Apple season is the best season. Did you go apple-picking in the last few weeks and now you have 5 pounds of apples waiting around to be eaten? Well, you’re in luck, because one of the best ways to eat apples (other than out of hand) is in apple cake. I actually have another version of apple cake on the blog, which I love, but when I saw the original version of this recipe in Everyday Food, it spoke to me. And it could not be more different than the other recipe. This cake is so fluffy, moist, and sweet, with a distinct citrus tang and a toasty pecan crunch. Of course, it’s also a little less “light,” but that’s why this is Sunday Sweets!
Every bite is bursting with apple flavor, which is the most important part of any apple recipe. I was a little suspicious that nutmeg was the only spice used, but it’s exactly right. It adds just the right hint of spice without overpowering the apple flavor. And of course, the orange juice and zest provide the perfect balance to the sweetness of the cake and the apples. You could swap lemon for orange if you prefer, and as for the pecans, you could sub walnuts or leave ‘em out. But I will happily vouch for the pecans—their toasty, nutty crunch that puts this cake over the top.
Adapted from Everyday Food
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 medium Honeycrisp or Fuji apple, peeled and diced small
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon packed finely grated orange zest
- 3 large eggs
- confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan, coat it with baking spray, or line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, toss apple and pecans with 2 tablespoons flour to coat. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. In a small bowl, combine applesauce, yogurt, and juice.
- In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, and orange zest on high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined.
- With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of applesauce mixture, and beat to combine. Fold in apple mixture.
- Transfer batter to pan and smooth top. Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack, 20 minutes.
- Turn out cake from pan and place on a wire rack. With a small sieve, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.