apple snacking cake

Apple snacking cake

13 February 2014

It’s been quite a week, my friends. I’m digging into my Mary Poppins bag of tricks and pulling it all out: perspective, persistence, love, gratitude, humor – thank God for humor – and cake.

I made this cake three times in January for birthdays and other gatherings, and the reaction in my house was never “apple cake again?” – it was “apple cake again!” It’s from the amazing Deb at Smitten Kitchen, a recipe from her mom, and it’s pure comfort in cake form.

Deb makes it in a tube pan, which makes a lovely presentation, but since I don’t own a tube pan, I just made it in a regular 9″x13″ Pyrex. It’s nothing special for looks, but the easy squares are readily lifted for snacking out of hand. A steaming hot cuppa and a piece of this, and I’m ready to stand up and get back to work.

I find it’s easiest to peel apples if I start with a ring around the top and bottom of the apple first. Depending on your peeler, it’s often simplest to set the apple on a surface, hook in the peeler and steadily spin the apple around. It’s easy then to peel top-to-bottom strips around the apple.

peeling apple top

peeling apple sides

Cut apples and toss with sugar and cinnamon. This cake has as many apples as a pie.

diced apples sugar cinnamon

Wet ingredients (oil, orange juice and vanilla) go into dry (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder). I love avocado oil for its high smoking point, neutral taste and monounsaturated fats, but though it’s carried at Costco in California, it’s not a widely available option yet. Any neutral-tasting oil will work just fine.

oil orange juice

mixing dry wet ingredients

Add eggs, one at a time.

adding eggs

The cake gets layered with batter and apples. First half the batter.

1/2 batter

Then half the apples.

1/2 apples

The rest of the batter.

last 1/2 batter

And the rest of the apples.

last 1/2 apples

The Pyrex isn’t glamorous, but the flat cake cooks faster than the tube cake.

apple snacking cake

Powdered sugar on top is a nice touch. I love having a simple dredge to shake it on, but when I don’t have one, I’ll use a mesh strainer.

powdered sugar cake

Not all cakes give comfort – some are just too leaden, gooey, artificial-tasting or pretentious – but this one is wholesome and sweet, a hug in cake form.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that you get what you give. I’m giving you all a warm hug, and I’m already feeling yours back. Thanks, guys. Share this one with those you love.

apple snacking cake

Apple Snacking Cake
This comforting apple cake, moist and soft, has as many apples as a pie. Bake it in a tube pan for lovely presentation or a regular Pyrex for easy snacking squares. Adapted from the ever-inspiring Smitten Kitchen.

Apple ingredients

  • 6 apples (a bit of tart is nice, eg Pink Lady, Granny Smith, McIntosh)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons sugar

Cake ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ tube pan or 13″x9″ baking dish.
  2. Peel, core and cut apples into chunks (about 1/2″). Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
  3. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add oil, orange juice and vanilla, stirring well. Add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in walnuts, if using.
  4. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake until a tester comes out clean (about 1 1/2 hours for tube pan; 55-60 minutes for 13″x9″ pan). If using a tube pan, cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter. Dust with powdered sugar if you like before serving.


  • When peeling apples, I find it easiest to remove a circle of peel around the top and bottom of the apple. Then it’s easy to peel strips from the top circle to the bottom one.
  • This is a moist cake that keeps well at room temperature for a couple of days. After that it should be refrigerated.
  • Any neutral-tasting oil will work well here. Costco in California carries avocado oil, which I really love for its high smoking point, neutral taste and monounsaturated fats, but it’s not a widely available option.
  • Low-fat version: I’ve used 1/2 cup applesauce in place of 1/2 the oil, which works well.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana 13 February 2014 at 5:16 pm

Looks delish! And I have my great grandmother’s dredger, she was a great baker. I love making recipes where I can use it.


cg 21 February 2014 at 4:06 pm

hi dana – i love that your dredger has been handed down for generations – a family that values good tools is one after my own heart! =)


belinda brock 13 February 2014 at 5:24 pm

this cake looks great and i appreciated the accompanying photos. don’t worry about the pyrex—in my home, all the best things were baked in pyrex! I still use them, but I have pretty holders to set them in for when I have company.


cg 21 February 2014 at 4:08 pm

hi belinda – good thinking on the pyrex holders! yay for pyrex! and the old stuff is the best – the newer glass is not as durable.


jamie levine 14 February 2014 at 8:40 am

This looks so good, Lilian!! What a cup of coffee or tea is made for!


cg 21 February 2014 at 4:08 pm

hi jamie, thank you!


KathieB 26 February 2014 at 5:13 pm

I tried this recipe and it was yummy–you’re so right about the cake improving after standing a day or so. In fact, I think I’ll make it a day early next time. It didn’t bake evenly, though–by the time the oblong cake was done in the middle, it was a bit too far gone on the outer edges. Next time, I think I’ll use a tube pan and see how that works. Thanks for the apple yumminess.


Gina B. 22 September 2015 at 3:13 pm

I made this cake for work and it was excellent. I got so many requests for the recipe, including a co worker who got teary eyed when she told me it tasted just like her mom’s Apple cake. Sadly she never got her mom’s recipe. My only issue was the middle was a little gooey and the edges were crispy. I baked it in a 9×13 pan for 60 minutes. Any ideas? Thanks


cg 22 September 2015 at 4:23 pm

hi gina b – did you check the cake with a toothpick? ovens are all a little different, so sometimes you might need to adjust the bake time a bit. sounds like yours might be running hot – so edges were overdone before the center was done. next time try 25 degrees lower for maybe 10 minutes longer…see if that works better for you. i am glad you liked it though!


Gina B. 22 September 2015 at 5:15 pm

Thanks, I’ll give that a try. I plan on making this cake again and again.


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