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Enjoy a lightly spiced cake with little pops of sweetness and crunch, topped with a simple creamy glaze. It is truly the BEST and EASIEST apple snack cake you’ll ever bake!
This apple walnut cake is tender and flavorful with little bits of crunch throughout. Make it for a special occasion or family get together!
Your kitchen will be filled with the delicious aroma of fresh fruit, nuts, and spices after making this easy apple walnut cake!
While this can certainly be enjoyed throughout the year, it’s especially lovely as a Mother’s Day treat. Pair it with coffee for breakfast in bed, include it in a late morning brunch spread, or enjoy a slice for dessert at the end of the night.
Looking for more delicious flavor combinations? I have recipes for a variety of fruit cakes using cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and even lemon! All of them are topped with a sugary glaze for a lovely finishing touch.
Why you are going to love it!
- Easy to make. Just mix and bake.
- Light and flavorful. Perfect for any occasion.
- No special tools required. All you need is a mixing bowl and a baking dish.
Spiced Apple Walnut Cake
This recipe was originally given to me by a co-worker over 20 years ago, but I’ve since made some tweaks and adjustments to get it just right. I also added a simple powdered sugar cinnamon glaze for a little pizzazz.
When you need a winning dessert that is easy to transport, a sheet cake is always a great option. Not only is it baked and served in the same pan, but most dishes come with their own handy lids for storage too!
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Apples – Any variety will work with this cake, but I prefer to use sweet Galas.
- Walnuts – Toast these for a few minutes to keep them crispy. Pecans would make a great substitute for this recipe as well.
- Flour – To make this apple walnut cake gluten-free, use a 1-to-1 substitute like Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup.
- Some recipes call for grating apples before adding to the batter, but don’t do that for this cake. Doing so will create too much moisture, and they will not hold their shape when baking.
Instructions for apple cake with glaze
STEP 1 | Combine sugar and oil
- Use a large enough bowl to accommodate all of the ingredients.
- Don’t whisk too vigorously – doing so will add too much air to the batter, and the cake may collapse.
STEP 2 | Add eggs and vanilla
- Check the date on your extract before using. While it doesn’t exactly go bad, the flavor quality can diminish over time.
STEP 3 | Mix with dry ingredients
- Pour the flour in first, then sprinkle the baking soda and spices evenly over the top for better distribution.
- Always spoon flour into your measuring cup to ensure you are using the correct amount.
- Don’t overmix! Stop as soon as there are no more visible streaks of flour.
STEP 4 | Fold in apples and walnuts
- This process is exactly what it sounds like – use a wooden spoon to fold the batter in on itself until the mix-ins are evenly distributed.
- Once everything is mixed, spread the batter evenly into a greased pan and bake until set.
- Using room temperature eggs guarantees a great rise and fluffy texture. Pull them out of the refrigerator about an hour before starting or let them sit in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for 10-15 minutes.
- This cake can be made in a metal or glass baking dish. For a metal cake pan, bake at 350 degrees for one hour. For a glass baking dish, bake at 325 degrees and add 10 minutes to the baking time for best results.
- A 9×13-inch pan will yield about 20 pieces. You can also make this recipe in a 9×9-inch pan (see adjusted ingredient amounts included in the recipe notes) and you’ll get about 12-16 servings total.
Easy glaze for apple cake
Whisk together the powdered sugar, cinnamon, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Once it reaches the desired consistency, drizzle it over the top of the apple walnut cake with a spoon.
Allow the cake to cool for about 30 minutes first, or the heat will cause the glaze to melt into the surface.
Storing and Freezing
Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and store at room temperature for up to five days.
To freeze, wrap the apple snack cake tightly with two layers of plastic BEFORE adding the glaze. Place inside a resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to three months.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then drizzle with a fresh batch of glaze just before serving.
Try using lemon juice or orange juice when you need a glaze for a pound cake or sweet rolls.
Frequently asked questions
Any variety will work, so it’s really up to your personal flavor preferences. I like to use a sweet, crisp variety like Gala or Fuji which will hold its shape during baking.
Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done! If a few crumbs or wetness remains, continue baking for a few more minutes.
If you notice the edges pulling away from the sides of the pan but the center isn’t set, cover the pan with foil and bake for another 10 minutes. This will prevent overcooking around the edges.
First Published: September 17, 2019. Last Updated: April 12, 2021.
Apple Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Glaze
- 4 – 5 medium apples peeled and diced (3 cups)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups canola oil
- 3 large eggs slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-1/2 cups walnuts chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 – 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch cake pan (or glass cake pan) with a tablespoon of butter.
- Peel and dice 4 or 5 medium apples, discarding the cores and peels, to make 3 cups.
- Whisk together sugar and oil in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined.
- Add flour to the bowl and sprinkle with the salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Using a wooden spoon, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. DO NOT over mix.
- Next, fold in the apples and walnuts. The batter will be stiff. Pour (or spread) the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before drizzling with the glaze.
- In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar with cinnamon. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency, whisking until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract and drizzle over warm cake.
- To bake this cake in a 9×13-inch GLASS baking dish, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and add 10 minutes to the baking time.
- Any type of apple will work, but I like to use a sweet, crisp apple like Gala or Fuji which will hold its shape during baking.
- Dice the apples into 1/4-inch pieces. DO NOT grate the apples to avoid the batter becoming too wet and the apples becoming mealy.
- Store the cake tightly covered at room temperature for up to five days.
- 3 apples (2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup walnuts
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.