Teddie's Apple Cake

November 21, 2012

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. 

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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




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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • belindajk
  • GregoryBPortland
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    Kaesmene Banks
  • dymnyno
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


belindajk November 24, 2013
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?
Eileen November 24, 2013
I always substitute applesauce for oil in my receipes I do exact amt as oil
belindajk November 24, 2013
Thanks, Eileen! I will try substituting part applesauce and might use just a bit of butter (1Tblsp.) to add depth of flavor
Eileen November 24, 2013
Tammi T. February 20, 2024
This is the best apple cake ever. Don’t change a thing. Make it, you won’t be disappointed.
GregoryBPortland September 26, 2013
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.
barb48 September 26, 2013
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.
Kaesmene B. September 26, 2013
sounds like I have a recipe to try this weekend!
dymnyno September 8, 2013
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!
GregoryBPortland September 8, 2013
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.
barb48 September 8, 2013
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.
GregoryBPortland June 9, 2013
Wiser words were never said!
Ronburt June 8, 2013
Try the cake the way it says.If you change it before, you will never know.what you missed
Leilad June 9, 2013
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.
Leilad June 8, 2013
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.
Henry L. March 11, 2013
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.
SLK February 24, 2013
Thanks for a great recipe -- the sugary crust is wonderful!
kitchenqween December 12, 2012
Omg.. I need this cake!!!
jumpingjojo November 27, 2012
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.
localappetite November 25, 2012
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:
Kristen M. November 23, 2012
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.
Saltlakecityfoodie November 22, 2012
clayshapes November 22, 2012
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!
Irenehope February 6, 2013
Did you try it with less sugar?
littlesister November 22, 2012
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!
taster November 21, 2012
Best. Tasting. Batter. Ever.