Genius Recipes

Teddie's Apple Cake

By • November 21, 2012 • 48 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help --  FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: The holiday season's lovable anytime cake -- breakfast, snack, and show-stopping dessert all in one. 

If food magazines were like fashion magazines, this cake would be the cape you're encouraged to wear to brunch, the mountaintop lodge, and the opera.

It has a chameleon-like ability to please everyone and fit in everywhere, and it is named, charmingly, Teddie's Apple Cake.


It was first published in 1973 by Jean Hewitt, former food reporter and home economist at the New York Times. But it came to our attention more recently as one of the top five reader-recommended recipes in Amanda's book, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, along with other classics we know and love: David Eyre's Pancake and Chocolate Dump-It Cake.

Serve it with coffee for breakfast, with whipped cream for dessert. Dust it with powdered sugar and set it aloft on a cake plate; or leave it out on the counter for all-hour snacks. Gift it; freeze it; portion it out for a bake sale. It will be amenable, and so too will be whoever is lucky enough to eat it.

Awkward homonyms aside, this is the teddy bear of cakes -- lovable, warm, and wholesome. But you can give it some edge too. We've quietly, but definitively, moved away from the Red Delicious apples that Hewitt recommended toward more self-respecting Honeycrisp or Granny Smith.

But push further: swap in booze-soaked raisins or darker sugars, whole wheat or olive oil. Douse it in this caramel glaze or this hard sauce. Amanda has toyed with every inch of this cake and rightly calls it "indestructible". 

What's special about this cake, other than its ease, its flexibility, its teddy bear-iness: it's an oil-based cake -- and this means many great things:

• You don't have to wait for butter to soften. You can just hit the pantry and run.

• It's kosher with meat or dairy suppers (if you grease the pan with oil too).

• As I learned from Shirley Corriher via drbabs, unlike butter, oil makes cakes especially moist and tender because it coats the flour's proteins, keeping them from soaking up liquid in the batter and forming gluten (which would make the cake both tougher and drier). As a result, this cake defies staling and keeps well for days.


The tube pan really is the perfect vehicle for this cake -- maximizing the crust surface area, and allowing it height and girth. If you don't have one, you can use two shallower 9-inch cake pans or a bundt pan (but you'll lose that beautiful crust on the flip -- with a tube pan, you can lift the cake up and away without disturbing the crust)

You may by now be asking: Who is this genius Teddie? We don't know. Yet. This marks the first recipe in our series with an anonymous genius. Jean Hewitt didn't let on in the original article "Just Desserts" (the recipe was accompanied by little more than an equally mysterious one for "Lee's Marlborough Tart").

So if anyone knows the whereabouts of Teddie, could you please tell him -- or her -- the internet is looking for them? And also thank you, from all of us.

teddie's apple cake

Teddie's Apple Cake

Adapted very slightly from The New York Times, Jean Hewitt, and Teddie

Serves 8

Butter for greasing pan
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups peeled, cored, and thickly sliced tart apples like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: genius, apples, cake, Amanda Hesser, Jean Hewitt, New York Times, holiday, baking, fall, teddie

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Comments (48)


over 1 year ago belindajk

This looks quite good but, to my mind, 1 and 1/2 cups oil seems a bit much. Do you suppose less oil will do? Might I substitute applesauce for 1//2 cup oil?


over 1 year ago Eileen

I always substitute applesauce for oil in my receipes I do exact amt as oil


over 1 year ago belindajk

Thanks, Eileen! I will try substituting part applesauce and might use just a bit of butter (1Tblsp.) to add depth of flavor


over 1 year ago Eileen



over 1 year ago GregoryBPortland

This cake is also excellent with pears. Amp up the flavor with about a tablespoon of orange zest (it's a big cake), and nutmeg, and you've got another excellent cake to offer for a big dinner party.


over 1 year ago barb48

I made another apple cake that has gotten lots of great feedback on this site, but truthfully, I liked this one much more, so this will be my go-to apple cake recipe from now on.


over 1 year ago Kaesmene Banks

sounds like I have a recipe to try this weekend!


over 1 year ago dymnyno

I grew up near Sebastopol, CA which was famous for Gravenstein apples. My mother made this cake often from a recipe that I think was from a local newspaper (50's). I continue to make the cake with a few changes: I add a 1/2 cup of cream and I bake it in a heavy 9 inch cast iron pan. Perfect every time!


over 1 year ago GregoryBPortland

Oh this is a very stiff batter and will put on muscle. A good stand mixer will help, not a hand mixer, but eventually you will have to mix in the apples and nuts in by hand.


over 1 year ago barb48

I made this a few days ago using a hand mixer. Someone should have warned that I need to do lots of arm strengthening beforehand or pop some steroids or something, as mixing the batter took every ounce of my strength! Still, it was delish.


almost 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

Wiser words were never said!


almost 2 years ago Ronburt

Try the cake the way it says.If you change it before, you will never know.what you missed


almost 2 years ago Leilad

I don't like food that sweet. I can't justify all that white flour, my tastes have changed. I understand what you mean tho. WW pastry flour isn't heavy like regular.
You can even do it half and half.


almost 2 years ago Leilad

I would use orgnic WW pastry flour and cut down the sugar and oil. It would be a little different but good, healthier. I'd add nutmeg and allspice, lemon rind.


about 2 years ago Henry Lee

BEST TIP for making this fabulous cake: Add the flour-salt-cinnamon-baking soda at the very END of step 2 (after the vanilla, apples, walnuts, and raisins). This way, the batter is very easy to mix with a spatula. No need to drag out the stand mixer, but using a hand mixer is great for step 1.


about 2 years ago SLK

Thanks for a great recipe -- the sugary crust is wonderful!


over 2 years ago kitchenqween

Omg.. I need this cake!!!


over 2 years ago jumpingjojo

This is a recipe that has been in my family for many years also. Many years ago, my mother started greasing the pan and then coating it with sugar instead of flour. It makes a lovely crust for the cake. Now that is the only way our family makes it.


over 2 years ago localappetite

This recipe is very similar to the other amazing apple cake in The NYTimes Cookbook, "Laura Goodenough's Apple Coffee Cake". I made that before Hurricane Sandy to hold us over in case we lost power. It was completely addictive and fed all my neighbors. One twist that would work well with this one is to make the top layer apples instead of cake, adds a nice texture contrast:


over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

So fun to hear about all the places that variations on this cake have shown up, and how long it's been a go-to. Thanks, everyone, for your comments.


over 2 years ago Saltlakecityfoodie



over 2 years ago clayshapes

I have my mom's similar recipe, also made with oil, but she always made it in a square 9X9 cake pan. I balk though, when I see cake recipes with 2 cups of sugar. Am going to try this with less sugar and see if it's just as good. Usually, it is!


about 2 years ago Irenehope

Did you try it with less sugar?


over 2 years ago littlesister

I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was really delicious. I only had a few raisins and almost omitted them altogether but I'm glad I didn't. I'll make this cake again!


over 2 years ago taster

Best. Tasting. Batter. Ever.


over 2 years ago looseid

Saw this recipe and immediately got it in the oven today. I've been looking for a go-to apple treat and this really fit the bill. SO easy and tasty. It's like a spiced apple muffin – a huge one with a hole in the middle. Thank you.


over 2 years ago Brette Warshaw

Love that description!


over 2 years ago MLL29

I have had this recipe for years, got it from a cookbook sold as a fundraiser for a catholic parish in the Philadelphia area in the 1970's it is called a Jewish apple cake, now I know why


over 2 years ago laurel'skitchen

I have been making this cake for years. Original recipe was in New York Times.
My go-to Rosh Hashonah cake.


over 2 years ago jillyp

So there you have it: every respectable 20th century Jewish woman had a version of this recipe. My mother kept apple cake in her regular rotation for for mah jongg games, Hadassah meetings and fall/winter holidays - and I loved it!


over 2 years ago mdudgeon

I have made this cake for years. If you are in a big hurry you can simpley core the apples and run them, peel and all, thru the grating blade of the food processor.


over 2 years ago Jrslo

I first made this cake 45 years ago. My recipe is called Charlie's Apple Cake.


over 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

I've been making this cake for years. I make it with pecans or macadamia nuts, and it always turns out beautifully. The recipe I have doesn't use raisins, and includes nutmeg, which rounds out the spice flavor of the cake. It also has a glaze of butter, brown sugar, sugar, and a touch of heavy cream that is briefly boiled before being drizzled over the cake. This version came to me via a cookbook where the author claims the recipe was given to him by James Beard. Glad to know of its origins. In any event--this is a spectacular cake that always pleases.


over 2 years ago Alexandra Stafford

This is seriously one of my favorite recipes. My mom made it for me last fall for the first time, and I have introduced many friends to it since. I love how the top gets a little crispy, kind of like a brownie. And it just gets better by the day!


over 2 years ago Jane Eyrehead

This is exactly, but exactly, the recipe I have been making for over 35 years. I got it from a friend's very old aunt, who thought I was crazy to like it so much. (She was the kind of home baker who made cakes covered with cream puffs.) I think it comes from the 'thirties, which was when cakes made with vegetable oil came into being. Anyway, I have given this recipe out for dozens of years--people love it and it is so easy to make.


over 2 years ago PInkluna

I'm just about to make Dorrie Greenspan's version of this cake - butter instead of oil, of course (it is the "around my french table" book!). Now I'm not sure which version is better! Thanks Food 52!


over 2 years ago Debbie Lawson

I make an apple cake that is similar and purposely make it in a 9x13" pan to increase the surface area that gets crunchy on top. The extremely moist cake with a crunchy top is always a big hit. People love it any time of day.


over 2 years ago Carin N

I must have ESP! I made this cake yesterday for the first time. I didn't have a tube pan available so I used a bundt pan. I cooled it in the pan and was able to flip it right side up after removing it from the pan so the beautiful crust was on top. Needless to say, it's almost all gone!


about 2 years ago shirleyanne smedley

Good for you Irene Hope. Four years ago I got cancer and decided against the slash/poison/burn medical treatment. Lots of alternatives out there; one being 'cut the sugar'. You can usually get away with 1/3 less (and then eat less!)


over 2 years ago RachelH

Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking- Pareve Apple-Walnut Cake page 236


over 2 years ago SueYo

I have been making this cake since it appeared in the NY TImes Sunday magazine section in 1973. It is by far the most beloved cake of any I make.


over 2 years ago jcg

This is the old Apple Dapple cake from the 60's!!! I still make it with a few of my mods. I use only with 1 cup of oil and it is still very moist. I also use 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and only 1/2 tsp salt. People still love it, I just made it 2 weeks ago...


over 2 years ago bookjunky

Oh sure, now you give me this recipe. Right after I throw out my tube pan 'cause I never make angel food cakes....


over 2 years ago amgchem

I have made this cake numerous times and it is always a big hit. Last time I made it there wasn't a crumb left!


over 2 years ago ew1

I have made a very similar cake for years - ever since it was featured on Martha Stewart - as they write on their website - "Viewer Dorothy Mae Brown's recipe for Apple Spice Cake continues to be one of the most popular cakes featured on" - http://www.marthastewart... There are slight differences and it is spicier and there is the addition of the caramel sauce it is the easiest cake to make and a super crowd pleaser.


over 2 years ago Rupal P

I have also made a very similar cake for years - must be the same recipe because I remember the delicious caramel sauce. As I remember at its heart it is essentially a 1-2-3-4 recipe, loaded with apples and walnuts but minus the raisins. I find that it lends itself well to muffins - thus making it easy to serve and maximizing the number of pieces that have a lovely crusty top. Sometimes I add a tad of milk to the batter when making it that way.


over 2 years ago dymnyno

I have a recipe that my mother used to make every summer when the apples were ripe. I don't know who Teddie is/was but the area near my and my mother's home town was once famous for it's apples, long before the monoculture of the grape took over Napa and Sonoma counties. She made it in a tube pan just like your pic. I sometimes make it in a large pan so that the center bakes more evenly. I posted my version a couple of years ago.


over 2 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

I've been meaning to make this cake ever since I ripped out Amanda's Recipe Redux story from the NY Times Magazine, like 5 yrs ago. I'd better get on the ball! Thanks for picking out another gem, Kristen. Happy Thanksgiving.