Skillet apple cake: Fast, easy, tasty, FRESH

apple skillet cake

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Oh, boy!

I was driving by the farmstand on the way to work this morning, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but my favorite sign of autumn:

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A quick glance as I sped by showed me that yes, the buckets of just-picked corn had been rearranged to make room for wooden apple crates.

I stopped after work to see which early apples are ready.

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Early-bearing Paulared and McIntosh are the only ones out so far. But Pommes Grise, Ginger Gold, Zesta – all the heirloom varietals so different from the run-of-the-mill Granny Smiths and Red Delicious we make do with the rest of the year – are surely on their way.

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These might not be the prettiest apples. Sometimes quite small, sometimes a bit misshapen, they look like they came off someone’s backyard apple tree.

Which is the nice thing about these apples with their sweet, fleetingly short season: they really did come off a neighbor’s tree.

Our local orchards are small family businesses, one generation passing the land and trees on to the next. They serve only the surrounding communities; their apples may be shipped as far as the town grocery store, but don’t get trucked to California. They’re literally just-picked when I fill my bag at the farmstand.

If you ever thought of joining the localvore movement, there’s no better time and place to start than your favorite apple orchard in September.

And, if you haven’t eaten all the apples before you get around to baking, no better dish to start with than a simple cake, one that showcases your local apples in all their sweet simplicity.


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First it’s sweet. Then, as it sits on your tongue, it gets a definite tang, like an apple that’s mild at first taste, then finishes with some bite. Boiled cider is pure essence of apple, and enhances any apple dish you bake. A few tablespoons drizzled into pie or crisp, atop muffins or cake, mixed with confectioners’ sugar to make a tasty, golden glaze…This is one of my pantry staples.

Since it’s just cider, boiled till thick, can you make your own? You can try; it’s a bit tricky, as it tends to burn at the end, and it’s hard to figure when it’s thick enough. But if you’re adventurous, and don’t mind perhaps having a failure or two first, go for it.

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And here’s our favorite complementary spice for apples: apple pie spice, a perfectly balanced blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Can you make your own? Sure; common enough ingredients. I don’t know the formula, but make small batches till you hit on a mixture you like.

OK, let’s begin. First step: preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 ½” to 10” (2” deep) cast-iron skillet; or a 9” square cake pan.

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Now let’s prepare the apples: 4 or 5 large, firm apples. I’m using Granny Smiths here, because they hold up well in baking; and when I was testing this recipe a month ago, our local apples weren’t in yet.

First, peel and core. Our apple peeler/corer/slicer makes fast work of this task – like, 10 seconds per apple, start to finish.

You can choose to peel, core, and slice apples…

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…or simply peel, as I’ve done here. Why didn’t I do all three? Because I wanted slightly thicker pieces of apple than the usual pie-style slice.

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So I grabbed a peeled apple, pressed it with my handy-dandy apple corer/slicer, and bingo!

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Perfect apple slices.

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Place the apple slices in a bowl.

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Now add the following:

1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons boiled cider
1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice, or your favorite combination of sweet spices
¼ teaspoon salt

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Stir to coat the apples, and set aside while you make the cake batter.

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Combine the following:

1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Set aside.

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Whisk together the following:

2/3 cup warm milk
1 large egg
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Add to the flour mixture.

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Stir till well combined…

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…and pour into the prepared skillet.

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Spoon the apple mixture onto the batter. For the best appearance, make sure the apples are distributed a little more heavily towards the edges of the pan.


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Next, get out your coarse sparkling sugar, if you have some. Above you see sparkling sugar on the left, granulated on the right – can you see the difference in crystal size?

I’ll tell you, this is one pantry item I wouldn’t be without. It’s the BEST appearance enhancer out there. A sprinkle atop muffins, scones, cookies, pie crust… or a cake like this, really makes everything sparkle and shine.

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Sprinkle on the sugar. Be generous.

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The sugar won’t melt as the cake bakes. Really, you’ll see.

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Bake the cake for about 50 to 60 minutes, till it’s light brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

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The apples will be nicely browned.

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And see that sugar?

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Serve right from the pan.

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Ice cream is always welcome – I just didn’t have any on hand!

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Easy Fresh Apple Cake.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Dante’s Restaurants, Inc., State College, PA: 10″ Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce, $17.00

Bake at home: Easy Fresh Apple Cake, 9 1/2″, $4.90

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Alissa

    Makes me wish I had a cast iron skillet! One question, though. I have the boiled cider but can’t remember when I purchased it. I’m guessing probably about a year ago when I used it to make apple pies. It’s been in the fridge the entire time. Is it still good? Thanks!

    Yes, Alissa, it’s good basically forever. If it gets contaminated with some other food by some chance, it can develop some mold on top – but if it looks good and tastes good – it’s good. – PJH

    Reply
  2. Maggie

    Wow! I just ordered the boiled cider yesterday (along with a few KAF splurges) and look forward to making this terrific apple cake when it arrives. I’m curious if you had any trouble with the apples making the cake rather “wet” while baking? Thanks for the recipe! It truly looks like my idea of comfort food.

    Maggie, the finished cake is moist right under where the apples lie, but overall it’s not soggy – just pleasantly dense/moist. It cooks pretty thoroughly, which helps. Enjoy – PJH

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  3. Sue

    Your cake looks scrumptious. I have to say I’m not ready for autumn, and I usually can’t wait for it. I’m in total denial regarding the end of summer.

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  4. cindy leigh

    oh yum! I can’t wait to go apple picking up in Glastonbury. Great apples, beautiful views.
    Re the boiled cider- I found I can make it quite easily- when cider goes on sale, usually two for one, I buy a bunch. Put in a large crockpot and cook all night with the lid off. The house smells great and the syrup does not scorch. Stir before going to bed and stir in the morning. When reduced by over half, spoon a bit onto a saucer and when it cools, observe the consistancy. Too thin- keep cooking. Too thick- add a bit of water, stir, and bottle. Works perfectly.

    Reply
  5. Sue H

    Looks great … but can you make it in a regular pan? Don’t have a cast iron skillet and really can’t justify buying one at this time. Yes, this should work in a 9″ square pan that is at least 2″ deep. Mary @ KAF

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  6. CindyD

    If I don’t have boiled cider can I still make this cake? Sure, see above comment for making your own, or use apple juice concentrate in the same amount. The flavor will be a bit different but still very yummy. Mary @KAF

    Reply
  7. Mrs. Hittle

    Yum! i absolutely agree about coarse sugar. i use turbinado, though– it has the sparkle and a really scrumptious, mild molasses flavour that i love. i put it on muffins, scones, cookies… everything.

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  8. Allan

    This looks great, although I now have to make yet another order from King Arthur; this time for boiled cider, apple pie spice.apple corer and sparkling coarse sugar. On the one hand, I’ve become a disciple of some strange kind of mail order food cult. On the other, I haven’t bought any kind of bread or cake in over two months and I really enjoy the kitchen work even though I never thought I would. Thanks for the blog. Its great. And I don’t know who takes the photos, but they’re also really great.

    Allan, thanks for your very kind comments – and thanks for joining the fun! There’s something very compelling and satisfying about baking your own bread, and other treats, as well. Creative, and a good way to share. Kitchen work isn’t work when it’s avocation, not vocation, right? I look forward to hearing from you again – PJH

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  9. Julie

    This looks yummy! I have a cast iron skillet that we use for cornbread. We only wipe it out with a paper towel and it never sticks. If I use it for this recipe, will it mess up the good thing I have going with the non-sticking part?

    Should be fine, Julie. You may have to do more than wipe it out; why not put a round of greased parchment in the bottom? If you DO end up having to scrub or wash, simply heat and rub with a bit of shortening. That’ll restore the shine and non-stickiness immediately. PJH

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  10. Margie

    Is the perfect thickness one half inch for the apples? Thank you!

    Margie, I hate to apply the term “perfect” to anything in life – it sets WAY too high a standard! – but 1/2″ is good, yes. PJH

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  11. Beth

    Wow, I’m in heaven – two of my most favorite foods, potatoes and apples, starring in the last 2 blogs. Jonagold, Honeycrisp, and Gala are available here in central VA, and I just heard of a new variety, Piney River Gold, which should be available later this month. Don’t know whether it’s related to the Ginger Gold apple – I imagine it is.

    And I was rereading John Thorne’s essay on Maine potatoes in “Serious Pig.” I’m going to try your newest version of Latkes with Yukon Golds if I can get them. It’s a golden season, isn’t it?! Thanks for the great recipes, PJ.

    Beth – You’re golden! (Sorry, couldn’t resist…) Let me know how those Piney Golds are, OK? PJH

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  12. Debj

    ok, just made one of these cakes, fabulous! I think I used one apple too many, as I had quite a layer of them on top, and less cake peeking through. Not too embarrassed to admit I had a piece, warm out of the oven, for lunch (after the tomato salad!). The flavor and texture of the cake reminded me of pineapple upside down cake, so, I’m wondering… what if you put the apples on the bottom instead of the top?? Do you think it would work like that? -d

    Sure, that would be fine, Deb – I think it’ll be more likely to stick, though, so I’d definitely use parchment… PJH

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  13. Alice

    I look forward to trying another one of your always reliable and wonderful recipes.

    Just one small criticism, however. Especially since you are tying this baking project to picking or purchasing local apples in season, why mention Granny Smith? I am continually disappointed by recipes that call for them; I understand that for much of the year, they are the only apple that is reliably crisp and sour, but not at this time of year! And I don’t think this variety is local in very many places–certainly not in New England where you and I cook. Apple growers face enough challenges without being pestered about something they don’t have in stock. Maybe you could suggest some good locally grown varieties instead. I’ve had good experience with Ginger Gold, Northern Spy, Baldwin, Gala, Rhode Island Greenings, Russets and many others. I bet you guys could add a few to that list.

    Thanks for all you contribute to the world of baking for so many of us.

    Alice, we walk a tightrope here. As I mentioned in the blog instructions, I used Granny Smith because when I tested the recipe, it was the only reliable baking apple available. In fact, Delicious, Gala, Fuji, and Braeburn were the only others in the market at the time – this was about a month ago. Should I have tested this recipe with fresh local apples a year ago, done the blog then, and held onto it till now? Yes. Am I that organized? No, unfortunately! I’ve suggested Ginger Gold in the past, and mention them in the blog’s opening paragraphs. However, I do need to keep in mind that we’re an international company, trying to make the recipes available to as many folks as possible – all over the world. So I feel obliged to suggest a ubiquitous variety, hoping that those with good local apples – like you, and now, like me – will know to use them. P.S. Honey Crisp joined the list of newly available apples today – still waiting for Gravenstein and pommes grises… PJH

    Reply
  14. Oonagh

    Granny Smith’s are reliably crisp which is essential for an apple peeler, corer slicer. Softer apples don’t work, so that’s something to bear in mind when choosing apples. Being British (but based in NH) I frequently use the Gala/Fuji/Braeburn apples which are similar to the British Cox’s Orange Pippin, more of a crisp sweet eating apple than a Granny Smith. I also find if I use Gala etc, I can reduce the amount of sugar mixed with apples. Granny Smith is the closest type (and normally the most easily available) to the really sour apples we are used to in Europe for apple pies. Now to adapt it to gluten free for my son.

    Oonagh, stay tuned for our gluten-free mixes, coming in January. They’re awfully good – and convenient when you’re trying to just get something done fast. Thanks for the apple info. – PJH

    Reply
  15. FRAN S

    WHAT?? NO ICE CREAM ON HAND?? SHAME ON YOU!
    I TOO LOVE THE COARSE SUGAR AND ALWAYS HAVE IT ON HAND (AS WELL AS ICE CREAM).
    I DO NOT CARE FOR THE ALL SPICE IN APPLE PIE SPICE SO I SIMPLY USE CINNAMON AND FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG.
    DO YOU THINK THERE WOULD NEED TO BE ANY ADJUSTMENT TO THE TIME OR TEMPERATURE IF USING A REGULAR METAL BAKING PAN? OR IF I USED MY POLISH POTTERY PIE PAN?
    I THINK YOU GUYS DO AN AWESOME JOB OF ALWAYS SUGGESTING SUBSTITUTES. THOSE OF US WHO CANNOT AFFORD TO ORDER AS OFTEN AS WE’D LIKE FROM KING ARTHUR SURE DO APPRCIATE IT!
    I LIKE THE IDEA OF THE MAPLE SYRUP. HOW ABOUT A TSP. OR SO OF APPLE CIDER VINEGAR TO GIVE IT A LITTLE TANG?
    THANKS! You can bake the pie in either a metal pan or the Polish pottery without any adjustment but, since everyone’s oven is different, start checking for doneness after about 40 minutes. Try adding the apple cider vinegar and letting us know how it comes out! Molly @ KAF

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  16. Rosemarie

    I am ready to go apple picking! That looks almost as good as my mother’s (and grandmother’s) German apple cake recipe, but much easier. That recipe is made in a springform pan and the dough is rolled out like a pie – crust is more like a butter cookie and there is no sugar put on apples. It was a staple in our home in the fall, and all my boyfriends came on Sunday afternoon for a slice with ice cream (even after we were no longer dating!!!) Haven’t seen similar recipe in any German cookbook. Glad apple picking time has arrived in NH!

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  17. Arloa Dahl (Loa)Dahl

    Have to try this. Just got golden delicious at our favorite apple farm yesterday. Also, I’m going out on a limb and use firm pears.We have 2 trees that are loaded and we use them for pies, cobbler etc. I’ll take this to a family reunion on Sunday.

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  18. Bridget

    I don’t have any cast iron, it’s too heavy for me to lift. What else can I use and still get the results of this all too pretty cake?

    Bridget, the recipe/blog suggests a 9″ x 9″ cake pan, which works just fine. PJH

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  19. Bonnie

    Hi, Thank you for all of the info. YES… I do have many cast iron skillets, and I do use them for every thing. My favorite is for a Pineapple up side down cake baked from scratch. M .M .M. Good. Thats how I got my husband was with a home made Pine apple up side down cake. That was 43 yrs. ago. and I am still making them. I can hardly wait to get the apples and start making your apple pie cake. Sounds Delicious. The sugar sounds great will give it a try. Many thanks for all of the suggestions. I”m off to the store to get some apples. I couldn’t wait.
    Farmers market has good apples too. Many Thanks. B…..

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  20. Margaret Woodside

    Dear PJ and all: I have a good friend who is an apple epicure. His name is Adam and you can find his opinionated and interesting blog at adamapples.blogspot.com. He is very dedicated to apples, has loads of readers and photos. I love it because it is so like him in real space. Maybe you all would like to take a look. He is a New Englander, likes to ride his mountain bike to orchards where old varieties are grown. I’ve learned a lot from him, as I have from all of you bakers.

    Sounds good, Margaret – I’ll check out his blog, thanks. PJH

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  21. Lee

    I’m with you, I LOVE apple season. I just live in the wrong state for the fresh, local ones! :( I saw a similar recipe recently in a cookbook from a Windjammer cruise chef in Maine for the giant apple “pancake” where you saute’ the apples in the cast iron skillet then pour in the batter and stick it all in the oven. Are these pretty much the same thing? I was going to make that one until I saw this one today.

    Hi, Lee- I used to live in Camden, Maine, “home of the windjammers,” so I actually know that recipe. That’s more of a puffy pancake; this is more of a solid “cake cake.” Either way, they’re both delicious. Have fun – PJH

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  22. Nancy

    Dear PJH,

    Based upon your response to “Alice” where you lambasted her for not having made this cake and writing the blog a year ago; I find your response to her offensive. Maybe you need a vacation or some time away from having to write on the blog as well as The King Arthur Baking Sheet.

    All you needed to say is that there are many different varities, available at different times of the year that will work for this or many of the apple recipies posted in this blog; and that they should feel free to experiment with apples that are good for baking/cooking.

    I haven’t met you presonally, but I have been to the store in Norwich as well as having taken a professional class that Jeffrey Hammelman taught. My 8 days in class around the store and as well as around that area of Vermont, I never ran into anyone who was that hostile or took out their frustration on a customer. An aquaintance of mine who also took the class (Mike T.) told me that you were very nice, helpful and funny…but in this case your anything but. I feel that you owe Alice an apology for your frustrations that were taken out on her.

    Oh my goodness, Nancy – I think you misunderstood. I wasn’t “lambasting” Alice for not having made the cake a year ago – I was “lambasting” myself for not having been organized enough to do so! If I was TRULY organized, I would have tested that cake last year with fresh orchard apples, then sat on the results till apple season came around again (now), and published them. Instead, I started a month ago, when there were no fresh apples… so had to use the Granny Smiths. WOW – I hope no one else read that as an attack. I hope other readers don’t think I’m hostile, and take my frustrations out on customers, because that is absolutely, positively 180° away from where I want to be.

    At any rate – I can see I inadvertently upset you, and I am SO sorry. Please accept my apologies. And Alice – if you felt attacked, I apologize to you, too. PJH

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  23. Beth

    Note to Rosemarie who mentioned her grandmother’s German apple cake recipe: I think a lot of us would appreciate your sharing it. Thanks very much.

    Hear, hear… :) PJH

    Reply
  24. Jayme Goffin aka The Coop Keeper

    Oh my. This is a beautiful recipe, as all of yours are. The cover of your last catalog is pure art. Art, I tell you! There is something so compelling about this cake to me. I think it’s the contrast of the cast iron and the powdered sugar. I’ll be making it this weekend.

    Thank you!

    Enjoy, Jayme – ’tis the season, for sure. PJH

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  25. Robin

    Apple season, the best time of the year! One of my happiest memories is of sitting on a stack of burlap sacks (three years old at the time), munching a Winesap, breathing in the heavenly smell of fresh apples, and watching my mom buy bushels of all varieties to make into applesauce, pies, and jelly.

    This recipe looks absolutely delicious, PJ! Cannot WAIT to give it a try tonight!

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  26. Amy

    WOW! Wish I was closer to the Apple states. I’m stuck with what I can find at the local stores here in Vegas (yeah we do bake in Sin City). When I first started baking it was in upstate New York. The first bread I ever made was froma reciepe on the back of a KA whole wheat flour bag. My mom said don’t bother you’ll only be disapointed. Boy was she wrong. Now, out of four daughters, she calls me her bread baker. My older sister had me bake her brioche on my birthday in the pans she just gave, (BTW she was on drugs, surgery the day before LOL). KA is the only flour I’ll use. When I moved from New York to Texas I even went to the KA store (14 years ago), I bought a KA logo 5 gallon bucket or was that 20 gallons, 20 lbs flour, some aprons, and a few other things. The movers were very puzzled (I did my research, no KA where I was going). The flour is long since gone, I refilled my bucket every 3 months after buying trips to a Whole Foods in Dallas a 300+ miles round trip excursions. I now buy KA at most any market I go to and LOVE IT. I even got my sister into KA it’s all we’ll use. Just bought 10 lbs All purpose yesterday, chocolate hazelnut zucchini bread anyone?? I’m sure this is not the kind of post people are used to seeing after a reciepe but I just couldn’t resist.
    One last thing anyone know how to ship baked goodies relialbley state to state and overseas?? I have loved ones all over creation and they miss getting goodies from me.
    Thanks in advance for an information and keep the yummies coming.

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  27. Oonagh

    Dear PJH

    I didn’t think you were lambasting Alice. I read it as you lambasting yourself. I thought you wrote that very clearly. cheer up, you can’t please everyone all the time.

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  28. Alvara

    WOW! Talk about hostile — that nancy takes first prize!
    Evidently she cannot read.

    How could she say anything like that about our wonderful PJ, who is so sweet and kind to everyone. PJ you have such patience with all of us bakers. We love you and please continue to blog for us. Don’t let anyone like that take the “wind out of your sails”

    Forever a reader.
    Alvara, thank you for your support. All of us here are fans of PJ too. We all know we are lucky to work with her. And we all misread things sometimes so here’s to baking up a great apple cake. Joan@bakershotline

    Hear, hear, Joan – UP WITH BAKING! Thanks for connecting, Alvara – PJH

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  29. Maria

    Dear PJH, I agree with Oonagh, I don’t think there was any way you could have been misinterpreted as criticizing Alice – I thought you were laughing at yourself and offered her a polite and informative reply. Thanks for all your helpful information and responses – I always think you respond with remarkable good humor to the occasional criticism. Maria

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  30. SoupAddict Karen

    I didn’t read PJ’s reply to Alice as a slap on Alice, either. Frankly, I appreciate the mention of the common apple brands. Although I’m starting to bake apple goodies like crazy while the season is in full swing, I’ll appreciate the generic suggestion in the recipe in, say, March, when the lovely heirloom varietals are nothing but a distant memory. I’m delighted to support my local growers – I came home with bags full of cortlands, jonathans and honey crisps this morning, fresh from the farmers’ market – but having knowledge of options is never a bad thing. Making this cake tonight, by the way. I’m really psyched to have found last year’s mostly-empty bottle of boiled cider in the back of my refrigerator; otherwise, the recipe would have to go without, as I forgot to order more!

    I got Honey Crisps, organic local Galas, and Ginger Golds today… STILL waiting for my favorite, pommes grise, and Ashmead’s Kernal… PJH

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  31. marianne

    I just made this tonight with some sad apples that have been in the fridge for a while (I’m in NC where it’s hard to get delicious local apples). It’s wonderful–very moist and pudding-like. The apples on the very top got a little dried out so I made a think brown-sugar glaze and brushed it on (if I’d had any boiled cider left I would have used that). I’m looking forward to eating it for breakfast tomorrow too!

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  32. Renee Z

    I recently purchased the boiled cider to put in my apple pie that I was entering in the local Fair. I also bought the Vietnamese cinnamon for that same pie. The flavor was incredible! I not only won first place but also Best of Show for Apple Pie. I know it was the boiled cider. The taste is like 100 apples on a spoon.

    Renee – CONGRATULATIONS!!! That’s super… I love that boiled cider, too. Just pure essence of apples – Thanks for sharing your success with us! PJH

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  33. Margy

    My goodness–Nancy certainly got her panties in a bunch! She needs to read more carefully–it’s obvious that in PJ’s response to Alice that she was laughing at herself. If we can’t make make fun/laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? Our local apples are just starting to come in, so I’ll eventually try this. Right now we’re making green tomato cakes so as to salvage the greenies that won’t have time to ripen. It’s like an apple spice cake with green tomatoes instead of apples (credit to Paula Deen). Waste not, want not! People say “Yuck!” until they try it; now I have a request for 3 this week! Bake on!

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  34. Diane B

    Girls – I could not wait to order supplies to make this cake, so I bought my apples and cast iron pan yesterday, made my own boiled cider today (cooked about 2 cups of cider down to about 1/2 cup syrup), and my cake is in the oven right now. With 15 minutes left to bake, I couldn’t wait one second longer to tell you that this entire house smells fabulous, and the cake is absolutely beautiful! I can hardly wait to give it a taste! And I do have ice cream on hand, so I’M READY! I’ll let you know how I made out…if it tastes half as good as it smells, I will be more than pleased! Thank you for this great EASY recipe!

    Diane – Hope you’ve had a wonderful slice of apple cake a la mode by now… :) PJH

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  35. Shirley

    Do you think I could make this in those individual pie slice dishes? If so, any special instructions? It looks so good but being a single old lady, I don’t need a whole cake although I did order the iron skillet for family get togethers. I love apple recipes in the fall!

    I don’t see why not, Shirley – I’d guess you’d bake them maybe 30 minutes? Test at 30 minutes and see if the cake is done. Let us know how they come out – great idea! PJH

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  36. Diane B

    PJH – I was not disappointed! The cake is TWICE as good as it looked and smelled while baking! A piece of cake, a scoop of ice cream, and a cup of coffee? My husband, who only likes apples when it comes to fruit, is in heaven! Thank you again for a great recipe! This is going in the “keeper” box!

    Hey, thanks for getting back to us here. It’s always gratifying when we can create a “keeper” recipe – thanks to Sue and Andrea in our test kitchen for this one… PJH

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  37. Lish

    This cake looks wonderful, with fresh local orchard apples now, or supermarket granny smith in the middle of non apple season. I love how PJ is able to give information, make fun of herself, and still focus on the food all at the same time. I think any of us who read this blog consistently and know KAF would take her response for what it was. An informative, kind, funny, self deprecating response to a somewhat angered post about what kind of apples she SHOULD have used. I think many people post without carefully reading the entire blog first. Just like in all life, think before you speak is a rule to live by. People should feel free to post opinions, as long as you are able to state it as that in a kind way. I agree that many recipes call for granny smiths, but I never use them this time of year, but in the middle of spring when winter apples are gone granny smith is the only one we have available that stands up to baking. I think this is true in many parts of the country. Someone new to baking might be afraid to go apple picking and choose a type of apple, so granny smith would also be a good choice for them. If you are lucky like I am to have awesome local apples go for it, if not go to the grocery store and get yourself some granny smiths. But don’t complain if someone chooses something you don’t like. Myself I detest red delicious apples, but I wouldn’t tell someone else not to like it. I think it is great to share ideas and opinions as long as you don’t take offense if people don’t agree with you.
    On another note, can’t wait to pick some apples to try this cake. Our new favorite eating apple is mutsu, which is huge and doesn’t oxidize so you can cut them and leave them on a plate with dip for a long time and they don’t turn brown at all. For baking I love the ginger gold now, and for applesauce I usually mix several varieties for difference in texture and sweetness.
    Also sorry to be so verbose here!

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  38. itsworthalook

    I’m always amazed that folks get so worked up… we’re talking about food here people, lighten up…

    PJ – I enjoy your recipes, your writing style, and your sense of humor! Keep up the good work!

    PS – I have cider in my crock pot right now, always love a new science experiment! Terrific! let us know how it goes! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  39. Cheryl

    I was a little disappointed! Cake was not as moist as I would have liked it. Apples seemed to be a little dry on top once cake cooled. I would suggest pouring some batter then placing some apples and then proceed to place them on the top as your recipe indicates. I am an experienced baker, what went wrong??
    Cheryl,
    It may be that your apples were a little drier, less juicy, or maybe the cake got just a bit overbaked. ~ MJR

    Reply
  40. Joan

    I had no apples on hand, so I used peaches and blackberries instead, and molasses instead of the boiled cider. And spelt flour instead of all-purpose. It was great. I’m looking forward to trying it with apples now.

    Reply
  41. Holly Steiner

    Hi PJ!
    I am going to bake your cake as soon as possible. I will use an old apple from our few trees we have in our yard. Wolf Rivers as they are now ready, and they bake a into a wonderful apple pie. We are lucky in Michigan to have a lot of orchards. But unfortunally we have lost quite a few to city encroachment in our area. Also am going to try boiling down some apple cider. I have never done this before-so am going to try something new. Keep up the good work for us bakers out there. Thanks again for all your wonderful blogs.
    Holly Steiner

    Reply
  42. Alice

    Wow, I hadn’t looked here in a few days, and can’t believe what I missed. I wasn’t the least offended by your response, PJ.
    thanks again,

    Thank you, Alice – I’m glad you connected here again… PJH

    Reply
  43. Christina

    I will admit that I bought apples at our local megamart for this. (I’d get local but our farmer’s market is on Saturday and, um, I just couldn’t wait.)

    Yum, yum, yum! I have a feeling I’ll be seeing what kinds of fruit I can toss in the mix. We have been getting lots of local pears recently in our baskets.

    Reply
  44. Shon

    Wow! I’m so glad I ordered the boiled cider on Sunday! It’s on its way and obviously none too soon! I plan on making this for company this weekend and it would have been disappointing to me to wait until the first week of October to order. This recipe looks so yummy and comforting. I know all my friends will love it. Thanks, KAF!

    Reply
  45. Bonnie

    WOW!!!!!. I tried the apple recipe and I give it 5 stars. it was to die for…
    Everyine liked it . and I used my cast iron skillet pan. Put a little vanilla ice cream and a slice of cheddar cheese, it was Gooood. The Boiled Apple cider was very good in it too. Many Thanks.

    Yes, the boiled cider is magic, isn’t it? Our pleasure. Susan

    Reply
  46. Linnie

    I made my boiled cider then made this cake..in the cast iron skillet..only guilt and my waistline kept me from eating more than is ladylike.

    Reply
  47. El

    How can I adjust this recipe for my 12″ cast iron skillet?

    More apples, cook it for a shorter amount of time, I’d guess? PJH

    Reply
  48. EL

    OK, how much less time to cook? Won’t I also need more cake batter? And if so, how do I do that? I’d like to make this for Rosh Hashanah, so I want it to come out well!
    This is really a hot line question. We are limited to the amount of help we can extend to you on these pages. Please call us at 800-827-6836. Joan@bakershotline

    Reply
  49. Mary

    This cake was fantastic! It will become a staple in our family’s fall recipes. I would like to make it next week for our local homeless shelter, but would like to use a larger pan. I’m hoping I can double the recipe and put it in a lasagna-size foil pan. Do you have any recommendations, especially with respect to baking time?

    Thanks very much for so many good recipes!

    Mary, I’d say bake it at a lower temperature (325°F), for a longer amount of time. Not sure how long – just keep testing the center till it’s done. Hopefully the edges won’t brown TOO much before the center is done… Would you consider making two cakes instead of one larger cake? PJH

    Reply
  50. Willi

    PJ,

    I made the apple cake and it turned out OK. I was a little disappointed in the cake crumb. Mine was dense. More like a pie shell than a cake. Should it have been this way or did I do something wrong? Luckily, It tasted good.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Willi

    Willi, this is definitely a dense cake – not light and fluffy like a “cake flour cake.” More toothsome. But it should’nt be like pie crust. Do you htink your baking powder is OK? Did you use King Arthur flour? Glad it tasted good, anyway! – PJH

    Reply
  51. Carol

    Just yesterday I boiled down a gallon of fresh local apple cider. I ended up with a full quart of the prettiest, richest, tangiest boiled cider. Oh my! I started out bringing it to a boil in a dutch oven on the stove (that evaporated it down about an inch) and transferred it to my big crock pot. I left it uncovered and set on high, but it never came to a boil even after a couple hours. Hmm So I put it back in the dutch oven and brought it back to a low boil until it was down to a few inches, thick and rich. I strained it thru a clean tea towel at the beginning and end to remove as much graininess as possible. I can’t wait to use it. If I like it like I think I will I will be making more to give as gifts at Christmas. And I’ll be making the apple cake this weekend. Thank you for this yummy sounding recipe!

    Thanks for sharing this, Carol. I tried making it in a slow cooker, too, and it took forever, and for some reason boiled WAY down before it became thick. I don’t know what was up with that… but glad you had success! PJH

    Reply
  52. Sandy

    Went to the farmer’s market here in NC today and got fresh off the tree Granny Smith apples to make this cake. It was delicious! One thing I would change is to perhaps cook the apple slices first in a skillet to soften them just a tad before mixing with the sugar, boiled cider, etc and putting on top of the batter. My apples slices, when done baking, were still a bit crunchy. I would have like them just a little softer.

    Good modification, Sandy, for those who like their apples softer… PJH

    Reply
  53. Steph

    We are lucky enough to live right down the street from an apple orchard, which has many many apple varieties throughout the season, so this cake will taste different throughout the fall. I made this yesterday with Red Gravenstein and Macouns, and it was GREAT. For those who are struggling with how many apples to use, I found that the finished amount by weight (18 oz) was perfect, and using smaller apples for smaller slices was helpful.

    Reply
  54. Margy

    So I decided to take the home-boiled cider challenge this weekend since our market had fresh-pressed local cider. I used the microwave, since I have no patience for standing over the stove stirring for hours (plus the propane tank unexpectedly went empty–all that baking!, but that’s another story. ;-D) I used a 2 quart glass measuring cup, and ran the microwave on high for 30 minute intervals, stirring between each interval. When the bubbles looked thick, and it had cooked down about 1/2-2/3s, I dribbled some on a cold plate to check consistency, and poured into a sterilized canning jar. Whew! Fun experiment, but I’ll continue to buy my boiled cider to avoid all that work. Buy the way, if you attempt this, when it starts to thicken, be VERY careful when taking it out of the microwave to stir–it boils up like molten lava when the spoon hits it! Don’t let kids try this, the boiled down cider is EXTREMELY hot! On the plus side, I threw a cinnamon stick in at the beginning, and the results of the experiment were extremely yummy.

    Reply
  55. Margy

    Oh, forgot one more thing. Don’t try this if you have a beekeeper in the neighborhood! A swarm collected around my porch and kitchen screen windows, presumuably drawn by the rich, sweet aroma. Had to close my door and storm windows until they went away! :-O (And of course, above I meant BY the way–my brain runs faster than my fingers!)

    Reply
  56. Oonagh

    So I finally boiled down a gallon of fresh cider in my slow cooker. Took Forever and I think it only starts looking syrupy as it cools. Then I only made 1/4 of the recipe (empty nesters) and baked 2 good sized portions in the Wilton 6 x 1 cup Texas muffin pans, black non stick which I thought would help approximate a cast iron pan. I used my own gluten free flour blend, and cut the apples using the apple peeler corer slicer so they were small pieces not large slices. That way I could easily fit apples into muffin pans. Baked it for a bit longer since gluten free often takes longer to bake. Batter did rise up around outside of apples, quite chewy due to black non stick and apple juices down the outside. Went down very well last night with some pouring cream. BTW, I find that Granny Smith apples don’t tend to bake to very soft, they still retain a bit of bite. I used Gala and a little less sugar.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Oonagh – very helpful for others wanting to tweak… PJH

    Reply
  57. Patricia Pieson

    THIS IS DELICIOUS….You will not be disappointed..the boiled cider
    is a great flavor enhancement!! This is a keeper and I will make often!

    Reply
  58. teresa

    this was a fun and easy recipe to make. I am going to try it again only using 4-6 small (4″) cast iron skillets for a dinner party dessert

    Reply
  59. Kevin

    Made this recipe sans the boiled cider and it was delicious. Not sure if I’ll break down and get the boiled cider it was so good.

    Reply
  60. sandie knopf

    would like to make this recipe in a 9 x 13 1/2 pan. Can I just double it?
    We haven’t tried to double the recipe here. Give it a go and let us know how it turns out. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  61. KimberlyD

    Paula red and McIntosh also Michigan Honey crisp are in season here, sweet apples good for just plain eating. I like mixing a tart apple with a sweet apple when I make a dish. I sometimes leave the peel on if I want it rustic. Don’t hook up a drill to the handle part of the peeler, it does go faster but not a very good idea….lol they tried it at the Apple Orchard I worked at to see if we could peel more apples. Boy what a mess it made! LOL! And apple butter yum, apple jelly, crab apple jelly is yummy too! Ever have crab apple jelly?

    Oh boy, never thought of attaching a drill the the apple peeler… Yes, I can imagine what happened. Reminds me of the woman who wrote in and said she was teaching her kids to toss pizza dough in the air and they forgot the overhead fan was on… Don’t think I’ve ever had crabapple jelly, Kimberly – I see crabapples at the farmstand now, though. Along with my favorite pommes grise – small, sweet, VERY crisp… :) PJH

    Reply
  62. headchef

    My family just finishing one of their new favorite desserts. Loving to cook, I did make some changes. First did not have boiled cider, used orange juice instead – AWESOME FLAVOR. Exchanged 1/3 cup of All Purpose with 1/3 cup of White Whole Wheat, dark brown sugar, and half and half instead of milk. (a little nut like flavor from the whole wheat). Use my own apple spice mix, which is 3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon of allspice. Topped it off with Vanilla ice cream. I did taste it without the ice cream and the cake and apples were wonderful. The cake is moist and tender. It is a supper light dessert. Also will make a wonderful breakfast, served warm with milk poured over it.

    Reply
  63. guillesenatore

    Great, last night i make this with my new iron skillet, and i have great result, i follow the recipe exact , just ad some rising, and put vanilla ice cream on top.
    My wife tell me she smell de cinnamon from across the street of our house, our neighbors too LOL
    Guillermo
    Buenos Aires
    Argentina

    Vanilla ice cream is ALWAYS welcome! :) PJH

    Reply
  64. laoxinat51

    Mmmmm! The first time I made this, I used 5 medium Granny Smith apples, and followed the recipe to the ‘T’. I did ue my own boiled cider – more about the later. The second time, I used 4 medium Gala apples and cut the sugar in the filling to 1Tablespoon and put the apples in the skillet before adding the batter. I prefer apples cooked through, and I also found when following the recipe, the apples that baked on top of the cake resembled dried apples a bit too much for my taste.

    Reply
  65. laoxinat51

    I lost my last post, but this is the one I want to put up!
    The first time I made this, I used 5 medium Granny Smiths, and followed the recipe exactly. I did use my own boiled cider – more about that in a moment! The second time, I used 4 medium Gala apples, and put them under the batter. I used my Progressive International Apple machine (which boast two rods, one that produces 1/4 in slices, and one that produces 1/8 in slices) with the 1/8 in rod, then cut the slices in halves. I prefer my apples ‘done’ and have found that simply slicing them thin helps them cook faster and more evenly. I also cut down the brown sugar in the filling to 1 Tb, as Galas are quite a bit sweeter than Grannies. This cake was much more to my liking.
    I make my own boiled cider by taking a gallon of good quality apple cider (it can be from concentrate, but no preservatives such as sodium bezoate. Guess who returned a gallon because she didn’t think to read the label???) and pouring it into a large pot. I bring the cider to a rolling boil, then turn it down to a fairly high simmer. I stir occasionally and note the rate of reduction. Once it gets down to a 6th or 7th of its original volume, it’s done! This can take a long time, but is well worth the effort, and it makes the house smell wonderful.
    Thanks for this awesome recipe, PJ! I will be making the Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting later today, though I may have to leave off the frosting. My poor husband is complaining of sugar overload!

    Thanks for the feedback – I found your original post (just hadn’t been approved yet), so will delete and keep this one. I just recently made my own boiled cider. 1 gallon boiled for 6 hours to make 1 pint. A bit tricky at the end; it was hard to know just how much to boil it, and I let it go a tad too long and it was a bit charred tasting, and too thick. But tasty nonetheless- PJH

    Reply
  66. Sweet T (T. Moore)

    So, after reading about the recipe I decided to try it. I bought honey crisp and granny smith apples. I ordered from KA the boiled cider, dial a slicer and apple pie spice. I used two granny smith and one really large honey crisp apple. I also re-sliced them a little thinner. I added a little extra spice and a spice mix from Pampered Chef that had a orange, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon blend. Lastly, I added the sugar on top and sprinkled chopped pecans on one half of the cake. I baked it at 350 for about 40 minutes in a Lodge 10″ cast iron skillet that I bought from Target. The cake came out great!!! I couldn’t wait to cut it and taste it. I think the next time I may double the cake batter portion of the recipe to give the cake more height and more cake in proportion to the large amount of apple slices. I will also drizzle the top of the cake with caramel to add a little praline touch. Yummy! Will definitely make again. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  67. Margie S

    I have made this several times. It really depends on the amount of moisture in the apples- juicy apples = moist tasty cake. We have our own apple tree (Granny Smiths) and the apples in storage are getting dry this time of year. Had the idea of adding several tablespoons of apple butter to the apple mix. Came out REALLY good. Suggest people who are having problems add apple butter to the apple mix.

    Reply
  68. cwolfpack3

    A baker’s desperation is often the mother of creativity … no cider syrup or apple juice concentrate here. I’m wondering if opening up a K-cup of “hot cider” and dumping the powdered cider in with the apples would achieve something of the same kind of flavor enhancement? Anyone?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Well, here are the ingredients in the K-cup: Dried Apples, Brown Sugar, Natural Flavors, Organic Malic Acid, Reb A (Stevia Extract). So the addition of dried apples should help enhance the apple flavor, though you might also want to add some honey or another liquid for consistency, OK? Good luck – PJH

  69. cwolfpack3

    Thanks, PJ! I did not expect such a quick response. So, now I’m also kicking myself for giving away an entire bag of schnitz to my dad. After I posted, it hit me to try some combination of the instant cider with a few tablespoons of applesauce (which is also a form of concentrated apple). I’m making this tonight and will report back.

    Reply

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