Apple Cake

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This delicate apple cake is so light and fluffy with bits of chopped apple throughout and topped with slices of fresh apples coated in cinnamon sugar syrup!

side view of apple cake on a white plate

Apple Cake

I used my very old spiced apple upside-down cake recipe as a starting point for today’s apple cake. I make this cake every year and it’s always a huge hit.

It’s perfect for apple season when you have plenty of extra apples to use up.

Also, the recipe is easy to prepare and the cake freezes well!

Here are the changes I made for this simple apple cake version:

  • I cooked the apple slices in syrup so they were softer and had more flavor.
  • I added cinnamon and nutmeg to the syrup to flavor the topping.
  • I left the cake batter plain with the exception of vanilla extract.
  • I used sour cream for a richer, moister cake.
  • I used all white sugar since the sliced apples are coated in a syrup made with brown sugar.
  • I also used less baking powder and a little more salt.

The ingredients are all very basic: cake flour, sugar, butter, eggs, sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and loads of apple. It’s so easy and tastes amazing!

high angled view of a slice of apple cake on a dark blue plate

Can you make apple cake with sour cream?

This moist apple cake recipe uses sour cream. The sour cream is what gives it a rich flavor and a moist, delicate crumb.

Can apple cake be frozen?

You can freeze this cake for up to 3 months. Once baked, cool it completely then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Bring it to room temperature before serving!

How to make apple cake?

Step 1: Cook apples in syrup

Cooking the apples first will bring out their flavor and reduce the juices that could make the cake soggy.

Once the apples are tender, arrange them in the bottom a round cake pan but leave the juices behind.

I suggest lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper so the apples don’t stick.

overhead view of sliced apples in a pot
overhead view of sliced apples arranged in the bottom of a cake pan

Step 2: Make the apple cake batter

The cake is a basic sour cream cake with loads of fresh chopped apples.

I mixed all the wet ingredients together first then mixed the dry ingredients and combined the two. Once combined, fold in the chopped apple.

overhead view of apple cake batter in a glass bowl

Step 3: Bake the cake

Spread the batter over the apples in the cake pan and bake it for 25-30 minutes.

Use a toothpick to check for doneness. It should come out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

overhead view of apple cake batter in a pan
overhead view of a baked apple cake in a pan

Step 4: Invert the cake

Cool the cake in the pan for 5-10 minutes then invert it onto a serving platter. If you lined the pan with parchment paper the cake should release easily.

Let the cake cool completely before slicing.

overhead view of apple cake on a white plate
angled view of a slice of apple cake on a dark blue plate

Tips for making this easy apple cake recipe

  • Take the extra step to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to prevent the apples from sticking.
  • Granny Smith apples are perfect for this recipe. They hold up during baking and offer a lovely tartness to balance the sweet syrup and cake.

More apple recipes you’ll love

  1. Spiced Apple Cupcakes
  2. Baked Apples
  3. Apple Cranberry Pie
  4. Baked Apple Fritters
  5. Apple Streusel Bars

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side view of apple cake on a white plate

Apple Cake

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

This delicate apple cake is so light and fluffy with bits of chopped apple throughout and topped with slices of fresh apples coated in cinnamon sugar syrup!


For the topping

  • ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (110 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin - SEE NOTE 1

For the cake

  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cups (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup (115 g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups (180 g) cake flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (125 g) finely chopped apple, from about 1 apple


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside

For the fruit topping

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the sugar has turned dark brown. Swirl the pan occasionally.
  2. Add the apples and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the apples have softened and the juices have thickened to a syrup consistency.
  3. Arrange the apples into the bottom of the prepared pan and spread them around evenly. Leave behind any excess juice. (You can save the syrup to drizzle over the cake after it's baked or use it for pancakes and waffles.)

For the cake

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk and add it to the butter. Mix just until the flour is fully incorporated.
  3. Gently fold in the chopped apple.
  4. Spoon the batter over the apples in the cake pan and spread the batter out into a smooth layer to the edge of the pan. 
  5. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is a rich golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  6. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a serving platter over the top of the cake pan and flip them both over to invert the cake out onto the platter. Don't force the cake loose, let it sit for a minute if it's not coming out easily and it will gradually detach from the pan. 
  7. Cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.


  1. I used Granny Smith Apples
  2. There will be leftover syrup from cooking the apples. You can drizzle this over the baked cake or save it for pancakes and waffles. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Make ahead tip

  1. The baked and cooled cake will keep for up to 5 days covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.
  2. The cake can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 201mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 3gSugar: 24gProtein: 5g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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  1. What size pan did you use for the apple cake?

  2. I wondered about spooning the leftover apple syrup over the cake after removing from the baking pan? Seems a shame to discard all those lovely flavours.

  3. I bet the leftover apple syrup would be great over pancakes!