Make Ahead

Best Apple Cake With Raisins & Walnuts

October 13, 2022
52 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Consider this the holiday season's lovable anytime cake—breakfast, snack, and show-stopping dessert all in one. Serve it with coffee for breakfast or with whipped cream for dessert. Gift it; freeze it; portion it out for a bake sale. Feel free to swap in booze-soaked raisins, darker sugars, whole wheat flour, or extra-virgin olive oil—this cake is virtually indestructible and that's what we love about it. The recipe is adapted very slightly from The New York Times and Jean Hewitt—we hope they don't mind. —Genius Recipes

Test Kitchen Notes

This three-step, 12-ingredient recipe is about as easy as fall baking projects get. It’s no surprise that it’s been a hit with our readers for more than a decade. It’s studded with thick apple slices—we recommend using a tart, crisp apple such as Honeycrisp or Granny Smith. (That said, have a bunch leftover from apple picking with your friends and family? Use ’em if you’ve got ’em here!) A little bit of ground cinnamon brings much-needed warmth to the batter, while walnuts and raisins lend texture.

As for the super-moist texture of the cake, that’s all thanks to two things—ingredients and technique. For starters, this cake uses vegetable oil, which keeps each slice super light. We love one reader’s recommendation of reducing the volume of vegetable oil and swapping in unsweetened applesauce for a more pronounced apple flavor. And any pro home baker knows that the real secret to moist cake is not overmixing the batter. Fold the ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined so that no streaks of flour are left, but not a second longer. Overmixing almost any gluten-based batter leads to tough, chewy baked goods.

Enjoy a slice of this apple cake warm or at room temperature. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream, or nothing at all. The choice is deliciously yours. —Food52

What You'll Need
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Best Apple Cake With Raisins & Walnuts
  • Butter for greasing pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups peeled, cored, and thickly sliced tart apples like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.
  2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts and raisins and stir until combined.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before lifting out. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Giovanni Di Sano
    Giovanni Di Sano
  • Pamela
  • RavensFeast
  • Marla K. Goldstein
    Marla K. Goldstein
  • QueenSashy
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

206 Reviews

Giovanni D. January 1, 2023
I made this cake for NYE. It was not my first choice, and my expectations were not very high due to the simplicity of the recipe. After reading some reviews, I also coated the cake pan with sugar and soaked my raisins (apple brandy in my case). I also added the brandy in the cake batter. Well, my sister said it was the best cake I ever made!!! I am the baker of the family, so I have presented them with many desserts. This one is a keeper! Thank you for proving that easy does not mean less tasty!! Happy New Year to all!!
Toni February 6, 2022
Read the comments and made yesterday in two 8x4 loaf pans (baked about an hour). Plumped raisins in 1/4 c. brandy, added 1 tsp allspice, 75% white sugar and 25% brown sugar, and almost 4 c. apples. When cooled, brushed with a thin powdered sugar and brandy glaze. A good light snack cake, not too sweet or oily, but needs even more spice!

For reference, many loaf cakes I like use a similar ratio of flour, sugar, fat -- 1 & 1/2 c. flour : 1 c. sugar : 3/4 c. fat (from combination of oil and dairy). When I try something new, I use this ratio to pre-determine the results and edit accordingly.
Pamela January 8, 2022
On my 2nd cake, I increased the amount of cinnamon and substituted 3/4 cup of homemade applesauce for half of the oil. It creates a richer apple flavor.
[email protected] October 23, 2021
I altered this a bit, and found it a delightfully flexible recipe. I used 4 cups of diced apples and omitted the raisins. I used 1 cup of oil and 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of all the oil. I added cardamom and nutmeg. I used half whole wheat flour. I cut the sugar to 1 1/2 cup brown and white sugar blend. I also used a different pan, a shallower and wider copper cake mould. Ultimately this makes it more of a breakfast cake which is what I was going for and it turned out perfectly after a 1 hour bake.
Erin C. October 18, 2021
For those looking for a good gluten-free version, this flour mix worked well for me:
4 oz cassava flour
3 oz almond flour
3 oz oat flour
2 oz arrowroot starch
1 oz coconut flour
1/2 oz kinako
Baked in a Nordicware Bundt pan, extra self-picked honey crisp apples, extra toasted pecans, zero raisins because raisins are an abomination of the food world, topped with a brown-butter glaze and a sprinkle of, yet more, toasted pecans. Fall perfection.
C F. October 3, 2021
Tasty and not too complicated. Great way to use those farmers market apples. Like others suggested, I reduced the sugar - used 1.5 cups combining white and brown sugars. I found the cake to be on the dry side. May consider an apple cider glaze next time.
Hannah September 28, 2021
I do not have a Bundt nor tube pan. Can I use a 9x13 pan?
RavensFeast September 26, 2021
An absolutely delightful recipe! So easy and the results were perfection. I brought this to a party and everyone was raving. This will be on rotation.
Renie September 11, 2021
I wanted to make this cake, but I was almost out of white flour (imagine) so I filled in with wheat flour, about 50/50. The result was AMAZING.
Renie September 20, 2021
I meant All Purpose flour and filled in with Whole Wheat
modenadreaming December 2, 2020
My recipe is very similar and is from Food and Wine, 2007. The recipe does not include nuts or raisin. But it finishes the cake with a Toffee Crust. So delicious.
Marla K. December 2, 2020
I've made this frequently. I substitute walnut oil for some of the vegetable oil and use a mix of brown sugar and regular cane sugar. Also, I use dried, sweetened cranberries, rather than raisins. I also cut the apples into smaller pieces. Coat the greased bundt pan with granulated sugar. It gives the cake a lovely crunch on the outside.

This cake is always a huge hit.
Kate December 17, 2021
I've made this a couple of times, but following your tip about coating the greased pan with sugar was the best!
HMHB November 25, 2020
One of my favorites. I also use less sugar and substitute apple pie spice mix in place of the cinnamon and I leave out the raisins. Have also made it with gluten-free almond flour baking mix.
QueenSashy October 23, 2020
I also found that 2 cups of sugar is a bit too much. Scant 1 3/4 cups is perfect for those with sweet tooth, and 1 1/2 for those who like less sweet desserts. Other than that it is one of our favorite cakes. Another great option is to use half apples and half grated carrots -- it's wonderful.
Karen T. October 21, 2020
Way too sweet! Hardly tasted the apples - just sugar!
Macheese May 12, 2020
This is one of my all time favorite cake recipes that I've made ever since the NY times cookbook came out--it's a perfect every day cake, fast enough to make when you have a cake craving, and perfect for breakfast the next day. I recently decided to go on a plant based diet and have to say, this is not bad as a vegan option, mostly because the fat is oil. We substituted ground flax seed for the eggs. 1 Tb flax seed + 3 Tb water = one egg (mix with hot water and leave for 5-10 minutes while mixing other ingredients and slicing apples). The texture of the batter was slightly gummy compared to the version with eggs. It however baked up nicely (I baked it in 2 8" pans for 40 min), the cake itself has a bit of a chewy crust, which was delicious, and it was just as moist as the original version. I would definitely make it plant based again and not tell guests about it, because it's just that good!
Leek April 16, 2020
This cake is great! It is the best way I have found to preserve the apples off my tree. I bake it in muffin tins then freeze them fir individualservings whenever we want. When my daughter asked for more after going through several bags in the freezer, I new I had a hit!
Kt4 May 20, 2020
I was thinking of doing this. How long do you cook the muffins for? THanks in advance!
cpc November 22, 2019
You had me at boozy raisins. I tossed the raisins with a couple of tablespoons of bourbon and let them soak while I measured, sifted and chopped. I used 4 apples, a combination of Courtlands, honey crisp & pink lady. I also subbed in 1 cup of buckwheat flour for the ap flour. I wish I’d added another teaspoon or two or spice but otherwise it’s great!
PJ October 27, 2019
Can I freeze this? Went apple picking and the need to get my moneys worth exceeding my need for apples!
csemsack November 6, 2019
Robin October 1, 2019
Can I eliminate the raisins?
Jeanne October 1, 2019
Yes, in my opinion. I’ve made this cake since 1973 and I’ve eliminated the raisins on occasion without any issue.
Robin October 1, 2019
Thank you!!
LobsterBrieAvocadoBreath September 30, 2019
I love love love this cake. Made it plenty to rave revies. Has anyone tried a gluten-free version? If so, how did you tweak the recipe, and how did it go. I haven't really ever had to accomodate my baking for gluten free reasons. I am having a guest who has gluten issues. What a treat this cake would be if that were possible.
Johanna T. October 12, 2019
I would just substitute the flour for almond flour that Costco & Whole Foods have . I have made several gluten free cakes & that’s what I use . It has a little different texture than flour however it has a nice flavor & would pair well with apple. Good luck
Aimee E. December 1, 2019
I've been gluten-free (GF) for 13+ years and most cakes work really well with gluten-free flour swapped in provided you follow one rule: measure your GF flour mix by weight instead of volume. By volume, are likely to end up with too much GF flour and the cake's texture will be wrong.

Regarding which flour to substitute, if you want a result that is basically indistinguishable from a normal cake, I find Bob's 1-1 Gluten-Free Baking flour (currently sold in light blue bags) to be the best mix (NOT Bob's gluten-free all-purpose mix which has garbanzo flour - that flavor is not good in cakes). There are also good suggested GF mixes from Cook's Illustrated or the Cannelle et Vanille blog if you don't want to buy Bob's premixed, but you'll need about 4 ingredients.