The Family Apple Cake


I’m not 100% sure any more where my Mother got the original recipe. Suffice it to say that this has been made so many times by members of my family that it has gone through multiple modifications. My version is slightly different than Mom’s, mostly because I prefer things less sweet than she does.

The cake is full of apples. In fact, it is basically baked apples held together barely by a batter that is slightly thicker than pancake batter.

What makes this cake so very my Mom’s is that there is a pretty healthy amount of brandy in it. You can substitute the brandy with a dilution of vanilla extract (but you realize that is alcohol too, right?), but I really love the brandy with this cake. If I have it on hand, I may use Calvados or Armagnac with this but Mom’s brandy of choice is Remy Martin.

Any apple would work, but my favorite is Gala or Cortland.

Apple Cake
(yield: one 8×8″ pan)

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
100-150g granulated sugar. I tend to the lower amount usually, but this can be adjusted between these amounts based on the sweetness of the apples that are being used
2 large eggs
150g flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
2tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp nutmeg
3-4 apples, depending on size, quartered and sliced. (The thinner you slice, the more apples you can pack in — I like mine about 1/4″ thick)
1/4 cup raisins, soaking in 3-4 Tbsp brandy

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour baking pan, line bottom with parchment (unless you are using a nonstick pan)

Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.

Shift together all dry ingredients. Add to batter in 2 batches, mixing until just incorporated after each addition.

Add apples, raisins and brandy and stir to incorporate.

Put into prepared baking pan, smoothing out the top. The cake will look and feel like a bunch of apples held together with a thickish batter. I like to bang the pan against the countertop to knock out air pockets.

Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 45-50 minutes.


I think the dried cranberries would be great in this cake as well. I define “raisins” broadly here — I have used sultanas and currants. Obviously, the brandy is optional…it can be substituted with some diluted vanilla extract (I would dilute it with apple juice if you have that on hand), enough to plump up the raisins.

The texture of the cake will be affected by the amount of sugar that you add to the batter. 100g is, in my opinion, the minimum amount of sugar necessary. Mom always makes it with 150g, but I don’t have as big a sweet tooth as she does so I tend to err on the lower side. If I’m using a very tart apple, like Granny Smith, I will add more sugar to compensate for the tartness.

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