Super Moist Apple Cake

This super moist apple cake is made with different baking apples–Granny Smith, Macintosh, and Cortland.–plenty of cream, vanilla, and butter for one of autumn’s best desserts ever.

Super-Moist Apple Cake

This apple cake defies description in a lot of ways, blurring the line between traditional cake that’s quite nice with a scoop of ice cream and coffee cake served straight up in the morning or, actually, any time of day. It takes its insane moistness from a swirl of cream poured over the top. And if you’d also care to experience a little textural and taste contrast within the same obscenely moist apple cake, try a combination of different types of apples. The authors suggest apples that fall within the categories of tart like Granny Smith, sweet and firm like Macintosh, and sorta especially apple-y and easy to break down, like Cortland. Originally published September 23, 2003.Renee Schettler Rossi

Super Moist Apple Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 10
4.5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Arrows Cookbook cookbook

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  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 oz), at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 medium baking apples (see LC Note above), peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour a 10-inch round, 2-inch-deep cake pan or springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • 2. In a large bowl with a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar and the butter until light in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula and continue to beat until the mixture is very light in texture and color, several minutes more.
  • 3. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping the bowl between additions.
  • 4. Sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add the milk and dry ingredients to the butter mixture, stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and mix the batter just until smooth. Do not overbeat the batter.
  • 5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Arrange the apple slices on the batter, overlapping one another in concentric circles. You want to completely cover the top of the cake. Pour the cream evenly over the apples.
  • 6. Stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the cake. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer it to a wire rack, and let the cake cool completely.
  • 7. Invert the cake onto the rack and remove the pan and the parchment paper. Then invert it once more onto a serving platter. Serve the apple cake warm or room temperature. (The cooled apple cake can be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)


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David Says

David Leite caricature

This apple cake recipe comes from the wonderful team of Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, life partners and owners of the now-closed Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine. Barbara Fairchild, my mentor and the former editor in chief of Bon Appétit, told The One and me about Clark and Mark and the restaurant when we were casting about for a great place to go on our eleventh anniversary back in 2004. "It's terrific," she told us. "You won't be sorry."

Mark had shown us around the restaurant and taken us out to the garden in the back. It was the first time I'd ever seen a restaurant harvest its own vegetables, greens, and herbs. "And in the winter when we're closed," said Mark, pointing to the rafters, "we hang hams that we cure ourselves."

After all this time, I don't remember what we ate, but I do remember walking away impressed—and with a signed cookbook under my arm. This apple cake was the first recipe I made from the book—and yes, it really is super moist. The cake quickly became an autumn staple for The One and me. And as I was casting about for a dessert to make for this year's anniversary—21 years, which is something like 53 in straight-couple years—I remembered this recipe. The One had said he intends to make a tarte Tatin, but I'm making a last-minute substitution. There's a certain symmetry in having this apple cake a decade after we were introduced to it. And I'm sure it'll be every bit as saucy, tart, and tender as it—and we—were a decade ago.

Super Moist Apple Cake Recipe Super Moist Apple Cake Recipe


  1. We love this cake, but we found that both times we made it, we couldn’t get all the apple slices on top. I think perhaps two apples might be enough, or cut the slices a little thicker.

  2. This cake was great — easy to make and with lots of flavour. I only used two apples, and that was more than enough. Served warm the first day and cold with extra cream the second, both ways were very good.

    1. Hi Cristal, the active time should take about 15 minutes (are you handy with peeling and coring apples?) and the cook time around 45 minutes. I’d allow a little over an hour to get this cake on the table.

  3. I was at a wedding in the early 90’s where I happened to be seated with Martha Stewart. She was telling me about an apple cake, but I didn’t have a piece of paper to write on…so we wrote it out on a cream linen napkin. Real linen. Must have cost $20, even in 1993. It’s still in my recipe file.

    Anyway, The recipe is very much like this, with Martha making one small change — she used 1/2 cup half-and-half in the cake batter and 1/4 cup Calvados. At that time, Calvados was $20 for a 12 ounce bottle, but I decided not to eat lunch that week and splurged. It was yummy. I made one addition a year or so later, which was adding a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg to the batter. Nutmeg loves cream and loves apples, and is always open to a three way.

    1. Susan, we haven’t tested this cake at high altitude, and we always test something before recommending it (actually, about half the recipes don’t make it onto the site because they’re not sufficiently spectacular), so I hesitate to make specific recommendations. But we always recommend baking-at-altitude advice from Susan G. Purdy, the author of Pie In The Sky. In the meantime, I’m going to ask my colleagues and if they have suggestions they’ll add their comments here. Thanks for asking and for your interest in our recipe!

    2. Hi Susan, I’m at about 3500ft altitude, and I whipped up this cake yesterday. It worked perfectly as written, and came out tender and very moist, as advertised. No adjustments were necessary. Hope that helps!

  4. Planning to make this for our Rosh Hashanah dinner on Sunday using 10-inch springform. Thus, I don’t see the need to invert the cake after removing the sides of the pan. Was also thinking of skipping the parchment paper, unless you think it’s essential.

    1. Roni, I completely agree with you on no need to invert the cake. As for the parchment, I haven’t made this myself so I can’t say for certain, but I suspect there’s enough butter in the cake to not need the paper. Just be certain to butter the pan quite generously. Wishing you and yours a lovely New Year…

  5. Made this yesterday in my 10″ springform pan, using three whole apples which happily overlapped to cover the entire top of the cake. After 45 minutes it was still very wet and jiggly, so I added 10 minute increments of baking time and it was finally done after 70 minutes. My countertop convection oven is well-calibrated to the required temperature, so I cannot imagine how this could have been fully baked in only 45 minutes by others. We’ve yet to taste it, but it looks gorgeous and is tightly wrapped on a cake stand for tonight’s Rosh Hashanah dessert.

    A whole super moist apple cake, whose top is covered with overlapping apple slices topped in brown sugar

    1. Roni, Happy New Year! I’ve made this countless times and never had to bake it 70 minutes. The recipe does say bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Were your ingredients, especially the cream, room temperature?

  6. This cake is fantastic and super moist & delicious!! Although, for some reason, it ended up taking almost 2 hrs to fully bake and the cake tester never quite came out clean. Perhaps I could have taken it out sooner regardless but I erred on the side of caution.

    I made sure the butter, cream, milk and eggs all came to room temp before putting it all together so perhaps the oven I was using might need to be calibrated. But I also did use up the 3 apples, overlapping as many slices as possible, so this may have also contributed to the longer bake time.

    The cake came out beautifully moist and airy and the batter itself was delicious. This would make a wonderful vanilla cake on its own. A guest remarked on how it reminded him of an elevated version of a Hostess cupcake/Twinkie but with apples.

    1. Connie, while I’m delighted you enjoyed the cake, I’m dismayed by the problem with the baking time. Another reader had the same issue but didn’t have to bake it so long. One thing to check is whether your oven is properly calibrated. You can do this by using two or more oven thermometers and making sure they all register the same temperature as the oven dial. And on our end, we’re putting this back into testing.

  7. Yes, mine took 70 minutes but you advised me it could have been because my heavy cream was not at room temperature. My countertop convection oven is well calibrated.

    1. Thanks, Roni. Yes, I did say that to you, but Cindy’s ingredients were all at room temp. So something may be amiss here. The recipe has gone into what we call Triage Testing. Stay tuned….

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