The following is an excerpt from Tracey Zabar's "Sweet Little Cakes from Mrs. Zabar’s Bakeshop: Perfect Desserts for Sharing," available now on Amazon.

This is an updated old-lady recipe, made by many a grandma. It is a perfect dessert for fall when apples are at their prime. Long ago, a relative served a similar cake, and I begged for the recipe. She never shared it, and I later found out the cake came from her local bakery — not her kitchen.

Apple Cake

  • Prep Time:25 mins
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Total Time:55 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Easy


  • 3 tbsp unsalted softened butter plus more for the pan
  • small apple peeled cored 
and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup plus ½ tsp granulated sugar divided
  • 1 tsp packed light brown sugar
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • cup pecan or walnut halves
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • Dried apple slices for topping
Photo courtesy of Ellen Silverman
  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter one 5-inch well of a Bundt quartet pan, and set aside.

  • Step 2

    In a medium bowl, toss the apple cubes with the ½ teaspoon granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and cinnamon and set aside.

  • Step 3

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, the remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and salt. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix just until combined. With a silicone spatula, fold in the nuts, and then scrape half the batter into the prepared pan.

  • Step 4

    Add the apple-sugar mixture on top of the batter, being careful not to let the mixture touch the center tube or edges. Add the remaining batter, and gently smooth the top with a silicone spatula.

  • Step 5

    Bake until browned and set, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove the cake from the hot pan and cool it completely on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and top with dried apple slices.