Spiced Apple Cake

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Seriously, stop what you’re doing and make this spiced apple cake. It’s that good. I’m currently out of town and the eighth and final version of this apple cake is sitting all alone on my kitchen counter. Neatly tucked under a covered glass cake plate. It’s just waiting for me. Calling my name. I found this apple cake recipe, all nice and tidy and written up, on my desktop. I had no idea where it came from. After digging really deep and wracking my brain I realized that in my back pain-muscle relaxer episode of September 2016, I must have written this up in between watching Bob’s Burgers and Law & Order: SVU. I was intrigued. I knew I had to take the recipe for a test drive. My first apple cake test had zero eggs. Which is fine…a cake can have no eggs…but it wasn’t what I wanted. I tried it with four eggs…too eggy. Then it had too much liquid and then not enough. No spice and then hella spice. Streusel and then no streusel. I felt a bit like Goldilocks in the world of apple cake. But I had a very specific cake in mind and I wasn’t going to stop until it was exactly what I wanted: a super moist, perfectly spiced, loaded with apples, EASY cake that dazzles. In my pretend world we all have apple trees in our yards. And if we don’t have apple trees in our yard we have displays of apples strewn about the house like people are known to do this time of year. It was also extremely important that I imagined all of the ingredients would be stocked in your cupboards. This way it could just as easily be a Tuesday night cake as it could a Friday night cake. But, in the end, I had to add in one minor high maintenance ingredient (sour cream) to get the apple cake exactly where I wanted it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sour cream. But, it’s not something I regularly stock because I’m more prone to topping everything with greek yogurt (from tacos to smoothies) than I am sour cream. So, there’s just one ingredient you may have to go to the store for. So what are you waiting for? Throw on your shades, put your hair in a bun, exchange pajama bottoms for sweats and get yourself some sour cream. I love easy, fun apple recipes. Here are some of my favorites: Apple Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Bread, Burnt Caramel Apples, Easy Apple Cake and my favorite Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider. Also check out the Caramel Apple Cake (it’s a loaf cake) and Apple Sour Cream Cake with Apple Cider Drizzle in The Cake Book Before We Get Started:
  • To Peel or Not to Peel. The first test I didn’t peel the apples and my notes said: MUST PEEL. Then as I tested more I stopped peeling and it didn’t bother me. My dad would tell you to peel your apples. But then he’s not standing at the sink helping you, so go with personal preference on this.
  • Size Matters. Really people. Try to get the apples that are going to go on top of the apple cake to be roughly the same size…it will make it easier matching them up and making things look nice.
  • Apple Details. Let’s talk about cutting our apples. It’s not an exact science so no need to bust out your rulers. Your goal is to have a bunch of thin half-moon slices. Try to make every slice the same thickness, but at the same time don’t sweat it…no one will notice if some are thicker than others.
  • Apple Varieties. I used this beautiful little variety from my yard…I think it looks and tastes like a Gala…but I have no idea. I made it with some of my Granny Smiths…also good. Honeycrisps are another good variety to bake with. Bottomline: choose from the varieties that are available to you and focus on fresh, ripe and crisp apples.
  • Your Pan. The color and density of your pan matters. Really. It does. If you have a thin, dark-colored springform, your cake will turn out darker around the edges and the bottom of the cake. Conversely, if your pan is lighter and on the thicker side, your apple cake will turn out lighter. Additionally, you want a high-sided pan…I’m thinking 2 1/2 to 3 inches.
  • Butter + Flour. I’m not one to insist on the whole butter + flouring of your pan unless it is completely necessary. Sometimes we can get away with just butter and other times we can just spray with non-stick. However, the height of this apple cake is what I really love. And did you know that adding the flour on top of the butter will aid the cake in rising to its fullest? So do it. That’s all.
  • Final Flourish. When you’re putting the apple slices on the cake make sure they are overlapping and are coming out pretty perpendicular to the pan, that will keep everything relatively neat and tidy.
This is an EASY apple cake. We got this. Let’s get our bake on! Spiced Apple Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife | Loaded with apples inside the cake and fanned about on top...quick enough to be called an afternoon cake, pretty enough for special occasions! Spiced Apple Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife | Loaded with apples inside the cake and fanned about on top...quick enough to be called an afternoon cake, pretty enough for special occasions! Spiced Apple Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife | Loaded with apples inside the cake and fanned about on top...quick enough to be called an afternoon cake, pretty enough for special occasions! Spiced Apple Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife | Loaded with apples inside the cake and fanned about on top...quick enough to be called an afternoon cake, pretty enough for special occasions! Spiced Apple Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife | Loaded with apples inside the cake and fanned about on top...quick enough to be called an afternoon cake, pretty enough for special occasions! Spiced Apple Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife | Loaded with apples inside the cake and fanned about on top...quick enough to be called an afternoon cake, pretty enough for special occasions!

Spiced Apple Cake

Serves 8-10 INGREDIENTS Apples for the Top of the Cake
  • 2-3 small apples (see note above on peeling + cutting)
  • Juice of ½ lemon or orange
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom (optional…I’m a fan)
For the Cake
  • 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 apple, small dice (to go in the cake batter)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar to dust the finished cake
  1. Butter + flour an 8- or 9-inch springform pan (you can use another pan of similar size, but it may be more challenging to get it out and looking pretty)…if you use a 9-inch your cake will be done sooner then if you use the 8-inch pan.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the top third of your oven.
  3. Cut your apples and place in a small bowl. Drizzle with the lemon, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom and gently toss. Set aside.
  4. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment*, beat your butter + sugar on medium until light and fluffy….about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, scraping down the sides and bottom as you go to make sure everything is incorporated.
  5. Add the sour cream, water and vanilla and blend completely for about 2 more minutes.
  6. In a small bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  7. Pour your dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix on low until barely combined. Take the bowl out of your stand mixer, add the small diced apples and fold the apples in using a spatula until just mixed.
  8. Scoop the mixture into your prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to let any air bubbles escape. If the top needs to be smoothed a bit, I like to wet my hands and do it like that. Be gentle with it though…it will settle into place whilst baking.
  9. Now place the apples in concentric circles around the pan until the entire top is covered in moon-shaped apple slices. It already looks pretty. You’ve done good.
  10. Put her in the oven for 60-70 minutes, on the top rack. Around 50 minutes in check on her. If she’s getting too bronzed, throw a sheet of foil haphazardly over the top to protect her. The very center of the cake will look soft, and just barely done, when she’s ready to come out of the oven. Perfect.
  11. Run a knife around the outer edges of the cake pan and take the springform off immediately to expedite cooling. Let her sit for about 45 minutes. Don’t cut her until she’s cool. I mean it.
  12. Just prior to serving, sift powdered sugar over the top of the cake. She’s stunning. Take a photo and post her on social media. It’s what the kids are doing these days.
  13. Ok, take a bite. It’s fall. Am I right?
*You can just as easily make this with a bowl and wooden spoon. Follow the same instructions!
On My Mind
–Rebecca xo Spiced Apple Cake | Recipe via DisplacedHousewife | Loaded with apples inside the cake and fanned about on top...quick enough to be called an afternoon cake, pretty enough for special occasions!


Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

I love your comments, reviews and questions! If you love this recipe, please rate it when you leave a comment. Star ratings 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 help people discover my recipes. Your support means a lot, I look forward to chatting with you!

Rebecca xox


  • Beatriz Christmas April 14, 2020 at 9:35 PM

    Hi Rebecca! I found your website on @noleftovers and I’m so glad I did!
    I made this cake last weekend for Easter, and it was DELICIOUS! I loved it so much!
    My first recipe from you was the cinnamon rolls and they turned out amazing! I baked them and distributed them to my quarantined family – my sister and my parents and they also loved it!
    Thanks so much for your recipes! I will definitely be trying many more!

  • Shannon November 24, 2017 at 8:47 PM

    I made this cake for thanksgiving and it was perfect in every way. Took slightly longer to bake than expected (around 80-90 minutes) but the end result was wonderful. Thank you!

    • Rebecca Firth November 26, 2017 at 3:54 AM

      Hi Shannon!!! I’m so glad you liked this cake and I love that you served it for Thanksgiving!!! Thank you for the bake time note — that will be helpful for other bakers!!! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!!! xoxo

  • Coco in the Kitchen December 22, 2016 at 11:05 PM

    Girl, you are the bombdiggity!
    I just wanted to tell you that I made your cake
    and it is just fab!
    The whole house smelled like Christmas and we couldn’t stop eating it.
    So I had to bring the leftovers to work. I’m now on everyone’s xmas list here!

    I threw everything into the cake…cardamom seeds, freshly ground cinnamon (only b/c I ran out of the powder), nutmeg, cloves and Granny Smiths.
    Sheer heaven.

    • DisplacedHousewife December 23, 2016 at 4:12 PM

      Coco — I lovedddd seeing your photos of this cake. And I love how you brûléed the top!!! Sending lots of holiday cheer to you and your family!! xoxo

  • Kathy December 16, 2016 at 5:55 PM

    This looks like such yummy comfort food, I am practically drooling after looking at all your beautiful images. I have a friend with an abundance of cooking apples from the trees in her garden, so I am thinking that this might be the recipe to use some of them up!

    • DisplacedHousewife December 20, 2016 at 10:46 PM

      Hi Kathy — I hope you enjoy it!! Thank you so much for your kind words!! xo

  • Marie October 31, 2016 at 8:54 AM

    I made this for my family yesterday on an otherwise lazy sunday and OMG!!! So freakin’ good! Eveerybody loved it, even my mom (who usually isn’t much into sweet stuff) couldn’t stop compimenting it. Thanks for the stellar recipe!

    • DisplacedHousewife October 31, 2016 at 1:31 PM

      Hi Marie — Yay!! That makes me so happy to hear!! Thank you for the sweet note!! xox

      PS Isn’t it easy to make?!!

  • Sadaf October 29, 2016 at 9:17 AM

    Hello. Could you tell me what your means about: 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
    I don’t know how much butter i need exactly. Please tell me something like Cup or gr. Thank you.

    • DisplacedHousewife October 29, 2016 at 3:19 PM

      Sadaf — Hi! 1 1/2 sticks of butter = 3/4 cup of unsalted butter (170 grams). I have been thinking about doing conversions for my international followers…thanks for reminding me of this!! Please let me know if you have any more questions!! xox

  • Laura | Tutti Dolci October 15, 2016 at 2:25 AM

    Can I trade you a slice of apple cake, for apple cake?! ;) What a beauty she is!

    • DisplacedHousewife October 15, 2016 at 3:16 AM

      Laura — I was DYING over your apple cake!! I can’t wait to make it!! And yes, I would absolutely do a swap!! xoxo

  • Coco in the Kitchen October 13, 2016 at 11:24 PM

    “In my pretend world we all have apple trees in our yards…”
    You’re just adorable.

    And this cake really is dazzling! I came back for a cookie recipe because I didn’t have a chance to bake last night. Now, all I can think about is this cake.

  • traci | Vanilla And Bean October 13, 2016 at 5:02 PM

    I know this cake is perfect. It’s got all the things I love in it! As for the sour cream, it’s worth an extra trip to the store. Sometimes recipes take a extra bit of TLC, but like with this cake, the wait is worth it! Rob and I just picked another round of apples yesterday, before the wind and rain descended today. I’d love to whip this up!! Delicious recipe, Rebecca! Thank you for this!

  • Katrina October 10, 2016 at 10:31 PM

    I love a good apple cake and this one looks super easy! Love it!

  • Robin October 9, 2016 at 11:35 PM

    I am going to attempt to make this for Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed! I will channel my inner Becky. You are amazing ❤️❤️

    • DisplacedHousewife October 10, 2016 at 5:20 PM

      Robin — You can do it!!! I’ve already had people making this cake and it’s turning out beautifully!!! I tried to find how to say YES WE CAN in Mandarin, just for you…but my memory and google skills are failing me at the moment. But, you can do it tai tai!! xoxoxo

  • Karen @ Seasonal Cravings October 9, 2016 at 9:30 PM

    Rebecca, congrats on all of your press! I love seeing all your awesomeness on thefeedfeed. This cake looks like a real show stopper and perfect for holiday entertaining. I love all the tips you give so folks like me can’t mess it up!

  • Josh October 9, 2016 at 3:21 PM

    Wow this looks amazing.

  • Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen October 9, 2016 at 2:44 PM

    Wow! What a gorgeous cake for fall Rebecca! The apples on top look fabulous. I don’t usually have sour cream in my fridge either, but clearly it’s worth the effort to go grab some. I’m thinking if you have neighbors who follow your blog, you may get home to NO cake under that covered glass cake plate! Sometimes you just gotta risk it to get the biscuit! Hope your weekend’s been fun!

    • DisplacedHousewife October 9, 2016 at 2:56 PM

      Mary Ann — Thank you!!! I really tried to make it without the sour cream but I just wasn’t getting the cake I wanted!!! I did tell the person that’s helping me with my chickens to feel free to take some… I would be crushed if it was all gone!!! ;) xoxo