Almost-famous apple cake

You might say that at the moment I’m completely obsessed with apples. Making my apple picking cookies really got me in the spirit and although I’m reduced to buying my apples from a wooden crate at the local grocery store, I just had to make my almost-famous apple cake.

A slice of almost-famous apple cake

It’s a tradition in my house at this time of year: My official passage into the fall season. Each time I make my almost-famous apple cake for someone he or she invariably asks me to make another one. I’ve made small ones to give as gifts, and I’ve had a number of people pay me to make them.

That’s just how good  the apple cake is.

My almost-famous apple cake recipe is adapted from Paula Deen’s Fresh Apple Cake recipe. Originally I made it as written, but over time I’ve tweaked it  a number of times, adapting and adjusting the ingredients. Although I can barely read my recipe page at this point it comes out exactly the way I like it now: exceptionally moist and delightfully sweet yet not cloying.

Some almost-famous apple cake

Here are a few of my adaptations:

  • I substitute most of the vegetable oil in the original recipe with a combination of unsweetened applesauce and sour cream.
  • I use pure maple syrup in my apple cake and in the glaze
  • I scatter a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon on the bottom of the pan
  • I increase the amount of salt
  • I cut the amount of sugar almost in half and macerate the apples in the sugar with a touch of lemon juice
  • I add raisins to my apple cake
  • I toast the coconut before adding it to the batter
  • The original glaze was way too sweet so I cut the ingredients in half and substitute some ingredients
  • I use Gala and Granny Smith apples because I like the combination of sweet and tart

Gala and Granny Smith apples are great for apple cake

The apple cake can be made in a variety of pans, including a bundt pan or a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. When I want to give small cakes as gifts, I bake them in 6″ x 2.5″ paper molds and the recipe makes five good-size cakes. For this blog post I made one 9″ x 9″ cake and had enough batter to make two of the small cakes in the paper molds.

Various size apple cakes

So without further ado, here is the recipe for my almost-famous apple cake. I’ve tried my best to include all the metric conversions.

Almost-Famous Apple Cake

Adapted from Paula Deen’s Grandgirl’s Fresh Apple Cake recipe


4 apples (about 3-1/2 cups), cut into 1/2″ pieces

1-1/4 cups (280 grams) sugar

1 Tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice

1 cup (75 grams) shredded coconut

1 Tablespoon (13.75 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, to butter the baking dish

1 Tablespoon (approx 23 grams) brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) cinnamon

1/2 cup (approx 225 mL) canola or corn oil

1/2 cup (118 mL) unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup (118 mL) sour cream

1/4 cup (59 mL) orange juice – freshly squeezed is best

3 eggs, at room temperature

3 cups (330 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda

1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt

2-1/2 teaspoons (18 grams) cinnamon

1 Tablespoon (15 mL) pure maple syrup

1 cup (150 grams) chopped pecans, or walnuts

1 cup raisins (150 grams) : pre-soak the raisins as I do for my oatmeal raisin cookies

Glaze ingredients:

4 tablespoons (120 grams) unsalted butter

1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar

1/4 cup (60 mL) low-fat milk

1 Tablespoon (15 mL) pure maple syrup


Peel and chop the apples. Toss them with the sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl and let them macerate for 45 minutes to an hour.

macerate the apples for apple cake

In the meantime, toast the coconut:

How to Toast Coconut on the Stove Top: Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the coconut flakes and let them toast, stirring constantly so they do not burn. You’ll smell the coconut almost immediately and they will toast in 3-4 minutes.

Don’t walk away!

Toast the coconut in a skillet

Once the coconut has turned a deep golden brown, remove from the skillet and set aside to cool.

Toasted coconut

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 C, Gas Mark 3)

Butter the bottom and sides of baking dish

In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Brown sugar and cinnamon mixture

Scatter the brown sugar mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, combine the oil, applesauce, sour cream, orange juice, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup.

Ingredients for almost-famous apple cake

The batter will be thick and sticky at this point.

Using a large spoon, fold in the apples along with the juices that have formed. Now the batter will seem too wet – don’t worry about it. It will be fine.

I promise. Don’t doubt me here.

Fold the apples into the apple cake batter

Fold in the pecans, raisins and the toasted coconut.

Fold in the raisins, nuts and coconut

Put batter into pan(s) and bake as follows, or until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean from the center of the cake:

  • 6″ x 2.5″ paper molds: 50-60 minutes
  • 9″ x 9″ baking pan: 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Bundt pan: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • 9″ x 13″ baking pan: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Remove cake(s) to wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, make the glaze:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Add the sugar, milk and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Allow it to boil for one minute and remove from the heat to cool for 5 minutes.

glaze for almost-famous apple cake

Use a wooden skewer or a chopstick to poke holes all over the top of the cake(s).

Poke a lot of holes in the apple cake

Drizzle the glaze over the cake(s) and allow the cakes to cool completely. The glaze will soak into the cake(s).

Almost-famous apple cake with glaze

And enjoy!

As I said, my almost-famous apple cake is very, very moist. If you don’t want it as moist, omit the glaze. A streusel topping is delicious as well.

Or, before folding the apples into the batter, drain some of the accumulated juices off first.

almost famous apple cake pieces

The apple cake is really versatile. You can add cranberries to make it a cranberry apple cake, substitute half of the apples for pears, or try it with peaches and blueberries which are always delicious!


8 thoughts on “Almost-famous apple cake

  1. I’ve known you for 54 years and I’ve never heard of the “almost- famous apple cake.” Looks delicious. I love the combination of coconut, brown sugar and maple syrup (especially the syrup!).

    • You evidently have never made it to the “short list” of those who get the apple cake! If you play your cards right I may send you one. I actually made a few this time but my neighbors took them before they had even cooled completely!

      And the maple syrup adds great flavor to it. Just make sure it’s purse maple syrup and not the other junk.

  2. Me encanta esta tarta de manzana, tiene una pinta estupenda. Yo también hago galletas glaseadas de vez en cuando. Si te apetece verlas pásate por mi blog, tengo varias publicadas.
    Un saludo.

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