There are a few signs of fall around here. The leaves starting to change colors. Cooler nights. Shorter days. The arrays of winter squashes at the farmer’s markets. And a tray of my mom’s recipe for Fresh Apple Cake.
That’s how I really know it’s fall. When I pull out the recipe and my apple peeler and, before long, my kitchen is full of the smells of butter and cinnamon and apples. Then it’s fall.
First up you’ll need apples and pecans! You can use walnuts in the cake too but I prefer the flavor of the pecans paired with the apples so that’s what I use. Once you have your nuts, chop them up and put them in the oven for a few minutes to toast them. It’s not completely necessary to toast the nuts but it improves the flavor tremendously so I highly recommend it.
For the apples I use 3-4 (depending on size) of whatever good baking apple is available. You want something that isn’t going to turn into mush while it’s baking. Empires or Cortlands are good ones and are easy to find in the supermarkets around here. Other apples which I can usually find in the fall that I like for baking are Northern Spy, Macoun, and Baldwins. For pie or crisp I like a mixture of apples, but for this snack cake one style will do it.
Then it’s time to do a little mixing. A few eggs. Some fat – one change I’ve made to my mom’s recipe is to use melted butter instead of vegetable oil. I much prefer the flavor of the butter and, since I switched over to Kerrygold grass fed butter, I’m much happier putting the butter in our bodies than the highly processed vegetable oil.
Another change I made is that I use half whole-wheat flour in the recipe. If I go more than half I find the cake too heavy, but half seems to work. And that makes it a health food, right? Lots of apples, nuts full of good fats and fiber, whole wheat, and grass fed butter. This cake is definitely a health food. And I should go and have another piece.
Okay. No, it’s not a health food. But it is tasty! And it freezes well. You may need to make two of these cakes to have enough left over to freeze but I think it’s worth it.
It’s great for breakfast, as a snack in the afternoon (hence the name!), excellent for dessert alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with a dusting of cinnamon sugar on top or dressed up with some powdered sugar like my Summertime Peach Cake.
Make this cake and you’ll see why it’s been a fall tradition in my family for decades. Maybe it will be a new fall tradition in your family too.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 cups (14 oz) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups apples, peeled and chopped, 3-4 apples
- 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts), toasted
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz )white flour
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.
Combine butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add apples and pecans to the bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add dry ingredients to apple mixture. Combine together with a few swift strokes. Do not over mix.
Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth it out. Put the pan into a cold oven. Set the oven to 325F. Bake for one hour.
Top with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar if desired.
- To toast the pecans I use a 350F oven for 5-6 minutes.