This homemade apple cake is delightful in its simplicity and is also stunning to look at. Slices of tender, sweet apple slices are nestled into a tangy buttermilk cake batter and baked until golden. There are no extra spices, which allows the flavor of the apples to burst through.

A simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream are all you need to make this stellar dessert even more stellar. The cake stores well, so you can enjoy it for a few days. (Ha! As if you won’t polish it off the same day it’s baked!)

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for apple cake--butter, eggs, apples, baking powder, flour, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda.
  • Buttermilk–This adds a tangy flavor to the cake, which balances the sweetness of the apples. It also helps the cake rise, giving it a tender crumb. I recommend using full-fat buttermilk, if available. It makes a huge difference.
  • Apples–You want to choose baking apples that hold their shape when cooked, such as Golden Delicious or Honeycrisp. If your apples are large, two will be plenty for the cake. Don’t use tart apples like Granny Smith, as this cake is not overly sweet.

How to Make This Recipe

Butter and sugar beaten in a stand mixer and vanilla poured into the batter.
  1. Beat the butter in a stand mixer until creamy. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined.
Dry ingredients in a mixing bowl being added to wet ingredients in a mixer.
  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the mixture in 3 batches, beating well after each addition.
Cake batter being spread into a springform pan, then topped with apple slices.
  1. Spread the batter in a buttered, floured springform pan and smooth the surface.
  2. Arrange the apple slices in a circle on top of the batter.
  3. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and remove the outer ring. Let the cake cool completely before dusting it with confectioners’ sugar.
A slice of apple cake with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Common Questions

what are the best type of apples for making apple cake?

For this pretty cake that shows off the apple slices, you want to use a mid-season apple that holds its shape when baked. Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Ambrosia are all good choices. Feel free to use a combination of several apples if you like.

can i freeze this cake?

Yes. Let the cake cool completely after baking, then wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature, then dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, and serve.

Helpful Tips

  • The cake can be stored, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • Keep your apple slices approximately the same thickness so they’ll bake evenly.
  • Since no spices are added to this cake, the apple flavor shines. Choose good-quality apples without any bruising or soft spots.
david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Tester Annie Baron adored the simplicity of this apple-forward cake. She described it as a “simple, straightforward preparation and simple, straightforward flavor, in which apple is the star.”

A whole apple cake dusted with confectioners' sugar.

More Outstanding Apple Cake Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

I made this for dessert for the family for Sunday dinner. I followed the recipe, except I dusted the apples with cinnamon sugar before baking.

It was very moist and great on its own, but also with ice cream. There might be enough left for breakfast. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

gina
A slice of apple cake with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Apple Cake

5 / 8 votes
This easy apple cake is made with a couple of crisp apples and a tangy buttermilk cake batter, giving it a lovely fresh apple flavor.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings8 to 10 servings
Calories286 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes

Equipment

  • 9-inch springform pan

Ingredients 

  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 to 3 apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
  • Confectioners’ sugar, (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Coat a 9-inch springform pan with butter and dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy.
  • Plop in the egg and beat until combined, then mix in the vanilla.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk to the bowl in 3 batches, beating after each addition.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Starting at the outside of the pan, stand the apple slices on their narrow end in the batter to form a circle, fitting them as snugly as you can. Fill in the center of the circle with as many slices as will fit.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake–not the apples–comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, unlatch the pan, remove the adjustable sides, and allow the cake to cool.
  • Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over the cake just before serving, if desired.

Notes

  1. Storage and freezing–The cake can be stored, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 3 days. The cooked and cooled cake can be frozen for up to 3 months, wrapped in foil or plastic. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
  2. Apple slices–Keep your apple slices approximately the same thickness so that they’ll bake evenly.
  3. Selecting your apples–Since there are no spices added to this cake, the apple flavor really shines. Choose good-quality apples without any bruising or soft spots.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 286 kcalCarbohydrates: 45 gProtein: 4 gFat: 10 gSaturated Fat: 6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.4 gCholesterol: 49 mgSodium: 67 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 25 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2013 David Leite. Photos © 2023 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

My husband declared with much pomp and circumstance that this apple cake recipe is his favorite thing I’ve ever baked. I kid you not. And I agree.

This cake made me his kitchen superhero, and that’s the hallmark of a great recipe. Delicious! I must memorize it.

This is a plain yet very pretty little cake. Simple, straightforward preparation and simple, straightforward flavor, in which the apple is the star. No cinnamon, nutmeg, or brown sugar, so definitely select tasty apples.

One surprise: I didn’t expect the cake to look so pretty. The apples sink into the cake in places and, aided by the sugar on top, leave slightly lacy, almost crunchy edges, which are pleasing on their own and great for a bed for a bit of vanilla ice cream to melt into.

This is a lovely snack cake. It’s simple to make from scratch, not too sweet, and is really lovely with tea or coffee, morning or afternoon.

All my tasters enjoyed this apple dessert. I heard lots of mmms while everyone was enjoying his or her slice. Mine wasn’t quite as pretty as in the photo, but this didn’t deter from the taste. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

This is a very happy apple cake. Even though the apples I used weren’t the best, and they sunk into the cake, I still had to stop myself from going back for a second piece. Thanks to those lovely apples, the cake is tender and moist and stays that way for a few days.

Apple cake—a simple name for a simply delicious cake. In short, this beauty didn’t disappoint.

In the end, the golden crust of the batter, crunchy with crystallized sugar, covers about half of each apple slice, leaving the balance exposed in a beautiful pattern. Upon cutting, the cake may look a bit dry, but once you take a bite, it’s meltingly tender, kept moist by the juice of the apples. For its simplicity and elegance, this cake is a must for sure.




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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Recipe Rating




26 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Although I only making this today, I can’t wait!! I love and enjoy Leite’s recipes and website and also his warm, little stories. Thank you so much and I will let you know how this goes!

    1. Thank you, Grammasue. We love having you as a reader and look forward to hearing what you think of the cake.

  2. 5 stars
    My 6 year old son requested this delicious cake for his birthday! A family favorite!! Picture was pre oven!

  3. Made this recipe and it was so simple to throw together, but was quite tasty. Great, easy way to use up apples. Thanks for the recipe!