Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze

Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze

This apple cake is a cake that I first served for breakfast on a hunting plantation in South Georgia. It’s a great cake for potlucks, to take on picnics, or for packing in a lunch bag. Spicy and flavorful, with a moist, pudding-like texture, this is a truly easy cake—just stir together by hand.–Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 12
5/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Gift of Southern Cooking cookbook

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  • For the apple cake
  • Butter, for the baking pan
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • About 3 pounds fresh apples (such as Granny Smith or Winesap), peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups not-too-finely chopped pecans
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the caramel glaze
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  • Make the apple cake
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  • 2. Put the sugars and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and beat until very well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and gradually add to the sugar and eggs, mixing just until well blended. Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla. The batter will be quite thick.
  • 3. Scrape the batter into the buttered baking pan.
  • 4. Bake the cake until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the pan, 60 to 75 minutes. (You may want to begin checking the cake for doneness after 50 minutes.) Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan while you prepare the caramel glaze.
  • Make the caramel glaze
  • 5. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add both the sugars and the salt. Stir until blended, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  • Assemble the apple cake
  • 6. Use a skewer or toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the apple cake and pour the warm caramel glaze over the surface. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Testers Reviews

Wow! Edna Lewis has a real winner here. This apple cake is rich, sweet, unpretentious, yet classy. It would work for breakfast, brunch, tea, or dessert—not wanting to over-gild the lily, I’m still thinking it would be extra-decadent for dessert with a little scoop of French vanilla or dulce de leche ice cream. Or, if you have extra heavy cream leftover from making the glaze, just go ahead and whip it up—in this case, I’d serve it atop the cake, and just a little dollop would do just fine! Moist and full of apples, I think many varieties of apples would work. We happened to have Pink Lady apples around, a little past their prime, so this seemed a good use for them. If I’d had Granny Smith apples or if I’d had to go out to buy apples, I think they’d be my go-to apple variety here. The glaze was a lovely finishing touch; however, the delicious cake would be very good as-is, especially warm from the oven. Serves 12?! No one would have any trouble eating 1/12th of this cake, but a smaller piece would surely suffice. I cut the cake in the pan into the twelfths specified, then left it on the kitchen table. When I returned, someone had cut each twelfth in half. Later he shared with me that, although he cut the pieces smaller since they were so sweet and rich, he ate a second small piece right after the first! I am a pecan fan, and pecans are integral to the Southern palate from which this recipe emanates, but for any non-pecan fans, this could easily be made with walnuts, or the nuts could be omitted altogether.

“This looks just like a cake my grandma used to make.” “Is that apple cake? My mom always made it when apples were in season.” These were comments at a recent party where I served this this apple pecan cake. Edna Lewis never fails to produce soul-satisfying recipes that don’t involve gourmet ingredients or fancy techniques, just a big dose of good ol’ southern cooking that you would serve your family. I did use a stand mixer to mix the ingredients. My cake was done at 60 minutes, when the cake tester came out clean and the cake was just loosening from the sides of the pan. I cut the cake into small squares and placed them on a large platter to serve at an outdoor party. The cake held up well after 1 day and the caramel sauce helped keep the cake moist and delicious.


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  1. I would like to make this for thanksgiving. If I baked it one day ahead of time, would you put the caramel sauce on it that same day, or wait and make and add the sauce right before serving cake at room temperature? Thank you. Hoping his will be an exciting new dessert at our table!

  2. I had a BUNCH of unripened green apples and was looking for something to do with them. I cut the recipe in half, just in case the apples didn’t work. I also tossed the apple pieces with 1/4 cup of sugar to sweeten the tartness of them. Other than that, I crossed my fingers and went for it. The result… fabulous. Thanks for sharing a delightful recipe. A real keeper!

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