Layered Apple Harvest Cake

Celebrate apple season with this Layered Apple Harvest Cake! Cream cheese glaze gives it extra sweetness and tangy flavor.

Layered Apple Harvest Cake

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.

Layered Apple Harvest Cake

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.

Layered Apple Harvest Cake

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.

Layered Apple Harvest Cake
Layered Apple Harvest Cake

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!

Layered Apple Harvest Cake

Happy Apple Season! 

Layered Apple Harvest Cake

Heather Baird
Be sure to grease the pan well with flour-based baking spray. The cake batter has a lot of sugar in it to yield a deep caramelized exterior, but that also makes it prone to stick!
This recipe calls for 2 cups of oil, which seems ridiculous but it works to provide a uniquely soft crumb. I recommend using light olive oil, which is flavorless and more healthful.
This recipe is from a vintage recipe book called "Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers" published by Favorite Recipes Press, Nashville, TN.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Ingredients
 
 

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

Instructions
 

  • 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.
Keyword apple juice, cream cheese frosting, granny smith apples
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Unknown
Unknown
5 years ago

Thank YOU <3

Unknown
Unknown
5 years ago
Alphacygni
Alphacygni
5 years ago

Can this be made in a speingform pan? Don't have a suitable bundt pan but dying to try out the recipe. Looks delicious.

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
5 years ago
Reply to  Alphacygni

Hi! Yes, I think it will work fine in a springform pan – just be sure to keep an eye on it as it bakes. If using a 9-inch springform, it will definitely need to be baked longer.

Thanks for asking!

Anne
Anne
5 years ago

This looks fabulous!

EG
EG
5 years ago

Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.

Kim
Kim
5 years ago

I love apples, and I like apple pie, but I have never cared for apple cake. I think I just don't like the big chunks of apples in the cake. The thinly sliced apples in this recipe intrigue me. I may have to try it!

Catherine Smith
Catherine Smith
5 years ago

Can you mix the apples into the batter instead of having them as a layer in the middle?

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
5 years ago

Hi Catherine! Yes! I think that's a great idea. I recommend paying extra attention to thorougly greasing and flouring the pan (or using flour baking spray) because any apples that touch the edges of the pan will caramelize and be prone to stick. Just make sure you don't miss any spots. Thanks for asking!

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

This looks really good, and easy! Can you tell us what brand mandolin you like? I do not have one, and am considering….
Thanks in advance. Love apples!

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Hi! Well, I only occasionally use a mandoline, so I'm feel I'm almost not qualified to answer this question. I have a very old Swissmar brand mandoline that does a great job when I use it.

Pros: sharp as a mother-in-law's tongue, lots of blades including julienne. Cons: Plastic and bulky. Hard to store.

The newer Swissmar models seem to be less bulky and have better storage options. I hope this helps a little!

Roshini
Roshini
5 years ago

Love this. I'm definitely trying it soon

My Linh
My Linh
5 years ago

Gosh, this looks amazing! I love Granny Smith's. Not just in cakes but as-is too. Deliciously tart ^^ Good thing you took your time with the mandoline. I do now so too. I cut a piece off my thumb a few weeks (sorry #tmi). In addition, it got weirdly infected. Few weeks later and my thumb is still not fully back to normal -___- You'd be surprised what you need thumbs for (=a lot of things!!)

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
5 years ago
Reply to  My Linh

Ouch! A sore thumb is the worst! Most mandolines come with a safety food holder but it's so awkward to use. I often use my fingers (which is asking for trouble). I've heard about cut-proof gloves. Maybe that's a good option to look into.

Sister Sweetly
Sister Sweetly
5 years ago

Good thing we're going apple picking this weekend because we NEED to make this! Yum!
http://www.sistersweetly.wordpress.com

Unknown
Unknown
5 years ago

oooh, what a beautiful cake! I adore the idea of adding the thinly sliced apples in layers, I am stealing that idea although i'm petrified of a mandolin so mine may be a little chunkier!

The Bearfoot Baker
The Bearfoot Baker
5 years ago

What a gorgeous cake! The photo makes us feel like we can touch it! Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe with us!

Sally Monster
Sally Monster
5 years ago

After seeing this recipe and drooling over it, I bought all the ingredients to make it last week and then promptly caught a nasty chest cold. I've been craving cake ever since and now that I'm starting to feel a bit better I'm excited to get to making this! I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be cake making day! I'll report back when i'm done! 😀

Sally Monster
Sally Monster
5 years ago

Cake just went in the oven. I'm a bit worried though. The recipe calls for 2 cups (200 grams) of vegetable oil. According to my scales 200grams is only 1 cup of vegetable oil. I went with the smaller amount because 2 cups sounded like a huge amount. I hope I haven't messed it up. Will let you know how it comes out of the oven.

Sally Monster
Sally Monster
5 years ago

Well, I can report back that it came out perfectly! 200grams of oil seems to have worked out nicely. It's a delicious cake. I have just eaten two whole slices, haha. Here's the finished cake. https://www.instagram.com/p/BKZgZEgD-hG/ Not as pretty but certainly tastes great. Thank you so much for this recipe! Will definitely make this again. 😀

AnniinBC
AnniinBC
5 years ago

I just back from the apple orchard and would like to have this cake for our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. I am strapped for time so was wondering if this would be OK baked in advance and then frozen until the day of the dinner?

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

WOW!! This cakes is fabulous! It turned out great! Thank you so much!

Pearlyn
Pearlyn
2 months ago

Hi , thanks for sharing. Can I use canola oil spray instead of flour based spray ? I can’t get flour based spray in where I live, thanks