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Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

I was chatting with a friend and somehow, we got on the topic of her brother’s birthday cake. Her family has an old-fashioned apple cake recipe that has been passed down for generations.

It’s their favorite cake recipe and they all love it. As my friend was telling me this story, I knew I had to try it!

Luckily my friend’s mom Katie was sweet enough to send me a copy of the original recipe card!!

image of a slice of old-fashioned apple cake

The Origin of This Old Fashioned Apple Cake Recipe

I can’t tell you how big of a smile I had on my face when I was looking at the photo of the original recipe card.

You can tell it’s been around for years and been put to good use. Something about that makes me feel so nostalgic.

image of original apple cake recipe from the eubank family

I didn’t grow up baking or cooking with my parents or grandparents, so I don’t have a box full of family recipes.

Something about trying a recipe that has a story behind it makes it feel so much more meaningful.

 It also encourages you to try new things!

If you told me to make a cake batter that’s half apples (see below!), I would have said you were crazy. Yet here we are 🙂

image of odld fashioned apple cake batter, which is half apples in volume!

The History Behind this Apple Cake Recipe

When I said this recipe has been passed down through generations, I’m not kidding.

This recipe is from Grandma Eubanks, from way back in the 1920s!! It’s from the great depression which might explain why it’s so unique.

It’s also why I’m dubbing this cake an old-fashioned apple cake!

Katie’s Favorite Story About This Cake

Katie also shared her favorite memory of this cake recipe. Katie has 5 kids and this cake never lasts long in their house.

One time she made the cake and left a fork in it because everyone loves sneaking a bite.

That particular night, about half the family woke up and had it as their midnight snack.

When she woke up the next day, half of the cake was eaten!

A Recipe Without Instructions

One thing that made this recipe a bit of an experiment was that the recipe card didn’t have any instructions.

It was just that list of ingredients, the bake time, and temperature.

I also wasn’t quite sure what size to cut the apples or if I should shred them.

These were the questions I should have thought of before I was in the middle of making the batter!!

I didn’t want to bother my friend or her Mom after they’d already gone out of their way to send the recipe.

So, I made some educated guesses and surprisingly things worked out quite well.

The other thing I was unsure about was what size the cake layers should be, and how many I should make.

image of frosted old school apple layer cake, frosted with cream cheese frosting

Making an Educated Guess

Once the batter was made, I thought it was just enough to make 3, 6-inch cake layers.

The cake layers ended up rising more than I thought they would though. In hindsight, this recipe could easily be used to make 3, 7-inch cake layers or 2, 8-inch cake layers.

I also think I might try it with my cream cheese buttercream so that I can have more fun with the decoration of the cake 🙂

What Makes This Recipe Unique

Like I mentioned above, this recipe is about half apples in volume.

Luckily I have a handy dandy little apple peeling machine which made the process a lot easier.

When I was making the batter, I was convinced I had done something wrong. The batter was so thick, I felt like the layers would never bake through.

But I knew the recipe worked. Sure enough, they baked up beautifully!

I was blown away by my first bite. The cake was insanely good!!

The apples inside the cake add a ton of moisture which contrasts perfectly with the crunch walnuts.

image of old fashioned apple cake slice, bitten into to show how moist the layers are

The cake layers are also packed with warm cinnamon and have delicious caramelization around the edges.

It reminds me of a cross between an apple crisp and a spice cake. This cake almost feels like a breakfast cake because of all the apples!

It looks pretty odd, but trust me and the Eubank family on this one. This recipe is a real keeper.

My Tips for Making the Best Old-Fashioned Apple Cake:

  • Note from the family: you can add an additional egg if you want! They sometimes do to make the texture a bit lighter.
  • Be sure to peel and cut your apples into uniformly sized pieces so that they bake evenly in the oven. Aim for 1 cm cubes.
  • Use tart apples like a granny smith or honeycrisp that bake up well.
  • Make this cake in advance! The recipe card says it’s best the 2nd day.
  • I added a touch of salt to this recipe (based on my preference), but the original recipe doesn’t call for any.
image of sliced into old school apple cake, frosted with cream frosting

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this old-fashioned apple cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment and rating below.

And don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so I can see your delicious creations.

Yield: 16

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

image of eubank family apple cake slice

This old-fashioned apple cake is made with loads of fresh apples, crunchy walnuts, and frosted with a cream cheese frosting! It’s a tried-and-true family recipe that you’re sure to love!!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

Apple Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (225g)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (168g)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (8g)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (6g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (2g)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (125g)
  • 4-5 granny smith or honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes (585g)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature (113g)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature (113g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (250g)

Instructions

Apple Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C, and line and grease 3, 6-inch or 2 8-inch cake pans.
  2. Add 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1 cup vegetable oil into a large bowl. Whisk together until incorporated.
  3. Next, mix in 3 eggs until combined.
  4. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients and 1 cup of chopped walnuts into the wet ingredients. Mix together with a rubber spatula.
  6. Mix in the remaining half of the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Fold in the cubed apples into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  8. Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  9. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool fully.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Beat together 1/2 cup of room temperature cream cheese and 1/2 cup of butter with a hand mixer or whisk attachment of a stand mixer.
  2. Add in 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix on a low speed.
  3. Mix in 2 cups powdered sugar on a low speed until combined. Cover and set aside.

Assembling This Old-Fashioned Apple Cake:

  1. Once the cake layers are fully cooled, assemble this old-fashioned apple cake by frosting and stacking the cake layers with the cream cheese frosting.
  2. Cover the outside of the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting.
  3. If desired, use a spoon to make some swooshes around the cake.

Notes

My Tips for Making the Best Old-Fashioned Apple Cake:

  • Note from the family: you can add an additional egg if you want! They sometimes do to make the texture a bit lighter.
  • Be sure to peel and cut your apples into uniformly sized pieces so that they bake evenly in the oven. Aim for 1 cm cubes.
  • Use tart apples like a granny smith or honeycrisp that bake up well.
  • Make this cake in advance! The recipe card says it’s best the 2nd day.
  • I added a touch of salt to this recipe (based on my preference), but the original recipe doesn't call for any.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 515Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 57mgSodium 235mgCarbohydrates 65gFiber 3gSugar 48gProtein 5g

Mónica

Tuesday 27th of December 2022

Se ve deliciosa!! No lleva polvo de hornear?

Chelsweets

Sunday 1st of January 2023

Hi Monica,

Great question! This recipe contains baking soda as it's only leavening agent, and it does bake up relatively dense! But trust me, it has an absolutely delicious texture :)

roxanne

Friday 23rd of December 2022

Hi, thank you for sharing this recipe, I have a similar card written up, but I cannot find it!!! I originally got this recipe from my husbands grandmother, back around 1988 or 1990. She gave it to me like you have on your card, just a list of ingredients and the baking temperature, except for the icing. She told me on that to melt the cream cheese and butter together on low heat, stirring well. Then pour that over the powdered sugar and beat it with a spoon, then spread on the cake preferably while warm. Sometimes she made it in a bundt pan, sometimes she would make it in four or five thin layers. How she got those layers out of the pan while warm, I will never know, but the icing would be a glaze instead of fluffy. I think I will love it with icing made either way! I haven't made this in a long time, (probably because I misplaced the recipe) but I remember taking it to pot lucks and it was always a hit, and it does get better and better as it ages. All of our older cooks are gone, and so is my husband, thank you again for this, it brings back sweet memories.

Chelsweets

Friday 23rd of December 2022

That is so wonderful to hear! This recipe is such a classic, it's so good!!! Making it in a bundt pan would be such a variation, and that glaze cream cheese frosting sounds INCREDIBLE!! I need to try making it that way soon :) Thank you for sharing Roxanne!

Michael

Thursday 24th of November 2022

“ 1 1/3 cups granny smith or honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes…”

1 1/3 cups of apples does not equal 4 to 5 apples. That’s more like 5 cups. My cake did not turn out well. This is the second mistake in your instructions I’ve noticed. Accurate instructions are important.

Chelsweets

Saturday 26th of November 2022

Hi Michael,

Apologies for any confusion! Like I mention in the post, this recipe is based off of a family friend's recipe and I went by their instructions. I've updated the recipe card to make it more clear. Thank you for letting me know!

Sarah McMillion

Sunday 13th of November 2022

I made this cake last Thursday to be eaten at a baby shower on Saturday. Friday I got it out of the refrigerator to frost it and was close to throwing it out because I thought it was too hard. After close examination I decided the inside was tender and went ahead and frosted it and took it to the shower. What a huge hit it was! Ladies were flipping out over it and asking to take slices home to their hubby’s. I did not use nuts as I was concerned about allergies. I will make this delicious cake again and again!

Chelsweets

Saturday 19th of November 2022

Hi Sarah,

Love that!! I know, it feels so counterintuitive for baked goods, but this cake really does age so well :) Thank you so much for sharing!!

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