An Old-Fashioned Apple Spice Cake

By • September 27, 2009 • 12 Comments

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Author Notes: I asked for this recipe about 45 years ago from one of my mother's friends when we lived on an Air Force Base in Okinawa. I had just begun to bake and the recipe is so easy that it was a success on my first try. With a few tweaks, I've been baking it ever since. Try to use a nice, flavorful apple like Granny Smith, Jonathan, MacIntosh, Rome or Paula Red.betteirene

Food52 Review: Betteirene's recipe is like a cake with a snowcap. The bottom half is reminiscent of carrot cake, textured with grated apples, raisins and chopped nuts. The cake batter is dense and on top of it you spread a thick layer of brown sugar meringue. As you assemble it, you’ll be convinced of its imminent doom. Fear not! In the oven, the meringue toasts and the cake, protected by its meringue roof, retains its moisture, and the best part is the pudding-like layer that forms between them. The meringue needs to be beaten over a water bath, and we learned the hard way that you need hand-held beaters to do this -- whisking it by hand for 10 minutes over a pan of hot water is like running a marathon in heels. Also, we think that light brown sugar is the way to go for both the meringue and the cake.- A&MThe Editors

Serves 6-8

For the Meringue:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • 2 large, meaty apples, cored and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 2 cups spooned and leveled all-purpose flour
  1. Position a rack in the middle level of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"x9" baking pan or casserole dish.
  2. To make the meringue, place the egg whites, brown sugar and water in the top of a double boiler. Put enough water in the bottom of the double boiler to touch the bottom of the top pot. Over high heat, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until peaks form, 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. For the cake, beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy; add egg yolks and blend well. By hand, stir in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, grated apples, walnuts and raisins. Fold in the flour, blending well but being careful to not overmix.
  4. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Spread meringue evenly over the batter. Bake until top is crisp, about 45 minutes. If you serve it while warm, the meringue will crack when you cut it, but that's a good thing. If you want nice, neat uniform slices, serve the cake the next day.
Jump to Comments (12)

Tags: apple, brown sugar, Easy, spices

Comments (12) Questions (0)

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11 months ago zeldie

This cake is beautiful and I might think the most absolutely delicious I have ever made! it is a sweet cake and easy! My Mother (Hungarian) made a version of this 45 years ago also! in NYC! Food 52 suggests using light brown sugar. I used 3/4 cup light brown and 1/4 dark brown for the cake part. For the meringue part I used only 1 cup consisting of 3/4 light brown and 1/4 dark. using 1 1/2 cups makes it super sweet. I put the meringue ingredients into my stainless steel mixer bowl (Kitchen Aid Mixer) then put that right over some water simmering in a saucepan…I took a hand whisk and whisked for a couple of minutes till the mix felt warm then popped the bowl into the standing mixer with the balloon beater attachment and put it on high…I got the most stunning meringue in minutes! standing over the stove with a hand mixer is insane! and waiting for an accident. my way is safe fast and efficient.

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about 1 year ago JBF OF BROOKLYN

do I use light brown or dark brown sugar

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almost 3 years ago linh

when i serve the cake it was still warm , everybody just loved it so much.

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almost 3 years ago Tokyo Yum

I have done this twice in two weeks, it is that good. But the second time, I replaced the apples with 3 very ripe bananas. Perfection!!!!

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almost 3 years ago Csweeney

I loved the story of this cake, and I wanted to like it, but I knew I should have turned back once I saw
How much sugar went intonit. If you dont like super-sweet things, this one is not for you.

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almost 3 years ago pvanhagenlcsw

This is a wonderful recipe and I am so glad I found it. I do not have a 9x9 pan so I used a round 9" spring form pan . It is fairly deep and good thing because the cake rose considerably.It took considerably longer than 45 minutes to cook but what a beauty and fabulous flavor.

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about 3 years ago Drew Lorenc

First and foremost, DELICIOUS!!! This cake was divine! Now... the meringue, while very tasty, decided to expand significantly. Well beyond what I expected from the photo. Any suggestions on how to reduce the puffing of meringue? I'm thinking that I didn't beat the egg whites enough, or perhaps the heat was too low. Any ideas if that would impact it's growth in the oven? Thanks!

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about 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I have been eyeing this recipe for a long time - yesterday I finally made it and it is SO GOOD! The meringue is a lot of fun to make, and the cake is just gorgeous ... it may make a Thanksgiving appearance too!

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about 5 years ago kelleya

This cake is absolutely wonderful. It is easy to make and delicious both warm and the next day. I used Garnny Smith and they were perfect for this.

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about 5 years ago Rhonda35

The meringue topping reminds me of one of my favorite apple cakes: Torta di Mele in Lynne Rossetto Kasper's "The Italian Country Table." I love the way the top crackles and splinters when you cut into it.

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about 5 years ago nutritiontokitchen

Such a creative recipe! I love the brown sugar meringue layer on top.

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about 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I cannot wait to try this recipe. It looks fantastic.