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.

147 thoughts on “Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake”

  1. Just made it a while ago.This cake tastes so heavenly.I definitely will make it again.
    If I were to substitute the sugar in topping to brown sugar would it deliver the same result?
    Thank you, Sarah!


    1. Glad you liked it! I think that would work, you could try it out! Let me know if it works. The texture could be different since brown sugar is “moister” than white sugar though…


      1. Thanks Sarah!made it again last week but substitute the white sugar with brown sugar.the texture was still good and crispy.this cake definitely is an all time favourite.


  2. This is the second time in a week I have made this recipe. First time in a 9×13 pan and this time as cupcakes. The cupcakes are not going to last long. Thanks fora great recipe


  3. This did come out moist and delicious. I added walnuts to the top crumble to add some texture to it & I’m glad I did. Next time, I would add more apples as I’d like it better if it were less cake and more apples! But overall still tastes great!


    1. Thanks, Angela! Nowadays I do add more apples–maybe about 2 heaping cups of apples. If you add too many apples it does get mushy though. Good idea on the walnuts. I’m not much of a nut person myself but if you are, I bet that’s great.


  4. I just made this (I halved everything but other than that, I followed the proportions and ingredients). It was great, both me and my fiancee really enjoyed it. Very moist and the crumb on top was awesome (I used demerara sugar for this). Yum! Thanks.


  5. I made this last week and my husband is ready for another one! I followed the exact recipe and it was delicious! Perfect as is! This will be a regular recipe in our family! Thanks for sharing it!


    1. I haven’t frozen the whole cake, just slices. The cake itself freezes well but I don’t think the topping retains the crunch very well, but I honestly can’t remember. Let me know if you try it! 🙂


    1. If you google it you can find exact substitutions but I just put a little lemon juice in a measuring cup–like a teaspoon or a tablespoon. I don’t measure. Then I fill it up with milk the rest of the way to make a cup. Let it rest a little bit to thicken. You can also just use regular or any non-dairy milk. I’ve done it almost every way imaginable! Let me know how the cake turns out. 🙂


  6. I found this recipe by luck on a search. I am so thrilled because I used to make this many years ago when my children were young and then lost the recipe. This was a favorite in my family years ago and now I have grandchildren! Thank you so much.


  7. This is like the 4th apple cake recipe I’m going to make. I think all the others had apples in a sponge cake (the Russian way – it’s delicious!), but this seems easier and faster. I’ll try making these in individual ranekins for a brunch with friends 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just made this in 6 ramekins (for brunch tomorrow), turned out perfect! Thanks 🙂 Maybe I’ll add chopped walnuts next time in the batter or crush them with meat tenderizer/rolling pin and add to the crumble. Mmm!


      1. so glad to hear that! i’m not really a fan of nuts in desserts, but i know other people have added walnuts or pecans to this cake before so i bet that would work perfectly. i’m glad to know that ramekins are a good way to bake the cake. can i ask what size you used & how long you baked them for in case others want to try? enjoy!


  8. Just wanted to say: if you don’t want to use oil, you can substitute 3/4 to 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce – I do this all the time for cakes. This recipe looks great, can’t wait to try it!


    1. yes, that’s definitely an option. i probably would start with half applesauce/half oil though. the texture of this cake would change quite a bit with that much reduction in fat. if you try it, let me know!


    1. Hi Ashley!

      I’ve made it either way. I know people with texture issues do peel the apples but I usually leave some or all of them on because it’s faster. 🙂

      Hope you enjoy!


  9. Hi Sarah!
    I love reading the different variations everyone has tried! Could I prepare it the night before to just pop in the oven the next morning?


    1. I haven’t tried that, Pam. Some recipe are okay with an overnight rest but I’m not sure how the baking soda/buttermilk reaction would go if they rest together in the fridge overnight.

      One time I did mix together the egg, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla and stuck that in the fridge. I chopped the apples and tossed with a bit of lemon juice, again storing in the fridge. Then I measured the flour and baking soda in one bowl and the sugar/cinnamon in another. The next day, I mixed together the cake ingredients, melted the butter and tossed with the cinnamon sugar and baked as usual. You could try preparing the night before but really, the cake comes together in a snap so I’d reccomend just doing it that day–OR bake it the night before because the flavor is even better the next day. You could then heat up individual slices if you wish. Enjoy!


  10. Hi Sarah, I’ve just tried your recipe and it’s in the oven right now. Oh, the suspense! 😉 I had some lovely apples that were starting to look a bit neglected and couldn’t bear the thought of wasting them so I trawled the internet for something delicious-sounding to do with them. I’m in the UK, and I’m using a mix of our most popular eating apple (Cox’s Orange Pippin) and the good old cooking apple the Bramley. I didn’t have a 13×9 inch pan, just a deep 9×9 and a 1 lb loaf tin, and I must admit, I probably could’ve got all the batter into the 9×9 quite comfortably, but I’d got attached to the idea of doing a little loaf too (secret stash for the cook!) so I stretched it out a bit and added 100g of sultanas to the loaf mix as I love dried fruit in just about anything. Also added a lot of lemon zest to the loaf because I’m a citrus fiend, but I was otherwise loyal to your very intriguing recipe! I’ve never cooked any type of apple cake or loaf before using so little fat, so I’m very eager to see how it turns out. The smells emanating from the kitchen are promising (she said tentatively, not wanting to jinx things…) so I’m hoping the results are as good as your pic looks. We’ve had some truly diabolical weather here lately, so a warm pudding served up with lots of lovely custard, and maybe a sinful dollop of clotted cream, would be just the thing…:)

    I’ll let you know how it goes!


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