Brown Sugar Apple Cake has all the flavors of fall in one delicious cake. Loaded with fresh apples and warm fall spices, this sweet and moist apple cake is the perfect Autumn dessert!
An Easy Fall Favorite Apple Cake Recipe
One of my favorite things about autumn is baking. When the cooler months start to roll around, I find myself turning to my oven more and more. There’s nothing like the smell of fall spices filling your home, or the first bite of a warm treat fresh out of the oven.
Sometimes I opt for a fall treat that’s on the pumpkin side, like my pumpkin muffins, or my very favorite pumpkin bread. Other times the only thing that will cure my craving is a delicious apple filled dessert…like this brown sugar apple cake.
What is more autumnal than brown sugar and apples? Add in some cinnamon and vanilla, and this mouth-watering dessert practically screams “It’s fall!” Whether you have fresh-picked apples you want to showcase, or some older apples you’re trying to use up, this is an easy to make dessert that you’ll want to make over and over.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but they’re likely all things you already have in your fridge or cupboard. Make sure to scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the article for the exact quantities.
For the Apple Cake:
- All-Purpose Flour
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Cinnamon: Or you can use an equal amount of Apple Pie Spice!
- Unsweetened Applesauce: It’s important to use unsweetened applesauce, since there’s sugar in other parts of the dessert.
- Vegetable Oil
- Vanilla Extract: Try to use pure vanilla extract with no artificial flavors.
- Light Brown Sugar: You can also use dark brown sugar if you prefer more molasses flavor.
- Granulated Sugar
- Apples: You can use any variety of apple for this recipe.
For the Brown Sugar Frosting:
- Powdered Sugar
- Light Brown Sugar
- Unsalted Butter
- Half and Half: Or you can also use heavy cream.
- Vanilla Extract
What’s the Best Way to Cut Apples?
First, peel them. If you have an apple corer, use it to remove the cores, then cut the apples in half. You can easily dice them from there. If you don’t have a corer, cut one side of the apple off the core, then repeat with the other three sides. You’ll be left with four pieces of apple that are easy to dice.
How to Make Apple Cake
This recipe is a lot of fun to make and also pretty easy. If you’ve made cakes before, then this process will probably look familiar to you.
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease a 9×13” baking dish.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Put the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl, and whisk it together.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Put the eggs, applesauce, oil, vanilla, sugar, and brown sugar in a separate bowl, and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated.
- Add the apples. Put the apples in the batter and fold them in.
- Bake the cake. Pour the batter into the greased dish, and place it in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool. Let the cake cool for at least 10 minutes before frosting it.
- Make the frosting. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl, then add the rest of the frosting ingredients. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
- Frost the cake. Pour the frosting over the cake and serve warm, or let it cool.
Tips for Perfect Apple Cake
Here are some helpful tips to go along with the recipe. These will make it so you can bake a perfect brown sugar apple cake every time.
- Don’t over mix the batter: You can make this recipe by hand or using a stand mixer. Either way, make sure you don’t over mix the batter, which can overdevelop the gluten in the flour, leading to a crumbly cake.
- Cool the butter: Make sure that the melted butter has completely cooled before you add it to the frosting. If the butter is still warm, it could melt the other ingredients. If that happens, the frosting will be too runny.
- Don’t over bake: The cake will keep baking for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven. Remove the cake from the oven when a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean, even if the cake doesn’t look done yet.
- Let the cake cool before frosting: Don’t add the frosting as soon as the cake comes out of the oven, or it will melt. Instead, let the cake cool for at least 10 minutes. It’s all right if the cake is warm, you just don’t want it to be hot.
Feel free to play with this recipe to make new versions of this cake. Here are a few things you could do differently.
- Change frosting extracts: I love vanilla extract in this brown sugar apple cake frosting, but it’s also delicious with maple extract. In fact, you could use any type of extract you want!
- Try different fruits: Nothing says autumn like apples, but you can make this cake with other fruits instead. It’s especially good with peaches or bananas.
- Use milk or cream: I use half and half in the frosting, but you can use other dairy products. Whole milk will make for a healthier and lighter frosting, while heavy cream will create a very decadent topping.
Storing Leftover Brown Sugar Apple Cake
You can store this tasty cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The cake is delicious straight out of the fridge, or you can leave it out until it reaches room temperature.
Can I Freeze This Cake?
Yes! You can freeze the cake for up to 3 months. I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap to keep it from getting freezer burn, then placing it in an airtight container or bag. Leave it in the fridge for 24 hours to thaw before eating.
Brown Sugar Apple Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups peeled and diced apples of choice, 1-2 large apples – diced into 1/2″ pieces
Brown Sugar Frosting
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13” baking dish with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk to combine the eggs, applesauce, vegetable oil, vanilla, brown sugar and granulated sugar, until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring until batter is smooth. Fold in the chopped apples until well incorporated.
- Transfer batter to the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before frosting.
- Meanwhile, sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add in the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, melted butter, vanilla and half and half. Whisk until icing is completely smooth. Pour over the slightly cooled cake.
- Serve warm or let the cake cool completely before serving. It’s delicious either way!
- This cake does not require a mixer or stand mixer, but you can use one if you prefer, just be sure to not over mix the batter.
- I used half and half in the icing, but heavy cream or whole milk will also work.
- The frosting is also delicious with the vanilla extract swapped for maple extract.
- You can use different fruits, peaches or bananas would also both be great in this recipe.
More Delicious Apple Recipes
- Apple Cider Cocktail
- Cinnamon Apple Empanadas
- Apple Cinnamon Muffins
- Homemade Apple Pie Filling
- Apple Cranberry Sauce
- Cinnamon Baked Apples
- Caramel Apple Dream Cake
- Easy Fried Apples
- Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings
- Caramel Apple Dump Cake
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