Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

Umm, so you know how some things are best eaten straight out of the oven, standing at the kitchen counter with a fork poking into the still-too-hot-it’s-burning-your-mouth cake? But you don’t care because it’s just so delicious that if you don’t seize this moment you may very well regret it? Or is that just me?

Well, this is that dessert.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake | thepajamachef.comCinnamon Sugar Apple Cake. It’s what dreams are made of.

Oh–not your dreams? Well, think again. This cake is uber moist [sorry, all you who are averse to that work–I’m not sure how else to describe it] and spongy. The crunchy topping is sugary sweet to the max, a perfect contrast to the fruity sweetness of the cake’s little bits of chewy apple delight. We enjoyed this cake for dessert and also breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Like Lindsay and her husband, Ben and I ate the whole pan in a matter of days. It is just that good. I hope you enjoy it too!

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

  • Servings: 20
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Print

[from Pinch of Yum]


  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk [I subbed milk and lemon juice]
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped apples [I used Gala once and then Gala/Granny Smith round 2, and didn’t peel them.]
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil, egg and buttermilk. Then stir in baking soda and vanilla. Lastly, mix in flour and apples. Pour batter into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and butter, mixing gently with a fork. Spread it evenly over the batter. It will not fully cover the batter, but it will bake up fine.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This recipe is very forgiving. Here are some ways you could alter the original recipe if desired. I do NOT recommend making all the changes at once!
  • Use less brown sugar in the cake: I’ve reduced the brown sugar to 1 cup instead of 1 1/2 before. It’s less sweet but not noticeably so.
  • Substitute the buttermilk for Greek yogurt: I have not tried this but others have.
  • Use white whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose: I’ve done a straight substitute. I have not tried whole wheat flour though, only white whole wheat which is lighter.
  • Add warm spices to the cake: like 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Some people think the cake is too bland without it. I think adding the spices to the batter takes away from the topping and from the apple-y flavor of the cake, but it’s up to you.
  • Add salt to the cake: some people think the cake batter is too bland without salt. The original recipe did not have salt and since I don’t use salt in baking except for breads, I didn’t see the need to add it. I don’t know how much you would add but you can look at other recipes for cakes made in a 9×13 inch pan and see what amount they use.
  • Double the topping: the topping is not meant to cover every square inch of the cake when it is unbaked. However, when the cake is baked, the cake rises and makes all sorts of yummy nooks and crannies with the topping.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

74 thoughts on “Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

  1. This was super yummy, I have made it multiple times. I made a couple changes in my last batch and I think you would like them. First off a made a double recipe and added about a cup and a half of shredded carrot and a cup of crushed walnuts. So good. Thanks for this recipe. I wrote it in my food book just in case it goes off the net.


    • Hi Kim!

      There are exact measurements online that you could google…I don’t really measure, I just pour a little lemon juice into a measuring cup, maybe 2 tablespoons, and then pour milk to make the full cup. Let it sit for about 7-9 minutes and it should thicken. Vinegar can also be used in place of the lemon juice.

      Hope you enjoy the cake! I just made one today to take to a dinner tomorrow night. :)


  2. Cake was good but I couldn’t spread the topping evenly on the top. Not sure if I did something wrong. Didn’t seem to be enough topping either.


    • Hi Rainie! Hmmm, I’ve never had a problem with the topping. It doesn’t make enough to cover every single inch of the cake, but as it bakes it does spread some on its own. You could always double the topping next time if you want more. I’m glad you liked the cake! Thanks for taking the time to comment. :)


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    • Hi Katherine!

      Great question. I think it would probably work, though the cinnamon sugar topping wouldn’t have the same effect since you bake a bundt cake upside down. I guess you could put the cinnamon sugar topping in first, or layer it in the batter? It might stick to the pan if you put it in first, I’m not sure. So you could also just top the finished cake with cinnamon sugar, but you’d probably need extra butter for it to stick. Also, depending on the capacity of your bundt pan (online estimates say 9-12 cups) you will probably have extra batter as it fills a 9×13 pan up pretty full (estimates of capacity for that are about 14 cups). So you could bake extra in some muffin cups or ramekins. The batter rises as it bakes so don’t fill your pan too full. I’m not sure what the baking time would have to be adjusted to–just watch it carefully after 30 minutes. I hope you enjoy the cake! I think it’d be perfect for Thanksgiving and I’d love to hear what changes you make to adapt it for a bundt pan.

      Thanks for your comment!


  4. This was delicious! I needed something to take to a family memorial gathering, so, after finding this last night, I made it this morning. I didn’t have any buttermilk so used the old vinegar-in-milk combo-just like my mom and grandma used (I teaspoon cider vinegar to I cup milk). I added nuts, a dash of nutmeg, doubled the topping and baked it for 55 min instead of 60 (that would not have had a good outcome). Thanks for posting it and I will definitely be adding this to our favorites!


    • Thank you for making the cake and commenting, Barb! I usually bake this for 40 minutes- maybe you saw 60 in the total time section? I’m glad you liked it! I always do the vinegar/milk trick too :)


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  6. Sarah: I’ll be over Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday for dinner. How did you get Franklin Covey to advertise on your blog? I’ll take some cinnamon sugar apple cake too. Love, Dad


  7. Can’t wait to try this. Will be baking it this evening for a bingo gathering tomorrow night. Thanks to everyone above for the extra tips. Will be using the lemon juice/milk for the first time. Hope it works as a buttermilk substitute.


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    • Hi Amie,

      Yes, you can definitely freeze this cake! I would bake it and then freeze it. I’ve only ever frozen slices of it, wrapped twice (in plastic or foil, and then in a ziploc bag or a tupperware container). You could also mix the wet ingredients together and refrigerate overnight, and mix the dry ingredients together and cover, then mix together and bake the next day.

      Hope that helps! Enjoy!


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  10. Hi there. This looks and sounds wonderful. I was just wondering if I made this the night before, say 9pm and ate it the next day do you think that would be alright? Im 100% sure it’s awesome right out of the oven but just got to thinking would it enhance flavors even more if I let it rest just overnight?? Hope I’m making sense here. .. ….your thoughts and opinions would be much appreciated!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe.


    • Hello Mellie! Thanks for taking the time to comment. This cake is definitely fine to serve the day after you make it. I’m not really sure that the flavors improve the next day, but it’s still fabulous! Hope you enjoy. :)


  11. I baked it for longer and still found that the bottom did not bake properly! I’m having this problem with several cake recipes! However, the taste of this cake is delicious 😊


    • glad you liked the cake! sorry you’ve been having issues with your cakes baking properly. it’s hard to say what it is but one thing to check is if your oven temperature is correct. i have an oven thermometer and found out my oven was heating about 20-25 degrees warmer than the dial is set for… pretty crazy!


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  15. Hi! I know this is a ridiculous question, but could you use apple sauce or finely diced apples and get the same effect? I am mainly worried about the consistency. Weird, I know but I do not like big apple chunks but I like the apple flavor. My kids are the same way…they would just eat around the apple I want to disguise them! Let me know your thoughts please :-)


    • Hi Jenna! Not ridiculous at all! I think finely diced apples or even shredded apples would be great in this cake. Applesauce may not work- it’s so thin and is often used as an oil/butter fat substitution. Hope that helps! Enjoy- it’s a great cake! :) if you try it let me know.


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