Apple Cake Awesomeness.

Does anyone else here watch the show Parenthood? Not the older movie, but the newer show on NBC? My husband and I have been big fans of the show since the beginning, and we anxiously awaited the start of Season 3 this fall.

Now, we’re no fashion police. I’m not one to do spectacular things to my hair on a regular basis, but…

Serious biz, WHO planned the hairstyles for this season?!

Hattie (who has never been my fave, by the way) came back with a horrendous perm, including (as coined by my friend) “poodle bangs.” And Amber returned with a sideways blond, spiked ‘do, and I can’t take anything she says seriously, even in her dramatic delivery of lines.

I suppose it’s really just those two characters, but while we’re on it, I’m not a fan of Quinn’s new look on GLEE, either. In the world of awesomeness, these three hairdos are decidedly NOT.


However, I do have some “awesome” to share with you. :-)

Apple Cake with Caramel Penuche Icing, with a Vanilla Drizzle.

Apple Cake with Caramel Penuche Icing, with a Vanilla Drizzle.

Now, doesn’t that get your lips to smacking?! My mother-in-law shared her recipe for Apple Cake with me over a dozen years ago, but I’ve never taken the time to make it before, and let me tell you this: Waiting so long was a serious mistake.

Two days ago, my friend Tifany announced that another friend had gifted her with fresh apples from her own tree, and she had far too many to use herself. I jumped at the chance to bake something yummy, and Nancy’s recipe immediately came to mind. She has raved about it for years, and I knew I had the perfect chance. In fact, when I pulled out the recipe, I was happy to find I had all of the ingredients in my pantry already!

Starting with these gorgeous, juicy & firm apples:

Apples for the cake.

Does anyone recognize the variety? They were marbled between spotty red & granny-smith green, and the flesh was firm and slightly tart. They were so, SO juicy! As I chopped wedged the apples, the juice kept splattering my hands & face!

Apples for the cake.

Once again, my “helper” Jack was ready at hand. He handled all the tasks of making the cake itself, and I handled the icing. :-)

Jack helps to chop the apples.
Jack chops up the apple wedges into finely diced bits.

Jack helps to chop the apples.

Macerate the diced apples in a heaping mound of sugar:

Apples & sugar macerating.

And while you give the apples some time, prepare the cake’s base in your mixing bowl.

The cake's base ingredients.

Blend until creamy & cinnamon-y. (Yes, it’s a word. Look it up. :-) )


Fold in your beautifully-browned, syrupy apple bits.

Adding the apples.

And add your chopped walnuts, too.

Adding the chopped walnuts.

Pour your luscious cake batter into a well-greased Bundt cake pan. In my case, I had to stop for a moment and marvel at this barely-used dish in my cupboards. Seriously, Bundt cakes are so awesome! Why don’t I use this pan more?!

Ready to bake.

<< Insert picture of awesome, perfectly baked cake that turned out amazing, not ripping a tiny shred of the gorgeous Bundt shape. >>

And let’s take one more look at that Apple Cake Awesomeness before I post the recipe:

Apple Cake with Caramel Penuche Icing, with a Vanilla Drizzle.

Apple Cake
(recipe from my mother-in-law, Nancy Cleghorn)

  • 4 cups chopped apples
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Peel apples, and chop finely. Add sugar to apples and stir to coat; set aside while you ready the rest of the ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, combine oil, eggs, vanilla, and beat until a tiny bit frothy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Alternating, add additions of both flour and apples to the cake batter. Gently fold in chopped walnuts. Pour into a well-greased & floured Bundt cake pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean & cake is “springy” to the touch. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan & cool completely.

Now, you could stop RIGHT HERE and enjoy this perfect fall cake. You could, but you would be missing out on some awesomeness. And that’s just not okay, right? Right. :-)

Apple Cake with Caramel Penuche Icing, with a Vanilla Drizzle.

‘Cuz let me tell you, part of living is trying this Caramel Penuche Icing. If you don’t try it, well… (I just don’t even have words for you. *shakes head*)

But first, I probably ought to tell you how to make it, I suppose. ;-)

You melt some butter:

Melting the butter.

And you bring it to a boil.

Boiling the butter.

And then you add candy brown sugar, too.

Adding the brown sugar.

Add a scant bit of milk as well:

Slowly adding a bit of milk.

Eventually, you end up with a silky, dark caramel sauce that looks like this:

Caramel syrup.

And you add a bunch of powdered sugar to turn that syrup into icing.

Adding powdered sugar.

It really is just so awesome how such simple ingredients add that special touch, isn’t it? :-)

Caramel Penuche Icing
(recipe from my mother-in-law, Nancy Cleghorn)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-1/4 cups powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, melt butter; bring to a gentle boil. Add brown sugar, and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in milk, and return to a boil again. Remove from heat; cool for a few minutes. Beat in powdered sugar until spreading/drizzling consistency (whichever you prefer). Pour over cooled cake.

Now, if you’re me, you have sweets on hand all the time. In this case, I had a bit of vanilla frosting tucked away in my fridge, so I put a 1/4 cup of it in a microwave-safe bowl & warmed it for 10 seconds, to the consistency of a runny drizzle. I laced it gently over the iced cake as well.

And that’s the whole awesome package, baby. ♥

Apple Cake with Caramel Penuche Icing, with a Vanilla Drizzle.

Tidy Mom
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14 comments on “Apple Cake Awesomeness.

  1. Oh Yum Yum Yum!!!

  2. brenda jones on said:

    looks good! my mom use to make me apple cake for my birthday in Oct. every year. i sure miss it. i may have to try this one soon. thanks

  3. Wow! This cake looks amazing and that icing looks delicious. Love that Jack helped in the kitchen again…look out Gordon Ramsay! If this is, and I’m sure it is, as good as your Chocolate Chip Cookies then I’ve got to make it one day. Made your cookies last week and took them to my son and his family when we visited over the weekend. I never told him they were a new recipe and when they ate them, one in each hand each time, they loved them and said that they were the best batch I’ve ever made. Then I told them they were your recipe and that it uses shortening instead of butter. They are the new go-to chocolate chip recipe in this house. In fact, my husband who rarely eats cookies had one (or two) and loved them as well. Thanks so much for sharing it with everyone on your latest pinch-hit post on Frosting for the Cause.

    • Nicole on said:

      Thank you, Paula! I told my family about your switching the cookies on the sly, and they thought it was hilarious that your family loved them so much! Jack is definitely a helper in the kitchen – always ready to learn & create something new! :-)

  4. you take gorgeous pics!


  5. Made the cake this evening. After I got done cussing about the stupid thing breaking apart when I tried to get it out of the pan, I realized the crumbs didn’t have to all make it back on to the cake! Squee!! Also, I think the apples are Honey Crisp apples. A slight bite to them, but not near as bad as Granny Smiths. Firm, refreshing, and juicy! I bought some today to make the cake.

    • Nicole on said:

      Hi Erin! Thanks for trying out the cake! I’m sorry that it didn’t turn out of the pan well, but I grinned to hear that you found a nice “home” for the
      crumbs, of course! I do hope that you love-love-love it, and I wish I were
      there for a piece myself! :-)

  6. Yum! I’ve always been a huge fan of spice cake and penuche frosting and the apples sound even more delicious!
    As for the apples, I’d guess at Gravenstein or Spitzenburg (I think of Honey Crisp as being larger, with a less streaky, more ‘luminous’ skin…although I appreciate that this is not the clearest description).

  7. I’d guess those are Macintosh apples…they are fabulous for baking, or just for eating. Also…pass the cake.

  8. chrissi on said:

    oh yum yum yum! I have a ton of apples and need an easy recipe and here it is :) thanks Nicole!

  9. Esther on said:

    Wow, this looks absolutely amazing! I love bundt cakes, can’t wait to try this one. Thanks for posting!

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I’m Nicole, and I’m glad you’ve stopped by my little corner of the web! I’m a former Air Force wife whose passions are baking, cookie-making, and photo-taking… all to the benefit of my loves – my family! C’mon in to…read more.


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