Cakes, Desserts, Recipes

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
  • 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.

149 thoughts on “Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake”

  1. I made this cake using Greek yogurt, for the buttermilk. First of all, I’m not an avid baker. In fact, I feel like I have to be rebellious and break rules by not following a recipe, so when I saw the substitutions allowed, I smiled and realized I needed to try this baking thing, at least one more time! Second, we own an orchard and there seems to be immense pressure, especially in the fall, to bake apple-ly goods! I used a crimson crisp and a northern spy for my apple selection. Mainly, because that’s what I had on the counter at the time. 🙂 I subbed the yogurt and apparently was clueless on what ratio to use. It was super thick with the whole cup added, so I splashed in some milk and thought it looked a little better. It baked up well, but it was rather dense. Definitely not cake-like. So, we called it pudding. The flavors were amazing and we couldn’t stop eating it! I’m headed to the store now to buy some buttermilk and I’ll give it another shot. Thank you for this simple recipe!


  2. I just made this for breakfast. I wanted something fall-ish but not pumpkin, since we are having pumpkin cobbler after dinner tonight, and this was perfect. Thanks for listing the suggested changes – I did add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom to the cake batter and a little more crumb topping because everything is better with more cinnamon sugar! 🙂 I didn’t peel the apples, either. It smelled like a fall candle while it was baking – and tasted like apple pie in a cake! My picky 7-yr old had 2 pieces, “even though it has apples in it.” Success! Thanks for an easy yummy recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Elisa! I love this: “It smelled like a fall candle while it was baking – and tasted like apple pie in a cake!” Perfect description! 🙂 I’m so glad your family enjoyed this cake.


  3. Linda, I emailed the commenter who used greek yogurt and olive oil and will let you know if she replies. If I had to guess, she probably used:
    1/3 cup olive oil (to sub for canola)
    1 cup greek yogurt (to sub for buttermilk)
    But I’m not really sure. Let me know if you give it a try! 🙂


    1. Hi Nadia,

      Great question. Unfortunately I’ve never made this cake as cupcakes before… but I think it would work. I would guess anywhere from 15-25 minutes. I would check them at 15 minutes and then every 3-5 minutes after that. If you try it, come back and comment so we all know how long it takes! 🙂



  4. Could I use applesauce in place of the apples you think? I have issues with texture, and have a hard time eating fruit desserts with chunks of fruit in them.


    1. Hi Kelly,

      Thanks for your question. I don’t think applesauce would make a good substitute for chopped apples. I think it would be too liquidy and wouldn’t bake right. You could try grating the apples instead of chopping them. Hope that helps! If you try grating the apples, let me know how it goes! 🙂



      1. I love this recipe! I have subbed feijoas for the apples (Im in New Zealand) which are not exactly chunky, so apple sauce might work just maybe not a super watery version? Anyway it works great with the Feijoas and I always get asked for the recipe! Thanks!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wanted to make these as cupcakes…was wondering if anyone has and how much time is needed to cook them. I’ve made this recipe in the past but only as a cake and it is delicious!!!! Hoping I can make it but in cupcakes instead.


    1. Hi Jan,

      From reviewing the comments I don’t know of anyone who has made this cake as cupcakes. However I think it would work! I would guess anywhere from 15-25 minutes. I would check them at 15 minutes and then every 3-5 minutes after that. If you try it, come back and comment so we all know how long it takes! You also may need more topping.

      I’m glad you like the cake- I made a chocolate version yesterday that I’ll be posting soon! 😊


  6. This cake is yummy! I’ve got an abundance of apples, so just about doubled the amount. Cut the brown sugar down to 1 cup. I added cinnamon and nutmeg into the batter and walnuts into the topping. I needed to bake it for 70 minutes due to the extra apples. I’m making it for dessert tonight when friends will be here to celebrate the holidays. Great recipe!


  7. Hi, am from Germany and am wondering about the cups. Sometimes its a measure and sometimes the people really mean cups …could u tell me how much it should be in gramm ? It sounds so delicious


  8. Has anyone ‘veganized’ this recipe? Looking for a substitute for the egg and butter milk, but afraid to try without seeing if it’s possible. I’ve made this cake several times as is and it’s absolutely delicious, don’t want to ruin it. Thanks!


    1. Hi Jan, I definitely think you could veganize this cake. I haven’t done that but I would use almond milk and make a flax or chia egg. I have used coconut oil instead of butter for the topping so I know that works. But I’ve used the above substitutes to make quick bread before and I think they would work for this cake. Hope this helps! Let me know if you try it.


  9. Delicious! I doubled the topping and added extra cinnamon with a dash of nutmeg, subbed Greek yogurt for the milk, chopped a mix of gala, Granny Smith, and Macs and it’s delicious! The topping seems to turn into a bite of caramel almost! Definitely a great way to use my apples from our apple picking adventures! I also cut the cake in half. Will keep half for us and am bringing the other half to a family that just had a new baby! Thanks for this great recipe.


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