Old Fashioned Apple Cake Recipe

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Fall is in the air and that means one thing – apple season! This old-fashioned fresh apple cake recipe is the perfect way to celebrate. It’s made with real apples, oil, and buttermilk for a delicious, buttery flavor. The sweet apple cider glaze poured over the top makes it super moist and irresistible.

Serve this old fashioned apple cake at your next fall gathering or simply enjoy it as a cozy treat on a cool autumn day.

apple cake on a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

We try to go apple picking every year because it’s such a fun family tradition. We come home with an abundance of apples and I make a lot of apple recipes to use them all up!

From homemade apple juice cocktails to the best apple pie, my easy apple crisp, and my favorite recipe… this old-fashioned apple cake. It’s delicious and warms the house with the spices used in it. 

I love to enjoy this cake with a warm cup of coffee and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s one of my favorite cake recipes!

What is an apple cake?

An apple cake is a type of cake that contains apples as the main ingredient. The apples can be fresh or canned, and they are often combined with other ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. Apple cakes can be made into a variety of different shapes and sizes, and they are often served with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

5 Things We Love About This Cake

  • This is a tried and true old-fashioned apple cake recipe. It uses real apples too!
  • The buttermilk and oil make this a super moist apple cake recipe. As well as the butter topping was poured over the top.
  • It’s easy to make and doesn’t require a mixing bowl.
  • Can be topped with any frosting you like or eaten without frosting as it’s perfect on its own.
  • It can be made in any cake pan!

Baking Tools

Here are a few supplies you’ll need to make this cake:

  • Bundt Pan or Rectangular Cake Pan
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Spatula
  • Apple Peeler
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
eggs, apples, flour, vanilla, sugar, salt and spices in small bowls on a table.

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake Ingredients

This recipe uses simple ingredients that you can find at your local grocery store.

Granulated Sugar – Use white sugar, also known as granulated sugar for this recipe. The sugar will add sweetness.

Eggs – You will need three large eggs. Always use organic eggs when possible.

Vegetable Oil – You can use any neutral oil like canola oil or another light-tasting oil. Do not use olive oil for this recipe.

Buttermilk – This is a key ingredient in the cake. It will make the cake moist.

Flour – All-purpose flour is what you will need for this recipe. This adds structure to the recipe.

Baking Soda – This is a leavening agent and will make the cake rise.

Salt – Just a pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness.

Ground Cinnamon – This is a key flavor in the cake. The warm spices add so much flavor.

Ground Cardamom – Both cinnamon and cardamom give it the most beautiful fall flavor and fragrance. Definitely use this ingredient!

Vanilla Extract – Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. Vanilla adds flavor to the cake but also enhances the other flavors as well.

Finely Chopped Apples – You’ll want to peel the apples before using them. You can use any type of apple you like! We prefer honey crisp, granny smith, pink lady, or fuji.

folding in chopped apples

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×12 cake pan or a bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients – sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and cardamom.

In a large measuring glass, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Fold in the chopped apples.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. You can add more time if you need. I’ve made this cake several times. Sometimes it needs 1 hour and sometimes it needs 1 hour and sometimes it needs 1 1/2 hours. Baking time will always vary depending on many factors.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Add 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 tsp baking soda into a small saucepan and simmer until it’s all melted.

When the cake is finished baking, remove and pour the butter mixture over the hot cake and let it sit for 1 hour. 

Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before inverting it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Tips for Making This Cake

Use a variety of different apples for this cake – I like to use a mix of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can use regular milk combined with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

This cake can also be made in a bundt pan. Just be sure to grease the pan well so the cake doesn’t stick.

You can also use a frosting over the top too.

apple cake with an apple cider glaze over the top.

Baking Times Vary

Baking times vary depending on a few factors, such as:

  • The type of apple you use and how big they’re cut.
  • The size and shape of your baking dish and how well you like your cake.
  • An oven’s true temperature. Every oven is different, so yours may run a little hot or cold.
  • The elevation you’re baking at. Higher elevations tend to require longer bake times.
  • We suggest checking your cake a few minutes before the recipe says it will be done.

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake Toppings

There are several cake toppings you can add to this apple cake. Here are some suggestions:

Whipped Cream – Use store-bought or make your own.

Vanilla Ice Cream – This is my favorite way to eat this cake!

Caramel Sauce – Homemade is the best!

Chocolate Sauce – This would be amazing!

Crunchy Pecans – These would be a nice addition over the top of the cake.

Cinnamon Sugar – A mixture of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over the top.

Cream Cheese Frosting – A whipped cream cheese frosting would compliment the apples in this cake.

apple cake in a rectangular cake pan.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature, and covered, for up to a week. If you have any leftover glaze, it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week as well.

How to Freeze This Cake

Wrap the cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer-safe bag or an airtight container. It will keep in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw it overnight in the fridge and then let it come to room temperature before serving.

The five most popular types of apples and the best apples for baking are Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Gala, and Fuji.

Granny Smith apples are tart and firm, with bright green skin. They are good for baking and cooking because they hold their shape well.

Honeycrisp apples are sweet and crisp, with a thin skin that is easy to bite through. They are good for eating fresh and are also popular for baking and cooking.

Golden Delicious apples are sweet and slightly tart, with yellow-green skin.

Gala apples are sweet and crisp, with a thin red skin. They are sweet and juicy and great for baking.

Fuji apples are sweeter and crisper than most apples. They have thin red and yellow skin and work wonders when making this cake.

Apples can vary in taste, texture, and color depending on the type. Some are better for eating fresh, while others are better for baking or cooking.

slice of apple cake on a plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of apples are good for apple cake?

You can use any type of apple you like! We prefer honey crisp, granny smith, or fuji.

Can I make this cake without buttermilk?

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can use regular milk combined with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

Can this cake be made in a bundt pan?

Yes, this cake can also be made in a bundt pan. Just be sure to grease and flour the pan well so the cake doesn’t stick.

How long does homemade apple cake last?

Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature, and covered, for up to a week.

Do you need to pre-cook apples for apple cake?

No, you don’t need to pre-cook apples for apple cake. Just make sure to chop them into small pieces so they cook evenly.

Should I peel my apples for an apple cake?

We prefer to peel our apples for apple cake. This is because the skin can sometimes make the cake tough. However, if you don’t mind a little texture, you can leave the skin on.

When to Serve Apple Cake

Apple cake is perfect for fall! It would be delicious served at a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner, or Christmas potluck. It’s also a great after-school snack or dessert for kids!

Here are a few of our favorite occasions to serve this cake:

Fall Harvest Party

Charming Vintage Halloween Party

Fall Charcuterie Party or Wine and Cheese Party

apple cake on a plate

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love

If you love this old fashioned fresh apple cake recipe, then try more of our favorite cake recipes!

The Best Buttermilk Cake

Lavender Sheet Cake

Homemade Funfetti Sheet Cake

The Best Homemade Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Ganache Bundt Cake

Let us know if you make this old fashioned fresh apple cake recipe by leaving a comment and review below.

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slice of apple cake on a plate.

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake Recipe

This old-fashioned fresh apple cake recipe is the perfect for fall! It’s made with real apples, oil, and buttermilk for a delicious, buttery flavor. A sweet glaze poured over the top makes it super moist and irresistible.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 15 people
Calories: 312kcal
Author: Eden

Ingredients

Apple Cake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups apples, peeled and finely chopped

Apple Glaze

  • 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions

Apple Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×12 cake pan or a bundt pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients – sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and cardamom.
    dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • In a large measuring glass, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and buttermilk.
    liquid ingredients in a measuring glass.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
    wet and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Fold in the chopped apples.
    folding in chopped apples
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
    pouring apple batter into a cake pan

Glaze

  • While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Add 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 tsp baking soda into a small saucepan and simmer until it’s all melted.
    making an apple cider glaze
  • When the cake is finished baking, remove and pour the butter mixture over the hot cake and let it sit for 1 hour. 
    pouring glaze over the top of an apple cake.
  • Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before inverting it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
    slice of apple cake on a plate.

Notes

Baking times will vary, so start with 1 hour and check the cake from there. Add more time if you need it. 
Top this cake with any frosting you want! You can also serve it with just the glaze, which is delicious. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 212mg | Potassium: 89mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 269IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg
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