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. 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, see the note below about selecting apples.–Angie Zoobkoff

What are the best apples for baking?

Wanna experience varying textures within the same obscenely moist apple cake? Try a combination of different types of apples. The authors suggest an array including “Granny Smith (which is quite tart), Macintosh (which is firm), and Cortland (which gets very soft with cooking).” You heard them, folks.

Super moist apple cake on a jadeite cake stand.

Super Moist Apple Cake

4.82 / 11 votes
This super moist apple cake is made with different baking apples–Granny Smith, Macintosh, and Cortland. Plenty of cream, vanilla, and butter make for one of autumn's best desserts ever.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings10
Calories487 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, 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
  • 14 to 18 ounces baking apples* (see NOTE above), peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour a 10-inch round, 2-inch-deep springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with several layers of aluminum foil to prevent leaks. Also line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a large bowl with a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar and the butter until very light in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula and continue to beat until the mixture becomes very light in texture, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  • Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping the bowl between additions.
  • 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.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Place the apple slices on the batter, overlapping one another in concentric circles and completely covering the surface of the cake. Repeat layering the apples in concentric circles until all of them are used or you reach almost the top of the pan, whichever happens first. Pour the cream evenly over the apples. Stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cake.
  • Place the pan on the prepared baking sheet and bake for anywhere from 55 to 75 minutes, 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 at least 15 minutes. Gently remove the sides of the pan and let the cake continue to cool to room temperature.
  • 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.) Originally published September 23, 2003.
The Arrows Cookbook by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier

Adapted From

The Arrows Cookbook

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 487 kcalCarbohydrates: 67 gProtein: 6 gFat: 23 gSaturated Fat: 14 gMonounsaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 118 mgSodium: 40 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 45 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2003 Clark Frasier | Mark Gaier. Photo © 2018 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I have finally found my “go-to” apple cake. I have long searched for just the right apple cake. It has to have enough apples that it has a great apple taste, it has to be moist, it has to be substantial, and it has to be sweet enough to be a dessert but not too sweet so it can serve as a breakfast pastry. This cake fulfills all of that. I know that this is a cake I will make many more times.

This cake is fast to make, easy to put together, and couldn’t taste better. The preparation took about 25 minutes from the time I started until I popped it in the oven. My favorite apple is Honeycrisp, so that is the apple I chose. It was a good choice with plenty of flavors and it stood up well to the cooking.

The first time I served the cake, it was as a dessert. After that, we had it for breakfast or an afternoon snack. We ate the cake for over 6 days and enjoyed it each day. I found little change in taste or texture over that time. This is a substantial cake and would easily feed 8 to 10 people.

This super moist apple cake was a great way to use the abundance of apples in the fall. Delicious warm, room temperature, and cool, this cake was a perfect breakfast, dessert, and snack. The tempting cinnamon-y goodness made it difficult to resist at any time of the day.

I recommend overlapping the concentric circles of apples by quite a bit to make sure that the entire surface of the cake will be covered as it bakes and shifts for optimal apple coverage. I used a combination of Stayman and Mutsu apples, as these were the baking apples available at my farm market, and I liked having the combination of 2 different apple flavors on my cake. I will definitely mix and match next time I make this as well.

Sometimes a recipe title doesn’t really tell you everything, but in the case of the super moist apple cake, it sure does. The cake was super moist and topped with layers of delicious apples. It’s one of those cakes that’s pretty dense, which often equals dry. But again, as the name implies, this cake is super moist.

The “moisture” held pretty well through the several days it took us to finish it, which was nice. Of course, to get that super moistness requires a lot of rich ingredients, so it’s also super-rich. Not super sweet, but definitely super-rich.

The cake was really good. It was very moist and had a wonderful flavor. This was a fairly easy recipe to make.

I started with 3 Granny Smith apples but I only could fit a little more than 2 of the apples in concentric circles on the cake. I wished I had used all the apples because tasters really wanted more of the apple topping. Maybe pressing the apples a bit into the cake and then adding another layer of them before adding the cinnamon sugar topping would be a good idea.

I refrigerated it overnight and had to have a piece for breakfast! The cake was a tiny bit denser but not in a bad way. It was still delicious. I am going to freeze the rest and see how that works.

Although the cake was tasty on its own, the addition of whipped cream on the side would really take it to the next level.

I made this super moist apple cake late Saturday evening. We served it at a friends’ house for Sunday afternoon dessert and I had the last delicious slice of it on Wednesday morning with coffee. So, yes, this is definitely a cake that is delicious, tender but dense (love that!), and keeps very well for several days at room temperature covered on my cake stand. For a guy like me who loves these types of cakes (dense rather than fluffy, unadorned rather than frosted, rich, and with some fruit inclusions), this recipe is a keeper.

I was very curious about the cream poured on top pre-baking and it’s a lovely new trick. It works with the sugar and apples to cook the apples before most of the liquid evaporates, leaving a lovely layer of caramelized apple cream topping.

I used Gala apples. I opted for about 1/4 inch thick slices. The problem is sliced that thin you will need to layer the apples in 2 or more layers to use them all up. I ended up with 2 layers of apples. It worked well but I think I might slice them a little bit thicker next time, maybe 1/3 inch or so.

I ended up baking it close to 1 1/2 hours to get it sufficiently cooked in the middle, the apples soft, and the cream and sugar topping set. The cooking time made for a perfectly baked cake, great color that looks like the picture, and edges that are deep golden brown and not burnt. So go for at least 1 hour before checking on it.

I noticed very little texture difference between the first slice and the last one 3 days later. I kept it covered on my cake stand at room temperature and that worked very well.

Super moist is an apt descriptor for this lovely apple cake. The vanilla flavor and moist crumb make an excellent base for a fantastic apple and cinnamon top!

I did not have a 10-inch springform pan but was able to use my 9-inch with an additional 20 minutes of baking time. Next time, my 10 inch-cast iron will do the job. We enjoyed this over 3 days, with the cake maintaining its perfection. I made a bit of cinnamon sugar whipped cream to top it with. Magnificent!




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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33 Comments

  1. Just following up …

    I’ve let it cool and cut out a piece. There’s a cooked bottom crust, but just above it, there’s about 1/16” of uncooked batter. That’s after the extended baking time.

    1. Thanks, Nfonca. The other thing you could try is using a slightly larger baking pan, which should reduce the cooking time and might allow it to cook more evenly.

  2. It’s a WONDERFUL cake! Made it twice with apples stolen from the neighbour’s tree.

    I always read the reviews first so I was prepared for it to take longer than 55-75 minutes to bake. After 1-1/2 hours, I checked the oven only to find it was 30F lower than the required 350F. I boosted the hear. It took over 2hrs and there were a few small places near the bottom that weren’t perfectly baked. Mia Culpa, I should have had the temp gauge in the oven.

    Today, I made it and checked the oven for consistency. It was 350F (but I had to set it at 375F to get that. Oven is correct if it’s 400+. Repair person has been called)

    I’ve just taken it out. At 350F, the cake took 1hr 55m to bake. I don’t mind, as long as I know to expect that.

    I’m using a dark grey teflon springform pan that’s 2-1/2” high. Only filling the apples up to 2”. I had to put aluminum foil loosely on top to not darken the apples because of the extended oven time.

    I’m hoping you can offer some ideas.

    1. I’m so glad that you love this cake, Nfonca. It is very popular. We do see quite a bit of variation in the bake time of the cake, which can be due to how tightly you pack the apples in the cake, and also which type of apples you use. If you are using soft, juicy apples that break down more, you’re going to get more liquid in the cake and if you pack them tightly, it’s also going to take longer to cook. Covering the top with foil was definitely the right thing to do to prevent too much browning on top.

  3. Hello, I want to test run this cake. Please clarify the apple layer. Are you saying to both tightly overlap the apples to cover the top and additionally to also actually stack/layer the slices until used up? Or, should I stop after the single, sightly packed first layer? Thank you.

    1. Den, what I do is use all the apple slices. So, if I have some leftover, after making concentric circles of overlapping slices, I either tuck a few in here and there to use them up or start a second layer on top. But that rarely happened.