most apple types are fine for baking but stay away from Gala and Red Delicious as they tend to get mushy.
To help boost the apple flavor, this cake also uses unsweetened apple sauce. I don't advise using sweetened applesauce because it may make the cake too sweet.
Finally to add the "spice" in this apple spice cake, I used a mix of warm fall spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom.
If you are familiar with the spices and prefer more of one over the other than feel free to change the ratios. It won't affect the structure of the cake, only the taste.
How to Make Apple Spice Cake
Decide whether you want to make a layered cake or a rectangular cake and prepare the appropriate sized pan by greasing with butter and lining the bottom with parchment paper. This recipe is perfect for 2 eight inch round pans or one 9x13 rectangular pan.
Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices together first in one bowl. Use a hand whisk and blend well. Separately whisk together the oil, sugar, brown sugar, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla.
You can use the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed if you prefer not to hand whisk the wet ingredients.
Stop and scrape down the sides of bowl and add the flour mixture all at once to the oil mixture. Slowly stir by hand or low speed and mix until just combined. Finally fold in the apple chunks with a rubber spatula.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan or pans and bake at 350F. The time will vary depending on your oven and pan size. Two eight inch round cake pans take approximately 30-40 minutes.
Test the cake by inserting a toothpick into different parts of the cake. You should not see wet batter anywhere. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn them onto a wire rack and let them cool completely.
Frost the cake as desired. For my cake, I used a thin layer of browned butter frosting between the two cake layers and over the outside.
I kept it thin because I wanted a more rustic look but also we don't like large amounts of frosting on our cakes.
Tips and Variations:
When dicing the apples, keep the chunks of apples on the smaller side and push them into the batter with your finger after pouring into the cake pan and before placing in the oven. This will keep them from sticking out of the cake and the flatter top will make frosting the cake easier.
Besides brown butter, other frostings that pair well with this cake include classic vanilla and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. You can also drizzle caramel sauce over the cake or on the cake plate for some extra sweetness and a pretty plated dessert.
Storing Apple Spice Cake:
Cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three days. Unfrosted cake can be stored in the freezer for 10 days. Wrap individual unfrosted cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ½ cups chopped apples
- Set the oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare two 8 inch cake pans by greasing the bottom and sides of the pan with butter and lining the bottom with parchment paper. (Or one 9x12 inch rectangular pan)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set it aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla. Mix well to be sure there are no brown sugar clumps.
- Add the wet ingredients mixture to the flour mixture and mix well with a spatular until just combined.
- Fold in the chopped apples with a rubber spatula.
- Divide and pour the batter evenly between the two cake pans.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean or with dry crumbs. (Test more than one spot in your cake!)
- Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool.
- Serve plain or frost cake layers with desired frosting, then serve.
1. For the apples, I used a mixture of Granny Smith apples and Honeycrisp apples.
2. Baking times can vary greatly by different ovens. Use the time as only a guide, it may take longer.