This apple cake with cream cheese frosting has chunks of tender apple baked into a lightly spiced cake and the whole shebang is smothered in cream cheese frosting. Perfect as a dessert or a coffee break offering.
This apple cake is going to catapult you to coffee break hero status at work. And it couldn’t be easier. Chunks of apple are baked into a lightly spiced cake and then the whole shebang is smothered in a rich, tangy cream cheese frosting. Just make sure to save yourself a piece (or two).–Angie Zoobkoff
Apple Cake FAQs
Why should eggs be at room temperature for baking?
Room temperature eggs will more easily mix with softened butter and create a smoother batter. Both the yolks and whites break up more easily when not chilled.
Why do we refrigerate eggs in the US, while many other countries do not?
In the US, eggs are refrigerated because the USDA requires that eggs are washed, processed, and then refrigerated before they can be sold to consumers. On the other hand, most European and Asian countries do not have that same requirement. Confused?
Well, when a hen (regardless if she’s caged, free-range, grass-fed, whatever) lays an egg, she also puts a natural protectant layer around it called a cuticle, or bloom. The bloom protects the egg from any bacteria by sealing all the pores in the shell. As soon as that egg is washed, the bloom/cuticle is removed and the egg could be exposed to bacteria and must be refrigerated to at least 45°F.
Our eggs are washed because the USDA requires it (unless you have farm-fresh eggs available). In many other countries, eggs – even in the grocery stores – are unwashed, bloom intact, and can be found in cartons on dry goods shelves. Unwashed, room temperature eggs will keep for about two weeks.
Can this cake be made with gluten-free flour?
Absolutely. Use your favorite GF flour and proceed as directed. You may end up with a cake that is a bit more dense, but the flavor will still be amazing.
Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
- 2 cups diced, peeled apples from about 2 medium apples
- 1/2 cup walnuts toasted and chopped (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups Cream Cheese Frosting
Make the apple cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides by several inches.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
- Using an electric or stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternately it with the buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Use a light lifting motion and turn the bowl continuously until the batter is smooth and the flour is thoroughly incorporated. Do not fold too vigorously or the cake will be tough.
- Very gently fold in the apples and, if using, walnuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
- Bake until the top is brown and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
- When the cake is cool, grasp the edges of the parchment paper and lift up to remove the cake from the pan.
- Place the cake on a work surface. Using a long cake spatula, spread the frosting over the surface of the cake. Cut the cake into squares and serve.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The strength of this apple cake recipe is in its very light texture. It’s so light, even with all of the butter. And the flavor is good.
I used Honey Crisp and Golden Delicious for the apples. I didn’t use walnuts.
The servings depend on how you cut the cake. I think it could serve 16 or maybe even up to 24.
Originally published September 14, 2019
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Mary Kate K.
This is the best recipe I have tested in the past year! This recipe for apple cake with cream cheese frosting was so simple to put together, and the results were outstanding. A moist, flavorful cake that wasn’t too sweet, with a delicious creamy frosting that perfectly complemented the cake.
The batter was beautiful. It was rich and fluffy and came together nicely. I did have all the ingredients at room temperature so I feel that aided in making a beautiful batter.
It seemed like a lot of spices and I was particularly concerned with the amount of ground cloves called for in the recipe, but they worked well and nothing was not overpowering.
I used Granny Smith apples in the cake, which held up well while baking and were soft enough to cut through. I didn’t use any nuts in the recipe as my daughter is allergic and we don’t have nuts in our house. But I can only imagine how delicious this cake would be with walnuts! A sprinkling of toasted walnuts on top would be delicious, too.
Lining the pan with parchment was a huge help in getting the cake out of the pan in one piece. I baked the cake for exactly 35 minutes and it was deep golden brown and the toothpick came out clean.
While the cake was cooling, I made the frosting. The cake tasted great without the frosting but the frosting really put the cake over the top. The cake cut like a dream. The taste reminded me of pumpkin bars but with apples. The texture was more dense than a pumpkin bar but the spices were similar.
I will make this cake over and over again, just delicious!