A good old-fashioned apple loaf cake that is super moist and very easy to make (no peeling the apples!). It keeps well, can be frozen, and baked in different pans. The glaze adds another layer of sweetness. You'll love the flavor and simplicity of this recipe.
This is a recipe you just need to try! Because I assume you love apples and walnuts. And cake, of course, but that's a no-brainer. We all love cake.
It's a fantastic addition to your apple recipes and a pretty unique take on an apple loaf.
When I remember childhood, apple cakes and crumbles are prominent features. The first recipe I made was this apple blackberry crisp without the berries. And I was hooked on the flavor of cooked apples.
When I opened a cafe many years ago, one of the most sought-after cakes was this glazed walnut apple cake I sometimes made with pears and almonds.
It's simple and easy to make and so incredibly delicious!
- Apples: Granny smith apples, the green ones are the best because they're acid and retain texture after they're baked. But any cooking apples you normally bake with work.
- Walnuts: they're used ground, so buy the cheaper broken ones. There is no need for fancy walnut halves unless you want some to decorate the cake.
- Oil: any vegetable oil can be used. I like sunflower oil but have made this with light olive oil for years. Coconut oil also works but, in my experience, the cake tends to be less rich.
- Flours: white and whole wheat flour are used, but you can use all white, such as all-purpose flour or cake flour. The whole wheat flour needs to be superfine for best results.
- Baking soda: make sure it's not expired.
- Salt: I like using kosher salt or fine sea salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Cinnamon: any ground cinnamon you normally use works fine. I like Frontier Vietnamese cinnamon and Simply Organic Ceylon cinnamon.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works and is infinitely cheaper.
- Eggs: fresh, large.
- White granulated sugar.
- Orange: the batter has orange zest and the glaze has orange juice. They pair very well with apples and cinnamon but don't go out and buy oranges just for this cake. Omit the zest from the batter and use another liquid for the glaze.
Variations & substitutions
- Nuts: substitute the walnuts for pecans or almonds.
- Flour: use only all-purpose flour, same total amount.
- Pears: use pears instead of apples or a mix of both.
- Spices: add more spices together with cinnamon, like a dash of ground nutmeg, mace, or allspice. Or use an apple pie spice mix instead of the cinnamon.
- Oil: sunflower is the most neutral choice, but canola or a light olive oil can be used. I use the latter a lot and love baking with it (this lemon olive oil bundt cake being one of my favorites). Coconut oil can also be used.
- Sugar: use half white sugar and half light brown sugar. Same total amount.
- Topping: you can also use a light cream cheese frosting, which goes well with the rest of the flavors.
Why use oil in cakes
There's much good to be said about using oil in baking cakes.
- Moisture: among other things, these cakes keep well and freeze wonderfully due to the moistness oil gives. Don't keep them at room temperature for more than a day, especially if it's not cool. Apples tend to ferment quickly, and the cake goes south from one day to the other.
- Easiness: there's no waiting for the butter to soften and then creaming it with sugar and all those steps. When you use oil, it needs little beating, and you simply open the bottle and pour.
- Texture: the crumb tends to be more uniform and less dense depending on the recipe.
Whole wheat flour
I love the earthy feeling that using whole wheat flour gives this cake. It is still tender, but there's a deeper flavor.
- Superfine: I use the finest flour when it comes to grinding. It's almost as fine as all-purpose flour (image below). If you don't find one as finely ground and use one coarser, the texture will be more rustic. But the cake will be great anyway.
How to make this apple loaf cake
It's very easy, but there are a few pointers to get the best results.
Apples: they need to be chopped fine but not completely pureed. I like to use the food processor because it's easier than chopping by hand. Do it when you start with the recipe, and the apple will release juice, which is good.
Cake batter: it's thick and dense before adding the apples. The fruit and its juice will loosen it, and it will be more fluid by the time you incorporate it completely.
Use the right-sized pan, and don't fill it more than ⅔ of its capacity (¾ at the most).
Baking it: it will rise and crack like most loaf cakes, so be sure it's fully baked. Being a dense cake made with oil, ensure you use a cake tester or toothpick to check for doneness.
Vintage Kitchen tip: loaf pans should not be filled over ¾ of their capacity. This is to avoid overflow and to ensure they bake well. When the cake batter is too much for the size of the pan, the inside will never fully bake, or it will take so long that the sides and top will be too thick and dry. If it doesn't overflow first.
Powdered sugar glaze
It's the perfect icing to this cake and we have a whole post on how to make a simple glaze.
I use orange juice because we use orange zest in the batter, but lemon juice, apple juice, apple cider, or milk all work. The flavor they add will be different in each case.
It is a must, in my opinion, with that extra sweet sensation that makes you want to eat the crunchy glazed top and leave the rest of the cake behind.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier.
- Baking time: consider that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Apples: use Granny Smith apples if possible. They have enough acid to balance the rest of the cake and they hold well during baking. Even though they are chopped, you want to bite into them. If you have another favorite baking apple, by all means, use it. No need to peel them; the processor is the best way to chop them.
- Olive oil: I make this cake with classic extra virgin olive oil with no complex undertones. After baking, this apple loaf doesn't taste of olive oil. But it adds an extra richness that is not achieved with other oils. At least the ones I tried (sunflower and canola). But you can use regular oil.
- Pans: this moist apple cake recipe makes a good-sized loaf cake, but you can double the recipe and make a bundt cake or tube cake. Or double it and make two 8 or 9-inch round layers, fill and frost with cream cheese frosting as we do with the Hummingbird Cake.
- Storing: you can keep it for maybe 1 day at room temperature, but then wrap it and refrigerate it (or freeze it if not eating it immediately). The apples will ferment quicker than you think, and the cake will go to waste. Have you ever tried a fermented cake? You know what I mean then. It happened to me with this carrot cake once. Lesson learned.
- Serving it: it's best eaten plain, at room temperature, perfect for afternoon tea or coffee. Or take it up a notch and make a dessert by serving a thick slice with a dollop of whipped cream (plain or flavored with cinnamon) and a drizzle of caramel sauce or dulce de leche.
Related recipes you might like:
Let me know in the comments below if you made this recipe and loved it and if you had issues so we can troubleshoot together. I love to hear what you think, always. Thanks for being here. It's much appreciated.
You might also consider subscribing to our FREE email series to Boost your Home Baking Skills! And our regular newsletter.
And let's connect via Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure policy.Print
For the cake:
- 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (70g) superfine whole wheat flour
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (125ml) sunflower, canola or olive oil (a fruity or light one, preferably)
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- Zest of ½ orange
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cooking apples, coarsely chopped or processed, with skin
- ½ cup (60g) walnuts, chopped
For the glaze:
- 1 cup (150g) powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons orange juice
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Butter or spray a 3x8-inch (20x7cm) loaf cake pan. Add a strip of parchment paper that covers the bottom and up the two narrow sides. The long sides will be left unlined. The paper will help you remove the cake more easily after it's baked.
- Wash the apples (skin and all) and process them until chopped but not pureed. You can also very finely chop them by hand, or grate them with a large-holed grater. They will begin to release liquid, that is fine.
- In a large bowl mix dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking soda (sift it to avoid little lumps), salt and cinnamon.
- Make a hole in the middle and add the wet ingredients: oil, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix well by hand or with an electric mixer.
- Fold in the apples, chopped walnuts, and mix. The batter will become wetter and easier to stir.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out dry. Sometimes it takes more. If it's browning too quickly cover the top loosely with a piece of aluminum paper while it keeps baking.
- Let cool for about 20 minutes. Run a smooth blade knife around the edges to loosen first and unmold carefully. Let cool completely on a wire rack and glaze.
- Keep well wrapped for no more than 1 day at room temperature and in the fridge a few more days. It can be frozen, well wrapped in film and aluminum foil, before glazing.
For the glaze:
- Mix both ingredients until you have a creamy mixture. If it’s too dry add more orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, and stir until incorporated.
- You can make it as thick or thin as you want to, adding more or less liquid (juice).
- Glaze the top of the cake (which should be completely cooled down) by drizzling the glaze and letting it drip down the sides.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Apples: use granny smith if possible. They have enough acid to balance the rest of the cake, they hold well when baking and even though they are chopped you want to bite into them. If you have another favorite baking apple, by all means, use it. There's no need to peel them; the processor is the best way to chop them.
- Olive oil: I make this cake with a classic light extra virgin olive oil. After baking, this apple loaf doesn't taste of olive oil. But it adds an extra richness that is not achieved with other oils. At least the ones I tried (sunflower and canola). But you can use regular oil.
- Flour: use all white flour (all-purpose or cake flour) instead of part whole wheat. The cake will be just as wonderful but has less texture and earthy flavor.
- Spices: this recipe uses cinnamon, but you can use an apple pie spice mix or add more spices like a dash of ground nutmeg, mace, or allspice.
- Pans: this makes a good-sized loaf cake, but you can double the recipe and make a bundt cake or tube cake. Or double it and make two 8 or 9-inch round layers, fill and frost with cream cheese frosting as we do with the Hummingbird Cake.
- Keeping: you can keep it maybe for 1 day at room temperature, but then wrap and refrigerate it (or freeze it if not eating it immediately). The apples ferment quicker than you think, and the cake will go to waste. Have you ever tried a fermented cake? You know what I mean then. It happened to me with this carrot cake once. Lesson learned.
- Serving it: it's best eaten plain, at room temperature, perfect for afternoon tea or coffee. But you can also take it up a notch and make a dessert by serving a thick slice with a dollop of whipped cream (plain or flavored with cinnamon) and a drizzle of caramel sauce or dulce de leche.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
- Serving Size: 1/10
- Calories: 354
- Sugar: 33.4 g
- Sodium: 105.1 mg
- Fat: 16.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 49.6 g
- Fiber: 2.4 g
- Protein: 4.4 g
- Cholesterol: 37.2 mg
Keywords: apple walnut loaf cake