The Continuing Saga of Apple Pie Cake

When Carol Taylor in Frankfort asked us to find a recipe for apple pie cake, I never imagined that there could be so many varieties of it. Most of the time, this item appears to be a mash-up of pie, crisp, slump, and coffee cake. We see crumb lined pans with apple fillings and streusel tops; there are batters with apple sliced layered in, and streusel tops; there are batters with apples folded into it, and streusel sprinkled on, and batter and apple combos with no topping at all. Some call for from-scratch cooking, others call for yellow cake mix to which you add apples.

For years, one of my favorite apple cakes was something Karyl Bannister of Cook ‘n Tell fame, called Knobby Apple Cake—chunks of apple held loosely together with a scant mix of sugar, butter, egg and flour. Generally, that recipe which I shared here several years ago, is very similar to the usual Apple Pie Cake.

Two readers replied with their recipes. Judy Preston who grew up in northern Maine and still has family here, now lives in South Dakota. She regularly checks out the Bangor Daily News on line! She wrote, “My Mother gave me the Applie Pie Cake recipe that a friend shared with her. I have used it frequently over the years.” Theresa Burcaw in Montville sent her favorite recipe, one that she found in a 1992 edition of the New York Times Heritage Cookbook, first printed in 1972. She wrote that the cook book had recipes from all over the country and that this one was from North Dakota. “I have made this myself and labeled it as being ‘good.’”

Theresa reports that she is still cooking and baking at 88 years old, bless her! She also says she has made this applie pie cake with gluten-less flour and that it came out just as well as when made with standard flour. Good to note for those who must avoid gluten.

Judy’s and Theresa’s recipes are very similar as far as ingredients are concerned and very like my old knobby apple cake. Judy’s is different in that it calls for the butter to be melted in a saucepan and the rest of the ingredients added to it and mixed well before putting it in a pie plate to bake.

Theresa serves hers with whipped cream, not a bad idea. I’d do that if I had company, maybe. I ate my serving straight out of the pan.

Apple Pie Cake
Serves: 8
  • ½ cup shortening or 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 ½ cups peeled, cored, diced apples
  • Whipped cream.
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a nine-inch pie plate.
  3. Cream together the shortening or butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg.
  5. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and add them to the butter and sugar mixture, incorporating them well.
  6. Fold in the walnuts and apples, and spread mixture in the pie plate.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
  8. Serve topped with whipped cream.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.