Apple Cake with Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce

My sister's recipe for a simple, rustic apple cake that’s dark with cinnamon and nutmeg then drizzled with a warm cinnamon and butter sauce, a sort of cinnamon-y caramel sauce. I promise you: it's all a little bit of cinnamon heaven.

Apple Cake with Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce ♥, a simple, rustic apple cake drizzled with a sweet cinnamon and butter sauce.

Homemade Apple Cake, Made from Scratch, Fresh & Seasonal. Extra Welcome When "Supper's a Little Skimpy". An Autumn Classic. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Great for Baking with Kids.


  • "I lick the plate. Literally." ~ My sister, about that cinnamon-y caramel sauce

Early Morning Sister Time

Apple Cake with Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce ♥, as shared by my sister in her church cookbook.

"Have you seen our new cookbook?" asked my sister as we sipped coffee the first morning of my visit. We were both still in PJs and the sun had yet to appear across the Texas great plains but yes, already we were talking recipes. :-)

Adanna is rightfully proud of her church’s efforts.

The new cookbook has a hard cover but keeps the familiar plastic comb that makes church-style cookbooks so easy to keep open on the counter. (For anyone looking to publish a church or group or family cookbook, she says her church had great luck with their publisher, Morris Press Cookbooks from Kearney, Nebraska.)

Adanna contributed five recipes but it was her recipe for Apple Pudding Cake that first caught my eye. "Haven’t you made that yet?"" she asked with surprise, trying not to sound just a little bit peeved.

Ooops. Adanna first shared her recipe in our own family cookbook published almost ten years before. That’s how far back this apple cake goes, what a favorite it is with her family.

And me, I’d missed it. :-(

So when the family Bigs and Littles gathered the next day, I took to the kitchen with seven-year old Bella and we made the cake together in just a few minutes and it was warmly –– WARMLY –– received. After dinner, the young men at the table almost-willingly tackled the dishes, just to earn rights to the last two squares.

This is a simple rustic apple cake that’s worth sharing, at the table, in church cookbooks, from family to family, from generation to generation. It’s that simple. It’s that good.

About This Recipe: Apple Cake with Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce

  • This is a simple, rustic snacking cake, moist with crisp apples, bright with fall spices. As if that weren't enough, there's a warm cinnamon and butter sauce for drizzling. As my sister would say, Oh-My-Lanta.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = Apple + Cinnamon + Butter
  • Short Ingredient List = all the above + [for the cake] brown sugar + 1 egg + flour + baking soda + nutmeg + salt + [for the sauce] white sugar + half & half
  • This is a time-friendly recipe. Mix, bake and serve this Apple Cake, including the sauce, in an hour.
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe. All the ingredients are easy to keep on hand all year round. Could you head to the kitchen right now, without a run to the store? I'm betting yes!
  • This is a budget-friendly recipe. It includes no expensive ingredients.
  • Bake the cake in a square baking pan either 8x8 or 9x9, the cake will be about an inch thick. Cut into 9 generous squares, especially when paired with that richly spiced Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce.
  • If that warm sauce doesn't fit your serving situation? (A fall picnic, say. A lunch-box treat, say.) Definitely try the wonderful but no-sauce crackly-topped Estonian Apple Cake.
  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other cake recipes.

Baking with Kids

My grandniece Bella with our first Apple Cake with Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce ♥, a simple, rustic apple cake drizzled with a sweet cinnamon and butter sauce.

Look who helped "Auntie Al" (that's me) bake the cake (that's Bella)!

This is a really good recipe to teach kids how to measure, mix and bake a simple cake without a long wait between starting off and sitting down for the first bites.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most illuminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

For Great Texture Many of those chefs taught me to pay special attention to texture. For this case, I like to chop about half the apple quite small, that lets the apple almost "melt" into the moist cake. (That said, don't go so far as grating the apple.) But then I like to chop the rest of the apple slightly bigger, creating obvious chunks of apple both texturally and visually.

For Great Taste There's two apples I'd avoid here, Granny Smith (too sour, possibly too firm) and Red Delicious (too bland, too prone to woodiness). Instead, choose an apple that's nice 'n' sweet, nice 'n' crisp, nice 'n' fresh.

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If you're tempted by a simple apple cake, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Apple Cake with Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce ♥, a simple, rustic apple cake drizzled with a sweet cinnamon and butter sauce.

(formerly Apple Pudding Cake)

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes an 8x8 or 9x9 cake
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons, 1/4 cup, 2oz, 57g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt (more if using unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 125g (see ALANNA's TIPS)
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped apple (from about 2 large apples, preferably some chopped quite small, other pieces a bit larger)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2oz, 57g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup half ‘n’ half (or 2 tablespoons whole milk + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus more to taste

CAKE Heat the oven to 300F/150C. Lightly butter or spray a 8x8 or 9x9 cake pan.

In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer (see TIPS) to cream the butter and brown sugar until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat well, about 1 minute.

Spoon the flour across the top of the batter, then mix in, just until mixed.

With a spatula, fold in the apples, distributing the chunks throughout. Spoon the thick cake batter into the cake pan, use the spatula to gently spread the batter evenly across the pan.

BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes (check at 30) until the top is crinkly, the cake edges pull away from the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool, at least a bit, before cutting.

CINNAMON-BUTTER SAUCE In a small saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients and stir over medium heat just until the mixture is just ready to boil, it should be as thick thin caramel sauce, lower the heat and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. If you like, make the sauce ahead of time and rewarm just before serving.

TO SERVE Cut the cake into squares and drizzle warm Cinnamon Butter Sauce over top.

ALANNA’s TIPS Both the cake and the sauce may be made ahead of time, early in the day, say, for serving at dinner. You will want to rewarm the sauce, it takes just a quick stop in the microwave. I prefer to use a hand mixer for this cake, which makes a quite small volume of batter. (How to predict that for this and other cakes? It calls for just a half stick of butter and a single cup of flour, those are the two give-aways.) It's just easier to control the mixing with a hand mixer vs constantly stopping and scraping with a stand mixer. It's not that a stand mixer doesn't work, just that it's more fiddly. The cake that Bella and I baked in Texas used my sister's "house" flour mix which is half all-purpose and half whole-wheat pastry flour. The extra nuttiness was very good! If you have whole-wheat flour (vs whole wheat pastry flour or white whole-wheat flour), use up to a third, by weight, of that flour. All plain whole-wheat flour just doesn't work: yep, experience talkin'. When a child is "helping" make the cake, you might want to change the mixing order: cream the butter, sugar, eggs and spices; separately stir together the flour and baking soda but don't mix in; peel the apples; and then, at the end, combine the three. This way, the apples don’t turn brown but the leavening doesn’t weaken from any apple-peeling delay. Why chop the apples in two different sizes? The small pieces “melt” into the cake but I like having a few larger pieces too, just enough to visually identify that it’s an apple cake. For the Cinnamon-Butter Sauce, brown sugar works too but the sauce will be more caramel-colored.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Square, assumes 9: 286 Calories; 11g Tot Fat; 7g Sat Fat; 53mg Cholesterol; 292mg Sodium; 44g Carb; 1g Fiber; 32g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 6 & PointsPlus 8 & future WW points This recipe has been Adanna-sized and "Alanna-sized" with reductions in sugar and fat and increases in fiber with whole-wheat flour.

Seasonal Cooking: Lovely Fall Meals, Across the Years

Autumn Pumpkin Bread Best-Ever Oatmeal Bread Molasses Cookies Molasses Ice Cream Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies Balkan Summer Sausage Stew Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp Pan de Muerto (Bread for Day of the Dead) Apple Cake with Warm Cinnamon-Butter Sauce Brown Rice & Quinoa Rice Pudding Skillet Burgers with Tomato Gravy Frozen Steaks

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A Veggie Venture

If you like Kitchen Parade's recipes, you'll love A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables with more from-scratch recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, home to the famous Alphabet of Vegetables and vegetables in every course, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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Shop Your Pantry First

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2011 & 2023

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Catherine12/28/2011

    Oh. Have to try this. Just love anything apple and cinnamon. Your niece is adorable.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna