Spiced apple cake

By Katherine

I put some raisins in that first one, don't tell Greg!

Growing up, we had three trees that were the focal points of our front yard. The stately oak with the forked trunk was in one corner. One of the “little ones” would always be behind it in a game of hide and seek. Later, we’d pose in front of it in our prom dresses. The large pine in the other corner was fun to crawl under when we still could. A bed of pine needles always provides cool refuge from the hot sun.

The oak eventually got too tall and the thought of it falling on the house in a bad storm trumped sentiment. The pine too was chopped down long ago. But it was our sprawling apple tree at the end of the sidewalk that I really hated to see go. That was one of our climbing trees. We’d scramble up it, swing from the crab tree branch and in one memorable sister spat, the second youngest — one of the “little ones” — planted herself on an upper branch daring the oldest — one of the “big ones” — to come get her. Or perhaps it was our mother she was tormenting. Or maybe it was just a fit for fit’s sake. Childhood memories are a bit fuzzy. I do remember she’d made a grand escape out the bedroom window. Well, it was on the first floor, but still seemed dramatic at the time.

Each fall we’d pick up ripe apples off the ground and try to save them from the driveway before they were smashed by dad’s car. Mom would make apple crisps, always better with a slice of cheddar, baked apples or apple cake.

This isn’t her recipe, but my best approximation. She gave hers to me, but it just served too many. I don’t have six little girls in the house, just a husband and two dogs.

Spiced apple cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (see note)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (see note)
  • 3 cups apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon or orange zest

Grease a small cake pan or four 12-ounce ramekins. In a large bowl, stir together flours, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a stand mixer, cream sugar and butter. Add one egg at a time and beat until incorporated. Alternately add buttermilk and dry ingredients in batches. Turn off mixer and stir in apples, pecans, zest and vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. The smaller cakes may bake faster.

Notes: If you donโ€™t have buttermilk, you can put a half tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in your measuring cup and fill it the rest of the way to the one-half cup mark with regular milk. Let stand for five minutes before using. I tend to cut sugar in recipes, because Greg doesn’t like super sweet desserts. Feel free to increase the brown sugar to one cup if desired.

About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
This entry was posted in Dessert, Food, Recipes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

113 Responses to Spiced apple cake

  1. Yuri says:

    Looks divine, Katherine! Never thought of adding citrus zest to apple cake.

  2. JamieAnne says:

    Looks great!!!

  3. nrhatch says:

    Oh, my . . . adopt ME! Then there’ll be THREE! (And I LOVE raisins). ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. My grandmother used to make Spiced apple cake all the time.. but I can’t remember her recipe. I will definitely have to try to find it. But your recipe sounds amazing. I haven’t had this in such a long time. You brought back memories ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. zestybeandog says:

    These look just perfect, I bet they make the house smell wonderful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I’ve never made a spiced apple cake, but this looks doable. I bake and cook gluten free at home, so I’ll have to figure out if an exact flour replacement will work out. Don’t know about adjusting for whole wheat flour, may just need to add a little more. Most likely, I’ll have an idea by the consistency of the batter.

    Anyway, thanks for this great recipe – I know I can work with it!

    Erika

    • Katherine says:

      Hi Erika. If it helps my mom just uses white flour in hers. I use whole wheat as well because I like the texture. I know you’d have to use entirely different products either way, but thought you might like to know that.

  7. jo-lyn says:

    nom nom nom… ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Carolyn Chan says:

    What a gorgeous story and I love how you reduce your sugar as well !

  9. I love apples , raw , in crisps, in cakes, chopped with bread pudding..you name it
    I can’t wait to try this one, with all the spices in it, the house must smell heavenly while these bake

  10. Hotly Spiced says:

    The ingredients in this cake sound delicious.

  11. I bet the house smells really wonderful while this is cooking…

  12. Joanne says:

    Gorgeous cake! I love the ramekins too for baking!

  13. This looks so good and reminds me of the only dessert my godmother could make! Lovely story – you have five sisters?! You lucky thing ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. peasepudding says:

    Very sad to see an apple fruit tree go. Now we seem to be in a rival to plant exile trees again

  15. Ah – lovely story. These look great, cute in their little pots too. I do love an apple cake.

  16. niasunset says:

    You almost took me into my childhood memories too dear Katherine, trees in our garden… What a beautiful writing and sharing with us, Thank you. But this is not only for this lovely story, there is an amazing cake too! Oh my dear, this is so beautiful, I am sure so delicious too. Apple, Apple, and again Apple… I noted your recipe, I want to try, especially the note hit me, instead of buttermilk, to use lemon juice… Have a nice day, with my love, nia

  17. rutheh says:

    A lovely post of childhood memory and a delicious sounding recipe.

  18. YAY Pyrex! I keep looking for those in the thrift stores, but they’re hard to come by…
    Tasty cake/bread…always looking for another way to use apples!

    • Katherine says:

      Good eye. When I got them I thought they were Corningware, because the pattern was so similar to my parents plates. You know the brownish gold flowers everyone had. But they are Pyrex, of course, as you noticed.

      • We had the green flowers…Pyrex and Corelle are the same company, but different formulas. My girl got two last week at a thrift store – they were ment to be refrigerator storage containers, but perfect for baking small things!

  19. ChgoJohn says:

    I like that you’ve cut the sugar; I try to do the same when possible, especially when kids are the “target audience”. And with a recipe as flavor-packed as this one, surely no one will notice a little less sugar.

    • Katherine says:

      Thanks, John. Greg just doesn’t have that big a sweet tooth and if you cut by 1/3 or less, you really don’t notice in cakes. Well, you might notice, but you don’t miss it.

  20. Katherine, I’m sure you know by now I like less sugar, too! Hence no recipes with icing for my cakes! This is such a lovely recipe – and makes a small cake! Just the size for the two of us! I can’t wait to try this!

  21. Kristy says:

    Six girls in one house! Wow! I loved your tree memories Katherine. It made me think of the trees that were so special in my yard growing up – lots of memories with my sister too. ๐Ÿ™‚ These apple cakes look delicious and I like the smaller servings. (Although I think Mr. N could eat as much as six girls some days. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

  22. aFrankAngle says:

    Looks great … and the glorious smell must fill the house. Thanks.

    By the way, since you graciously give me something every day, here’s something for team Rufus.
    http://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/on-a-joyous-zest/

  23. Mom has been wanting an apple dessert. This might just be it. We don’t like excess sugar either. Thanks.

  24. Loving this recipe! Your kitchen must have smelt heavenly and you made them in those ramekins I love to much of yours.
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Mandy

  25. egg me on says:

    Great story Katherine! Really sweet. And those apple cakes look pretty sweet, too. I like the mini cakes idea a lot.

  26. This looks so good, I wish I had some right now!

  27. I love spice cake! My husband doesn’t care for raisins either…it’s a real bummer! Ha!

    • katherine says:

      I think we could fill an entire post on banned ingredients in our house, not that it’d be that interesting! And we don’t have sensitivities, it’s all about taste or texture.

  28. Lia Anna says:

    Your story reminded me of my childhood; the summers spent climbing apple trees with my cousins in my grandparentโ€™s garden. I love apple and I can already smell the cakes just reading the recipe and looking at the pictures I have to try this one!

  29. onewomaninaricefield says:

    So what’s the math equation then? Solve for x.
    1 Greg = x little girls

    • katherine says:

      Oh what a horrible thing to say! You left out the dogs, 1 Greg + 2 dogs =… Oh this made me laugh so hard, thanks!

      • onewomaninaricefield says:

        Your post just got me thinking…Greg eats less than 6 little girls so you had to decrease the recipe…so how many little girls’ appetites does Greg equal? I’m picturing a terrible, epic, pie eating contest, if that helps. Haha.

    • katherine says:

      You had me cracking up. This is a tough one. Greg can eat loads, but he never gorges on dessert and we were skinny kids but boy could we eat. I think some scientific testing is in order!

  30. Carol Ann says:

    That looks like a great lunchbox treat

  31. Caroline says:

    Love that you made the cakes in individual bowls. Great idea. I would easily gobble down one of those! And I would hate to see the apple tree go as well. Sounds like you have some great memories. x

  32. Eva Taylor says:

    I totally saw the front yard in your story. And a beautiful segway into the apple cake recipe. I won’t tell Greg. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • katherine says:

      Thanks Eva, you always say such nice things. What’s funny is he didn’t see them and ate most of the one with raisins. I thought they were pretty easy to spot and he liked it. Maybe I can slip them in more stuff.

  33. Those look so tasty! Love the cute baking pans.

  34. Amy says:

    this looks awesome, Katherine! Very similar to the one I made the other day, except that I LOVE your addition of orange zest! Now I have a new recipe to try with my abundance of apples next year ๐Ÿ˜‰

  35. Kelly says:

    Katherine, what a beautiful memory from your childhood (nothing like growing up in a family of a million! lol) – Your spiced apple cake looks gorgeous – I love all the warming spices and the citrus zest… yum!

  36. I just bought some paper mini loaf pans yesterday to make some sort of bread or cake for gifts and was tapping my foot wondering what to make…gingerbread? banana bread? Ahhhh, now I see it…your little spiced apple cakes would be perfect, thanks! And what a wonderful story and such grand old trees you grew up with.

  37. spicegirlfla says:

    Wonderful recipe Katherine; I always prefer my desserts less sweet and a mix of wheat with white flour makes me feel like I’m eating healthy….even if its a dessert!! Wow, 6 girls! I just raised one and had my hands full!! One husband and 2 dogs sounds ideal! Especially having a hubby that can cook too!

  38. ceciliag says:

    WONDERFUL, I absolutely adore anything with baked apple in it and i love raisins too, you were so lucky having those trees as a kid. PS my dogs love cake too! .. c

  39. This looks amazing:) Do your dogs eat apples? haha

  40. Delicous, delicous, delicious looking!

  41. eva626 says:

    i love how you guys photograph the foods…its like i can almost smell it

  42. Charles says:

    I *love* spiced apple cake – I love the idea of putting them in little individual serving dishes ๐Ÿ™‚ My mother makes a spiced apple cake from time to time – she sprinkles some brown sugar on top before baking so it forms a crispy top… so yummy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Sissi says:

    The mini apple cakes look really cute! Wow! You have grown in a big family! 6 girls!

  44. Wonderful story, and what an equally wonderful cake! I love the idea of baking this in individually-sized ramekin servings.

  45. I’m telling! Only because I would want to be told about raisins in my yummy apple cake. That way, I’d know which ramekin to stay away from.

  46. nancyc says:

    That apple cake looks really yummy!

  47. SimpleP says:

    Great stories! That looks delicious, and what a great gift. Love that touch of citrus zest – makes all the difference.

  48. Sophie33 says:

    A lovely read this was! Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your apple pecan cake looks divine! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  49. Katherine, this apple cake sounds heavenly! I would love the raisins in it and I won’t tell Greg about them. Your secret is safe with me.

  50. Kas says:

    Looks beautiful!!

  51. I love apple cake. One of my favorite cakes and this post brought back some childhood memories for me as well of apple trees in my dad’s orchard.

  52. spree says:

    Would you just look at these little beauties! Loved the post, will love giving (and eating) the little cakes! Thanks Katherine!

  53. Mama Lisa says:

    I remember said ‘incident’ and I deny instigating any part of it. I do remember stomping my foot and glaring at the second-to-youngest (who is still a stinker and knows it), knowing that when Mom got home and there was hell to pay, I would be first in line!

  54. ugh! raisins! But other than that, sounds very tasty!

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  60. A_Boleyn says:

    They look as delicious as the first time I saw the recipe … I’m thinking quinces instead of apples and all white flour. I wonder if I should poach the quinces a bit first.

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