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stack of two apple cake slices.

Fresh Apple Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 83 reviews
  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


You’ll love this easy sheet cake recipe for tender and moist fresh apple cake. The pictures above include a few photos of the cake with a dusting of 2 Tablespoons (15g) confectioners’ sugar and some include a buttery brown sugar glaze. The glaze recipe is included below.



  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH ground ginger & allspice
  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (180g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) orange juice
  • 3 cups (360g) peeled chopped apples (1/2-inch chunks, about 23 large apples)

Optional: Brown Sugar Glaze

  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 56g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (60g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract, and orange juice together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the chopped apples until combined. It will seem like a lot of apples and that’s ok!
  4. Pour and spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 45–50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on it. Around the 30-minute mark, loosely tent with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before topping or serving.
  6. Right before serving, you can top the slightly warm cake with a dusting of 2 Tablespoons (15g) confectioners’ sugar or make the brown sugar glaze in the next step.
  7. Make the glaze: As the cake cools, prepare the brown sugar glaze. Combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter has melted, and then stop stirring and let the mixture come to a rapid boil. Boil for 1 minute. Turn the heat down to low, give it a quick stir, and let simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the sifted confectioners’ sugar. Allow glaze to cool and slightly thicken for at least 20 minutes. Spoon glaze over the cake right before serving. (Cake can still be warm when glazing.) If your glaze thickened up too much as it cooled, warm in the microwave for 15 seconds and stir until smooth.
  8. The cake (glazed, dusted, or plain) can be served warm or at room temperature. Cover leftovers and store at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you topped with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, note that the sugar will melt and disappear into the cake after a few hours.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake through step 5. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature before serving. Continue with step 6.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Glass 9×13-inch Pan or Metal 9×13-inch Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Rubber Spatula | Cooling Rack | Fine Mesh Sieve (for confectioners’ sugar topping) | Medium Saucepan (for glaze topping)
  3. Can I replace or reduce the oil? Vegetable oil is the best option for this cake. You can replace with a neutral-flavored oil such as avocado oil or canola oil. Feel free to use melted refined coconut oil (refined doesn’t have much of a coconut flavor) and make sure every other ingredient in the cake batter is room temperature, so the oil doesn’t solidify. Do not replace with melted butter because the cake will taste dry. You can replace a small amount of the oil with applesauce if needed, but keep in mind that the cake will begin to taste dry/rubbery the more oil you replace.
  4. Orange Juice: If you don’t have orange juice, you can substitute apple juice, apple cider, or any type of milk. I don’t recommend using lemon juice in this recipe.
  5. Apples: For depth of flavor, it’s best to bake with a mix of sweet and tart apples. For this fresh apple cake, I usually use about 1 and 1/2 Honeycrisp apples and 1 Granny Smith apple.
  6. Layer Cake: Grease 3 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. Divide batter between the 3 round cake pans. Bake for around 26–32 minutes, depending on which size pan you used. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The brown butter cream cheese frosting used on this banana layer cake would be very tasty on this cake.
  7. Bundt Cake: Try my recipe for glazed apple Bundt cake.
  8. Cupcakes: Try my recipe for apple cupcakes.