This easy apple cake recipe is so easy to make that you can whip one out at a moment’s notice. The best part of this apple dessert? The crunchy turbinado sugar topping.
I don’t bake often because I’m not a very precise person. I like to measure with my heart and unfortunately, that does not really jive with being a good baker.
Fortunately, though, this apple cake recipe is so easy to make that even I can’t screw it up.
You only need a few ingredients and twenty minutes to put it together. From there, it bakes for 45 minutes and that’s really it.
I have made this apple dessert three times now and each time, it is raved about.
How to make this easy apple cake recipe:
First, prepare the baking dish. I used a ceramic pie dish, but the cake is likely to stick to the dish unless you put a round piece of parchment paper on the bottom. You can also use a nonstick round cake pan or even a rectangular cake pan. I recommend lining it with parchment paper just to be safe, but if you really trust your nonstick gear, you can skip the parchment!
Next, prepare the apples. You can peel the apples or leave the skin on. I’ve done it both ways, and personally, I prefer leaving them on. It reduces preparation time and it looks prettier. If you’re averse to the skins, peel the apples first. Next, remove the core and then cut the apples into quarters. Place each quarter cut-side down and slice very thinly lengthwise along each quarter. You want slices about 1/8” thick to ensure they cook through.
Then, prepare the batter. Take room temperature butter and mix with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and then add eggs and mix after each egg. From there, add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and a little milk. It may look a bit curdled and that’s totally normal.
Next, add baking soda, salt, and flour and mix until just incorporated. Do not overmix it. You want all of the ingredients to be incorporated but it does not need to be a perfectly lump-free batter.
From there, simply pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Carefully take each sliced apple quarter and arrange them in the batter. You only need to gently place them on the batter. You do not need to push them down into the batter as the cake will rise up around it.
To finish the cake, scatter 2–3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar all over the cake and bake for 45 minutes. Broil the cake for 1–3 minutes to melt the sugars. Alternatively, you can use a torch.
That’s it! Let the cake cool but I highly recommend enjoying a piece while it’s still warm. Serve with whipped cream if you like.
Easy Apple Cake Recipe
- 1 9" Round Cake Pan
- Parchment paper if needed
- Hand mixer
- 2 medium apples such as Pink Lady, Fuji, SugarBee, or Gala
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ cups cake flour or use all-purpose flour
- 2–3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Prepare the baking dish:
- If using, line the dish with parchment paper and grease the sides of the dish. If not using parchment paper, grease the entire baking dish and set aside.
Prepare the apples:
- Core the apples and quarter them. Place each quarter, cut side down, on the cutting board. Slice each quarter into 1/8'' slices. Keep each sliced apple quarter intact so you can easily place them right on top of the cake when ready (refer to the photo).
Prepare the cake batter:
- Place the butter in a mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to mix for 1 minute until fluffy. Add the sugar and mix for 2–3 minutes until fully incorporated.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix after each addition until fully incorporated.
- Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, salt, and baking powder and mix again. Add the milk and mix once more until incorporated. It's okay if the mixture appears to be lumpy or curdled.
- Add the cake flour and mix until just incorporated. Do not overmix the batter!
Bake the apple cake:
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth it out with a rubber spatula. Carefully pick up each sliced apple quarter (keeping the quarters intact as seen in the photo) and place all the sliced apple quarters cut-side down on top of the cake.
- Scatter the turbinado sugar on top of the cake.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick pierced into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Broil (or torch) the turbinado sugar:
- Turn on the broiler. Broil the cake for 1–3 minutes, being careful not to burn the top, until the sugars begin to melt. Remove from the oven. Alternatively, use a blowtorch to melt the sugars.
- Let the cake cool and then slice and serve with whipped cream or whipped crème fraîche. Enjoy!