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Apple Sheet Cake – an easy and delicious dessert perfect for fall!
Our easy apple sheet cake is made with fresh apples, tangy buttermilk, toasted walnuts and loads of warm spices.
We can’t resist drizzling this well spiced cake with a simple icing and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a pretty fall treat.
I’m from the camp that believes you can never have too many apple recipes. Sweet or savory, it doesn’t matter. Apples come in many varieties that are perfect for just about any kind of recipe from bread pudding and pies, to chicken fricassee! Kick off your fall baking with this wonderfully flavored, tender apple cake that’s easy to make too!
We added shredded apples to the batter and thinly sliced apples on top.
The shredded apples in the batter add moisture and flavor throughout the cake. The apple slices on top are more decorative but add a nice chewy bite. NOTE: the sliced apples are a little hard to cut through with a knife once baked on top of the cake. Keep kitchen shears on hand to snip the apple slices if they you any trouble while cutting 🙂 The sliced apples are a nice touch and worth snipping to keep them from smashing the cake when it’s cut. Just saying.
What kind of apples are good for making Apple Sheet Cake?
First, there’s no way I could possibly list every apple variety available now days. Some apples, such as the Honeycrisp (one of my favorites for eating) wasn’t put on the market until the 1990’s. For my younger readers that may not seem like a big deal, but to us ‘more mature bakers’ it feels like yesterday. So how should we decide which apple is best for baking when there’s so many to pick from?
Some markets and grocery stores provide a description of the apples and sometimes indicate if it’s a good apple for baking. When in doubt, I stick with the tried and true varieties that have been around forever.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Jonagold apples fall in the sweet apple category. They were developed as a cross between the Jonathan apple and the Golden Delicious. The Jonagold apple has a honey-like sweetness with moderate acidity and is great for snacking, salads and baked goods.
- Granny Smith apples are one of my favorite tart apples and are perfect combined with sweet apples when baking. Developed in Australia in the mid-1800’s, the Granny Smith apple is crisp with plenty of acidity and flavor. This apple does not break down like some softer apples, making this great for pies when you need texture not apple sauce. Granny Smith’s are great in anything where sugar is added to off-set the tart flavor.
- Gala apples are a sweet variety of apples, are very aromatic and great for cooking. They would be perfect in this apple sheet cake!
- Empire apples have a pleasant cider-like flavor making them great for snacking. They’re also terrific in salads, sauces, cakes, cookies and pies. They make lovely apple butter!
Whatever apple variety you choose, I’m sure this apple sheet cake will be terrific! If baking a pie, apple butter or other recipes requiring many apples, mix it up and use a little tart and a few sweet for best results.
Drizzle with a simple icing made with just a few ingredients. But wait… we have options!
Powdered sugar can be combined with just about any liquid to make a simple icing. Here we’ve used powdered sugar, apple cider, vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. If you don’t have apple cider on hand, use milk, cream or even buttermilk. It’s all good! Whisk together and drizzle on top of your cooled apple sheet cake.
Simple, easy and oh so tasty!
I hope you’ll try this apple sheet cake for your next gathering or family dinner. It has a lovely texture and that warm and cozy autumnal flavor we adore! This cake will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. It’s almost better the next day making this apple sheet cake perfect as a make ahead dessert.
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Apple Sheet Cake
For the cake batter:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
- 1 peeled and shredded apple (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup toasted chopped walnuts
- 1 apple, cored and sliced into thin wedges or rounds, for topping
For the icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk, cream, buttermilk or apple cider
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, optional
To prepare the cake:
- Preheat oven to 325°F degrees. Lightly spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Whisk until blended.
- Add about ¼ of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugars. Mix on low until incorporated. Add ⅓ of the buttermilk and blend on low. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Alternate by adding ⅓ of the remaining flour, then half the buttermilk, mixing on low after each addition just until incorporated. Start and end with the flour mixture. Once incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl and gently fold in the shredded apple and walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange apple slices over the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 325°F degrees, or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack before icing.
To prepare the icing:
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and spices, if using. Drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon or apple pie spice if desired and serve. Keep leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for longer storage.
- Substitute 1 1/4 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice for the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger, if desired.
- Gala or Jonagold apples are great for this recipe.
- Recipe adapted from Fall Baking 2019 magazine
Finally, here are a few more recipes you might enjoy:
Everybody loves a Fresh Apple Cake loaded with a generous helping of cinnamon, nuts and apples. This cake has a fantastic moist and tender texture, and a lightly crisp exterior. This heirloom recipe has been a family favorite for generations and is a delicious Autumn treat! Click HERE to get the recipe.
Packed with tart Granny Smith apples, cinnamon and a little cream, Dutch Apple Pie is the pretty and delicious cousin of the Classic Apple Pie. Click HERE to get the recipe.
Irish Apple Crumble Cake ~ made with fresh apples, plenty of cinnamon, and a sweet crumble top. Drizzle this rustic and moist cake with our creamy Apple Brandy Sauce for a delightful dessert! Click HERE to get the recipes.