This 13×9 inch cake is an old fashioned fresh apple cake that’s moist, easy to mix and covered in a rich brown sugar and butter glaze.
This chopped apple cake recipe couldn’t be easier to make. It’s virtually a one-bowl cake and the hardest thing about it is chopping the apples.
It’s so quick to put together that it makes a perfect family or fall get-together dessert and the best cake for potlucks.
I like to think of this cake as sort of an old fashioned, southern apple cake. It’s rich and moist, but very hearty as well. You can add nuts if you want, but if you don’t like the idea of that, you can always omit them.
I feel like the butter and brown sugar caramel glaze (much like a penuche glaze) really adds the finishing touch, although a cream cheese frosting would go really nice with it as well.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
Now let’s talk about just some of the ingredients that are in this apple cake. (The printable list of all ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
Unsalted butter: You’ll use butter for both the cake and the glaze. Nothing beats real butter, so it’s best to use the real thing here and not margarine. You just won’t get the same taste.
Granulated sugar & brown sugar: This recipe calls for both granulated sugar and brown sugar. Sugar helps make a cake moist and the brown sugar, especially, will give it a great depth of flavor.
All-purpose flour: You don’t have to use any fancy flour for this cake. It calls for regular all-purpose flour that you probably already have on hand.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger: These warm spices really give the cake its fall flavor. It also brings out the taste of the apples.
Peeled, chopped apples: Of course, you’ll need apples for a fresh apple cake and you’ll need a few to peel and chop. You want to make sure they’re chopped into about ½ inch sized pieces though and not large chunks.
I personally prefer Honeycrisp apples, but for more options on what types of apples you can use for this cake, make sure to check out the FAQ section below.
Chopped walnuts or pecans: These are optional, but add a lot of flavor and crunch to the cake.
How to make this cake:
Let’s talk a little about how to make this easy, from-scratch apple sheet cake. (The printable instructions are in the recipe card below.)
First, you’ll work on making the cake. You’ll need to spray a 13×9 inch glass pan with baking spray, so the cake doesn’t stick.
Next, go ahead and peel and chop the apples into about ½ inch cubes and set them to the side while you prepare the batter.
After that, take a large mixing bowl and add the softened butter, oil, sugars, eggs and extract, then mix with a whisk really well.
Now, you’ll want to add the dry ingredients (but not the apples yet) to the liquid ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon.
You don’t have to use an electric mixer for this. Just make sure and only mix until the ingredients are just combined.
Next, add the chopped apples and the chopped nuts and then just stir with a large wooden spoon. The batter will be very thick at this point.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. If the top of the cake starts to get brown really quickly, just lay a piece of foil over it.
Once baked, set on a wire rack while you make the glaze.
Mix up the glaze and work fast so that it doesn’t thicken up too much to pour.
If it does though, just microwave it a bit to warm it up.
Once the glaze is made, pour it warm over the warm cake and spread it evenly and enjoy the cake warm.
Tips & FAQs:
Unsalted butter is best, but if you don’t have it, just use salted butter instead, but omit any of the salt called for in the recipe.
This recipe is best made with real butter.
You can use either dark brown or light brown sugar. I used light brown sugar for both the cake and the glaze.
Make sure not to pack the flour down into the measuring cup when you’re measuring. Spoon the flour into the cup and level it off, but don’t scoop the flour with the measuring cup as that can end up adding too much flour to the batter and will make the cake dry and/or dense.
I used Honeycrisp, but you could also use granny smith if you prefer.
No, you can omit the nuts if you want.
Make sure to peel and chop the apples into ½ inch cubes. You don’t want the apple chunks to be too big.
Make sure not to mix this batter too long. Just mix until everything is well combined. Since this is a scratch cake, mixing too long can cause a dense cake.
Yes, the batter will be quite thick, that’s normal. Don’t add any additional liquid.
The cake is fully baked with a toothpick inserted into the center and comes out with a few crumbs on it or clean, but no raw batter.
Just run the glaze through a strainer and it’ll be perfect.
I have not tested this cake out in a bundt pan, but it’s worth experimenting though!
This cake can be stored at room temperature, covered well, for several hours. After that, it should be stored in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, or in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.
This cake can be eaten chilled, or at room temperature, but is best served warmed. If cold, add slices to a plate and microwave for about 15 seconds or so.
I have not tried freezing this cake. Freezing it may change the texture of the apples. If you do want to try to freeze this cake, then let the baked cake cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer for up to a month. Make sure not to add the glaze before freezing.
To thaw, place the wrapped cake on the counter at room temperature and let thaw completely, then remove the wrapping. Once defrosted, add the glaze.
Personally, I think this cake is best served warm. You can even add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.
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Old Fashioned Fresh Apple Cake (13×9)
For the Cake:
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups peeled, chopped apples (Chop into approximately ½ inch sized pieces. I used about 2 ½ medium sized honeycrisp apples.)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
For the glaze:
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar (sifted after measuring)
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 13×9 inch glass pan with baking spray.
- Peel and chop the apples into about ½ inch cubes. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the softened butter, oil, sugars, eggs and extract. Whisk well.
- Add in the dry ingredients (not the apples yet) to the liquid ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon or an electric mixer. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
- The batter will be thick, but do not add any extra liquid.
- Stir in the chopped apples and nuts, then mix with a wooden spoon.
- Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake at 325 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. If the top starts to brown too quickly, lay a piece of foil over it. The cake is fully baked with a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs on it or clean, but no raw batter.
- Once baked, set on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes while you make the glaze.
For the glaze:
- Add the butter and brown sugar to a medium sized sauce pan and melt over medium heat. Stir often until the sugar melts and is mostly dissolved. This will take a few minutes.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the milk, then let the mixture come to a soft boil. Let it boil for 30 seconds. Make sure to contantly stir. The mixture will foam up.
- Take the mixture off the heat source and add confectioner's sugar and mix well. Work quickly as the mixture will begin to thicken up. If there are confectioner sugar clumps, pour the mixture through a strainer to remove them. Work fast so the mixture doesn't thicken too much for you to pour onto the cake. Once the confectioner's sugar is mixed in well, immediately pour the glaze over the cake and spread evenly.
- (If the glaze thickens up too much before you can pour it over the cake, heat it in the microwave for about 15 seconds at a time and stir to thin out he consistency a bit.)
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