Fresh Apple Cinnamon Layer Cake

  • Serves: Makes two 8- or 9- x 2- inch cake layers
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
  • Views: 10280
  • Comments: 6

Variations: Apple Cinnamon Crumble Cake; Carrot with Pineapple Layer Cake; Frosted Fresh Cherry Layer Cake; Frosted Pineapple Layer Cake

Cake and photo by sugarpie, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips
The Fresh Apple Cinnamon Layer Cake is a moist cake that's chock-full of fresh apples, and I have frosted it with my Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting, recipe included. It also offers a solution to help frustrated bakers who want to incorporate fresh fruit in their butter cakes. Many have asked for a recipe over the years on the Forum on CraftyBaking (formerly I have explained to home bakers that you can’t take any butter cake recipe and simply add fresh fruit to the batter; that it is hit or miss whether you have success or failure. Its inclusion adds additional sugar, juice and sometimes pectin and/or acidity, sometimes causing the cake to dip in the middle, not bake all the way through or become rubbery. It takes a specially formulated recipe, such as this one, and a delicate folding method to mix in the fresh fruit at the end, resulting in a luscious and moist cake. 


I have a few cooling racks with short legs that allows to cooling cake to get close to the countertop, right after baking. As a result, condensation easily forms between the two making the underside of the cake wet. So, I prop it up by placing a drinking glass under each corner. Thus, the air can easily circulate around the cake to cool it and no condensation forms. The cake also cools more efficiently.

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to top
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole or 2% milk, can be cold from refrigerator; measure in liquid measuring cup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, can be cold from the refrigerator
1 1/3 cups sugar or superfine sugar

4 large eggs, can be cold from refrigerator

1 cup peeled, cored and chopped apples; chop into the size of marbles and then, measure. I recommend using Granny Smith because they hold up better during baking and do not turn mushy.

NOTES: It’s best to use an electric stand mixer for this cake because it is more powerful than a hand-held electric one. Extra horsepower is needed due to the large amounts of ingredients that it has to mix. I use a 325 watt KitchenAid Mixer when making this recipe.

1. Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease two 8- or 9- x 2- inch pans. You may also line the greased pans with greased parchment paper. Set aside.
SARAH SAYS: For cake baking, a heavy, shiny metal pan works the best. Darker, nonstick or heavy, ovenproof glass pans conduct the oven’s heat more and darken and toughen the cake’s crust. To compensate, lower the oven’s temperature by 25 degrees F

2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Add the vanilla and almond extracts to the measured milk and combine. Set aside.

>Sarah Says: Be sure your baking powder and/or baking soda (and salt) are evenly distributed throughout the flour so that the cake doesn’t develop uneven air holes as it bakes, which can cause it to crack or fall apart. Mix them together with a large mixing spoon so they all get distributed. (A fork allows the dry ingredients to slip through the tines of the fork causing uneven mixing). Make sure you reach down to the bottom of the bowl.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar: beat the butter on low speed with a paddle attachment until softened.

Add the granulated sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes until creamy, light in color and fluffy. During beating, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl often.

4. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat 20 seconds after each addition until combined. Beat the mixture for one minute on medium until it is smooth and fluffy. Stop the mixer during mixing and scrape the bowl often.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 2 equal portions, alternating with the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix after each addition until JUST combined.
SARAH SAYS: If you overmix a recipe containing wheat flour, when moistened, it produces too much gluten. Too much gluten toughens and dries a cake when baked. It also causes the cake to develop a peak in the middle and deep cracks on the top as well. If this happens, cut the cake into small, bite-size pieces and frost each one. Place on a serving platter and serve anyway – no one will know!

With the last addition of flour, mix until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and take off the mixer bowl. Add the chopped apples and FOLD with a large rubber spatula until JUST combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Scrape the bowl and divide the batter evenly into the greased pans. Lightly smooth the tops.

6. Bake the layers for 40 - 45 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick in the middle of each cake layer and remove. It should have a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter. Lightly touch of the tops of each cake with a cupped hand until the top feels firm and gives slightly. The cake shrinks a little from the sides of the pan. It should also smell done.

SARAH SAYS: Shallow cracks will develop in the top of the cake layers during baking. This is normal. Upon cooling, the cake’s top will settle down and most of the cracks will seem to disappear. The ones that are left will be trimmed anyway before frosting and won’t show.

Take the cake layers immediately from the oven to a wire cake rack and let them sit for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula or sharp knife. Invert onto wire cake rack and place upright with the support of another wire cake rack to cool completely.

SARAH SAYS: A cake layer is fragile when hot when taken right from the oven and will crack easily and fall apart if unmolded too soon from its pan. Letting it sit for 10 minutes in its pan allows it to cool a bit before unmolding, preventing this from happening. 

Frost and Serve the Cake: When cake layers have cooled, optionally frost with the Tami's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

Makes 4 cups; Frosts two 8- or 9- x 2-inch round layers
This recipe makes a really buttery, creamy and delicious buttercream that goes well with any cake. After frosting the cake, smooth it with an icing spatula or table knife dipped in warm water and then dried before using. An all-butter frosting such as this one won't hold up as well for a summer wedding as one made with some shortening, so I have provided the amounts you need.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened or 1 cup shortening and 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter for warm weather frosting
3 3/4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar (more if needed); spoon into dry measuring cup and level to top
2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
1 teaspoon clear or pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. With a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until smooth, light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until incorporated.

2. Add the smaller amount of heavy cream and beat well on medium-low speed. Add the vanilla extract and coinnamon. Add more cream until the mixture is stiff and creamy. Beat an additional 3 minutes on low speed until fluffy. Adjust consistency with more powdered sugar or milk.

3. Trim the cake layers so they are flat. Fill and frost the cake.

The icing and filling that covers your cake determines how you store your cake. The All-Purpose Buttercream Frosting Recipe is not perishable because the sugar in it acts as a preservative.

The cake is a good keeper and stays moist from the cherries. It can be stored, unfrosted or frosted, at room temperature for about 3 days. (Butter cakes should not be refrigerated because it dries the cake.) Store the unfrosted layers wrapped individually with plastic wrap and then in foil. Cover the frosted cake with a cake keeper or an inverted bowl so as not to mar its finish.

The unfrosted or frosted layers can be frozen for about 2 months. Wrap the layers well in plastic wrap and then in foil before freezing. Place the frosted cake in a cake box and then wrap the box in plastic and then again in foil. Or, freeze the frosted cake without a wrapper until hard. Wrap in plastic and then in foil. Thaw the unfrosted or frosted cake in its wrappers at room temperature.

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Cake
Carrot with Pineapple Layer Cake
Frosted Fresh Cherry Layer Cake
Frosted Pineapple Layer Cake

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