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Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

297 reviews / 4.7 average

This simple cinnamon sugar apple cake is light and fluffy, loaded with fresh apples, and topped with a crunchy cinnamon sugar layer!

This cinnamon sugar apple cake is just one of those things that is very regular but somehow elevates the day a little bit. It’s low maintenance, highly snackable, has delicious sweet apple flavor, and 100% as warming, fragrant, and cozy a basic apple cake should be. 

This apple cake is:

  • light and fluffy
  • loaded with fresh apples
  • sweet but not overly sweet
  • magically crispy with that layer of cinnamon-sugar on top
  • a nice vehicle for some whipped cream or honey butter
  • excellent with coffee
  • and a sweater
  • and a fall candle
  • coming to you, warm, fresh-out-the-oven, in just under an hour.

It’s just so, so good. And I want to tell you all about it.

In This Post: Everything You Need For This Apple Cake

Ingredients For Apple Cake

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Apples (anything can work, but Honeycrisp or Granny Smith Apples are 💯)
  • Dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, brown sugar)
  • Wet ingredients (egg, oil, buttermilk, vanilla)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • BUTTER

It’s very likely you already have everything on hand which makes this the best lazy weekend last-minute treat.

Three types of sliced apples.

How To Cut Apples For Apple Cake (In My (Un)Professional Opinion)

First of all, let me just establish that I do not peel my apples for anything. No thanks, man. I just cannot be bothered to spend any time removing a perfectly good, edible, nutritious peel. You go ahead and make the rules in your own kitchen.

Here are some apple cutting options for you:

  • Finely diced (top): classic apple cake situation. You’ll get tiny pockets of juicy apple tucked into your cake. Very normal and delicious.
  • Thinly sliced (middle): my personal favorite. I use a mandoline (affiliate link) to slice the apples super thinly, and then I run through them again with a knife to create bite-sized, paper-thin pieces of apple. This allows you to still get those pockets of apple in your cake, but helps distribute the apples a bit better so you’re not ending up with such heavy chunks of apple in the cake.
  • Shredded (bottom): the pieces of apple will magically sort of “disappear” into the cake. No pockets of apples – just lots of that naturally wonderful apple sweetness. This is my second favorite way to cut the apples.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake: Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of flour do you recommend?

All-purpose flour is perfect here!

Will this work without the crumb topping?

It totally will, but also, why would you not?! It’s so good!

Can I make this vegan?

Sure! Just use a vegan flax or chia seed egg, vegan butter, and dairy-free milk to make the buttermilk.

What type of apples would you recommend for this cake?

Just about any type of apple would work (it’s pretty forgiving!), but I prefer Honeycrisp apples.

Could I freeze this cake?

After baking? Yes. It won’t be quite as delicious as freshly-baked, but you should be able to freeze and then thaw it with no problem. I’d just recommend warming it a bit at a very low temp in the oven after thawing.

How could I make this healthy?

By nature, this is a cake, so I’d recommend trying another recipe! These Healthy Cinnamon Sugar Apple Muffins or Feel-Good Apple Muffins might be your best bet.

What is the best way to store this cake?

This would keep at room temperature (covered) for about three days. If you want it to last longer, I’d recommend storing it in the fridge after baking.

Here’s How To Make This Apple Cake Recipe

Let me show you how it’s done, step by step (in photos!).

Mix your apples into the batter in a large bowl and spread that mixture into a pan.

Cake batter with apples in a bowl.

Top with a dust of that buttery cinnamon sugar sand.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake in a pan before baking.

Bake, slice, and now eat, like, a lot of apple cake.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake with bite taken out.

This cake was the perfect weekend treat (not to mention Monday snack and Tuesday 2nd dinner), and guess what’s right around the corner?  Wednesday breakfast.

Add some honey butter and coffee and you are in Cozy Fall Business.

Click here to see the step-by-step web story instructions for this recipe!

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake with bite being taken.

In our house, we have no problem eating the. whole. thing.  As in, two adults and one entire cake. A little piece here, and a little piece there, and three more pieces after dinner, and suddenly it’s time to make another apple cake.

How To Serve This Apple Cake

This cake makes for an excellent dessert, but also a little treat for a fall brunch.

Any way you swing it, here are my favorite toppings to serve with this cake:

  • Whipped Cream: Simple, delicious, easy to whip up.
  • HONEY BUTTER: That’s what’s pictured in this post. You can find the quick method for this in the note of the recipe card.
  • Glaze It: The glaze from these muffins is DELICIOUS and could absolutely work on top of this cake as well.
  • Ice Cream: If you’re serving this as dessert, this cake is also delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Apple Cake Variations

We like this one just the way it is, but there are some options if you’re looking to mix it up.

  • Bake it in a different size pan. While we’ve never tested it officially, it should work to bake this in another pan, like a loaf pan or bundt pan. How pretty as a bundt! You could also maybe bake this in two 9-inch square pans, but your cake may be a little thinner.
  • Make it into muffins. I’ve already mentioned this recipe, but I think this could work in muffin form too if you’re looking for something a little more grab and go. Just reduce the baking time.
  • Use another fruit. I think this could work with some other fruit variations – like pears? peaches? berries? Lots of options here.

Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?

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A fork cuts into apple cake.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake


Description

This simple cinnamon sugar apple cake is light and fluffy, loaded with fresh apples, and topped with a crunchy cinnamon sugar layer!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Apple Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped apples (see notes)

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix or whisk ingredients in order given, stirring until just combined. Fold in your apples.
  2. Pour batter into a buttered 9×13 pan (alternatively, you can line with parchment paper).
  3. Combine last 3 ingredients to make a topping and sprinkle / spread it evenly over the batter.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick if needed. Serve with honey butter or whipped cream if you want. APPLE CAKE IS THE BEST!

Equipment

Notes

Apples: I found that two average sized apples was about the right amount to get 2-ish cups of cut apples. For cuts/textures, see the photo and notes in the post! I like to use a crispy, sweet apple like Honeycrisp for this cake, but honestly, I think just about any type of apple would work.

Types of Oil: Canola or vegetable oil is what I normally use, but olive oil is also really delicious in baked goods – it just has a unique, distinct, olive oily flavor. Also, I haven’t tried it yet but I’d be willing to bet that an equal amount of coconut oil or butter would work, too.

Honey Butter: Mix 2-3 tablespoons softened butter with 2-3 tablespoons of honey. Add a sprinkle of sea salt if you want to take it over the top (you do).

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: cinnamon apple cake, cinnamon sugar apple cake, apple cake

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Recipe rating

970 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Lisa

    I just made this cake, and I’m disappointed. It is bland and dry, and I even took it out before time. I used dark. brown sugar. Was that correct.? Also used golden delicious apples. Followed directions to a tee. What could have possibly gone wrong?






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Lisa! So hard to say since you said you followed the directions to a tee. Was it possible you overmixed the batter, didn’t use enough oil, or baked it too long?

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jessica Snyder

    Whole family loved this! It was delicious and the topping was the yummiest part! Highly recommend!






  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Peter jenkins

    I peel my apple fork around the apples and slice the apple stack it into a microwave container in the middle
    in the middle of the apple add some cinnamon quail
    star anise clove whole poor some red wine over the apples place into microwave cook time is deepening on the apples how long it takes. When the apple cook takes out the spice. & place APPLES into the large hole appetite potato rice add wine leave for a 1 hour to let the apples take in wine squee light to take some wine out to use into cake .use white wine to make apple sauce

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Maryanne

    This is delicious! I made it again today but filled 2 4×8 loaf pans plus a large ramekin. I’m sharing them with my kids families for thanksgiving breakfast!!!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Sarah

      This recipe is delicious!!! I wonder if you could replace some of the brown sugar in the batter with some honey in an attempt to make it slightly healthier? What do you think please? Thanks!






  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sherri Elliott

    This was AMAZING! Literally, the entire thing was gone in the same day! Thanks a lot for a great recipe to add to my stash.

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Courtney

    This is absolutely delicious and so easy to make! I can see this being a fall staple in our house from now on.






  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks delicious! My mouth was watering when I was going through recipe! Definitely going to give this recipe a try!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    sue

    Super easy and so delicious! Everyone loved it. I used the mandolin to slice the apples and so quick! I have my second cake in the oven right now!






  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Anna

    I found this recipe on Instagram and can’t remember who posted it, but so glad I ended up here! I made it last night for church small group gathering and they LOVED IT! That cinnamon sugar topping was something new I’ve not done. I loved it too but felt like it could of used more spice and thought of using Allspice but didn’t have on hand. Also next time as I read reviews adding pinch of salt. But overall it was the Bomb!






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sarah

    I made this for a work event last fall and everyone LOVED it. I have made it several times since, and it always comes out great. Today I received 8 text messages from coworkers asking me to make this again ASAP since it is now fall. Good thing this recipe is so easy- because I feel like this won’t be the last time it’s requested!! Make this cake- you won’t regret it. SO DELICIOUS.






  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Gail

    I made this recipe on a Saturday night. Our 12 year old grandson arrived early on Sunday morning before I got into the kitchen. Poof! A large portion of the cake was gone and he announced that it was one of the best cakes he ever tasted. I will make this again and again! Thanks for a delicious recipe.






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Michele

    Made this yesterday and it was a huge hit! I served with freshly made cinnamon whipped cream. I thought it was a smidge on the sweet side so next time I think I will use granny smith apples instead of honey crisp! Also, I loved using the thinly sliced apples instead of cutting into chunks. Great tip! Thanks for the great recipe!






  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Casey

    I usually love all POY recipes but this one was just ok. I added cinnamon and allspice to the batter, but it needed something… maybe just salt?






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tested this cake using gluten free flour. We think it’s worth a try if you use a 1:1 gluten free flour!