5 Ingredients or Fewer

Very Easy Apple Cake

September 23, 2019
42 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis. Food stylist: Oliva Mack McCool.
Author Notes

This apple cake is as light, puffy, and fluffy as it is easy, easy, and easy. It comes together with only four ingredients (not counting salt, an honorary Big Little ingredient) and takes 20-something minutes to get in the oven. Did I mention there’s no butter or oil? There’s no butter or oil. Oh, and no commercial leavener, like baking soda or baking powder, either. The inspiration here comes by way of Russia, where crackly, tender apple sharlotka is made with white sugar and white flour. This newfangled rendition calls in light brown sugar (malty! caramely!) and white whole wheat flour (still a whole grain, just milled from a paler variety of wheat). Both ingredients turn the cake golden in color and nutty-complex in flavor (and once you have them in your pantry, you’ll start swapping them into everything). I call for Granny Smith apples, but feel free to swap in any sweet-tart apple that holds up well when baked; Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, and Jonagold are all good options. The amount of apples may seem outlandish, but that’s the whole point—apples with some cake, not cake with some apples. I like this best served with confectioners’ sugar sprinkled on top, just before slicing, and a big dollop of crème fraîche (or whipped cream or Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream) alongside. That said, it’s just as wonderful unadorned—and as suited for brunch as it is for dessert. Because this batter leans so heavily on eggs and sugar, it doesn’t hold up well, so make it the day you want to eat it. —Emma Laperruque

Watch This Recipe
Very Easy Apple Cake
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Makes 1 (8-inch) cake
Ingredients
  • Unsalted butter, at room temperature, or oil for greasing the pan
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (213 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Granny Smith apples (about 198 grams or 7 ounces each)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (134 grams) white whole-wheat flour
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom (but not the sides) of an 8-inch springform pan.
  2. Combine the eggs, light brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start on low, then raise the speed to medium-high, and beat for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is a pale tan in color and super fluffy.
  3. While that’s going, peel the apples, then cut them into ½-inch pieces (they don’t have to be perfect cubes but they should all be a similar size). This should yield about 4 cups of apple pieces.
  4. When the egg-sugar mixture is done mixing, remove the bowl from the stand mixture and add the flour. Use a flexible spatula to gently fold in the flour until it’s almost incorporated. Add the apples and fold those in, too. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and a cake tester comes out completely clean. Cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake, and unhinge the outside.
  6. Serve the cake in big wedges, warm or at room temperature, with confectioners’ sugar dusted on top, and crème fraîche (or whipped cream or Greek yogurt) plopped alongside. This is best the day it’s made.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Laryce Anthea Botha
    Laryce Anthea Botha
  • Elizabeth
    Elizabeth
  • suzannakang
    suzannakang
  • Donna Kalichstein Lehrman
    Donna Kalichstein Lehrman
  • Shelley  Tucker
    Shelley Tucker
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

85 Reviews

Laryce A. March 24, 2021
Tried this recipe it came out amazing... Did add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to it
 
Freekeh December 6, 2020
My cake turned out like a apple pancake. Followed directions to a T. Tasted so good though. What did I do wrong. HELP
 
NYanne December 6, 2020
You have to really beat it. An electric stand mixer is best. Beat for about 3-5 minutes.
 
LaurieB December 11, 2020
I did the whole 8 minutes, starting out slow then medium high, with the Kitchen Aid mixer/Whisk attachment.
 
LaurieB December 4, 2020
Very Easy to make and loved only having 4 ingredients. I only had a 7" springform pan so I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. Thanks to other reviews, I set the temp to 350 but only cooked it for 45 minutes. It came out perfect. Not dry at all. To quote my husband, there was a surprise in every bite.
 
emanne November 28, 2020
Easy, but it felt a little dry to me.
 
NYanne December 6, 2020
Try it with creme fraiche or ice cream
 
Neena November 28, 2020
This cake was super easy to make. I love how it comes together with very few ingredients. Definitely the granny smith apples are the star here. I love this cake more apple less cake! I used the exact recipe and as always measured everything with a digital scale. Fabulous taste. I did serve it with fresh whip cream which I added some bourbon vanilla extract to. The family liked it. Thank you Emma!
 
LisaO November 1, 2020
Delicious! So light and flavorful. I added cinnamon and cardamom. The flavor boost was certainly worth an extra minute or so of effort.
 
Mirna A. October 30, 2020
This cake came out fantastic. But next time I will reduce the sugar to 3/4 of a cup, and add more apples. As for the flour I used regular white cake flour about 200g. It’s pinned as one of my favorites.
 
hpnyknits October 27, 2020
It sounded great, but it came out super dry. Maybe less flour? I used an oven thermometer but it baked faster than the recipe called for.
 
Elizabeth October 25, 2020
Just made this! It came together easily. I like the simplicity of the flavors. We are fortunate to have a little orchard nearby, so I took advantage of recent purchases and used one Empire, one Jonagold, and one Northern Spy apple. It was fun to try a new (to me) technique of no fat, no leavener to bake a cake.
 
suzannakang October 24, 2020
Just baked today and it was a hit with everyone in my family —all with different dessert preferences. I didn’t have an 8 inch springform but had an 8 inch cake pan and it worked fine. I also used the regular whole wheat flour and it looked and tasted great (not sure what the difference would be using white whole wheat flour). I am going to try using a gluten-free flour for a friend who has Celiac’s. I’ve read the reviews that suggest alternative flour and grateful for the suggestions!
 
suzannakang October 24, 2020
Just baked today and it was a hit with everyone in my family —all with different dessert preferences. I didn’t have an 8 inch springform but had an 8 inch cake pan and it worked fine. I also used the regular whole wheat flour and it looked and tasted great (not sure what the difference would be using white whole wheat flour). I am going to try using a gluten-free flour for a friend who has Celiac’s. I’ve read the reviews that suggest alternative flour and grateful for the suggestions!
 
Annie November 6, 2020
Thanks for this review! May I inquire as to how the GF version came out?
 
suzannakang November 28, 2020
Sorry for the late reply but it turned out great. My husband couldn’t tell the difference but my more selective daughter preferred the non-gluten version.
 
lauren September 27, 2020
This sounds great, can't wait to make it. Is it possible to add a crumble to the top?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. September 27, 2020
Not sure about that! The batter is quite loose, so the streusel might sink a bit—but worth a shot? If you give it a go, let me know what you think!
 
cibocibo September 17, 2020
I love this cake! It was super easy to make and I have tried it with other variations of fruit, like peaches. The fluffiness of the cake is perfect compared with the dense fruit.
 
Donna K. September 14, 2020
Can this cake be made with a hand mixer?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. September 14, 2020
Yes!
 
NYanne August 27, 2020
I have made this cake over and over. It is fabulous! It doesn’t keep well on the counter but it freezes well. Easy to make and lovely to look at. Tasty too!
 
Katie J. March 5, 2020
Hi Emma, It's 10 PM and I just cooled the cake down. After rereading the bottom of the directions saying it is better to eat on the same day it is made, I called my 2 neighbors and delivered this delicious apple cake.They also agreed that is was very goodi
 
Author Comment
Emma L. March 5, 2020
So glad to hear you guys enjoyed it. You are a very kind neighbor!
 
sherscott February 28, 2020
Noticed people asking where to purchase White Whole wheat Flour... Robin hood Sells it... Its called Nutri-Flour... can also get at the Bulk Barn....
 
Shelley T. December 5, 2019
My husband doesn't like granny smith apples, even baked so can I sub gala apples? Thanks!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. December 5, 2019
Hi Shelley! Gala works—the cake would just end up a little sweeter.
 
Shelley T. December 5, 2019
Thank you! I can’t wait to make this.
 
Denise December 3, 2019
My family and I loved this! Curious on the best way to store the leftover cake? Covered on the counter? Refrigerator?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. December 4, 2019
Hi Denise! You can keep it at room temperature, no need to refrigerate.
 
jon407 November 24, 2019
This was a totally disappointing effort. Flavor was flat, texture was bleh, nothing about this cake worked.