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Did you know October is National Apple Month? It makes sense; I’m sure I’m not the only one with pictures of red-cheeked children running through orchards filling my Instagram feed, recipes for apple-studded everything– from oatmeal to pork roast to pies to cocktails– on my Facebook page. Here in Washington state, the center of apple production in the US, I learn about (and eagerly taste) a new variety of the state fruit with every trip to the farmers’ market. I’m happy to contribute to the celebration of all things apple with this Dutch apple cake. Now, I should pause. And ‘fess up. Truthfully, I don’t actually know if this cake is Dutch. It could be German, or Danish, or other. You see, I made the most wonderful Dutch apple cake about three years ago and lost the recipe. It’s okay to gasp or cover your mouth in horror– I certainly did. I’ve spent the past few autumns diligently combing through cookbooks and websites trying to find it again, and I can’t. I would recognize the recipe immediately. What I did find was a handful of recipes that were close enough for me to kind of paste them together, with the help of my memories of that epic cake, to make this cake, which is excellent if I do say so. I think I came really close. I am excited to be able to make it any time I like, and to be able to share it with you today.

Dutch apple cake is deceptive. It looks fancy, like it took you lots of time and energy to put together, but it’s incredibly simple. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry right now, and you don’t even need a mixer. It’s better after a day or two, so you could make it ahead to take with you to a brunch, tea, bake sale, etc. You must try a slice with a steaming cup of Earl Grey or Irish breakfast tea. A scoop of vanilla ice cream transforms it into a dessert on par with the best apple pie or cobbler. These are some of the reasons I have been trying so hard to locate the recipe– it’s a great one to have handy when apples are plentiful. I think you’ll agree. If you’ve been looking for a recipe to make for National Apple Month, your search is over. And, thankfully, so is mine.

Dutch apple cake

Dutch Apple Cake 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar, separated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 – 4 medium apples*, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground or grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9″ springform pan; if it’s important to you to remove the cake cleanly (to gift or present, etc.), consider lining the pan with parchment paper and lightly greasing that. No need to flour if you go the parchment route.

In a medium bowl, mix the butter with 1 c. sugar until smooth; add the eggs and stir to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and vanilla and mix until you have a thick batter. Dollop the batter into your prepared pan and spread out as evenly as you can with a spatula. The batter will be in a thin layer and that’s okay.

In another medium bowl, toss the thinly sliced apples with lemon juice, as soon as you can after cutting to discourage browning. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/3 c. sugar with nutmeg, ginger and salt. Add to the apples and toss until the apples are evenly coated.

Starting on the outer edge of your springform pan moving inward, place the sugared apple slices in overlapping rings on the top of your batter until the entire surface of the cake is covered. You will probably have leftover apples, which can be slotted in between other slices in the circles to fill them in, or snacked on. Sprinkle any leftover sugar from the bottle of the apple bowl over the cake. Bake for 50-60 mins. until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 mins. before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or with whipped cream or ice cream. Store tightly wrapped or covered at room temperature for a day or two, or refrigerated for up to a week.

Dutch apple cake; plate by Wild Card Pottery

Can we talk about the gorgeous plate in this picture? A birthday present from my sister, it was made by the talented Anna at Wild Card Pottery. Take a look at her Etsy store!

*Choose an apple you like to eat. Some varieties I recommend for this cake include Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Bramley, Liberty and Pizzazz. A combination of different kinds is good, and a little bit of tartness is always welcome to balance the sweetness of this, or any, dessert.