Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

This recipe for Apple Cake with Maple Frosting is certainly more in line with the season than my last post.  What could be more autumnal than apples?!  But again, it was more motivated by what was in my kitchen that needed to be used up than the season.

About a month ago we took the kids apple picking at a nearby farm.  ‘Cause what’s been than apple picking with small children in 90 degree weather?  Take your time coming up with an answer.  I’ll wait.

boy holding apple

Side note: This is my youngest. Could he BE any cuter? (Please imagine me asking that in the voice of Chandler Bing.  If you don’t get the reference I’m sorry but we can’t be friends. But still feel free to enjoy my recipes.  No hard feelings?)

Anyhoo, despite being sweaty and some of us cranky (ok, it was me – I wilt in the heat) we managed to pick 65 lbs. of apples.  Yup, you read that right.  Sixty-five pounds.  That’s actually down from last year’s 92 lbs.  We were still eating homemade applesauce six months later.  I no longer have the love for applesauce I once did.

We’ve now reached the point where remaining apples need to be used or they’ll start to rot. I’ve been religiously putting them in the kids school lunches and giving them to guests like a parting gift (including a very confused plumber . . .). But it was time to take it to the next level and start baking with them in earnest.  I will not let a single apple rot in vain.

apples in bowl with branch and peeler

This apple cake with maple frosting was a no-brainer.  It’s been a family favorite for years.  Once we’ve gone apple picking and the weather begins to get colder (which this year seemed to take forever) my kids begin asking for this cake.  I’ve made it three times this month and I’ll likely make it at least a couple more before fall ends.

Why?  For starters it’s super easy. Not that my kids care about that, but I do.  No complicated steps or weird ingredients (aside from perhaps the buttermilk, they’re probably things already in your pantry).

Second, with ingredients like apples, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, it tastes like someone made fall into batter and baked into a sheet cake.

And third, and most importantly, it is super yummy.  The apple cake is moist and light.  And the frosting is to die for — I’ve repeatedly had to tell my oldest to stop using her finger to swipe a dollop of icing off the cake as she walks through the kitchen.  Though I have been tempted to do the same thing. . .

chopped apples in cup with cinnamon sticks

So if you have extra apples on hand and are looking for ways to use them or you’re hankering for a taste of fall but are weary of the classics, this is the dessert for you.  Hell, even if you’re just a fan of desserts, make this cake stat.

piece of apple cake on plate

apples with branch

Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

  • Author: closeenoughcook
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes (with frosting)
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: One 9x13 inch cake 1x


A taste of fall, packed with apples and spice and topped with an addictive maple frosting.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma, Essentials of Baking



Apple cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup, buttermilk, room temperature

3 cups diced, peeled apples

Maple Frosting:

1 cup maple syrup*

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4.5 cups confectioners sugar

*It has to be pure maple syrup.  None of those other products masquerading as syrup that are really only sugar and caramel coloring. Can’t stress this enough.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on medium-high until mixture is light and fluffy. (approx. 3-5 minutes)
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  5. Using a spatula fold in 1/3 of the flour until nearly incorporated.
  6. Fold in half the buttermilk.
  7. Repeat folding with another 1/3 of the flour and then remaining buttermilk.
  8. Fold in remaining flour and apples only until batter is smooth and flour is fully incorporated.
  9. Spread into butter pan.
  10. Bake until cake tester comes out clean and top is golden brown (approx. 35-40 minutes).
  11. While cake is baking make maple frosting.
  12. Let cool at least 15 minutes, cut into squares and  serve or let cool completely and frost.*

Maple Frosting

  1. In a small saucepan simmer maple syrup at medium-high heat until syrup reduces by half (approx. 20 minutes).
  2. Stir in butter and remove from heat.
  3. Stir in cream and vanilla.
  4. Sift confectioners sugar into a bowl.
  5. Add maple mixture to sugar and beat with a whisk until smooth and creamy.

* Use as much or as little frosting on the cake as suits your taste as the frosting is pretty sweet (duh.  It’s pretty much sugar mixed with another sweetener).  I’m kinda addicted to it so I use it all and then quickly rinse the frosting bowl in the sink so I don’t lick it clean.  I have problems, I know.

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