Mom’s Apple Cake

Most mothers, in America at least, make apple pie, but mine made something I liked even better. I think it’s my all-time favorite recipe, and the first one I learned to make myself as a teenager. At this time of year, with local apples appearing in our farm markets, it’s the perfect time for it. A tart baking apple is best, and Granny Smith will always work, but fresh-picked local apples are even better. I used Cortland here. I would have used Winesap, my favorite eating and baking apple, but they aren’t available yet.


2 large tart apples
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
1/4 cup raisins OR chopped walnuts

Take the butter out of the refrigerator to soften about 20 minutes before starting. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cake pan (9 inch round or 8×8 inch square) with butter. Peel apples, cut into quarters, remove seeds and core. Cut each quarter into 4 or 5 wedges, then cut wedges into smaller pieces, about 4 per wedge. You should not have any pieces thicker than about a quarter inch.

In a large bowl, blend sugar and butter with a fork or pastry blender. Add salt, baking soda and unbeaten egg and mix with large spoon. Add flour and cinnamon and mix. You should have a stiff dough that sticks together and is hard to stir. If it seems too loose, add a little more flour. Add apples and raisins or nuts and mix. Place in pan and spread out a bit, no need to be too fussy, it will even out in baking. Place in oven.

Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Cool for about a half hour before removing the first piece, then enjoy! Can be refrigerated, and is equally good the next few days, if it lasts that long.

9 thoughts on “Mom’s Apple Cake

  1. Diane

    I tried this the other day and it was great. And easy to make too – my husband was astonished when I mixed it up after supper but before Heroes came on and we had cake by mid-episode! I used Jonathans – MY mother told me those or Wealthies were the best cooking apples. (She was a pie mom though!) I’ve looked around for Winesaps but not seen any – maybe we don’t have them here in Wisconsin. (Cortlands are my favorites for eating!)
    Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Michelle

    I also just made this last weekend and it was fantastic. I had a lot of apples from my last CSA box, which was from Stillman’s farm in MA so I’m not sure what kind they were. A little more sweet than sour, but they still worked great. The apple cake was fast to make and dee-licious. It did not last longer than one evening. Thanks!

  3. phd in yogurtry

    I checked out your Mom’s Apple Cake recipe as a means of clarifying some of the elements of the recipe I was using (to peel or not to peel). Enjoyed reading your biography .. I was born & raised in South Jersey. Visited Cape May last summer, as a matter of fact. In my (limited) travels to various coastlines, I have found there is no place like the Jersey Shore. I miss it every summer.

  4. dominique

    Hey Todd!
    (cakes in the oven!)
    …Thank you in advance for a stress free recipe, only I’ve got to wait at least an hour more for the baking to finish and then the cooling… But I’m sure my neighbors over here in Brooklyn at the soup kitchen are gonna love it! Cant wait to make another for home!
    Aloha, Dom!

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