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The Best Cinnamon Apple Cake

This easy Cinnamon Apple Cake is packed with juicy Pink Lady Apples coated in cinnamon sugar and baked in a tender, moist cinnamon cake.

Cinnamon apple cake on glass cake stand with cinnamon sticks and red apples below and behind.

Fall is here, the season when leaves trade their green for shades of gold, and a cool chill whispers through the air.

It’s time for the harvest of crisp apples and a sprinkle of warm cinnamon spice.

Both are found in this delicious cinnamon apple cake.

The chopped apple mixture you’ll also find in my Mini Apple Pies, but they’re lightly stewed.

Perfect to bake when the weather turns cloudy, it pairs perfectly with a hot mug of cider.

Like my easy apple crisp, marrying fresh sweet apples with earthy cinnamon captures the season of fall baking.

Its crumb is moist with pockets of diced red apple marinated in cinnamon sugar and lemon juice.

Like my rustic apple tart, it’s perfectly served with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

To be enjoyed by the cozy fireplace.

If cinnamon’s your love language, you’ll also love my Easy Cinnamon Cupcakes.

Cinnamon apple cake dusted with powdered sugar on glass cake stand with slice cut out of it.

Keep it simple to serve by dusting a light layer of powdered sugar on top.

Although it doesn’t really need it.

You could even dust ground cinnamon on top instead!

Make it for dessert after a cozy family dinner.

Or as a ‘just because’ treat (we all need those, right?).

This cinnamon apple cake brings the heartwarming flavors of the fall season right into your kitchen.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make
  • Filled with sweet juicy apples
  • Includes applesauce for extra apple goodness!
  • A perfect fall dessert
  • Crowd pleaser
One slice of cinnamon apple cake on white plate with red apple and cinnamon sticks behind.

Best Apples To Use

Puzzled at the apple stand, unsure which to pick for this cake? Let’s explore some apple varieties usually available year-round:

  • Pink Lady: My top pick and widely available, they’re crisp and tart with a sweet twist and the perfect post-bake texture!
  • Granny Smith: My second choice, tart and firm, these green skin beauties will add a zesty punch and will work great in this cinnamon apple cake.
  • Fuji: With their juicy sweetness and firm flesh, they’re a close second to the pink lady.
  • Royal Gala: Sweet and mild with a softer texture, making it a lovely apple to use.
  • Honeycrisp: With the balance of sweet and tart, these juicy apples are a wonderful choice.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

A comprehensive recipe card featuring all the ingredients can be found at the end of this post.

Ingredients to make cinnamon apple cake is all-purpose flour, baking powder, light brown sugar, eggs, golden granulated sugar, pink lady apples, unsweetened applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, lemon juice and salt
  • Apples: Use any variety you like, I used Pink Lady Apples. My second choice would be Royal Gala or Granny Smith.
  • Granulated sugar: I used golden/raw granulated sugar for its added flavor. You can substitute it with regular white granulated sugar.
  • Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon works best.
  • Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice produces the best results. In a pinch, use bottled lemon juice.
  • Baking powder: For best the results use aluminum-free baking powder and ensure it’s not expired. To test if your baking powder still works, use this handy tip.
  • Salt: Any fine salt will do.
  • Brown sugar: Use regular light brown sugar. This recipe hasn’t been tested using dark brown sugar or coconut sugar.
  • Granulated sugar: I used golden/raw granulated sugar for its added flavor. Substitute with white granulated sugar.
  • Eggs: Must be at room temperature before starting the recipe.
  • Vanilla extract: Can be substituted with 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil works best. Alternatively, use neutral-flavored vegetable oil as a substitute.
  • Applesauce: Use either sweetened or unsweetened applesauce, both work great.

Step By Step Instructions (with photos)

There is a full and detailed recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step one: Preheat oven to 180ºC (356ºF). Line a round 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and set aside. 

Got a non-stick pan? Just grease with butter, line the base with parchment paper and dust the sides with flour.

Tracing bottom of cake tin onto sheet of parchment paper to line the base
Baking tin base lined with parchment paper and sides greased with butter then a dusting of flour

Step two: Chop apples into small cubes/chunks, approx. 1/2-inch in size (1-2cm). Discard the core. Leave the peel on or off, I left mine on.

Whole apples on chopping board and them being chopped into small cubes.

Step three: Place chopped apple in a small bowl. Pour over the lemon juice and mix with a spoon to coat. 

Chopped apples on board then in bowl mixed with lemon juice

Step four: Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon. Mix well until apples are coated. 

Step five: Divide apple mixture between 2 cups. 1 cup of apple for the batter and 1 cup of apple for the top of the batter. Set both aside. 

Chopped apples in bowl being coated in sugar and cinnamon.

Step six: In a clean medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Whisking flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in bowl.

Step seven: In a large mixing bowl, add both sugars, eggs and vanilla. 

Using electric hand beaters, beat on low-medium speed for 30 seconds until well combined. 

Beating together eggs, sugar and vanilla and mixing bowl

Step eight: With the beater running on low-medium speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify, approx. 1 minute in total. 

Gradually beating in olive oil

Step nine: Add applesauce and beat for 15 seconds until combined. 

Beating in applesauce

Step ten: Add flour mixture and beat until incorporated, about 25-30 seconds but do not over-mix. 

Beating in dry flour mixture

Step eleven: Fold through 1 cup of chopped apple mixture until distributed. Do not over-mix. 

Folding chopped apples through cake batter in bowl

Step twelve: Pour batter into prepared baking tin. 

Top batter with remaining 1 cup of apple mixture. 

Step thirteen: Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cinnamon apple cake batter in baking tin before baking
Cake batter in tin topped with more chopped apples before baking

Step fourteen: Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.

Then carefully remove it from the tin and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, dust with a light layer of powdered sugar, if desired. Enjoy!

Cinnamon apple cake in tin after baking

Expert Tips

  • Use a non-stick baking tin: For a smooth-sided cake, grease the tin with butter, line the base with parchment paper, dust the sides with flour and tap out the excess.
  • Room temperature eggs: This helps all ingredients to blend seamlessly. To expedite this, immerse them in lukewarm water for 10 minutes before use.
  • Gradually drizzle in the olive oil: Slowly pour in the olive oil whilst beating it into the eggs and sugar for 1 minute to emulsify. This prevents curdling.
  • Do not over-mix the cake batter: It will result in a tough and dense textured cake after baking. 
  • How to check the cake is baked: Test the cake’s doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it’s clean or has a few crumbs, you’re good to go!
Overhead view of whole cake dusted with powdered sugar.

Serving Suggestions

  • Ice Cream: Serve it fresh from the oven or slightly warmed with a generous scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.
  • Whipped Cream: Dollop some freshly whipped cream right on top with a light dusting of cinnamon.
  • Caramel Sauce: Drizzle this heavenly liquid gold over the cake or in addition to ice cream.
  • Fresh Berries: Add a burst of freshness with seasonal or mixed berries such as raspberries, strawberries or blueberries.
  • Chopped Nuts: A handful of chopped pecans or walnuts brings in crunch and an extra layer of flavor. Try toasted nuts for extra depth.
  • Coffee or Tea: For afternoon tea or as a relaxing dessert after dinner, enjoy it with a hot cup of tea, coffee or a homemade hot chocolate.
Showing inside of cake, sitting on glass cake stand with a few slices taken out. Red apples behind.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Incorrect Pan Size: If you go too big or too small, your cake won’t bake properly. Stick to the recommended tin size, which is a 9-inch round tin.
  • Not Emulsifying The Oil: Gradually adding and mixing in the olive oil helps it emulsify, ensuring your cake has a smooth, even texture—no oil slicks allowed!
  • Overmixing: Mix just until the batter is incorporated and no streaks or lumps of flour remain. Overmix, and you’re signing up for a dense cake.
  • Oven Temperature: Not all ovens are created equal! Make sure to preheat fully, 30 minutes prior to putting your cake in and consider an oven thermometer if you’re unsure about your oven.
  • Skipping the Toothpick Test: Don’t just rely on bake time. Do the toothpick test to make sure it’s fully baked. The toothpick needs to come out clean or with a couple of moist crumbs stuck to it.
  • Ignoring Altitude: If you’re up in the mountains, you may need to adjust the recipe. Google “high-altitude baking adjustments” and your cake won’t taste like it’s gasping for air.
One slice of cinnamon apple cake with gold fork taking a bite out of it.

Troubleshooting

Because when it comes to baking, even the best of us hit some speed bumps. Let’s dive into some problems and solutions for you.

Can be caused by too much flour or overbaking. Both can leave you with a cake that’s more Sahara than succulent. Measure carefully and keep an eye on your oven timer.

Underbaking or inaccurate measuring can be the culprits to a cake that still has wet batter in the center. Next time, bake a tad longer and test for doneness using the toothpick method.

The main reasons why this happens often stem from wrong measurements, expired leaveners, a small baking tin, or a cold oven. So measure accurately, check expiry dates, and verify your oven’s temperature with a thermometer.

Hot spots in the oven are real. Rotate the cake halfway through baking to even out the baking love. Also, make sure to bake your cake in the center of the oven so the heat is evenly distributed throughout the baking.

Close up side view of cake on glass cake stand with red apples below.

Storage Instructions

Store: Once cooled, store your cake in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 3-4 days. Transfer to the refrigerator after a few days, if needed to keep it fresh and away from humid temperatures. 

How To Freeze

  1. Freeze the cake either in individual slices or as a whole cake.
  2. Wrap the cake/slices tightly in either plastic wrap or a sheet of parchment paper.
  3. Then, wrap it again in tin foil for added protection.
  4. Label the wrapped cake with the date of freezing for easy reference.
  5. Store the cake in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How To Thaw

Once thawed, you can proceed to dust the cake with the powdered sugar to serve if desired.

Refrigerator Thawing:

This gradual thawing process helps retain the cake’s moisture and texture, so it’s not like biting into an apple-scented ice cube!

  1. Remove the wrapped cake from the freezer.
  2. Place the cake in the refrigerator, keeping it completely wrapped.
  3. Let the cake thaw slowly for several hours or overnight.

Room Temperature Thawing:

This quick thawing method ensures the cake softens fast.

  1. Keep the cake wrapped in plastic wrap and tin foil.
  2. Let it sit at room temperature for a few hours until softened.
  3. Avoid direct sunlight or heat exposure during thawing.

Partial Thawing for Slicing:

If you froze the entire cake but want only one or a few slices, this process allows you to enjoy individual slices while keeping the rest fresh for later.

  1. Remove the cake from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. Allow it to partially thaw until it softens enough to be easily sliced.
  3. Slice the desired portions.
  4. Refreeze any remaining cake portions you don’t plan to serve immediately.
Cinnamon apple cake on cake stand with one slice ready to remove from whole cake.

Recipe FAQ’s

You can try using a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend perfect for baking, such as a 1:1 flour blend. Although I haven’t tested this recipe myself using gluten-free flour.

Absolutely! You really can use any variety of apples you have. Granny Smiths are great for tartness and Honeycrisp or Fuji offer a sweeter touch. My top choices are Pink Lady or Granny Smith!

No, but you can if you want to. Peel your apples for a smoother texture, or keep the peels on for a little rustic charm, like I did!

You can use either Ceylon cinnamon or Cassia cinnamon, in ground form. Don’t use cinnamon sticks.

If you enjoy this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐️ star rating and a comment review below. I love to hear what you think and it’s much appreciated. Thank you! Your email address will not be published. Sam x

Slice of cinnamon apple cake on white plate with red apple behind.

The Best Cinnamon Apple Cake

Samantha Pickthall
This easy Cinnamon Apple Cake is packed with juicy Pink Lady Apples coated in cinnamon sugar and baked in a tender, moist cinnamon cake.
4.60 from 10 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Australian
Servings 10 slices
Calories 278 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Apple Mixture

  • 2 cups Pink Lady Apples, chopped into small cubes, 3-4 apples, Fuji, Royal Gala or Granny Smith, see notes
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp golden granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) all-purpose flour, scoop & leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, how to pack
  • 1/4 cup golden granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, each weighing approx. 55g-60g in shell
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

Serve

  • 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar, dusted over top

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC (356ºF). Line a round 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and set aside. NOTE: Alternatively, if you have a non-stick pan, liberally grease it with melted butter and dust it with a light layer of flour. This will leave your finished cake with smooth sides.

Apple Mixture

  • You can either peel the apples or leave the peel on, I kept the peel and it worked great.
  • Chop apples into small cubes/chunks, approx. 1/2-inch in size (1-2cm). Discard the core.
  • Place chopped apple in a small bowl.
  • Pour over lemon juice and mix with a spoon to coat.
  • Sprinkle over sugar and cinnamon. Mix well until apples are coated.
  • Divide apple mixture between 2 cups. 1 cup of apple for the batter and 1 cup of apple for the top of the batter. Set both aside.

Cake

  • In a clean medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, add both sugars, eggs and vanilla.
  • Using electric hand beaters, beat on low-medium speed for 30 seconds until well combined. Scrape down the sides if needed with a rubber spatula.
  • With the beater running on low-medium speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify, approx. 1 minute in total.
  • Add applesauce and beat for 15 seconds until combined. Scrape down the sides if needed.
  • Add flour mixture and beat until incorporated, about 25-30 seconds but do not over-mix, just until it’s incorporated into a smooth batter and no lumps/streaks of flour remain. Scrape down the sides.
  • Fold through 1 cup of chopped apple mixture until distributed. Do not over-mix.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking tin. Smoothing out the top.
  • Top batter with remaining 1 cup of apple mixture.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.
  • Carefully remove from tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To serve, dust with a light layer of powdered sugar, if desired.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Apples: Use any variety of apples you have. I used Pink Lady and a close second would be Fuji. Granny Smiths can also be used.
 
  • Store: Once cooled, store your cake in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 3-4 days. Transfer to the refrigerator after a few days, if needed to keep it fresh and away from humid temperatures. 
 
  • Freeze the cake by cooling it completely after baking. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and tinfoil, label with the date and store for up to 3 months in the freezer. Please refer to above blog post for detailed storing and freezing instructions.
 
  • Thaw the frozen cake by choosing either refrigerator thawing (slow, several hours) or room temperature thawing (quick, a few hours).

Nutrition

Calories: 278kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 4gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 203mgPotassium: 97mgFiber: 2gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 92IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 1mg
Keyword apple cake, cinnamon apple cake
Tried this recipe? Let us know how it was!

2 Comments

    1. Hi Mar, i’m so glad to hear that the cake turned out perfectly for you! It’s fantastic that the directions were helpful and easy to follow. Thank you for taking the time to share your positive experience. Sam 🙂

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