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Nanna’s Apple Cake

Nanna’s Apple Cake is a simple, no-fuss cake that really lets the apples shine. It’s an ugly cake – no doubt about it – but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavor. Nanna made this apple cake for years – since I was wee little, and now that she’s not cooking any more, she entrusted the recipe to me and has let me share it with the world. It’s delicious – I hope it becomes one of your treasured recipes, too!

Nanna's Apple Cake on a white plate.

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Nanna’s Apple Cake recipe is all about the simple, humble goodness of apples. Best made in the fall with fresh, seasonal apples, this easy apple cake takes a while to bake but that’s about the most complicated thing about it.

I’ve made this cake sooo many times. I grew up eating it – my mother would make it for work events, or just as a dessert at home. Of course, it gets gobbled up down to the last crumb. Perfected over probably 50+ years, this vintage apple cake recipe is a keeper.

A slice of apple cake on a plate with cinnamon sticks.

What you’ll love about Nanna’s Apple Cake


  • Nanna’s Apple Cake is the perfect blend of sweet and tangy with fresh apples.
  • It has a rich, buttery flavor that really lets the apples shine!
  • It’s an heirloom recipe – apple cakes really don’t get much better than this!

Ingredients

  • Butter – I use salted butter.
  • Granulated white sugar
  • Eggs
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Apples – peeled, cored, sliced
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar
Ingredients for apple pie on a marble table.

What are the Best APples For This Apple Cake?

Use Honeycrisp, Gala, or another crisp apple that’s not too sweet. The cake itself isn’t overly sweet so the apple flavor can really shine through.

How to make Nanna’s Apple Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 325-F. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper and spray the sides with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/3-inch thick slices. Set them aside.
  3. Melt the butter and add it to the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer). Add the sugar and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between.
  4. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl until combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan and press the apples into the batter in the shape of a ring. The apples should be seated in the batter but not fully covered. The top bit of the apple can stick out. They should be close but not quite touching. Add a second ring inside the first until the batter is filled with apples.
  7. Dust the apples with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and bake at 325-F for about 50 minutes.
  8. Melt the remaining butter and transfer it to another bowl. Add the remaining sugar and mix until well combined. Mix in the eggs one at a time until blended.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the topping over the cinnamon-dusted apples. Return the cake to a 350-F oven for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  10. Dust with cinnamon sugar and serve – ½ teaspoon mixed with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
A recipe for apple cake written on a piece of paper.
Nanna’s hand-written recipe.
Chef Jenn's Fav
Wilton Springform Cake Pan Set, 3-Piece, 3 Pc, Gray
$33.62 ($33.62 / Count)

Love these pans! They are sturdy, affordable, and easy to use.

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02/18/2024 05:22 am GMT

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Use fresh, semi-sweet and super crisp apples for the best flavor in this vintage apple cake.
  • The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  • For an added twist, consider adding a sprinkle of nutmeg along with the cinnamon.

Make It A Meal

Nanna’s Apple Cake can stand alone as a delectable dessert. However, if you want to make it a complete meal, consider serving it alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. I love it for dessert after a hearty meal of Chicken and Dumplings, German pork loin or a tasty pot pie. It’s also perfect on its own with a cup of tea or coffee.

Storage

To keep Nanna’s Apple Cake as fresh as the day it was made, store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. If you’d like to keep it for longer, freeze the cake. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw it at room temperature.

An apple cake on a white plate with cinnamon sticks.
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Nanna's Apple Cake on a white plate.
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4.73 from 47 votes

Nanna’s Apple Cake

Not too sweet and positively packed with apples, Nanna's Apple Cake is a vintage apple cake recipe that's simply the best out there!
Course Dessert, Desserts
Cuisine American
Keyword apple cake, vintage apple cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 375kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups salted butter divided
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar divided
  • 4 large eggs divided
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 apples peeled, cored, and sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 325-F. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper and spray the sides with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/3-inch thick slices. Set them aside.
  • Melt 1/2 cup of the butter and add it to the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand-mixer). Add 1 cup white granulated sugar and mix well. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing in between.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture and mix until combined.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan and press the apples into the batter in the shape of a ring. The apples should be seated in the batter but not fully covered. The top bit of the apple can stick out. They should be close but not quite touching. Add a second ring inside the first until the batter is filled with apples.
  • Dust the apples with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and bake at 325-F for about 50 minutes.
  • Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter and transfer it to another bowl. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and mix until well-combined. Mix in the last 2 eggs one at a time until blended.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and pour the topping over the cinnamon-dusted apples. Return the cake to a 350-F oven for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Dust with cinnamon sugar and serve – ½ teaspoon mixed with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Slice and serve!

Notes

    • Use fresh, semi-sweet and super crisp apples for the best flavor in this vintage apple cake.
    • The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs still clinging to it. It may need extra baking time depending on how cold it was when it went into the oven, how thick you slice the apples, and so on.
    • For an added twist, consider adding a sprinkle of nutmeg along with the cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 340mg | Potassium: 148mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 583IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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