Apple Cake with Fluffy Brown Sugar Buttercream
With warm fall flavors infused in every bite, this Easy Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream is what autumn dessert dreams are made of. The moist apple cake is piled high with homemade buttercream for a spectacularly indulgent but easy dessert!
Looking for more apple desserts? My homemade apple crisp is always a hit!
Homemade Apple Cake with Frosting
Apple season is a much celebrated time of year at our house, and our frequent apple projects in the kitchen are solid proof. From my mom’s awesome Apple Bread recipe, to cookies, pancakes, overnight baked oatmeal, muffins, and so much more, we are apple lovers through and through!
This Apple Cake with Fluffy Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting is packed with apple flavor and is beautifully moist, with shredded apples and applesauce stirred into the batter. Topped with a luscious, fluffy buttercream frosting that’s sweetened with brown sugar and warmly spiced with cinnamon, this easy cake is a beautiful addition to our apple recipe collection!
What You’ll Need
Apple flavor is infused into this easy fall cake with lots of shredded apple and applesauce, complemented by warm spices. Then it’s topped with a fluffy buttercream frosting. If you’re looking for a great breakfast cake, just eliminate the frosting!
For the Cake
- Apples – Be sure to use tart, firm apples that hold up well when baked. My favorites are Haralson, Honeycrisp, Zestar!, SweeTango, and Granny Smith. Use 2 or more different varieties if you like, to add more flavor and texture interest!
- Lemon juice – Helps to keep the apples from browning, plus adds a fresh flavor.
- Flour – Use your favorite wheat flour.
- Baking powder – To help the cake rise.
- Spices – A combination of cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and salt give the cake the warm fall flavors we all know and love.
- Sugar – A combination of white sugar and light brown sugar make this cake perfectly sweet.
- Applesauce – Not only adds extra apple flavor but helps keep the apple cake nice and moist as well.
- Vanilla extract – Use only pure vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla extract) for the best flavor.
For the Brown Sugar Buttercream
- Unsalted butter – Allow it to come to room temperature before starting the recipe.
- Powdered sugar – This adds sweetness to the frosting. Also, along with ample beating time, this helps create a light, fluffy texture.
- Brown sugar – You can’t have brown sugar frosting without brown sugar. I love the little crunches of sugar granules that this adds to the buttercream!
- Cinnamon – Adds a hint of warmth.
- Kosher salt
- Half and half – A splash of half and half loosens up the frosting so it’s perfectly spreadable.
- Vanilla extract
How to Make Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
Both the apple cake and the buttercream frosting are easy to make and ready in a few steps. Be sure to whip the frosting for the full amount of time, for the fluffiest, most luscious buttercream!
- Prepare the apples. Stir together the shredded apple with lemon juice and white sugar. Set aside.
- Make the cake batter. Whisk together dry ingredients except for sugar. Set aside. Combine the remaining white and brown sugar and wet ingredients in a stand mixer. Add the flour mixture and combine. Then stir in the apples.
- Bake. Bake for 50 minutes or until the cake is nicely browned. Let the cake cool on a rack.
- Make the brown sugar frosting. Whip the butter for 8 minutes or so, until very fluffy. Beat in the dry ingredients on low. Then add in the half and half and vanilla extract. Beat an additional 5 to 6 minutes until light and fluffy.
Tips for Success
This frosted apple cake is so easy to make, that I only have a few suggestions here!
- Use more than one type of apple. For more variety in the flavor and texture, I like to use at least two different types of apples. Each variety will add their own unique qualities to the cake.
- Don’t skimp on beating the frosting. For a light and fluffy buttercream frosting, it’s essential that you incorporate air into it. I know it seems like a long time to beat the frosting, but those extra minutes will reward you with a truly amazing buttercream!
- Let the cake cool before adding the frosting. If you add the buttercream while the cake is still warm, it’ll cause the butter in the frosting to melt and you’ll lose that amazing fluffiness.
With the buttercream frosting already added, what more could you possibly need with this easy fall dessert?! Maybe just a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top, perhaps?
These apple cake squares pair perfectly with both coffee and tea. Or a tall glass of cold milk!
How to Store Leftovers
Due to the buttercream frosting, leftover apple cake is best stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Allow slices to come to cool room temperature (to let the buttercream soften a bit) before enjoying.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, you can freeze this apple cake with or without frosting. Allow to cool completely and freeze in a freezer-safe, airtight container. Allow to thaw in the fridge before eating.
Like this recipe? Save it to Pinterest!
More Delightful Apple Recipes:
- Easy Caramel Apple Crisp
- Apple Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
- Apple Peanut Butter Cookies
- Cinnamon Streusel Apple French Toast Cups
Apple Cake with Fluffy Brown Sugar Buttercream
With warm fall flavors infused in every bite, this Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream is what autumn dessert dreams are made of! The moist apple cake is piled high with homemade buttercream for a spectacularly indulgent but easy dessert!
for the apple cake:
- 4 medium-sized tart, firm apples – peeled, cored, & shredded (use the big holes on your grater), to make about 3.5 cups shredded apples – I recommend Haralson, Honeycrisp, Zestar!, SweeTango, and Granny Smith
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup white sugar, divided
- 3 cups wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
for the fluffy brown sugar buttercream:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons half and half
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- For the apple cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9" x 13" pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the shredded apple with lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the white sugar. Set aside.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of white sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Then add the flour mixture and combine once again. Add the apples and mix until the apples are evenly distributed.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the cake is nicely browned and a toothpick comes out of the cake clean. Let cake cool on a rack.
- For the fluffy brown sugar buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until very fluffy, about 8 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add powdered sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and beat on low to incorporate. Add half and half and vanilla, mixing on low until combined. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 to 6 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Spread buttercream onto cooled cake.
From a farmgirl’s dabbles
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 839Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 312mgCarbohydrates: 130gFiber: 8gSugar: 86gProtein: 11g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2021.
My mixer does not have a paddle. Any suggestions?
Hello Ruthy – just use a regular mixer attachment.
This looks incredible! That Lily flour is the best for baking.
My Dad is bringing us several boxes of apples from the orchard this week. This is going on my list of things to make with them!
So a cake that’s okay to eat for breakfast and has that glorious frosting? I’m totally on board with this!
What an incredibly delicious fall dessert! I’m totally drooling over that brown sugar buttercream!
This is maybe the most perfect cake I’ve ever seen!! Love it!
Love everything about this cake. The perfect thing to snack on this time of year :)
This apple cake and frosting look so yummy! I sure plan to make this.
Wait, do I have to eliminate that glorious, fluffy frosting in order to eat this for breakfast? I don’t wanna ;)
You have made my perfect cake! That buttercream alone looks fabulous! I’d never leave off that :)
thank you for the terrific recipe . it is my understanding that flours have different protein contents. White Lily is a softer wheat will the texture change if i am not using white lily?
What??? Leave off the frosting??? No, no. Breakfast never looked so good. Love this recipe Brenda. I will definitely be making this!!
Hi Brenda! Happy Fall! I love the sound of your frosting and wondered if the cake was really “applely” tasting? It it a dense cake?
This buttercream is absolute perfection. It makes me think of Despicable Me, when the girl yells, “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” :P :)