Celebrate apple season with this Layered Apple Harvest Cake! Cream cheese glaze gives it extra sweetness and tangy flavor.
September marks the beginning of apple season and as a baker that makes me so happy! I have a surplus of apples on hand so you can expect lots of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp confections this month. Perhaps I’ll add Caramel Apple Monkey Bread to my roster (it’s a crowd-pleaser!)
I’m kicking things off with a recipe that is old fashioned in the best way possible. It’s a cake your grandmother might’ve made. I call it Layered Apple Harvest Cake, because it’s usual name – ‘Apple Bundt Cake’ – seems a bit generic and says too little about it.
Apple of my pie (and cake!).
Granny Smith apples are so lovely for baking because they are dry and tart. They don’t give off too much moisture during baking and under heat they become sweet and soft, but still hold their shape. They are recommended for this recipe.
I used a mandoline to slice my apples (which gives me pause because it is scary sharp!) but you can use a non-serrated knife. I set my mandolin blade at 3mm, which is plenty thin enough. In fact, I might go a little thicker next time.
The apples are tossed with cinnamon-sugar and then alternately layered with the cake batter. This is a high sugar cake batter, and you’ll notice when mixing it how thick and heavy it is. All of that sugar contributes to a deeply caramelized exterior.
It’s difficult to see the apple layers once the cake is sliced, but as your fork finds them they separate into delicate layers. It’s so heavenly!
Happy Apple Season!
Layered Apple Harvest Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups light olive oil (or veg. oil)
- 1/3 cup apple juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and sliced thin
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cream cheese glaze
- 6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 cups 230g confectioners’ sugar
- Milk or cream as needed
- 1/3 cup 40g broken pecan halves
- Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan (or large bundt pan) with flour-based baking spray.
- Place flour, 2 cups of sugar and the next 7 ingredients in the order given in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Scrape down the bowl as needed and mix again.
- Combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl; add the apples slices and toss to coat.
- Place 2 cups of cake batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer half of the apples on top. Pour 1 1/2 cups batter on top of the apples. Layer the remaining apples over the batter. Pour the remaining batter on top of the apples. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. When the cake is done, turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
- Make the glaze: Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined. Add milk or cream gradually until the mixture becomes thin (I used about 1/4 cup). Pour the glaze over the cake and sprinkle with broken pecans.
- Store cake loosely covered with plastic wrap.