This easy Apple Walnut Cake is a simplified version of classic apple pie. No crust necessary, just Granny Smith apples, chopped walnuts, and plenty of cinnamon.
I learned this easy apple pie cake recipe a few years back, in a cooking school in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I was in town for the opera festival (four nights, four operas under the stars, #bliss). So naturally, I took the opportunity to explore the Southwestern cuisine.
The cooking class was based on a cool cookbook called A Painter’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O’Keeffe by Margaret Wood. Since this class, this book easily became one of my favorite cookbooks.
Margaret lived with Georgia on her ranch for five years between 1977 and 1982, and was in charge of making meals for the famous painter.
She came by the class to say hello and assist the cooking instructor. She actually mentioned that this Apple Walnut Pie Cake recipe was one of Georgia’s favorite.
Cutting Apples for Apple Cake
Below is a step-by-step view of how I like to dice up my apples for this cake. By cutting your apples like this, you’ll avoid waste and get nice even cuts.
It’s important to cut your Granny Smith apples to similar sizes before adding them to the cake batter. This way, the apples will cook at the same time.
Ingredients for Homemade Apple Walnut Cake
This quick and easy dessert recipe relies on many of the same ingredients as a classic apple pie.
- APPLES – Choose firm, tart apples such as Granny Smiths. These hold up well when baked, so you’ll avoid a mushy apple cake.
- NUTS – I love the pairing of apples and walnuts. However, pecans will also work well in this recipe. Or, mix them together.
- FLOUR – You’ll need basic unbleached all-purpose flour for the cake batter.
- BROWN SUGAR – This is the important ingredient for that subtle caramelized flavor.
- SPICES – This apple cake features the always appreciated combo of cinnamon & nutmeg.
How to Make the Cake
When it comes to baking your own apple cinnamon walnut cake, the emphasis is truly on the word “easy”. This recipe is a classic cake batter, with chunks of apples and nuts folded in.
To start, cream the brown sugar together with an egg and butter. This adds air to the butter, which makes a light and fluffy cake batter.
Next, add the dry ingredients, including flour, spices, and baking powder to leaven the dough. Finally, fold in the apple and walnut pieces and a bit of warm water to loosen the batter up a bit for easier mixing.
Transfer the batter to a prepared baking dish and bake until the cake is fully set and a beautiful golden brown. Let it cool slightly, sprinkle with powdered sugar and there you have it!
Apple Walnut Pie Cake is a great every-day coffee cake to have in your repertoire. Serve it for breakfast, tea or brunch. I like to dust it with fresh powdered sugar just before serving, for an elegant display.
Or, you can also present this cinnamon apple cake for special occasions. Such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even a fall birthday celebration. Just be sure to dress it up a bit with a scoop of ice cream.
Need display idea? Check out this beautiful, Czech Hand-Carved Walnut Cutting Board.
If you love this Apple Walnut Cake, be sure to try out these other desserts that also feature fruit:
- Rocky Road Apple Chocolate Cake
- Upside-Down Cranberry Cake
- Blueberry Crumb Cake
- Linzer Torte with Raspberry Jam
- Gluten-Free Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble
Or see my full collection of easy sweet recipes and other recipes for beginners.
Have you been to Santa Fe? Did you bake the apple walnut cake? Do you like Georgia O’Keefe as much as I do?
Tell me in the comments.Print
Fall-flavored Apple Walnut Cake is just like apple pie, without the crust. With juicy Granny Smith apples, chopped walnuts and a brown-butter batter, it’s a perfect cool-weather dessert.
- 8 tablespoons (½ cup/113 g) softened unsalted butter, plus extra to grease pie pan
- ¾ cup (107 g) packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup (150 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2½ cups (270 g) peeled, diced firm apples (such as Granny Smith)
- ½ cup (60 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- Ice cream (optional)
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C degrees. Grease a 9-inch round pie pan or a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or spray with oil to prevent sticking.
- In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar and egg. Whisk until blended.
- Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, and mix to combine.
- Stir in the apples and walnuts, then add the hot water, and mix.
- Transfer the mixture to the pie pan, spread evenly over the bottom and smooth out the top.
- Bake in the oven until golden brown on top, about 35–40 minutes.
- Let cool on a kitchen counter. Slice and serve dusted with powdered sugar or with ice cream.