roasted apple spice sheet cake

Yesterday, our little bear turned three which, you know, is impossible since we are unequivocally certain that we just brought him home from the hospital yesterday. Seriously, right here, through the door to my right and we put the carrier that he was sleeping deeply within on the table. It looked strange there [Also, we were hungry and unsure of the logistics — is it rude to eat lunch while your newborn is on the table? Isn’t it worse to place him on the floor?] Sure, there were one or two hundred fewer fire engine parts, stuffed hedgehogs and train tracks scattered across the living room carpet, and maybe we looked a little younger and better-rested; I probably didn’t have my iPhone wedged between sofa cushions the way I do right now so that my talking-walking-doing things mini-human couldn’t co-opt it to watch Elmo videos again (how does he find them?), but otherwise, nothing has changed. Nothing! Don’t say it. Didn’t your mother teach you to never argue with crazy people?

lightly roasting the apples

I know a lot of people who have had babies lately and I feel like I should say something wise here because I understand how utterly hectic the first few months can be, not because newborns are particularly difficult but because you’re terrified you’re going to break them, or maybe just a little shell-shocked in general. One minute they’re slumped over your shoulder snoring the tiniest snore ever emitted and you feel utterly centered, a sense of all the generations that came before this one gathered invisibly around their squished faces in beaming admiration, and the next they’re red-faced and full of rage, their squawking mouths in a perfect open circle, and you and your significant other are frantically running through the checklist you keep in your heads (hungry? cold? tired? wet?) which grows more complicated every few months (is your swaddle loose? did you roll over in the night again and can’t get yourself back? so help us, did we put you to bed with the little George and you wanted the big one?) and more complicated still (“Mommy, we have to take Ernie, Bert and Twacktor back to the park.” “Jacob, it’s 2 a.m. Please go back to sleep.”). I also have a bunch of friends who are quite close to deciding to have babies but they’re so understandably freaked out by everything they read about the crying and the not sleeping and the life will never be the same ever ever again that they’re terrified to move forward. But I can’t. I have no wisdom to impart, no pithy catchphrases that will cause it all to make sense. I can only say LOOK AT THIS. I can no longer imagine life any other way.

cake delight

I’ve always found the practice of having themed children’s birthday parties a little strange — I mean, isn’t the theme the kid? And how awesome they are? — and yet when it came time for my own son’s party, a salient summary of all of his loves was so evident to us, the party nearly planned itself. You see, he’s has had two obsessions in the last year; the first one is “horsies,” by which he means carousel rides, which means that the location (the prettiest carousel in all the land) was a nobrainer. The second is “choo-choo trains,” by which he means subways. He does not care where we go or what we do, only that it involves a subway ride. He has turned into the children in this beloved book, occasionally throwing a fit if he wanted to take the N train but it was the 6 that took us where we were going. It’s an odd thing for tourists to see, no doubt.

butter and dark brown sugar
egg empties
fall spices and me
butter-sugar, applesauce-honey, flour

I won’t lie, nor could I to people who know me too well: I spent a bit of time planning the cake. You see, I really wanted to do a subway-inspired design but there were so many things I didn’t want to do: individual train cars were nixed for seeming like they’d require a frightening amount of decorating and candy; I wanted to use regular cake ingredients and frosting (why eat fondant if you could eat cream cheese frosting?) and no matter how lovely an all-gray (like a subway car!) or largely red/blue/orange/yellow/green (like the subway line colors) would be, I did not, in fact, want to eat a bottle of food dye with dessert. Finally, when our estimated party of 30 turned into an awesome party of 50, I needed a cake that would feed a crowd. And, of course, I didn’t want any plain old cake.

from the freezer
filled layer
crumb-coating the top, leveling the sides

When I made a Monkey Cake for my son’s first birthday, I hadn’t much considered at the time that I was starting a tradition, one in which I would invent him a cake every year based on his current loves. But by the second year — a Celebration Cake that now lives in the cookbook, thus I wouldn’t want to spoil it — I knew this was going to be one of my favorite parts of each birthday. This year, I wanted include even more: a celebration of fall, apples and honey (a nod to the Jewish New Year that falls on his birthday), his obsession with applesauce, his curious affection for deeply spiced cakes — this kid, he likes gingerbread. Like, the intense kind, although we kept this one lightly spiced, to not scare the other children). And although I have zero quibbles filling a child’s birthday cake with both butter and refined flour (because if not on your birthday, when?), I was still hoping to find some level of moderation. It needn’t use all the butter; it shouldn’t make teeth ache from with sweetness.

abstract subway map
cake banner

What resulted was one of my favorite cakes yet, that quickly went under toddler attack; a dense, insanely moist spiced applesauce and honey cake studded with chunks of roasted apples. It’s covered with a vanilla cream cheese frosting that can easily be tinted to doodle the design of your choice (in this case, an abstract NYC subway map). It tastes like September, like a harvest, like blue skies and a crisp breeze, like the first cool day we took home what we affectionately call “The Mop Who Came To Live With Us.” It tastes, fittingly, like one of the best things we’ve ever baked.

roasted apple spice sheet cake
first bite

A few more party details: I’m not sure I encourage this level of insanity, but nevertheless… I made a few hundred homemade wheat thins (holler if you want the recipe) and a double-batch of our beloved whole wheat goldfish crackers, freezing them a week before the party. (I’d also hoped to make some mini-graham crackers and mini-apple butter pop tarts, but ran out of time.) There were a few subway-ish sugar cookies (originally, I’d intended to make them look like the train letters and numbers, then realized that such things were better left to the experts.) We had a ton of chopped vegetables with my favorite buttermilk dressing as a dip, plus more grapes than we’ll get through in a lifetime. My awesome mom made lightly sweetened sun tea and lemonade, neither of which survived the party (drat). And the “happy 3rd birthday jacob” cake banner was created with some feeble Photoshopping on my part, card stock, baker’s twine, a thick needle, two wooden skewers, Joy’s instructions, and a lot of stringing help from Jacob’s babysitter while he graced us with a nap. I made little notches in the skewers so that the three levels of strings would stay in place, but ended up winding the skewers a bit when the strings were too long. And how could I forget? For favors, the kids got subway bags with subway magnets with the first letter of their names, other tiny toys and … a little rodent. Just like the real subway.

homemade wheat thins, goldfish crackersmy mom made sun tea and lemonadeso many sandwichessome subway-ish sugar cookies

Martha Stewart Living: In the final weeks before having a baby, I didn’t buy burp cloths. I didn’t read any parenting or birthing books. But I did make a lot of brownies. I have an essay about this disconnect in the October issue Martha Stewart Living and what with today being all about that once-newborn, it seems a fitting time to mention it here.

Book Tour: Thank you so much for your amazing response to the book tour announcement. I wish I could get to every city, too. Please keep checking back to the book tour main page, as we will be adding and tweaking the details of events as they get closer. We just added a downtown Chicago event in response to those of you that were concerned that the two area events were so far from the center city. It will be posted shortly.

Roasted Apple Spice Sheet Cake

Why roast the apples? I tested this cake both ways and while small (1/2-inch chunks) of apple will cook through in the cake’s baking time, a little preroasting gives them the soft pillows of apple pie-like puddles that I think makes this cake better. It also allows for slightly bigger chunks, if desired.

If you’d like to make your own applesauce for the cake, I promise, it’s even easier than going to the store and buying the bottles you’ll need (though they’ll work just fine here). For my standard recipe, a mild, unsweetened one that allows the apples to shine, use 4 pound of any apples you like to bake with, or a mix, peeled, cored and cut into chunks, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, four big lemon peels (you can use a peeler) and 1 cup of water. Bring it to a low simmer, covered, and cook the apples for 30 minutes. Fish out the peels and puree it with an immersion blender. This yields approximately 6 to 7 cups of heavenly, Jacob-approved applesauce.

Yield: The recipe below makes a double-layer sheet cake and more than enough frosting to fill, coat the sides and top and have plenty leftover to decorate. It’s a monstrously huge cake, however, and could easily serve 40 to 50. The more logical way to make it would be as a single sheet cake, frosted in the pan (i.e. just on top); a single layer sheet cake will serve 20 to 25. To do this, halve the cake recipe and 1/3 the frosting. Finally, you could also make this cake recipe as a two-layer 9-inch round cake (serving estimate: 16), which I did last night. [Yes, I made another birthday cake to serve with our holiday dinner, since it was his actual day of birthday and a lot of family gathered. Also, because my tenuous grip on sanity has been well-established here.] For this, you’ll want to use half the cake batter below (then divided between your two round cake pans) and two-thirds of the frosting (to give you enough to coat and fill the cake, plus a bit left to decorate).

Updated to add 9/29/14: I made these as cupcakes for my son’s class. The total yield was 54 cupcakes and the frosting was sufficient (but not insanely thick, so if that’s your thing, you might need a little more).

6 medium apples, any variety you like to bake with, peeled, halved and cored
7 1/2 cups (940 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking soda
2 tablespoons (30 grams) baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (505 grams) honey
4 1/2 cups (585 grams updated: 1170 grams) applesauce
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed (285 grams) dark-brown sugar
6 large eggs

3 8-ounce (675 grams total) blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks, 3/4 pound or 340 grams) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
6 cups (720 grams) powdered sugar, sifted

Roast apples: Heat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper. Arrange apple halves face down on paper and roast in a single layer until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Slide parchment paper with apples onto a cooling rack and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Make cake layers: Butter two 9×13-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with a fitted rectangle of parchment paper. Butter the paper as well. Feel free to use a nonstick baking spray instead of butter, too. [If you, like most people, only have one cake pan, don’t fret. Just bake half the batter and as soon as you can flip the cake out of the pan, wash it and start again with a fresh piece of parchment, baking the remaining batter.]

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce and honey.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and dark brown sugar until very fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between every other addition. Add one third of the flour-spice mixture and mix it until just combined. Add half the applesauce-honey mixture, again mixing it until combined. [At this point, if you, like me, have a 5-quart KitchenAid, things are going to get a little full in the bowl. I suggest stirring in the remaining additions carefully by hand.] Add the second third of the flour-spice mixture, the remaining applesauce-honey mixture, and the remaining flour-spice mixture, stirring between each addition.

Chop roasted apples into smallish chunks (1/2 to 2/3-inches) and fold into batter. Divide batter between baking pans and bake cake layers, rotating the cake pans top to bottom and back-to-front halfway through the baking time, about 35 to 40 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer baking pans to cooling racks and let rest for 10 minutes, before flipping out of the pans onto racks, removing the parchment paper lining, and cooling the cakes right-side-up.

[Do ahead: I pause my cake-making all of the time here. I freeze the cake layers overnight, or until needed (up to two weeks, longer if your freezer doesn’t make things smell freezer-y for a while), wrapped in a double-layer of plastic wrap. When you’re ready to decorate them, you can do so while the cake is still frozen — it will be easier to handle/move/trim. Simply leave it at room temperature for a few hours once it is decorated or in the fridge for a day to fully defrost. More layer cake tips live here.]

Make the frosting: Whip butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar and beat again until smooth and light.

Decorate your cake: Arrange first cake layer on cake board or serving platter, tucking pieces of waxed paper underneath the outer edges to keep your platter clean while you decorate (which I forgot to do, typically). Use a serrated knife to level the top, removing any dome so that the next layer will rest neatly on top. Thickly spread about 1/3 of frosting on the bottom layer, then transfer the cake to the freezer for just 5 or 10 minutes, to firm up the filling. Place the second cake layer on top of the filling. Trim the top again until level (if desired; seeing as you’re not adding another layer, it would be for a neat appearance, not for cake stability). If the sides don’t align perfectly with the bottom layer, you can trim them until straight as well. Thinly apply a coat of frosting over entire exterior of cake. Once again, you can get this to “set” quickly by sliding the cake into the freezer for 5 minutes. One set, add your final coat of frosting, a thicker more decorative one. (This is of course where you can add any decorations desired. You should have plenty of leftover frosting to go to town with.)

Remove bits of waxed paper and serve with a big “ta-da!” Should any survive the party, this cake keeps exceptionally well in the fridge. Five days out, our leftover pieces are, if possible, more moist than one day one.

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495 comments on roasted apple spice sheet cake

  1. I was just browsing for a cake to make, it has been raining steady for a few days here. As I reloaded your homepage this gem pops up! This looks like nothing less than the perfect birthday cake. Love the colours, looking forward to trying it sometime. Well done!

  2. This cake looks great & really delicious! I’ve been looking for the perfect apple cake for the fall weather so I’m definitely going to try this one! Excellent work! And Happy birthday to Jacob! :)

  3. Great job on the subway map! Looks great. I was just talking with some teacher friends today about how a real cake tastes so much better than a heavily decorated one with fondant and other unnecessary embellishments.

  4. I can’t believe how big he’s gotten. THREE YEARS ALREADY? That flew by. Maybe because I wasn’t the one changing his diapers and waking up for feedings in the middle of the night? Probably.

    Anyhow, I love the roasted apple birthday cake. And the wheat thins! And the goldfish crackers! Can you throw my birthday party?

  5. I would like to take that scrumptious subway cake map and replace my tattered & worn pocket subway map with it. Your cookies are fabulous, Deb, because you made such a wonderful memory for Jacob. And, in the end, isn’t that the whole point? Plus scrumptiousness, of course!

    Thank you for the shoutout!

  6. Kathryn

    Happiest birthday Jacob! Your subway cake is fantastic, the decorations are so clever. Thanks for the beautiful post, I feel like each one you create is such a gift – its so easy to see the love you have for your family and the passion you have for food. Can’t wait to meet you on your book tour!

  7. CM

    The advice I always give to new parents is to just focus on surviving the first 12 weeks, and after that, things will get better.

    I love the subway story, and congratulations on getting your column into Martha Stewart Living!

  8. Heatherly

    The time flies! My 7 yo boy is a giant monster man-boy. And my 2 yo girl is just growing too quickly…..sigh.

    I enjoy making my babies their birthday treats and usually stick to one of your trusted recipes. Smooches! Also, I am glad to see your decorating skills are just at the normal level. I’d have to de-bookmark you if your cakes did not look mom-made!

  9. Amanda

    That all looks amazingly precious, fun and delicious too. Love your ideas! I too feel like I was just reading about you bringing Jacob home. Three years…really?

  10. Gloria

    Hey Deb! If I wanted to bake this for a really huge apple-lover’s birthday, could I swap in apple butter instead of apple sauce? I’ve never baked with it before, so I’m curious if you (or anybody else) has.

  11. Becca

    Deb, this looks phenomenal (and just what I may need to make for next week’s break fast – that is if I can avoid licking every bowl in sight). One question – to me, this evokes a cake version of apple crisp. Do you think that whole wheat flour would change the overall outcome of the cake too much (I realize you may not have tried the recipe with whole wheat, but any insight you can share on whole wheat flour’s general impact on baking would be greatly appreciated – even if it’s “DON’T DO THAT!”).


    1. deb

      Becca — I think it would take well to white whole wheat flour, at least a partial swap. The cake is very moist so it will be forgiving.

      Gloria — I am not sure I’d recommend it since apple butter is very, very, very sweet and I use unsweetened applesauce here. It’s also thicker, and the wetness of the applesauce contributes a lot of the moisture of the cake (which allowed me to use less butter, which sounds nuts given how much is in there anyway, but trust me, with a cake this size, there is usually more).

  12. Amanda

    It’s hard to believe that Jacob is 3. Big happy birthday to him! What a handsome, smiley little boy is he!! Also, I would LOVE your homemade wheat thin recipe. :] PS – fall reminds me that your book is almost here! I’m SUPER excited for its impending arrival. :]

  13. Jeanne

    Ha! I share a birthday with your little Jacob and I love that he loves gingerbread. Does he like black licorice too? I would also like to note that Hank Williams Sr., and Ken Kesey have Sept. 17 birthdays. We’re a deep, conflicted bunch. :-)

  14. neecie

    Wow, what a location, what a cake! Happy Birthday Jacob!

    P.S. What were the sandwiches that you served? Please share the wheat thins recipe. Thanks !

    1. deb

      neecie — We ordered the sandwiches from Murray’s Cheese. I did draw the line at making sandwiches for 50 people. :)

      Wheat thins — I’ll get you the recipe in the next week, promise!

      Kim Irene — The brownie recipe is right here, though I think the ingredient list nixes the sea salt. Will fix that …

      Sarah — So, the other day I was sneaking around the Williams-Sonoma in Columbus Circle (I wanted to see the digs for the NYC launch event!) and I spied these food dyes and had to buy them. Golly, they’re wonderful — I was especially excited that there was a black (so I could make the gray L-line train, very important). I know people who do a lot of cake and cookie decorating prefer the gel pastes but I find them overly pigmented for my needs and they tend to dry out before I use 1/16 of a pot. These are perfect in betweens. They come out in thick drops and are very pigmented, but not so much that a single drop stains everything.

  15. Sarah Fuller

    Hi Deb, what kind of food colouring did you use? Your colours are so vivid and usually when I use food dye I can only get pastel colours as adding so much dye 1) makes my frosting too liquid-y and 2) squicks me out a bit. Beautiful cake as usual!

  16. Michele

    Hi, I’m new to your blog…just stumbled across it drawn by the wonderful cake recipe. Happy Birthday to your little boy!
    I’ve lots of cooking apples on my tree, and wonder if you’d recommend using cookers, or have you just tried eating apples?
    Many thanks, Michele

  17. Mindy

    Okay, so I’m going to need to find some excuse to make this cake. Not sure what it will be, yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out!
    Also, in the instructions, second paragraph, it says ” butter the pan to 375 deg” not sure what that means. :)

  18. I saw these pictures yesterday when I was totally not stalking your flickr feed after reading your essay in Martha and I squealed and have now convinced myself that while this is technically a dessert, I could easily pretend its breakfast. Although for a breakfast cake I might leave off the frosting and do it as a bundt cake. Or is that sacrilege?

  19. Debby

    A wheat thins recipe? Sign me up for that one! I’ve just printed out this cake recipe and am wondering if I could call off sick today and stay home to bake it!

  20. oh holy subway goodness – that looks AWESOME. and i can’t believe he’s 3!!!! i’ve been following your blog since shortly after he was born. eeeeeek! and while i’m a few years away from having kids, i know it’ll be here sooner than i think, and i look forward to baking untold amounts of brownie in true preparation.

  21. Happy birthday to your little one! What a lucky boy! And I really enjoyed reading your essay in MS Living yesterday and agree that baking is indeed a wonderful stress reliever. : )

  22. Amanda

    Jacob is one lucky little boy!

    Just a quick question – to make two 9 inch round cakes, should I halve the recipe, or make as written? Love your website, anxiously awaiting your cookbook!! Thanks Deb.

  23. Éowyn

    Under to bake the cake you say baking sheet or roasted pan. Did you mean roasting pan?
    I’m so glad you posted this! Apple season and my daughters birthday are both coming up and I know she’ll love this too! Thank you!

    1. deb

      Eowyn — Yes, will fix. Thanks.

      Mindy — Will fix.

      Amanda — Halve the cake recipe, 2/3 the frosting. I list this in the headnotes (I hope they’re clear — there’s a lot of info there!)

      Michele — Any apple that you like to cook with will work here. I used some “eating” apples, some cooking. It doesn’t matter much (to me).

  24. Nada

    I would love to make this recipe to take to my son’s school for his birthday. Will it work well as cupcakes instead of a sheet or round cake?

  25. Shelly

    Nothing says fall like an apple cake… But your spiced apple sauce cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting is hard to beat! Happy birthday to your little one :)

  26. Renee

    Such a sweet post! My preemie daughter is 2 months old today, and I am already wondering how she got so big so fast.

    See you in DC in November!

  27. Clare

    This cake looks fantastic – I might have to convince my husband to take our 14-month-old out for a long adventure so that I have enough time/focus to tackle it for a fall-themed co-ed baby shower we’re hosting in early October.
    I realize you said “any variety you like to bake with” in terms of apples – but I’d love to know what type YOU like to bake with. I refer to you for all other cooking/baking expertise, so I’m hoping I can do so for good baking apple choices. Thanks! (and Happy Birthday Jacob!)

    1. deb

      Clare — I don’t have a preference. I really grab anything. My mother always baked with McIntosh apples, which are juicy and kind of round with sweet apple flavor, so I associate them with baking but there’s no need to seek them out. I tend to bake apple pies with golden delicious because they’re not terribly watery. But neither of those things matter here.

  28. kiki

    I hadn’t realized that our kids are so close in age! We’re doing a cat-themed party in October (although the kid actually turned three in July – but, well, no outdoor parties in Texas in the summer!). On that note, would you consider adding a North Texas (Dallas or Fort Worth) book tour location? Houston and Austin are a bit far for those of us living in DFW. Thanks!

  29. Wow, I really love how much you took into consideration for your son’s birthday! My mother always made a huge party for my birthday and I think it really gives a lot of quality for the child to know it is so much loved! :) I’m allergic to apples but I love the idea!

  30. Happy Birthday! Your party was so crazy yummy to read about…I want to make everything! Those extras you described sound amazing. Poptarts? Grahams? Already love those homemade goldfish (didn’t think about freezing; thanks for that tip!). Wheat thin recipe please!

    1. deb

      Jean — I made a 1/3 recipe in an 8×8 square and also a 9-inch round pan. It makes a thicker than average cake layer, but would still be delicious on its own. (Because it was so thick, my final recommendation for a 9-inch two-layer cake is for each layer to be 2/3 that thickness.)

  31. We are a family that makes a big deal out of every birthday regardless of the age just because it’s nice to celebrate with your family. It sounds like you hosted an awesome party for your sweet little guy! That cake looks fantastic and I just might have to make it for my own birthday, since mine is next. Roasted apples & cream cheese icing….really can you go wrong?! It sounds like the perfect Fall dessert!!!

  32. Thank you for being real. Sometimes these cakes and cookies on the blogosphere are nothing close to what I can ever replicate. Your cake is beautiful but homey and does look like a child’s birthday cake for a normal person. I appreciate that and the roasting of the apples advice sounds excellent. Puddles of apples?!!! How can one not want THAT? Happy Birthday to Jacob and good luck on your book tour. Much happiness is wished to you and yours and hope you are having a very nice Rosh Hashanah.

  33. JanetP

    Happy third birthday, Jacob!!! Awww. He is just adorable. I started reading your blog about a day or two before your pregnancy announcement and have loved watching him grow up!

    It’s my birthday today and I do not have a cake : ( Oversight by husband, obviously. Anyway, I am treating this post as my own birthday cake, so thanks, Deb! It looks really fabulous. I can see making it and skipping the frosting. mmmmm.

    (By the way, for some reason I am ridiculously excited you will be on QVC. That channel has become my favorite reality show. I’m going away this weekend but, believe it or not, I’m going to tape it and watch it later. …. hmm, I hope that doesn’t sound stalker-y. I promise I’m not.)

  34. Lynn

    You are my favorite blogger! Can’t wait for the cookbook to arrive. This recipe is going on the list for – Soon. Happy Birthday to your little one and Happy Birth Day to you! LOVE the rodent in the party bags!

  35. Devon

    I just wanna eat this cake. Preferably leftover for about three days. I don’t wanna make it, I just really really wanna eat it. Right now. Sigh.

  36. The cake looks and sounds amazing and love the big, visible apple chunks.

    And the fact that you made homemade crackers (‘just’ a couple hundred — OMG!!) – you are amazing!

    And yes, the theme should be the KID! I always leave kiddie parties and feel a bit surreal & befuddled with the amount of hoop-la that surrounds the event, rather than the child!

  37. Anne

    The transition to fall is going to come somewhere between dinner and dessert tonight: I’m making probably my last gazpacho of the season, and this cake looks to good to let it wait until tomorrow.

    Happy birthday to adorable Jacob, and congratulations to you on the anniversary of his birth!

    P.S. wheat thins, yes!

  38. Lovely! I have been reading your blog for years and never commented before. I’m not sure why I just realized today that it’s completely stalker-ish to NEVER comment. I love your fabulous blog, recipes, photos, and birthday cake extravaganzas!

  39. AMN

    Wow – what a great post.

    My daughter shares your son’s birthday (she turned one yesterday – sob) and my son is 6 days behind her (he turns 4 soon) so I hope you can give me cake and party ideas every year! Since I don’t think more than a week or a few days ahead this will probably work just fine.

    As I’m sure you’ve heard – the second kid is just absolutely nothing like the first kid experience (should you choose to go there which of course you don’t have to….). No one worries about where to put the carseat – it’s more like ‘Uh Oh, did we forget the newborn in the restaurant while we dragged older child out kicking and screaming?’ … and no qualms about that newborn just sleeping on the table while you eat over her.

  40. Let’s see…what celebration do I need to make this cake? Oh, I know. A fabulous cup of coffee. The end.

    And may I be shameless and offer up an idea if you need a little something as a counter balance to all of the fabulous sugar and cream cheese? Please feel free to check out my Vietnamese Bun noodle bowl with a twist. Thank you.
    Now go help yourself to an extra piece of marvelous roasted apple spice sheet cake.

  41. Wowser. What a uber mummy you are. A quick q – would the sheet cake freeze? I ask because I have a 4 yr old’s birthday coming up, but 6 days before that I have a newborn’s birthday… And so suspect I might not have a huge amount of time immediately before the party (yes, a party has been arranged – I am completely crazy) to bake / ice / do anything other than open a cake-box…

    Happy birthday to your beautiful boy, by the way.

  42. Happy Birthday, Jacob!! This made me tear up a little then laugh out loud when you said that “each kid got a little rodent just like in the real subway.” My oldest son will be 11 next month (and it feels like the carrier on the table was just yesterday, too). I have made ALL his birthday cakes from scratch and there is a special magic in the confidence he has in me that no cake request seems impossible.

    As always, a delicious looking recipe and lovely writing, Deb. Jacob is a lucky boy.

  43. Mandi

    This cake looks insanely delicious. I’m not much one for applesauce, but I love baked and roasted apples. Thinking that this might be good for a breakfast/brunch too, sans the icing.

    I SO wish the book tour was coming to New Orleans! I’m still holding out hopes that it might but if not, I’m either wiring my friend in Chicago money to get me a signed copy or having a weekend in Houston!

  44. Deb, I think this has to be one of the coolest – if not the coolest thing – you’ve ever posted. I know finding the perfect yellow cake recipe (which really is amazing, btw) made you feel ready to be a mom, but this cake, this whole PARTY, shows you have *nailed* being a mom. Oh my God, I know you’re lucky because you get to look at the cuteness that is Jacob all day long, but Jacob is equally lucky to have you. This is just incredible. You’re incredible!

  45. Time flies!
    Thanks for the recipe, I will have to give it a try. We went apple picking this weekend and came home with 50 pounds of apples. I have already made your apple pancakes and I have your mom’s apple cake and the breakfast granola on the list of things to make.

    I made an old fashioned apple coffee cake yesterday. It is in the current issue of Bon Appetit. However, they used blueberries and I switched it to the apples. You should give it a try, it is a must make!

  46. Haley Y

    While I agree that the cake looks delicious, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your publishers so much for adding a real Chicago tour stop. Looks like my complaining actually accomplished something, for once. I am unbelievably excited!

  47. Heather

    Happy birthday Jacob! I remember when you announced his arrival, I was home with my then two week old son and waiting for word on when your little bundle would arrive. It was nice to have a foodie to follow while pregnant, we were totally on the same page.

    This cake looks awesome and it may just get made for no apparent reason when I acquire some awesome locally grown apples :-)

    Oh, and I’ll take that home made wheat thins recipe please :-)

  48. Happy birthday to your Jacob! How can he be three?

    I’m givin’ a holler for the wheat thins recipe. And that cake? My apple cake loving husband is going to be so thrilled to have this for his next birthday.

  49. 1. Holler. I would love the wheat thins recipe

    2. You’re missing a preposition: “a dense, insanely moist spiced applesauce and honey cake studded with chunks roasted apples” or you could just make “chunks” into “chunked.” choices, choices

    3. This was a really great post, so thank you. I’m thinking about making some apple cupcakes now. But maybe I should finish my peaches first…I’m having season confusion this week.

    4. Happy New Year!

  50. Alicia

    Happy Birthday to Jacob! This cake looks amazing! My son is turning one on Thursday and this looks exactly like what I’ve been looking for. Do you think there is anything that the honey could be exchanged for to make this a baby friendly cake?

  51. Courtney

    Happy birthday to Jacob! Our boys were due the same day (my J came a few weeks early) and we also had a train-themed birthday party. What is it with boys and their love of trains? (He also loves the Subway book, thanks to your recommendation, and I can now basically recite it from memory. “We could go straight but we are sure . . .”)

    I also made him a second cake, but then . . . accidentally left it, fully decorated, in the oven and then without thinking, started preheating it for dinner. Yeah . . . when I told J what happened to his cake, he burst into tears. Mom of the year!

    I love the idea of this cake–on a slightly smaller scale. Maybe it will make up for my melted-cake disaster.

  52. joan

    Happy birthday, Jacob!!! What a glorious, fun time it seems! Many, many more happy occasions. Deb – not only do you nourish the body, you nourish the soul – what a lovely description of being new parents. Brings it all back, (cause you truly don’t ever forget), even if mine are now 29 & 26! Looking forward to your upcoming book signings.

  53. Great post, Deb. I love seeing the photos of Jacob as he’s grown. Happy birthday to him and congrats to you and your blog. Your enthusiasm is as fresh as it was 6 years ago. You’re like a good neighbor (the one who knows her way around a kitchen), and it’s always great to visit with you. Thank you for the recipes and chit-chat! Best to you on your book tour.

  54. Claudia

    Happy birthday to cutest Jacob. I live in Mexico City which is a high altitude and need to adjust recipes, any thoughts on that?
    I want to try it for my coming birthday!!!

  55. Teresa

    Ah…you have a subway boy! That makes me smile! I hope you have taken him to the transit museum, yes? We love the Christopher Niemann book too–best one in my opinion. Our entire living room has been taken over by train tracks and every subway car train. Before they sold placemats, we cut up the maps and laminated them. My son would choose his borough at every meal. Our subway journey with our oldest lasted for many years and what an adventure it was! Subway boys grow up to be fabulous math students…so there! Happy Birthday! (love the cake and the blog by the way!)

  56. SVF

    I would love the wheat thins recipe. The last time I made crackers, they weren’t terribly crisp. Any tips on that? This might just be my birthday cake too…

  57. Molly

    Hi Deb! Happy birthday to Jacob. The party looks amazing. My question is similar to Alicia’s, above…do you think there’s anything that could be substituted for the honey? I am unfortunately allergic but love anything with apples/spices/cream cheese. Perhaps maple syrup?

  58. Melissa

    How do you think these would fare as cupcakes? I will be throwing a baby shower for my sister sometime this holiday season. She doesn’t do well with chocolate or nuts, which excludes pretty much all my go-to recipes.

    (apologies if someone has already asked)

  59. Amy P

    Perfect timing – it’s my birthday today and I opened SK to find a rather delicious looking birthday cake (if not the trifle that I make every.single.year except this one because I’m too pregnant-nauseous to eat it. Drat). If you have another child, I will pray you don’t feel nauseous because we would all miss you far too much for those three months.

    Happy birthday Jacob!

  60. Sheri

    My little guy is now 16, his sister is 14 and I really enjoyed your photo of your Jacob’s 3rd birthday…I know you’ve heard this before, but enjoy it, relish it all now because it really does go so fast. I never believed it when someone told me that back then…enjoy & Love!

  61. Laura

    I have made the last two years for my gal’s birthday (including her actual birth – day) your mom’s apple cake and we love it so.. But I’ve always wondered about frosting it to make it more birthday cake-ish. This is perfect! Her birthday is Oct. 7 and she’ll be three.

  62. Brianna

    Cake looks amazing! But most excitingly (yup, a word!) is that you will be in Downtown Chicago! Thank you for adding it!! Can’t wait to see you in person!

  63. Grandma Susan

    You’ve made me remember how crazy we moms were in those early years and how warm and fuzzy life was then,too. Those who were fortunate enough to make crazy birthday cakes/parties for our toddlers were indeed blessed. Enjoy all these insane times…you will cherish them forever…sent by a 70 year old gamma…

  64. Erica

    Happy Birthday Jacob! I cannot believe it but the Seattle event is sold out. Do I need to make a detour to Portland or Vancouver to see you in person? Could you, would you add another day here in our fair city? Ok enough pleading. I’ve got a cake to bake with apples from our new backyard. Hooray!

  65. Sara

    Adorable!! Where did you find those paper plates/cups? Cake sounds delish. I love your dedication- you tried it with with/without roasting apples first, etc etc etc. Impressive. And he has got to be the cutest…where did that gorgeous mop of hair come from?

  66. Aww, happy birthday Jacob!! Looking at that link, I just can’t get over the fact that his hair has been so insanely awesome since day one! The cake looks fab, and I bet it tastes even better. Great job.

  67. Shannon

    YAAAYY!!!! Not only did you add a Chicago-proper book tour stop, you picked a place I can WALK to! So excited! It’s in my calendar and I will see you on the 18th!

  68. My nephew’s first birthday is next month, and my sister is doing a fall-themed party. We both know it’s more for the adults with a couple of activities for older kids that’ll be there, but mercy I can’t wait to see Grady tear into his smash cake. That boy loves to eat! Maybe I’ll convince her to let me make a roasted apple cake.

  69. Deb

    5 years ago, I ‘found’ your blog and have been delighted with your recipes and wonderful conversational style – but then 3 years ago the whole focus of my reading changed when you introduced the most beautiful little Jacob. Soon, I found myself searching for the click-able photos and coming back to the recipe only after I had oh-ed and ah-ed and smiled at my computer screen for a while. So happiest of birthdays, Jacob! About 6 Christmases ago, my own beautiful son (now 26, then an art student at Cooper-Union) gifted us with a framed, 3 panel piece of art – each panel depicting a frequently traveled subway route! 2 Debs, 2 subway sons, too much! Hoping to get to see you in Boston!

  70. Shilpa


    THANK YOU! I have been reading your blog for years (long before Jacob, back when you were still vegetarian and had a different kitchen…) and love this recipe.

    I also just noticed that I share a birthday with your little one! Happy Birthday Jacob! Lucky to have such awesome parents!!


  71. Jae

    This will be most definitely the first cake I bake for the fall along with my gingerbread. Thank you so much for sharing this little jewel!

  72. Amy

    I absolutely love this! My mom would put a lot of thought into birthdays when we were growing up and they meant a lot to us kids then, and even more so now. Highlights include a hand-drawn portrait of Belle from beauty and the beast during an obsessed phase, a soccer field with lego players, and one year I had a tea party where all the guests dressed up and my parents were dressed as a maid and butler (hopefully the analysis on that dynamic ends there). I have no doubt Jacob will definitely remember all these amazing birthdays!!

  73. Ashley

    Deb- I’d be interested in the wheat thins recipe- my 2 yo goes through crackers so much I’ve decided it’s time to try to learn to make them at home. Congrats on being a mommy for three years- he is adorable!

  74. ash

    Haha! I had to laugh at the abstract subway decorations on the cake. So many food bloggers do everything ‘perfectly’; your cake is perfectly imperfect, and I would choose it over everything else, any day (:

  75. Gina

    I can’t believe that no one else has mentioned this, but, 5 days?!!! You had cake leftovers and they lasted for 5 whole days without being devoured? Unbelievable! Cake looks amazing!

  76. Laura


    You just made my miserable day! You’re new Chicago stop is mere blocks from where I live! I will be the incredibly eager one in the front row fidgeting and sitting on her hands to keep myself from imploding with delight at seeing you!

  77. Leslie

    Perhaps this is a dumb question but my monkey’s first birthday is coming up and this is the kind of cake I had in mind for him. I’ll check with his doc to see if this changes when he’s one but he’s still not allowed to eat honey. Any chance I could sub that for something else? What do you think, oh wise baking guru?

  78. Rosie

    My mom did the same thing for me all through my childhood! She made me a witch cake when I was into witches, and a cake with a Barbie stuck in the middle as if the cake were her dress, and a “Strawberry Shortcake” doll-themed strawberry cake… I loved it! Your son is going to have great memories of this lovely tradition.

  79. Heidi J

    Our kids are almost the same age! My son turned three this Sunday. I agree with the comment that at kid’s parties, they should be the theme. We had an E’s favorite things themed party. :) His cake was actually your triple berry cake, though using only blueberries and a lemon cream cheese icing.

  80. Mix406

    Oh, deb, you are making me feel sooo bad! My girl turns 5 this thursday, and this is the craziest of weeks with traveling and family reunions and work and even if i had time to make her cake, it probably wouldn’t survive the trip to where we’re going. So far her birthdays have had homemade cakes and i already felt guilty about it, but this! Maybe in a couple weeks when everyone is back home we’ll make this most fall-ish of birthday cakes together. At least she’s getting to take your brownies to preschool.

  81. Deanna P.

    This was a very fun post for me to read since I am going to be a first time Nana in March 2013. Both my daughter AND daughter-in-law are pregnant and their due dates are 2 DAYS APART! I enjoyed motherhood so much and am so excited to be a grandma. I am pinning recipes on Pinterest that I want to make when the little ones are old enough to eat “grown-up” food and this cake just got pinned! Thanks for a sweet recipe and even sweeter post:)

  82. Sally

    Best thing a new parent can learn is that sometimes the kid isn’t wet, hungry, cold, hot, anything, just Really Annoyed. And there is nothing anyone can do about it. Memory of our son trying to turn from back to front and screaming his head off. He didn’t want to be turned onto his tummy, he wanted to do it himself! Really, really, very annoyed.

    Wheat thins recipe, please!

  83. Sarahb1313

    When my son turned 3, I made him a carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting. He asked for that same cake for 16 years after.
    I begged him to ask me for something else- I have other recipes! I want to try other cakes! He finally 2 years ago selected chocolate orange. So I found a chocolate orange cake that I am sure you would love, by Nigella- you boil 2 oranges for 2 hours and purée them for the cake- easy as, well, cake!. With Salted caramel ganache.
    Now he only wants that cake. Now I don’t have an excuse for the carrot cake! It’s so 90’s.

    I do love the timing the honey apple cake, and I think next September that will make the holiday rotation :-)

    Thanks for sharing

  84. Liz

    Happy birthday Jacob. My daughter who was once an infant and has already left home was the one who told me about this blog. She thinks Jacob is the cutest thing ever, plus we cook too of course.

  85. Kim

    I just can not believe that your baby is 3 years old now…WOW.. how time flies. I remember quite well all the blogs about you still being pregnant with him and when you delivered him into this world. I am sure that both you and your husband Alex are having fun being parents to this sweet boy. Many blessings to your whole family…AND GIRL… YOU..YES..YOU…! ..Keep On Cookin!

    Many Respects, Kim

  86. Lorrie

    How adorable he is. Gosh, I remember when he was born. Looks like a fun party. Too funny about the little rodent. Nothing little about the occasional ones I see on my block. Ugh.

  87. This cake looks amazing for fall–even if it is still bloody hot down here in Texas. I plan to cure my husband’s fear of heterogeneous cake parts by making this cake. Also, I love that your son loves Subway–the book. We are a bit obsessed with Christoph Niemann up in here. One last thing, the rat idea=ingenious. Can’t wait to see you in Austin!

  88. Lauren

    I can’t believe nobody mentioned the little dimpled hand resting on the table while that darling boy sneaked some cake. It tells a story by itself. It is the kind of image ( a lucky accident sometimes) that bears cropping and framing all by itself. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. So evocative and beautiful. His face is wonderful, but oh that tiny baby hand…you will be SO glad for that photo someday, mark my words.

  89. Jen

    All adorable. My daughter is a few weeks from 3 as well and I am planning a party menu (flower theme as her name is Flora). Those goldfish are adorable. Thinking I could replicate with a tiny flower cookie cutter. Did you freeze the dough in a ball or roll out and cut and freeze prior to baking? Or did you freeze after baking? The more I can do ahead of time the better! Thanks!

  90. I love thinking about your home filled up with cakes, layers piled everywhere, pans of every size, cakes galore! I think I’d like to be your neighbor to smell cakes baking all day. If you lived in Seattle. :)

  91. Happy birthday to your little boy, Deb. He looks so happy and adorable!
    I love your cake. Such a creative way to incorporate the train theme.
    Do share the recipe for the wheat thins. They sound interesting.

  92. hilary

    Happy birthday to your son – love the cake and I will adapt to own design using yours as a ‘template’ as I make birthday cakes for my grandchildren with them usually telling me what they want!

    I would love the recipe for your Wheat Thins – always read and enjoy your writing and recipes.

    Happy New Year 5773 Hilary

  93. Happy birthday Jacob!! I can’t believe he’s already 3! I’ve started following your blog exactly when Jacob came home from the hospital and this means I’ve been following you for 3 whole years, now!!
    I really like the cake you made him, it’s perfect for a child’s birthday :)

    xo, Elisa

  94. Something weird happens to time the moment you first is born…it’s like hitting the ffw-button! What was yesterday my sweet little baby girl is now a highly opinionated teenager. She’s also highly opinionated about birthday cakes and fortunatelly still prefers the home-baked kind. Happy birthday to Jacob!

  95. Catherine

    Hi Jacob

    Happy 3rd Birthday from London, England!

    I love that you love gingerbread, because it is one of my favourite cakes too. Have you tried molasses cookies yet? They are one of my best cookies, especially the dark soft chewy ones with the sugar on top.

    Horsies on carousels are one of my favourite things too and I was awestruck at the sight of the one you love. I hope to be able to go on that one day.

    Oh Deb, what a lovely boy you have!


  96. annie

    happy birthday to you jacob. time flies by so quikly, I can’t believe I have been checking out your food blog for 3years/ religiously. amazing. tell jacob he is lucky to have a great mum. thankyou so much for the wonderful recipe you have been posting. appreciate it.

  97. jill

    Kudos on the cake. My 14 year old son walked past the computer and said “is that a train cake”. Enjoy having a three year-old boy…they are so much fun. before you know it they are 20,18 and 14…still lots of fun but not around very much. The cake sounds yummy, can’t wait to make it. Looking forward to seeing you in Philly on your book tour.

  98. Nanette

    Happy Birthday, Jacob! I remember how excitied I was for you (and I don’t even know you) the day you posted those beautiful newborn photos of your little guy. # years ago!! Wow.
    I wouldn’t want it any other way either, having kids, that is. I have four of them, and it is loud and messy and tiring and light on sleep, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. (& I actually would still like to have more – crazy!)

    The cake looks awesome! I think if I lived in NYC, my almost 3 year old would be obsessed with the subway too. Making cakes has unexpectedly turned into a tradition for me and my kids as well. I used your wedding cake recipes for my daughters fifth birthday cake when she asked for a wedding cake – so a small three tiered layer cake she got!

  99. G

    Deb!!! Beautiful! On a nearly unrelated note… My son has had that very same ikea rodent by his side and/or in his tight grip for almost 4 years. He, named Grey Mouse, has been on every adventure and has played a leading role in all imaginary play. My boy has made helmets, parachutes, rockets, and all manner of accessory for him. I have joined in the madness and made clothes for him as I was crazy pregnant and perhaps ought to have been washing baby clothes. We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time searching for him when he’s been misplaced. Grey Mouse has also been his security when he was safely zipped in a backpack that seemed ready to tople my kindergartener. Grey Mouse is beloved, and I hope Jacob finds him an equally cherished friend.

  100. dancing gal

    Hi there!

    I just wanted to wish a happy happy birthday to Jacob!!! Filled with trains, horsies and cake!

    The train-cake is so beautiful!!! And I love that you didn’t use fondant or extreme amounts of food colouring and still managed to make a super-cute birthday cake!!!!



    ps: just like when I saw the monkey cake photos, as soon as I saw these I picked up the phone and called my mother to complain. Not because she didn’t make herself our birthday cakes, au contraire, she did, and they were gorgeous and yummy. It’s just that she almost never took pictures of them, so, I’m sure I did enjoy them at the time, but now, 20+ years later, I don’t remember all of them. Jacob will have a ton of pictures to remind him!!! Hooraaay!!!!!

  101. I was in need of an apple muffin recipe. When I stumbled upon this yesterday I realized that I could totally convert the same recipe to muffins. Seriously delicious!! We had them for dessert last night, and breakfast this morning! :))

  102. Oh this is so cute! Not often when I’m pinning something do I have to ponder to which board…this one is perfect for FUN, FUN FOOD & DRINK, BANNER LOVE, NEW YORK, PARTY….it’s fabulous on so many levels. It makes me wonder if Christoph Nieman’s boys ever had a cake this cool. I know for certain they would love it as much as Jacob. Happy birthday to your darling three year old!

  103. callie

    Homemade wheat thins–please!!! My roommates and I have been talking about tackling these for the last few weeks. Would love to see your take!


  104. Linda

    I love the look of this recipe, and I am thinking about making it this weekend for my dad’s birthday (with different decorations, of course!), and I was wondering: when you made the smaller 9-inch round cake, did you adjust the cooking time in the oven at all? Since the batter has been halved I’m guessing it needs to be in the oven less than 35-40 minutes but I haven’t cooked a lot of cakes in my days so I’m not sure how long to keep it in there. Thanks!

  105. Audra

    THANK YOU, Deb, for adding the Chicago location to your book tour! I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for a few years, and while I’ve never written any comments (there are so many for you to read, I can’t imagine…), I am absolutely thrilled to join in on the fun! PS: Lincoln Square is a great neighborhood; if you have some time, you should check out the restaurants/area!

  106. What a wonderful photo of your son! I too have a 3 year old, her birthday was on the 14th of September (and a 15 month old) and I know how hard it is to get anything done….I appreciate all your hard work, it always seems so laid back and easy :) And I know it isn’t…especially when you are trying to do something in the kitchen with one child attached on each foot :) Happy birthday Jacob!

  107. Ruth

    The cake looks and sounds wonderful – I cannot wait to make it. I hope you can add some Southeastern cities on a future book tour. Atlanta, of course, and then maybe Birmingham, Charlotte and New Orleans and Nashville. The city that is REALLY the best to visit is Charleston, South Carolina. It is not only beautiful all year round, but is such a foodie town with wonderful places to eat. It has several good local bookstores as well as some cooking stores downtown.

  108. Sonya

    love your story and congratulations to you! I think all moms should be told congratulations on their kid’s birthday :)
    I’d love to have the wheat thins recipe. They’re one of my favorite crackers but I rarely buy them because of the added junk they put in them

  109. Lynn

    Thank you SO much for adding a (real) Chicago stop! I can’t wait to see you there. Happy birthday Jacob and a sweet happy new year to you and your family, Deb. cake looks great!

  110. Samantha

    This looks amazing! The fact that you were able to make so many cakes and other goodies for the party is quite impressive. I take my hat off to you! It also gives me reassurance that I’m not the only mom that tends to go a little overboard with the baking. Next time my husband says something, I’ll have him read this post. And, yes, please give us the wheat thin recipe.

  111. oh Deb – i absolutely cannot BELIEVE HE IS THREE!!! i remember finding you the week he was born – what a journey these last three years have been. beautiful baby turns into a beautiful boy . . . and suddenly i’m feeling quite old . . . *sniff, sniff*

    oh, and this cake? this cake i can manage . . . well, except for the decorating part . . .

  112. Your little guy is so cute! And this cake sounds fantastic. Would also love the homemade wheat thin recipe – those tasty little crackers always seem to find their way to the holiday parties, and having a homemade version would be great. Thanks, Deb!

  113. Nan

    Happy, Happy Birthday Jacob! Three – it IS hard to believe!! He is so adorable, I love seeing his happy little face – isn’t is amazing how one little human can change your entire heart?!? Congrats on surviving the first three years…they are nothing compared to years 16, 17 and 18!!! I’m going to make this cake – sounds delicious in every way and I love the subway theme!

  114. OMG you are the sweetest mom ever!!! I am so wildly impressed by all of it, the awesome subway cake, homemade WHEAT THINS?! Deb, you are badass. And your son is so unbelievably adorable! Looking forward to meeting you at Politics & Prose soon!

  115. Erin

    Happy Birthday Jacob! Deb, I have been following your blog since 2009 and I can’t tell you what a pleasure it has been to watch your family grow. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us! The warmth you give your blog is the main reason I keep coming back and love your blog so much. I am young and newly married with no kids yet, and I have enjoyed seeing through the little window of your site how food, love, and family are all connected. Looking forward to building fun memories like this in my future! See you in Chicago!

  116. Keli

    Happy birthday, sweet boy. Enjoy your time with him while he’s this young and cuddly. Mine are 12 and 17, and they don’t cuddle so easily anymore. Ah well, new joys and pleasures.

    Your son is really blessed to have a mom like you. Cake, subway and rodents all in one day! Wow.

    And yes, yes, yes pass on the wheat things recipe!

  117. Sarah

    I can’t believe I found your blog 3 years ago now. I was pregnant myself and had my son shortly after finding it. (He was six weeks early) We just had his birthday party on Saturday as well! I’ve loved reading your recipes, and trying them with my little monkey. (In fact his birthday cake for the past two years has been your Chocolate Stout cake!) I wish I had see this recipe sooner, it would have been a hit!

  118. I’m hollering for the wheat-thins recipe! Everything you make is sooo scrumptious! Can’t wait for your book to come out NEXT MONTH! Here are some more exclamation points: !!!!

  119. Love the subway map design. I grew up in Manhattan but now live in San Diego and my kids have always loved riding the subway on trips back. My Jacob is now 15 years old and it still feels like I brought him home yesterday even though he’s 8 inches taller than me and a sophomore in high school. Cherish the years!

  120. stephanie

    I’ve decided that I want you to be my mom (despite the fact that I think I’m a couple years older than you) so you will bake me a special themed birthday cake. I love Downton Abbey the way Jacob loves trains so look, I’ve already done most of the work for you–you just have to come up with a recipe, design and bake the cake–super simple! And my birthday’s in July so you’ve got LOADS of time. (Ha!)
    Jacob is a lucky kiddo! And such a cutie.

  121. Chandana

    WHAT A CUTIE PIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Touch Wood. Time sure flies when you are having fun. He is PRECIOUS!!!!! Here’s wishing you and him many many more such amazing birthdays!!!

  122. Leah

    The most beautiful post, ever. I will admit my eyes were getting misty during the first 2 paragraphs. I can’t wait to make this! And I can’t wait for the cookbook! Thank you Deb!

  123. Sharon

    Potentially weird question, but can you recommend a non-cream cheese frosting? Maybe one that is already on your site that you’ve used for another cake?

    1. deb

      Hi Leigh — The apple roasting directions are the first step in the recipe. (It says “Make cake layers,” which probably could be more clear. Will fix.)

      Sharon — You can always use a basic quick buttercream (like this one, though I recommend adding the sugar a little at time, and using as little as needed to thicken the frosting). I’ve also used Marshmallow or Seven-Minute Frostings on this site, as well as Swiss Buttercream.

      stephanie — Is the wait until January killing you too? NEED MY FIX.

      Emily — Sadly, I didn’t jot down baking times for the round cake. Start checking the layers at 30 minutes. They’ll probably take 30 to 35. If your oven tends to bake things quickly, can’t hurt to peek in at 25. Good luck!

      Chad — You are absolutely correct; it is confusing. The weight is wrong. I hadn’t weighed my homemade stuff but I had a jar (which I felt accurately represents most applesauces) that clocked in at 130 grams for 1/2 cup… which means that we’re talking about 1170 grams for 4 1/2 cups. Will fix. Sorry about the confusion.

      Sara — NYC Transit Museum Store. There’s one in Grand Central, also at the Transit Museum in Bklyn.

      Molly — Maple syrup, golden syrup or another liquid sugar will work.

  124. Olivia

    This is so bizarre…for about two weeks now I’ve been hankering for a something yummy involving my mom’s applesauce in the cupboard and the leftover apples in the fridge. And I’m due in two weeks with our first little boy and am going slightly nuts with anticipation and nerves. Thanks for the encouragement! Looking forward to my own LOOK AT THIS moment. :)

    Oh, and now I’ve got a great buttermilk dressing recipe to boot. So glad I found your blog a few weeks ago!

  125. Ale

    Happy birthday to Jacob!
    My little girl turns 3 today (I can’t believe it either!) and I looked at your website for inspiration. I used your “best birthday cake” recipe and it came out phenomenal! Thank you for sharing your tips and recipes, I love your blog.

  126. Carolyn

    You are the sweetest thing; seriously, this spread is amazing. I’d love to go to go to one of your parties, or better yet, host one!

    Can’t wait for the cookbook. My sister-in-law pre-ordered it for me as a thank you for being the go-to babysitter. We are both so excited for his first birthday!

  127. Candace

    Happy Birthday Jacob and Shana Tova!
    Love this post specifically and your bloggenerally.
    Obviously we missed the New Year’s boat but would love to swing this for breaking the fast…I’m unclear as to whether we are halving or “thirding” the cake recipe for
    a 2 layer/ 9 inch round version. Could you clarify please?

    1. deb

      Book tour — Guess what, guys? Apparently, if you send an email to your publicist with long siiiighs and light frustration over the overlooked regions of the book tour, your phone may ring five minutes later and with publicity director and others on the line and they will ask you if you’re willing to do more travel in the new year. Since they had me on the spot, I said yes. :)

      So, although nothing is set yet, please do stay tuned because there is a very real possibility of adding more events in Winter/Spring 2013.

      Candace — For a 9-inch round cake, you would halve the cake recipe. You’ll then still divide your batter between two cake pans.

      Paula — Yes! She and Jacob actually look a bit alike, I think.

      Kara — Binding, mostly. It’s worth trying with an egg replacer.

  128. Xochi

    “…they’re so understandably freaked out by everything they read about the crying and the not sleeping and the life will never be the same ever ever again that they’re terrified to move forward.”
    OMG that’s me right now! Time is slowly creeping forward to next summer when I will end birth control and my fiance (hopefully by then husband!) and I will start trying for a baby. I’m simultaneously terrified and thrilled by the idea! *deep breaths*
    Your pictures and stories of Jacob have helped tremendously. He’s so precious and I know he can be a handful like any child, but you seem to be so happy with him. It leaves me smiling every time.

  129. Julia

    I CANNOT believe three years has already passed! I remember that announcement like it was yesterday! My nephew is a few months older than Jacob and has just started school (and is loving it!); that’s why it’s so important to cherish those moments because time will just…slowly speed along, if that makes any sense? Anyway, happy birthday to the little one and, as usual, what a wonderful idea!

  130. Kara

    Are you using the eggs here for binding or leavening or both? The cake sounds fabulous for my nephew’s birthday, but he is allergic to eggs and the replacer I use is suggested for up to 2 eggs.

  131. Happy 3 to your little one! The fact that you baked an apple spice cake for a three year old speaks of your incredible personality Deb. I never would´ve thought to bake anything other than vanilla or chocolate, plain. Is that Alex´s mother in the pic?

  132. Pam

    First, let me say I love your blog! This cake looks delicicious and I can’t wait to try it. I noticed your spice jars- could you tell me where you got them? I’d like to get some for my daughter. Thanks!

    P.s. your son is adorable!

  133. Anna

    Beautiful! No idea where you find the time to do this with a 3 year old. The babysitter must be a lifesaver. I’d love love love the wheat thins recipe! Thanks Deb!

  134. clb72

    omg WHAT a cutie. I have kids around that age and I never tire of people telling me that. Made your eggplant-orzo thing the other day while working from home- my wife was not expecting anything when she got home and she got that, major marital karma points, thank you.

  135. Tehemina

    Alleluia for a downtown Chicago stop!!! I was so bummed you were coming all the way out here and I wasn’t going to get to come.

    Happy birthday to the moptop. He is adorable.

  136. Amy

    Oh my god! uts a subway cake! I love it. That is absolutely awesome.

    come to St. Pete/Tampa! Have I already mentioned that you should come here in the winter? Perhaps I have!!

  137. Book tour: WOW, Deb that’s fantastic news! Then you MUST MUST MUST come to London!!!!! Pretty pretty please. I would love to meet you and say thank you in person!
    I’m going to NYC next weekend, and though I’m very excited, I actually wish I was going one month later, so that it would coincide with the NYC launch!

  138. regina sciliano

    Hello Jacob, I am sharing your facination with subway trains.I met my husband on the subway in Forest Hill on Yellowstone Blvd. Is NY not the BEST and friendliest place in the world? Your cake looks just wonderful and must have tasted great telling from your face. The BEST , young man and many happy subway rides. Gina

  139. Well, tell your little guy I said happy brthday! That’s pretty awesome. I’m sure he’s growing up to be quite a fine fellow.

    This cake looks wicked good. I’ve been obsessing over apple desserts and this one’s no exception.

    If you can, I would love a recipe for those crackers… I think homemade crackers are some of the best things.

  140. Happy Birthday Jacob! What a great tradition to make different cake each birthday. My little one is now almost 7 months and i can’t wait to do her first birthday. Since i love ice cream i am thinking ice cream for birthday no cake :) I am with you – i can’t imagine life without her. But then she has been sooo easy and mellow. . .so i can’t complain.

  141. annie

    this is a – HOLLER!!! – saying yes I would love to learn and make your homemade Wheat Thins.

    thank you so much for all you do!!


  142. Do you think the apple chunks would be soft enough for a mostly toothless baby to eat without choking? I am thinking about adapting this cake base and crossing it with your monkey smash cake concept (maybe switching animals) for my October baby whose birthday is coming up. Does the roasting add to the flavor? Could I swap out the apple weight with more apple sauce? Thoughts?

    1. deb

      Erin — I think they’ll be more than soft enough. I mention in the head notes that I preroast the apples to make sure they cook through — and also become more pie-like, during the cake’s baking time. You can always roast them an extra 10 minutes if you’re worried they won’t be soft enough.

      Jenna — The book is being released Oct. 30th in the U.S. and Canada. It will be released in February 2013 in the UK/Australia so any book tour (sadly, none is planned right now though you best believe I will hop on the plane before they finish the sentence if one is suggested) in London, Australia or Europe would align with the February release.

  143. I absolutely love the cake! Subway map was a great way to tie in the theme :)

    And all the other details? Out of this world. Homemade wheat thins? You are a brave brave mom. I would have bought them lol.

  144. laurie

    This post took me back to my son’s early birthdays. So sweet at that age, when simple things are a delight in his eyes. Many thanks for the abundance of apple recipes. Some have turned into major faves.
    P.S. Keepin’ my fingers crossed that Dallas makes the Spring list. Come in March when it’s 65 degrees, sunny, and beautiful with tulips blooming everywhere.

  145. Lisa M.

    I’ve always made all my kids birthday cakes. My husband thinks I’m nuts (and since I’m more of a cookies/brownies baker it is a little stressful) but I think it creates such nice memories for them. One year I had a child who wanted a grape cake. Nothing but a grape cake would do, and I had to do some serious recipe creating. But it actually ended up tasting pretty good. The whole story is now part of family lore. Now they are old enough to pour through cookbooks and on internet to find the most elaborate desserts, but it’s fun and special. Keep it up.

  146. Happy birthday little man. What a lucky fellow you are. Now, a question for mum – which brand of food colourings do you use? I will blow my own trumpet and admit to making delicious cakes but the decorating, not so good. With my own son’s 4th birthday in six weeks, I need to lift my game.

  147. Deb, you seriously are my hero. I don’t know how you do it. EVERYthing you make is wonderful. I am going to make this for break-fast next week. Thank you for your inspiration.

  148. Staci

    I stopped on my way home and bought a big sack of NY state apples so I can make this tomorrow!! Your cakes are my favorite! I started following this site when my daughter was a few months old and now she’ll be 3 in a few weeks! Crazy how time flies! Happy birthday to your Jacob and thank you for being so inspiring! I can barely wait for your cookbook!

  149. karen

    holy shit! i’ve been following your blog since before you even had jacob, and i’ve seen him growing up but for some reason i was still shocked to see that he turned three! i honestly was like aww his first birthday in my head hahah. i could not make out what your design was but after I read it, I think it’s so neat! and the recipe sounds so delish

  150. dnander

    what a great birthday cake and celebration!
    i was wondering where you got the bottles in which you served the lemonade and tea? i love them!

  151. Shannon Loveless

    I absolutely LOVE your blog and all the recipes. Thank you for taking the time to share with such wit and passion all that you love to do.

  152. Nikki

    What a lovely birthday cake! Jacob looks absolutely delighted with his party and his world in general. :)
    p.s. I want to eat a bowl of that frosting.

  153. Megan

    No offense to you Deb, but I think those Chicagoans should suck it up! We have no book tours scheduled within a 1,000 mile radius (literally 900) from where I live (Wyoming), and my friend and I are willing to drive 6 hours to Denver, CO or SLC, UT or maybe Montana (ONE WAY) to see the famous Deb! I’m not complaining, because I know it takes a lot of time and coordination to organize a book tour and I certainly don’t hold it against anyone, but surely someone could travel an hour or two across a city!

    On a more lighthearted note, I think the apple cake sounds fluffy, divine, and quintessential to fall baking :)

  154. Our second (a little lady to join our two-next-month son) was born on Monday, and I was excited to see she shares a day with Jacob. Perhaps one day she’ll share a yummy-looking cake, too!

  155. Leigh

    I know before I was a spaz about the apples, but what is the baking time? I’m making the cake now. The recipe states “bake cake layers, rotating the cake pans top to bottom and back-to-front halfway through the baking time, about 35 to 40 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.”

    So is 35 to 40 minutes half of the baking time? Total being 70-80 minutes?


  156. Diane

    This looks amazing, Deb. What do you think about adding nuts to the recipe (like in a carrot cake)? More of a good thing or too much going on?

  157. amy

    homemade wheat thins!!! of course i would love the recipe!!!

    and i love the subway themed party! what a cute idea! (even little rats!! so creative!) way to go!! and congrats on having a THREE year old now!!!

  158. Yes, I know – that’s why I thought that an extended tour in Winter/Spring 2013 might also include London, but I guess it’s only the US for now! Well, for you and your publicist: know that we’d LOVE to have you!! :)

  159. Laura Arneson

    As soon as you mentioned homemade wheat thins recipe I almost died. I moved to Norway 2 years and miss wheat thins so much. Norway has much to improve on their cracker selection. And please come to Oslo on your European book trip. It would be awesome.

  160. Kate

    I see many others have already beat me to it, but I would love the wheat thins recipe. We adore the goldfish crackers already…it’s my daughter’s favorite snack.
    Thanks Deb!

  161. Joanne

    Wow wow wow!!! Is Europe a real possibility??! Please please please come to Amsterdam, there is a huge foodie scene here and a number of great English or bilingual bookstores (the Dutch speak English better than I do!) Happy to help organize something on the expat side if needed! And talking about the cake, I have the 2 x 9″ layers cooling on my kitchen bench right now :) They took awhile to cook through but look great! Will let you know how they taste tomorrow once iced!

  162. Beth

    I just quartered this recipe and made cupcakes (it made about 16 cupcakes). They are amazing. My 8-year-old devoured one and said they were “very apple-y” and my husband and I agreed they are moist and not too sweet. Perfect! Thanks Deb.

  163. Thanks for your post. I can totally relate to being freaked out about having kids and I appreciate your candor. We are close to trying to have kids and ALL of our friends have severael kids now, but we are a little scared after seeing all of them go through it.

    You did an awesome job on the cake!!! Happy Birthday Jacob!

  164. Rachel

    I’m in the 2nd category of your friends — close to having babies but freaking out a little. We had decided to officially start trying by the end of the year, and while I’ve wanted it so badly… I am now starting to freak a little bit. September is almost OVER! WHAT?! HOW CAN THAT BE??

    And while I know life will never be the same, everyone’s reassurances are much like yours – they take one look at their kid, grin, and say they wouldn’t change anything for the world. And I just have to trust that we pre-baby-folks can understand this in theory but just will never fully comprehend until we get there. So we have to take the leap.

    But back to the food: cake looks delicious, and I am so impressed at your little man’s already-refined palate!

  165. Edna

    I rarely comment on blog sites and have never commented on yours even though I read every post of smitten kitchen. I could not help but comment on this one 1) your Jacob is too cute for words and 2) I love the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread cake too.

  166. Cake looks delicious and I love the abstract subway lines. When my boy was 3 he loved bran muffins and spicy gingerbread. He’s not so keen on the bran muffins anymore but still loves spicy gingerbread or ginger cookies. Happy 3rd to Jacob.

  167. Nicole

    I love your blog in fall. Your original applesauce spice cake is probably my favorite dessert recipe of all time. This looks just as good — what a lovely design idea.

  168. Em from Oz

    Deb, how is the sturdiness of the cake? I’m planning a Pumpkin Halloween Cake for my daughters 6th birthday and am planning on using two bundt pans (one on top of the other to make a pumpkin shape) and then a second cone shape cake on top as a witches hat. I need a cake that won’t be too soft and spongy. Apple and spice cake seems like the perfect fit for a Halloween cake!

  169. Sarah

    This was by far my favorite post of yours EVER – and I have read (and used, all with awesome results) many, many, many of them. My little man Calvin is turning 2 next month, and he is also a lover of trains and any and all baked goods, so I know he will love this! (Last year he had one of your carrot cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting – big hit!)Thank you for sharing your baking smarts, your honesty, your humor, and your sweet family with all of us.

  170. SMum

    So happy to hear you are the essay in Matha Stewart this month! That has been my favourite part the last few issues. Looking forward to its arrival (or more, my arrival home from travel as it will likely already have arrived).

  171. CarolJ

    This whole post is a celebration – thanks for inviting us! The photo of happy grandma with happy grandson is beyond wonderful. Gets me teary (grandma of a three-year-old here).

    Oh, and the cake – I’ve got the “one-third” part all figured out for my 8X8* pan and will get the apples at the farmers’ market tomorrow morning.

  172. Gabrielle

    OH. MY. GOD. This cake. It will be baked. I AM GOING TO BAKE THIS CAKE FOR MY FIANCE’S BIRTHDAY. You win at life with this one. And thanks for the specific instructions on how to downsize, as I don’t need a cake for 50 people ;).

  173. Julianne

    Hi Deb – A friend introduced me to your site today, the first one I’ve bookmarked in a while. We are among the thousands of Moms in NYC with subway-lovin toddlers, but I see a lot of my boy in yours – that beautiful bday smile (mine wore a 2-train shirt to go with his 2-train cake in June), that mop of hair (today, our adventure was an A train ride to our favorite Washington Heights barber where I reluctantly allowed his mop to be trimmed). You even linked to our favorite book of the moment, the one by Christoph Niemann. And… it looks like your bday party was in EFFSP where my husband and I got married. All this is to say I’ll be returning here soon for Mom and kitchen inspiration. I’m a new CSA member learning lots about mystery greens and simple recipes. I think I can learn a lot from you. So thanks!

  174. How lucky am I? I just discovered this blog! Love everything about it. What caught my eye was the cake decoration, gosh, it looked familiar. A native New Yorker living in Europe for a looooong time, I was a bit slow on the uptake. Delicious post on all levels–sentiment, recipe, creativity, writing, and photos.

  175. Jenny

    Happy birthday to Jacob! And yes, we want the wheat thins recipe! =)

    Side note, I’m here today because it’s the perfect weekend to make the roasted tomato soup from last year… can’t wait!!

    1. deb

      Robin — Aaah! That is so cool. Thank you for sharing. My husband is a crossword junkie, too.

      Diane — I am sure it could be delicious — walnuts, perhaps?

      Leigh — That is a little confusing, huh? The total baking time is the time listed. You want to rotate your pans halfway through it.

      Megan — I know the limited locations for the tour are frustrating. Essentially, we were able to add another Chicago event because I was going to be there anyway (a day off, but pfft, who needs one of those?). Add more locations otherwise is really hard at this point because my calendar is completely at capacity right now until Christmas. In the new year, however, there’s a very real chance that we’ll add more locations, so stay tuned.

      dnander — The bottles are actually Weck juice jars for canning, but they make lovely 1-liter pitchers because you can use the lids/gaskets/clamps/clink-free boxes they come in to transport them places.

      Mandy — See my response to Sarah in comment #43.

  176. Erin D.

    This cake made me say, “Zoinks!!!!” So, I had to make it. Just an FYI — I used an all-purpose gluten free flour in a cup for cup replacement (halved the recipe) and it came out AMAZING. Seriously. So nice to be able to see Deb’s cake and eat it too. :)

    Also, I discovered I was out of honey and used maple syrup. A different flavor profile, I know (apples and honey, swoon!). I used a tad bit less because it’s runnier and it still came out perfectly. Another poster was asking about a sub for honey for a baby. The maple syrup worked! Thank you, Deb. A stroke of genius with the roasting of the apples…. So so good.

  177. Neesha

    Deb! I read the essay in the magazine and I was like… I know someone who did that! And it’s you! I knew it was you! LOL I was geeking out. I took a picture and tweeted it to you. :) Happy birthday Jacob!

  178. Catharine

    Hi Deb – awesome recipe. My mother-in-law is famous for her own Applesauce Cake that is a family favorite. One question – sometimes my kids get picky on the texture of cooked apples. Could the recipe work w/o the roasted apples? Thanks and love your blog. Your beef short ribs recipe is one of my all-time favorites!

  179. Elaine

    My house is smelling so much like fall at the moment! Can’t wait to eat this cake later today. I live in a warm climate, so we don’t have the seasons like other parts of the world. It’s nice to have a little reminder! I’m making 2 9in square cakes baked for 30 minutes was perfect. Also, so excited to know about the carousel! We will be sure to visit on our next trip to NYC to visit family!

  180. Happy Birthday to Jacob! What a lucky young man to get this for a birthday cake! This cake is being made right now as Im watching Deb on QVC!!! Fantastic Deb, you are terrfic! Best of luck with the book. You and David Venable are so funny together….Calling all my friends to order the book.

  181. C.D.

    Just saw you on QVC! Sweet presentation! I avidly follow your blog so it really made me happy to see you on their cooking show today. Wishing you much success with your book!

  182. Jane M

    Just saw you on QVC! Woot Woot! You were great and your food looked DEEEEE LISH! David was going BONKERS too!!!!! Did you have a lot of fun?

  183. Happy birthday Jacob!!! This cake looks amazing.
    I’m so excited you’ve added the Chicago city stop to your book tour. The Book Cellar is an amazing independent shop in a fantastic neighborhood–I am sure the place will be packed to the gills for you. :o)

  184. Kiri

    I am currently attending college up in Vermont and living in 30 person house where the kitchens are a little iffy. Last night was our first all house dinner and I offered to make dessert expressly because I had read about this cake on your blog. Everyone is fall crazy here (because it is so amazingly beautiful) so I loved how fall-y this cake was with the warm spice and apple goodness. Also I had to yell at multiple people multiple times to keep their fingers out. of. the. frosting! Thanks for a wonderful cake that was flexible enough to bake in an oven with no temperature markings on the dial. Everyone LOVED IT!

  185. Diane

    I made this today for a friend’s party. Excellent cake, Deb! One fun/easy suggestion…I still wanted the height and oomph of a layer cake, but I definitely didn’t need a cake to serve 50 people. I also only have 1 round baking pan, and I didn’t feel like baking one layer and then waiting to bake the second layer. I ended up making a square layer cake by halving the recipe and baking it in one 9×13 pan. After cooling, I cut the cake in half right down the middle and stacked the halves on top of each other (with frosting in between). Worked great!

  186. Kelly

    Your baby is just adorable.

    Also, I made a “cheater’s” version of this cake. I had a white cake mix that I added 1 leftover sweet potato to + chopped apples and all your spices. Insta-spice cake! Frosting was identical though and it’s super delicious. I can imagine the made-from-scratch version is even better.

  187. Brooke

    First, Happy Birthday to Jacob, what a little cutie! I love the decorating you did for his cake – I have frosted quite a few cakes now for my three kids at 1 am, each time cursing myself for trying to make a [insert current obsession] cake! But my kids are always impressed and so excited to see whatever I made! I baked your apple cake for a party, in 9″ pans, and I got super thick layers! They took 50 minutes to bake all the way through. The cake had a really dense texture after being in the refrigerator overnight, very heavy although very tasty! Was yours like this? I was wondering if there was a way to incorporate some King Arthur Flour boiled apple cider into the recipe, making it even apple-ier, but as there is no liquid besides honey, couldn’t decide where to try it!

  188. WifeToAnAmazingCook

    Happy (belated) birthday to your sweet son! Your post had me all teary and smiley at the same time. Parenting is simultaneously the most wonderful and most difficult thing I’ve ever done (and I wouldn’t trade it for anything). As for the recipe, it sounds divine. I have many pounds of just-picked apples waiting for me to have time to turn them into this cake (though it will be the 9″ round for us).

  189. Kristin

    Hi, I made this with vegan “butter” for my lactose intolerant spouse and it turned out great. Instead of making the frosting I sprinkled a generous amount of cinnamon sugar on top of the batter once it was in the pan… served it with pear ginger sorbet. What I especially love is that the finished product is not overly sweet or rich, a perfect celebration or snacking cake. Thanks for the recipe.

  190. Suzanne

    Blargh, I tried to post earlier, but the website ate my post.

    I made this over the weekend for my own birthday! I used a “garden bug cakelet” pan to make little apple-spice bugs. The remaining batter (I only started with a half batch) made a sheet cake, which I topped with chocolate cream cheese icing. I then topped that with a brown-sugar spice crumble (pre-toasted in the oven). So my bottom layer was “dirt”. Iced the bugs in a drizzle of warm cream cheese frosting (sans the chocolate) and sprinkled them in colored sugar. Then the bugs crawled around in the dirt! Very juvenile, I know – it was a practice cake for a little friend’s 5th birthday.

    But the point is, the cake was AMAZING, and everyone just devoured it. Few mods I made: I didn’t roast any apples separately; I just reseved a a few scoops of the cooked chunks before I pureed them for the applesauce. Also, when I halved the recipe, I think I over-measured my flour, as the batter was dry, so I added buttermilk until it was right.

  191. I just made this for our weekly mini-bake-sale in the teacher’s lounge. The elementary staff takes turns baking something to each weekend to sell each other on Monday (Tuesday this week since there’s no power in the area of the school and thus no classes Monday), to raise money for orphans here in China. It sank a bit when I took it out but looks and smells yum. The batter was so beautifully pillowy, I wanted to lay my head in it :) I was in an apple mood so I also made apple fritter bread that I found here: (but with the sugar halved, aside from the icing). I didn’t modify your recipe except to add a little molasses because I had less than the full 1/2 cup honey, and I made 1/3 batch in an almost-square pan from Ikea that was pretty full when I poured the batter in – thankfully it didn’t overflow! (Next time I think 1/4 would be fine for that pan, or I’ll make a full 9×13 with 1/2.)

  192. Suzanne

    Happy Birthday and God Bless Your Family!
    You have a most wonderful website. I’m always enraptured with your recipes and your passion to lovingly and deliciously feed your family.
    Wheat thin recipe…..yes please.

  193. melissab

    happy birthday, little kid! isn’t 3 the official ‘kid’ age?
    this recipe looks wonderful. thank you. and, you did so much for the party. wow. i’m impressed…even rats in the party bags. so funny.

  194. Brooke

    The boiled cider is syrupy, but not as thick or sweet as honey – maybe sub out for half of the honey. By the way, I thought the leftover cake I had for breakfast was even better than fresh!

  195. Pei

    Ok- making 2 round cakes- one on tuesday for my apple loving grandmothers birthday and the other for break the fast on wed night. Initially I had planned to freeze the layers for the second cake but as you said the cake stays well, could I just pop the layers in the fridge for an extra day?

    Thanks, and can’t wait to taste it!

    Also, I read a comment re egg replacenent- for rosh hashanah I successfully adapted your moms apple cake by making 4 flax eggs (1 tbsp flax meal with 3 tbsp water per ‘egg’ – must refrigerate the mixture at least an hour) and It worked fine! I won’t be needing to do so for this cake but I’m sure that would hold up well in this cake for anyone who needs to make the substitution.

  196. Erica

    Okay, you rocked on QVC yesterday. David was weird (as usual), but you handled everything well and you looked fabulous. Congrats on the new book and can’t wait to see you here on home territory in NYC.

  197. “” I’ve always found the practice of having themed children’s birthday parties a little strange — I mean, isn’t the theme the kid? “”

    Yes !! I so agree with this, lol. The little munchkins get lost in the big to-do over their birthdays and no one has as much fun as they could .. just having fun. Because we know those parties are not all about the child, are they ?

  198. Mary Lynn

    I agree with Erica…You rocked on QVC yesterday. You were so calm and David was David. (I enjoy his cooking show)..Now I can finally put a face to the blog. Even my husband recognized your name…. Can’t wait for your book. Wish you were visiting Pittsburgh PA.

  199. Rhett

    I made this for my little boy’s second b-day and it was great! I cut the recipe in half and it’s still a huge cake. So glad you said it could be halved!

    I’ve been enjoying your zucchini-rice gratin and have added roasted yellow squash and eggplant a couple of times. So yummy! Thanks for the fab recipes.

  200. Rebecca

    FYI for others with more modest cake needs… I used 1/3 recipe and got a dozen cupcakes and a loaf for later. Cupcakes took 22 minutes in my oven & loaf took a few minutes more. Delish, thanks so much!

  201. Family gone, grandson 20, grand daughters 12,10,9 and 5 and this week I am canning applesauce, so……roasted (yum!!) apple cake sounds perfect. I love that some thoughtful comments have downsized your recipe to cupcakes and loaves but I think I shall go with the sheer hugeness and indulge the family! Thanks! Belated Birthday greetings to Jacob who lives in such a wonderful home.

  202. girlfriday

    wow! that cake!!! so awesome! and, you’re coming to my city!!! and not just my city but to my ‘hood and one of my absolute fav bookstores! (book cellar in Chicago) woohoo!

  203. Jenny

    Your cake is delightful, and the recipe is amazing! Currently waiting for the crumb coat to set up on my 3-tiered 6″ cake. I used 1/3 of the cake recipe & 1/2 the frosting and it seems to be a good amount (with extra frosting to put on the cake bits I leveled off). It baked for somewhere between 25-35 minutes (I started at 15 & then just checked it every 5 minutes). A perfect fall birthday cake!

  204. Made this last night! It made two 9inch round cakes and 24 cupcakes. I haven’t iced them yet but I just ate one for breakfast like a muffin. It was very tasty, and not overly sweet like most cakes. I think next time I might up the amount of spices used. Thanks for the recipe!

    Oh, also I used my handy dandy apple peeler/corer/slicer and then diced the apples pretty small instead of pre-roasting them. It worked fine if you are short on time or aren’t dead set on big chunks of apple in your cake.

  205. Kim in MD

    Oh…Happy Birthday, Jacob! How did he get to be 3 years old already? The cake looks and sounds so delicious, Deb. Great job on the cake, and congrats on your book and book tour!

  206. Sara

    YAY! I grumbled to myself about the fake “Chicago” locations, but didn’t comment. Very glad to see that was updated. Thanks for fitting us in, Deb! I absolutely cannot wait to meet you.

  207. Suzy

    Deb! I’ve never commented on any recipes, but I love them all and spread them like wild fire through my network of friends and family! I just have to share that I litterally threw my arms in the air when I looked at the added book tour stop in Chicago…you will be in my neighborhood at one of my favorite book stores! I’m so excited and it is going on my calendar right now! I’m looking forward to seeing you and getting my hands on your cookbook!

  208. Rachael

    I have used a few of cake recipes from your blog, and they have all been excellent. This one was no exception. My extended family pretty much inhaled the cake when I took it to dinner last Sunday. Thanks for the recipe! I will continue to come back for more. :)

  209. Carla Hinkle

    Deb — I am a HUGE fan of the website and have cooked a ton of your recipes … including the monkey cake for my own monkey’s 1st birthday, who is a few months younger than your Jacob. So I am wondering what went wrong when I made this cake! It was rubbery and bland … maybe I should spice it up? And maybe up the butter a bit? I was so disappointed as I consider your recipes basically bullet proof … any suggestions?

  210. Gretchen

    I’m planning to make this in cupcake form for a baby shower I’m hosting. Thinking of doing a salted caramel buttercream! I was thrillled to see your story in Living. That post stuck with me so much that I made those brownies to bring to the hospital when my son was born. The morning I went into labor my husband asked if he should take the brownies out of the freezer and I said we should bring them frozen. We arrived at the hospital and I was so upset when I realized we forgot them! The first thing I said to my nurse was, I made you brownies but I forgot them! They ended up being the perfect thing to serve all of our visitors after we brought the baby home. Thank you for the inspiration!

  211. Naomi

    I have been fretting about what cake to make for my mom’s 60th birthday, which also happens to fall on (Canadian) thanksgiving day and this is perfect! Once again you have saved the day, Deb!

  212. Jacqui

    I have followed your blog for many years now and eaten through much of it, anxiously waiting for new posts each week. Though I have never made a recipe from your site yet that didn’t turn out amazing, I have never really felt the need to comment. It seemed like everything I would have said someone else said anyway. But then… I made this cake. And everything changed. You have repeatedly raised the bar of excellence, and this cake marked a whole new level. Again. Best. Cake. Ever. And I just had to tell you that. (Thank you!)

  213. Teresa

    I’ve made this twice now, once halving the recipe for a 9×13 pan and once making a one-third recipe for a 8×8 pan. The half recipe worked great, but there was a little too much batter for the pan for the one-third recipe. Also I had to bake it about 40 minutes, longer than the bigger cake! So if you want to bake an 8×8 square cake, use the most generous pan you have of that size, and maybe use some of the batter to make 6 cupcakes or yours will likely run over as mine did. It’s definitely worth it though, the cakes are delicious!

  214. Teresa

    Also, saw your blurb in the O mag last month-was that your recipe for red-wine velvet cake? If so, why the difference in the cream cheese frostings? This one has a significantly higher percentage of butter and I was just wondering why. thanks!

    1. deb

      Teresa — The cream cheese frosting recipe came out of their test kitchen, not mine, which explains the discrepancy. In the cookbook, the same cake has a whipped mascarpone filling (which goes only between the layers). O told me that they’d just run another mascarpone frosting recipe, and wanted permission to use the cream cheese one. I haven’t tested theirs out, but there’s no reason you cannot use this instead on the cake. If you want to cover the sides of the cake and between the three cake layers, I’d make a little more than I recommend in the head notes for a 9-inch round cake (because here it would would be two-layers). If you only want the frosting between the layers, the way I’ll have it in the book, you’ll be fine with the regular amount. Good luck!

  215. Hey Deb!

    I had to let you know that I tried out this recipe for a friend’s birthday cake yesterday and it was absolutely amazing! I made a two-layer 9×13 cake and the recipe suggestion you made for this type of cake was perfect. I had some left over batter and frosting, so I actually made some little mini muffins with the extra material and they were delicious as well. The moistness, the intense spice flavors, and the chunks of apples were just so yummy; I can’t wait to keep making this cake and sharing it with others. As of yesterday, it’s a hit in my house!

  216. Sara McH.

    I just wanted to add another voice to the chorus of thank yous for adding a Chicago signing. Not that I WOULDN’T get a ZipCar to come to the suburbs to see you, but this works out much better. I’m really excited to meet you! And as another public transit enthusiast, I love this cake design. So cute and it sounds delicious.

  217. Marie

    Happy belated birthday to the cutest little Jacob!!!! And wow! Love the cake, the crackers, the sandwiches, the cups, the plates…. And i think i love you! what an inspiration! So much thought and love going into this party.

  218. Suzanne

    The roasted apple cake looks delicious!!! I am making it today for our daughter’s baptism on Saturday (will throw it in the freezer). We have all sorts of baking pans and I haven’t decided what size/shape to make it yet but I wondered how full the baking pan should be (ie 2/3 full, all the way to the top, etc) for the cake to come out right. I think that would help me choose a size and shape. Thanks very much! Looking very forward to trying it!

  219. Judy

    No way that baby is 3 years old!! You just gave birth, didn’t you? Anyway, he’s beautiful and the cake sounds wonderful.Happy Birthday ((HUG)) to Jacob.

  220. Nicole

    Made this over the weekend. Even with the apple roasting step (I used honeycrisp and they were awesome), it was easy and the result was amazingly delicious. Halved the recipe, baked in a 9×13 but cut it in half to end up with a 9×6(ish) layer cake. Deb, my husband actually declared his love for YOU when he ate this cake! Thanks for another great recipe!

  221. basketpam

    I’d like to make this recipe for a function I have on Sunday but would want to make two bundt cakes using the recipe. Here you have it as a sheet cake. Is this recipe dense enough to be done as a bundt cake? My niece wants this type of cake and then done as a pumpkin. What I do is put two bundt cake together, one on top of the other upside down with the icing between the two. Frost your cakes in a yummy frosting tinted a pretty orange, cover a tin can lid with foil or something about that size, cut part of a banana or some other item that shape and frost them green. Add other decorations as desired. Fruit roll-ups can be cut to make a Jack-O-Lantern face if you want. But, I need to know if this recipe will hold up as a bundt cake. Thanks!

  222. Just made this one. I cut everything in half so it was 2 9″round pans. Turned out great. The taste was unique & you can really taste the honey which we love. This was a nice fall treat but a great cake anytime of the year! I added some almond extract to my frosting-delicious! Thanks for this one! :)

  223. Cheriwan

    Deb.You.Are.Awesome. I say that to myself all the time. I halved the recipe, did 2 8×8 cake pans ( too 42 minutes total) and used cake flour (that’s what I had, not the best idea). all AP or half AP and half Wheat will hold up much better. I can’t wait for an excuse to make this again. I also whipped together a little brown sugar caramel since I was feeling more “carmel apples” than frosted cake. Breakfast, anyone?

  224. Ha3rvey


    I baked this cake yesterday, and I love it. Everybody loved it. Our apartment still smells like one of those wonderful apple pancakes. I even made the applesauce.

    It’s so moist and delicious. I’ll be making this again.

    Thank you.


  225. knifegirl

    Deb, I’ve baked multiple 9X13’s to accomodate a crowd but it never occured to me to STACK them. Duh. Brilliant!
    I’m curious about your serving tray. It appears to be a no-nonsense stainless affair (I hope it is and currently available somewhere). Mine is not designed for picnics.
    The link to ‘the best thing we’ve ever baked’ locks up my brower.
    And lastly, I thought I’d read through the comments before posting and GASP I simply can’t imagine how you keep up!!! Thanks!

    1. deb

      knifegirl — I think there are over 1000 comments on the “Best Thing” post, which is probably why it took a bit to load. (On my computer, it just takes 7 seconds, instead of the usual 3 or 4 per page.) Or maybe a bum ad held it up. The tray is a faux-United Airlines food tray from Fish’s Eddy, but I don’t think they sell it anymore. It’s inexpensive and I used it because if I didn’t make it home from the party, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. But it of course did.

  226. Wow! Perfect for my son’s birthday cake on the 25th. For sure he will love this one. Because he likes sweet baked food. Also I would like to surprise my wife because she doesn’t expect me to cook for her. I’m sure she’ll be happy. I’m so excited! Thanks.

  227. Terri

    Ok, my fingers are crossed! I’m making this cake for my mother in law’s 90th birthday party of 40 this Saturday! Honey Crisp Apples seem to be the perfect mate for honey so here we go! Wish me luck!

  228. Rache_Pie

    I made this cake (2 layer, 9″ round) for my husband’s birthday this weekend… this cake is out of control. SOOOOO good, everybody loved it, a couple dedicated carrot cake loyalists declared it their new favorite cake:) The birthday boy has been eating the leftovers for breakfast (snack and dessert) for the last two days. AMAZING cake, moist, not too sweet. Great recipe! (and Happy Birthday to the wee one!)

  229. Sarah

    So, I’m planning on making this cake for my little guy’s 2nd birthday, and I actually do need it to feed around 40 people, but I need it to be a two-tiered cake. Will this work? Say, with 10 inch rounds on the bottom and 8 inch rounds on the top? Is the cake sturdy enough to handle this? Sorry to ask a boring technical question!

    1. deb

      Sarah — Does it have to be a two-tiered cake? The double layer version I made would easily feed 40. The cake is pretty sturdy. It’s weighty too — heavy from the applesauce and apple chunks, a dense, moist cake.

  230. angela

    Ugh, two “deliciouses” in the same sentence. I’m blaming my teething five-month-old for making me too tired to write well.

  231. hey everyone!
    i saw that sharon up there asked about other kinds of frosting… i also am interested in hearing about possible subs for someone who doesnt like cream cheese frosting very much. did anyone actually try deb’s suggestions to sharon? i’d love to know how it turned out!


  232. Karen

    This was good, but not quite as good as I expected, considering all the labor I put into it. LOL I roasted the apples, made the applesauce. I guess I expected more WOW than I got.
    However, I am a dedicated fan. My favorite spice cake recipe is the ginger bread apple upside-down cake on your site! It is so good and a WOW!
    Thanks for all the great recipes.

  233. Kristin

    My mom and I have both really enjoyed your website for awhile. We’d both been on the lookout for a special cake recipe for my son’s upcoming 2nd birthday. When your photos and recipe came out we both sent it to each other with a message about finding the perfect cake. Yesterday we celebrated my son’s birthday with 2 cakes, a small one for him and a 2- layer cake for us. And my mom being a high achiever also made the birthday decorations you used in your photos. It was all amazing and I think you for the ideas and great food!

  234. lilo

    I just thought I would post a reference comment for cupcakes. I made the full recipe today for a fundraiser this weekend and have 41 beautiful cupcakes in the freezer waiting to be frosted. I filled the cups up to the brim with a little extra on top so they would have a nice, round shape (and boy, are they perfect looking!). I baked them at 350 for a surprising 33 minutes.

    As a note, I found that when I roasted the six apples at once, my oven produced so much steam that some of the apple halves were not usable since they turned to mush. I’m not experienced enough to know what I could/should have done differently, but just my experience.

    Thank you for all the great recipes! People are always amazed by “my” baked goods and I give all the credit to “my favourite blog.” I can’t wait to pick-up your cookbook once I have enough money for it! You are a truly amazing baker/cook and I love your writing almost as much as your recipes!

  235. Heather

    I just made this cake for my son’s 2nd birthday and it was delicious. It was a learning experience for me too, which ended better than expected! I baked the two pans together, one was light and one was dark metal. The lighter one did not bake long enough, so we improvised when we learned it was soft in the middle. We cut in half the layer that cooked through and stacked it with icing in between layers. We then cut out long narrow pieces of the under-cooked cake (outer edges) and created a train track going through the bigger cake by way of a tunnel, which we created with mini chocolate chips that were in the pantry. It was very cute, tasted great, and a proud moment for Mom!

  236. Jennifer

    I made this for a family even this past weekend and it was a hit! Thank you for sharing this recipe. The cake is so moist and dense (in a good way). I think my apple chunks were a little too big so I should have allowed the first cake to cool longer in the pan because it wanted to fall apart where some of the apple chunks were. But once it cooled it was fine. I completely cooled the second one in the pan and it came out perfectly.

  237. Merel

    Why oh why did my cake remain practically raw (apart from the lovely chewy crust)? The only reason I can think of is that I placed it slightly under the middle in my oven, but there also seems to be too much moist to begink with… Familiar problem? Or just me trying to handle an unruly toddler, a 9weeks old baby, visitors and a birthday cake for my friend’s 1year old all at the same time??

    1. deb

      Merel — Ooof! You have my sympathy. Little help 10 days later with the response (I’ve been book tour-ing and am just getting caught up) but ovens can definitely vary which is why baking times are always just estimates and the most important thing is that a cake tester comes out clean.

  238. Sarah

    Deb – update on the two-tiered cake: total success! Everybody loved it, especially my two-yeared kid. Yes, I know that’s not a word. ;) The batter was just enough for two 10-inch rounds and two 8-inch rounds, and the cake was perfectly spiced and very moist, even days later. Here’s a fun pic for you: /Users/HADLEY/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2012/pics/DSC01611.JPG

  239. Amy TH

    Deb – That I did not snarf all the batter for this glorious cake is testimony to my self-control because let me tell you that was a challenge… You never steer me wrong… This cake is headed to the inlaws for Thanksgiving dessert… I don’t think anyone will miss the (cough… cough…) usual store-bought pumpkin pie…

    P.S. How can that monkey of yours be 3?!?!!?!? I remember when you first brought that gorgeous head of hair and CHEEKS home!! Congrats to you on the latest “baby”… Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  240. Jessica

    I am currently baking this cake and it has filled the house with some of the most delicious spicy apple smell ever. I have never baked a cake before – my first one – and your directions were super easy to follow. Can’t wait to buy the book!

  241. Alli

    Just served this at my twin girls’ first birthday party and it was a HUGE hit. I made the 9″ double layer version (half decorated for each girl – violets for one and wildflowers for the other, not as original as subway lines). It was moist, spicy, fresh, just delicious. Everyone loved it. I also froze the cake for 5 days and frosted the day before the party – I’ve never frozen a cake before and was skeptical, but this busy lady is convinced. It turned out just as if never frozen and frosting it was far easier. Thanks!

  242. erin

    I cannot wait to make this!! My almost 3 year old wants cupcakes, do I just halve the cooking time and halve the batter recipe? Glad to see your book is back in stock, I’m excited to peruse it.

  243. Anna

    I made this last night with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting and oh. my. god.Out of control. I want to live inside this cake. THANK YOU!

  244. Jen

    Love your blog and cookbook! Thanks so much for all the delicious inspiration.

    My son is turning one next week and since he’s an applesauce addict, I’ve decided (after much obsessing!!) to make this cake. As we are a small but mighty crew, I’m taking your advice and doing the 9″ round layer version, but am wondering what that does to the baking time?

    You might be interested to know that he’s also getting your mother-in-law’s sweet and sour holiday brisket at his party!! :).

    Thanks so much!!

  245. Tara

    I want to make this for my guy’s first birthday, but I think I still need to steer clear if honey. What would you suggest as a sub?

  246. After months of salivating over this, I finally got to make it! I made it for my boyfriend’s birthday and it was a huge hit. He doesn’t like frosting (I know, it’s weird) so I had to mess around with it a little. I halved the recipe, and made one 8-inch round cake, then a bunch of cupcakes with the leftover batter. His round cake went unfrosted, and then I did 1/3 of the frosting recipe to frost the cupcakes. Just because he doesn’t like frosting doesn’t mean others should have to go without :)

    The cake was deliciously spiced and those chunks of apple really made it stand out from other cakes I’ve made in the past. I actually used your carrot cake recipe for his birthday last year- so I guess you’re my go-to for boyfriend-friendly cake ideas! As a frosting lover I just can’t get excited by something like a plain white cake, so your cakes with fruits and other add-ins get me much more thrilled to make him a frosting-free cake.

    I actually linked to both the recipes I mentioned above on a recent blog post about birthday cake :)

  247. Tara

    We just ate this for B’s first birthday (we also, incidentally, made the dressing for veggies–you’re a genius, Deb). It was a HUGE hit, it’s definitely going into the rotation!

  248. Mockie

    This cake is absolutely delicious but it completely broke the first time i baked it, so I converted it into a trifle. I thought it might be because of the quantity of baking powder so I reduced it in the second batch but the outcome is the same! :( Could it be because of the apple chunks? Too much apple? Too big? Help! I can’t wait to get this cake right!

    1. deb

      Hi Sara — Yes, I use a 9×13 which is considered a quarter-sheet in bakery terms. You could halve it in two 9-inch round pans or two 8-inch squares. Good luck!

  249. I made half the batter and baked in two round 9 inch cake pans, frosted it with a caramel buttercream and it was AMAZING. I added a walnut praline in between layers and on top but i think it was sugar overkill. I thought I overbaked the cakes but it actually was suuuper moist. I was a little hesitant after some people said it wasnt that sweet but it really is the perfect consistency and flavor. Would love to serve them separately, with one layer with a caramel apple cider glaze to make it lighter. I also agree with roasting the apples, it made a huge difference! thanks deb

  250. Christine

    Hi Deb – I baked the cake two layers at 350 for 45 min; I felt that the top was going to burn if I left it in longer (though no signs of burn marks, just consistency of looking crispy like); the applesauce I attempted to make wasn’t puréed all the way and felt it’d be ok to add to more of the “apple chunks” of the cake; I tested with a toothpick in a few spots throughout and it wasn’t completely clean; perhaps 88-90% clean; I had enough batter to make 6 cupcakes (also baked for 45 min) and when I bit into them they were moist and dense but a bit “chewy” as well; I cant tell if they’re a bit “chewy” bc they’re not baked all the way, bc they’re cupcakes, or bc they are really that dense? the layers are currently in the freezer bc it’s for a bridal shower on Thursday; I am afraid to cut into them and find out the are not completely well done; what do you think? I’m thinking about cutting the layers down the middle just to taste them and then glue them back together when I do the frosting; Is there a way to salvage the work without stating over if I do find out that it’s not completely done? Thanks!

    1. deb

      Hi Christine — If a tester doesn’t come out batter-free (it might have apple smudges, but batter mostly looks like wet batter), the cake isn’t done yet. It can be returned to the oven at a lower temperature than it is. If a cake is getting too brown at the edges before the center is baked, you might benefit from cooking it at a 25 degree lower temperature.

    1. deb

      Christine — I’d defrost them first, or at least 3/4 of the or it’s just going to brown the edges further while the center stays cold too long.

  251. Amy

    I made this for my family, who are dedicated apple pie fans, and they loved it. Reminded me a little bit of a gingerbread crossed with pie. We also think it would have been perfect warm with a scoop of ice cream instead of frosting.

  252. Sharon

    Hello, I was wondering if you think I could exchange the apple for pineapple or do half and half? Would this change the consistency do you think? My little man wants pineapple cake but I don’t think he will enjoy the traditional pineapple upside down cake and this looks wonderful and large!! Thanks for your time.

  253. Emily

    I made this cake yesterday and followed the recipe exactly, however it was a major disaster! I baked it and baked it and baked it, probably for nearly 2 hours but it never set, it was way way too moist. I have never had this happen before, normally things always work when I bake, esp any smittenkitchen recipes.. My instinct is that something was not right with the applesauce quantities – I see above that you amended the metric measurements. I used the updated 1170g weight (I live in the uk so always bake with metric) and I made my own applesauce, following your applesauce recipe exactly. Unfortunately, the cake was for my husband and one year olds joint birthday party, so it was a very bad time to have a baking flop! At the very last minute I ended up sending my mum out for new ingredients and I whipped up your vanilla sponge cake from the book, which I have made before and is a very reliable recipe. Lesson learnt not to try a new recipe for an event, but honestly, I have such faith and trust in smittenkitchen recipes that I thought it would go ok! Your recipes always just work beautifully, this is the first disaster I have had. Though the vanilla sponge went down a treat (with the cream cheese frosting, which I had already made!).

    I wonder if anybody else has made the recipe using the metric weights, with the increased amount if apple sauce? If so, has it worked?

  254. deb

    Oh no! That is the worst possible thing that could happen, I’m so sorry to have had any part in it. The applesauce weight should be correct (most store-bought varieties clock in at between 250 and 270 grams per cup for reference) but you have me so worried, I will recheck my weight shortly (I have homemade applesauce in the fridge right now) and report back.

  255. Emily

    Deb, please do report back, would love to know. I would love to try the recipe again, as it had such potential, but would rather it was a small cake version, in case it is a flop too! Too expensive to risk a big version. I did make another smaller versio n at the same time, cutting the whole thing down to a third, but it was a flop too. If you ever felt like posting a version that would fit in an 8 inch round tin (or similar), I would love to try it again!

  256. deb

    Hi Emily — Sorry, I totally forgot to respond the other day. My cup of homemade applesauce (same recipe) was exactly 250 grams, so yay, it’s not a typo, but boo, that doesn’t solve your dilemma. Let me get back to you with more troubleshooting ideas.

  257. Kamill

    I love spice cakes. Cream cheese frosting is my husband’s favorite. This cake was even better than I expected (and I always have high expectations from your recipes). Thanks again for sharing.

  258. meredith

    I am torn between making this cake or the caramel cake recipe ( for my husband’s birthday

    Is it insane to try and combine the too? make the apple cake then poke holes and pour the caramel over
    then maybe even frost? or is that overkill?

    he loves apple cakes.
    he loves tres leches cake.
    i feel like this could be almost a combo!

  259. April

    I’ve made this cake twice, and just can’t get the inside to cook. The first time, I cooked it at 190℃ (the equivalent), and had to turn it way down because the centre was still completely liquid after 45min. Last night I cooked it at 180℃ (universal baking temperature) and it took an hour and a half, after which the cake was very dense and a bit hard on the outside.

    I halved the recipe on both occasions, and cooked it in a large, circular cake pan.

    What am I doing wrong? Is my new oven broken?

  260. Nikki

    I have made this before as a cake and it was pretty good but I felt the cake itself needed a little more flavor. This time i decided to make it for teacher appreciation day being roasted apples and all. However, I decided on cupcakes. I halved the recipe but did a couple things different. I am a big baker so if your cake was too moist u might want to check this out. Like I said I halved the recipe but I only used 2 even cups of homemade pureed applesauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon in it. I used only 1 even cup of y.s. Organic raw honey(thick and creamy, very mild).i also used two honey crisp and one Granny Smith apple to balance flavor and sprinkled with a little roasted Saigon cinnamon and a dash of organic white and organic brown while roasting them. Instead of all the spices I just used a heaping tablespoon of cinnamon(I love cinnamon). After creaming butter and brown sugar together I added 1 tsp. vanilla extract then my eggs. Baked the same 350 but ten minutes initial rotated cupcake pan and baked another ten minutes roughly. One more thing, if u want to try a kick butt cream cheese frosting here you go: 2-8oz pkgs cream cheese softened 1/2 cup butter cream together and 1tsp-1 tbsp vanilla depending how sweet you like it and 2 cups powdered sugar . 3 cups if u like it sweet.

  261. Rebecca

    Hi Deb, I plan to make this cake for my daughter’s 4th birthday party. Noted some people have had problems with the centre being too moist / not cooking through. I note the applesauce weight seems to be a point of contention. In ur original recipe, u wrote 1170gm (or 4 1/2 cups of 260gm). In the recent comment to Emily, you mentioned your cup of homemade applesauce was 250gm, which would mean its 1125gm. So my question is which is accurate? Any idea why a few of those who’ve tried this recipe would get the centre so moist / uncooked?

  262. Tom

    Finally! I found it again. I made this cake from fresh apples for my Mother-In-Law’s birthday and it turned out perfect (even with egg substitute and oat flour). It was a hit! It has taken me days to find the recipe again. Thank you!

  263. Opal Barker

    I have a question – often times I want to bake a cake, but the original recipe makes a cake larger than my small family will consume and I end up throwing out a good portion of the cake. Here’s my question, when a cake requires 5 eggs and I want to make half the cake, do I use 2 eggs and more baking powder or do I use three eggs?

    1. deb

      Hi Opal — I usually use just the yolk when baking to approximate a half egg. So, I’d use 2 egg plus 1 yolk. To be honest, the cake will probably not fall apart without it and an extra egg probably won’t ruin it (although, it makes things more sturdy), but to get as close to the cake described as possible, a half-egg is best. Enjoy! (P.S. I keep a 6-inch round cake pan around because, in almost all cases, the batter for 9-inch round cake can be neatly divided into there.)

  264. I can’t stop looking at that pic of your little guy digging into his cake. Too damn cute. Just pulled mine (cake, not child) out of the oven. Smells amazing! My birthday is today and I’ve always gone way out of season with my favorite strawberry cake, but I have no regrets about this change. Thanks for the inspiration (and directions, etc). Rosh Hashanah! Cheers!

  265. Alice

    Can I tell you how much I love you? Your site (and your cookbook) is my go-to for everything. I know that I can count on anything I make to be delicious. I am planning to make this cake as cupcakes for my husband’s surprise 40th birthday party on Friday and was just trying to figure out if cupcakes would work…and then, like magic, you update yesterday with cupcake info!! Deb. You are my favorite. :-)

  266. Casey

    I have my apples in the oven roasting but was planning to bring this to a potluck pumpkin party tomorrow. I bought a disposable with lid, high sided (1.75 inch) half sheet pan (12/18) and was planning to use the whole recipe but only 2/3 the frosting. Do you think this will work or will it spill over?

    I’m also making cauliflower cheese for the same party. I was able to get orange cauliflower at the market.

  267. Thank you for the inspiration. For the 2nd year in a row, I may make a subway themed cake. Where did you get the plates, by the way? The Transit Museum store seems to be the cups but nothing else in terms party supplies. Thanks!

  268. deb

    Ilana — Yeah, that’s where I got them. I wonder if they’ve been discontinued. Even the cups, though, are super cute and you can always get plain blue plates to go with them.

  269. Grace

    I made this cake for a party over the weekend and it turned out so good! We couldn’t stop eating it! I cook and bake a lot, but I don’t have a huge sweet tooth and dessert normally isn’t my thing. Not true with this cake though! It was super moist, wasn’t too sweet, and spices gave it some nice (but subtle) personality. Loved it and will certainly be making it over and over again. Thanks Deb!

  270. Liz Deken

    Editorial note: You have a typo in your text: after “Reduce oven temperature to 350” I think some of your HTML is showing. There is a an ampersand+hashtag+176F showing in the text right after the temperature.

    Fangirl note: Deb always comes through for me when I need a special something to bake. This is for my little guy’s 5th birthday. I have this strange child who doesn’t like chocolate. And we went overboard and invited a village and are having 40-50 people. The last double layer cake I made I had to slice so thinly it was hard to move from cake plate to food plate. I flatly refuse a big-box store cake. Yuk. And recipe scaling makes me nervous. I always forget to double something or another. And then I find this! Apple spice, already scaled for 50 people! Perfect! This time though, I didn’t read carefully enough and ran out of both honey and applesauce. Because I’ve never needed 1 1/2c of honey for ANYTHING. So, I improvised. I subbed in extra brown sugar mixed with corn syrup for the honey, and leftover caramel sauce (which I made for the caramel buttercream icing) for the applesauce. I hope it comes out ok! It sure smells and looks great. I just hope I got the wet/dry ratio right. Substituting makes me nervous. The party is tomorrow, so I hope it comes out alright. I don’t have time to do this all again!

  271. Another win Deb! I’m following you a few years behind, last year I made your Fudgy Chocolate Sheet cake for my nephew’s bday. He doesn’t like chocolate anymore so this year, for his 2nd, we tried this one and it was a smash hit! As you suggested, I made half the batch into a layered 9″ and the other half for cupcakes and the ratio worked great. I even used one-to-one gluten free flour (for the cake not the cupcakes, i wanted to compare) and it came out great. It needed a little more of the edges trimmed off, but needed to do that anyway to decorate. It stayed moist and delicious for days. Maybe even more moist than the cupcakes with normal flour! Thanks again, I always know it will be a winner when I try something from your site!!

  272. Serrie

    Deb, this is my favorite fall cake recipe! I have made the 9inch round version and it’s come out well. I’d like to make the cupcakes for my class though, and was wondering if you could recommend a cooking time and temp?

  273. Jessica

    Hi Deb, I have a question–I’m planning on making this cake for my son’s 2nd birthday party. As we are having the party in the morning (you couldn’t pay me enough to mess with what is at best a tenuous afternoon nap!), I’m hoping to do as much in advance as possible. Can the frosting be made the day before? Thanks so much! Love your site and your recipes! Made the monkey cake for his first birthday which was a huge hit. And probably several hundred other recipes over the years…:)

  274. Joanna

    I used a gluten free pre-mix and the cake turned out fluffy and delicious. Everyone loved it. My son ate 5 pieces. :9

    Thank you so much!

    My first layered cake and self decorated cake ever. :D

  275. kookista

    I just wanted to say thank you for this. I was worried I would have to make a Not-Deb’s recipe for my son’s birthday and that’s not as fun as your reliables, and he asked for an apple cake…and here I am. Thanks for saving me, I’ll be up to my elbows in orange frosting trying to make it look like a tiger tomorrow …

  276. Deb, listen, I know this is crazy, but I hate cream cheese frosting and I really want to make this cake for tiny A’s first birthday because I just feel like fudgy chocolate sheet cake (my go to b-day cake, duh), is going to be too much for her (or should I just say, to hell with that and make it for the adults who are the ones who will be consuming the majority anyway…). What would you replace the cream cheese frosting with? Sour cream frosting? Vanilla buttercream? Something else I am just not thinking of? Help!!

    1. deb

      I am sorry it took me so long to respond — vanilla buttercream is just fine. For my daughter’s birthday this year, I used sour cream instead of the usual tablespoons of milk/cream and it was really lovely, if you’re looking for a little twist.

      1. OK, I tried a cinnamon buttercream (too heavy) and a whipped mascarpone (too runny). Would you think a whipped cream frosting or the seven minute frosting would be better? I’m at such a loss!

        1. deb

          If cinnamon buttercream is too heavy, you’ll probably be happiest with whipped cream. Seven minute is physically light, but definitely sweet, doesn’t have the refreshing factor of whipped cream. Seven minute, to me, is closest to a whipped marshmallow frosting.

          1. I did a whipped cream frosting from Food52 that had me cook 1/2 c whipped cream with some corn starch and whip that into another 1 1/2 c whipped cream. It was light and delicious, and swoopy enough to make the perfect frosting for my daughter’s cake. Thank you!

  277. Shari

    Thoughts on making a half-recipe with a crumb topping (so it’s like a roasted apple spice crumb cake)? I want to try something different for Rosh Hashanah dessert.

      1. Shari

        Dairy frosting is a-ok. I might actually do that one instead, since I realized that I want an 8×8 and not a 9×13, and though I could scale the roasted apple cake down, I try to save myself extra math at every opportunity. Thanks!

  278. Hayley

    Hi Deb. Do you think I could make a 2/3rds recipe and bake it in two, more shallow 9×13 layers? Or 3/4th of a recipe baked in three 9″ layers? I’m trying to figure out the best way to serve about 30 people. Thank you!

    1. deb

      Honestly, you can make the whole amount. When I said it served a huge crowd, I’m thinking small slices — i.e. wedding cake-style. Or, you can 2/3 it for 2 thinner layers, as you said. The 9-inch round would work too, but less enjoyable to cut for 30. I’d stick with the 9×13 size (you can cut it 8×4).

  279. Kate

    Could this work with maple syrup instead of honey? Making this for a first birthday smash cake and I was a little nervous using honey.

    1. deb

      Yes. Our doc said no problem with honey as of the first birthday, but I am way out of my element giving medical advice, thus, do what feels right to you.

  280. Hi Deb! I am looking to alter the recipe as you’ve suggested to serve closer to 30 but am wondering how you might adjust to also include a small smash cake, about the size of the other smash cakes you have baked? Any advice would be so appreciated! Maybe 2/3 for a single sheet cake and then the remaining 1/3 for a 4 or 5 inch double layer round smash cake?

    1. deb

      Because it’s so tall, that would probably work. I vote for baking off some in whatever pan you want for the smash cake and then dividing the rest between 2 9×13 layers, which will be thinner, of course.

  281. Carina

    I wanted multiple layers, so halved the recipe and cooked in three nine-inch round cake pans. Perfectly done after 25 minutes – even though the layers were thin (as I expected) they were not overly dry (as I feared). Filled and topped with generous layers of brown sugar cream cheese frosting and left the sides naked. Looked and tasted lovely, and the cake recipe was forgiving enough that even having a three-year-old “help” with the measuring did not compromise the end product.

  282. Adiba Azad

    Hi there, I was thinking of using this recipe for a bundt cake…any suggestions? I think then it’d be 1/4 of the cake recipe correct?Not sure of the frosting quantity if I just wanted to frost the top of the bundt cake. Thanks!

  283. Claudia

    i want to make this as cupcakes, and am considering either the strussel/crumb topping or some kind of caramel-type thing (very technical term), do you have any suggestions or would you caution against either?

  284. Johanna Smith

    If I want to make the full cake plus a 6 inch smash cake, how would you suggest I scale it? Could I just follow the recipe and have thinner layers? Up it by one quarter? Thanks! Can’t wait for the new book:)

  285. Maggie

    I made this for my daughter’s second birthday – amazing. Little sad I sent the guests home with so many leftovers. Thank you for the recipe.

  286. Grant

    I made this as a WEDDING CAKE. Well, technically. I’m planning to make this as a wedding cake for a friend next month and I did a full-sized practice run yesterday. It went wonderfully!
    In total, I baked 1.5x this recipe (I did it in two installments) to make six round layers – two 10-inch, two 8-inch, and two 6-inch. This produced a massive, massive cake that could easily serve 70 or 80 people. The layers were a dream to work with, though; they’re so dense that they were easy to level and there was no need for dowels or non-edible supports of any kind. And it’s delicious! One of my favorite flavor profiles I’ve ever made in a cake.
    I also gleaned a lot of tips from your wedding cake posts, Deb. There’s no way I would have been able to make a wedding cake, or even have the confidence to consider doing so, if not for your blog. Thank you!

    1. Grant

      Just as a belated update (the wedding was over two months ago) – the real-deal wedding cake went just as wonderfully! I got so many compliments on the cake, both its appearance and its taste. I also served the Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake for people who just wanted chocolate, and that was adored too. I’m starting to get a reputation… and I know for any future wedding cakes I’m asked to make, I’m going to look to Smitten Kitchen first for my recipes!

  287. Amy

    Not sure what did wrong but my frosting never set and was super lumpy. I halved the cake recipe (which came out beautifully even in thinner layers), so I halved the frosting recipe as well. The frosting is very yellow compared to the photos but it might be my Swiss butter being richer in colour? The cream cheese seemed to get lumpy, despite being heavily beaten but I’m less bothered by that than the fact that the icing never seemed to set, and was very liquid. I have put it in the freezer to see if that helps, but a bit disappointed. What did I do wrong?

      1. Amy

        Thanks Patsy. I am in Europe (in Switzerland :)) and I used Philadelphia cream cheese, which I assume is the same as in the US? It’s the kind in plastic tubs and not the one in foil/box but I’m pretty sure it’s the same.

  288. Jennifer

    This recipe has become a family favorite. We make it multiply times in the fall, my daughter asks for it for her October birthday every year. We halve the cake and third the frosting to make a 1 layer 9×13.

  289. Monica E McFadden

    Looks yummy! I was just gifted a nice bucket of firm pears and need a good dessert for a community feed. Do you think this could be made with pears? BTW – LOVE your recipes and your generosity!

  290. Kate

    Hi Deb! What’s the best way to store this cake if it’s being made less than 24 hours ahead of time? I’m planning to make the cake layers today for a birthday party being held tomorrow afternoon. I’ve made it in the past and frozen the layers, as per your recommendations, but for such a short amount of time, would it be better to assemble and frost it tonight, and let it sit overnight? Or freeze the layers overnight and take them out first thing in the morning to be frosted?

    Thank you, as always, for your help!

    1. Kate

      Gah, sorry! I misunderstood the recipe during the first read. You say “freeze the layers overnight…” which I’ll assume means it’s the best way to store it if not serving immediately.


  291. NicM

    I did a small version of this for my husbands birthday and everyone really enjoyed it. I did a cinnamon buttercream frosting instead and it was fantastic.

  292. Shari

    Do you think this cake would work in a shaped pan? Thinking of making this for my little guy’s 2nd bday, but in an Elmo cake pan (since his to favorite things are “ap-pulls” and Elmo).

    Also, would you say that this is the equivalent of 2 boxes of cake mix? The cake pan says it uses 1 standard box mix. I’m prob going to make some Cookie Monster cupcakes (w cookies sticking up out of his mouth) so I am fine w extra batter – just trying to figure out ratios etc.

    Also – instead of cream cheese frosting, a plain vanilla would work fine, right?

    No idea if you are still monitoring this, since it’s so old, but trying anyway…

  293. Jae

    I have been roped into making dessert for a rather large fundraiser, and I was wondering if you thought this cake could be baked in a half sheet pan in order to make a large quantity of thinner slices. Think pumpkin bars, but apple spice bars instead? Perhaps half the recipe?

  294. missjubilee

    Yum! I would add more apple chunks next time. I made 2/3 of a batch, so I used 4 apples, but I think 5 or 6 would have been better. The best thing turned out to be the honey – it left a lovely aftertaste on the back of my tongue. It was just generic stuff too, no special clover/almond/whatever kind. The recipe is a lot of work, but if you (like me) have made way too much applesauce and even have peeled apples left over that didn’t make it into the pot, well, you’ve made a good start on it! Give your kitchen a couple days to recover, then pop the apples in the oven to roast while you mix up the batter and go at it!

    Side note: I think your flour is significantly heavier than mine. I’ve learned to go by your weight and not your volume, because otherwise things turn out dry, even using sifted flour that moves loosely in the cup. I got to the designated weight (612g) in about 4 1/3 cups instead of 5 cups here.

  295. CS

    Discovered a large bag of apples in the spare fridge from fall apple picking that needed to ‘move on.’ Dry January has been filled with homemade pasta, tasty cakes and homemade ice cream, we don’t miss the alcohol as much as the activity of making drinks and snacks for weekend happy hours…we’ll be trying the Lemon/Lime Mint-ade currently on the homepage…but I digress…

    Made this Roasted Apple Spice Sheet Cake last night with our foraged apples and it turned out well. Only made enough applesauce for the (halved) recipe since our pandemic fridge is better stocked/fuller than pre-pandemic days to minimize shopping trips. It was also nice to just mix the honey/sugar right in the applesauce pot for one less bowl to wash.
    Our honey supply was low so subbed in regular raw sugar to make up the shortfall, however, overall measured the honey/sugar scantily thinking we could always serve it with ice cream or whipped cream if it wasn’t sweet enough (honey sub: 1 c granulated sugar to 3/4 c honey + 5 teaspoons water, so if making the whole cake recipe you need: 2 c sugar + 3 Tbs + 1 tsp water [1 Tbs = 3 tsps]).

    The 9″x13″ cake took double the time to bake, not sure if it was due to the addition of 1 c chopped small walnuts, the glass pan sitting on a baking sheet or the propane fueled oven itself, will be investing in new oven thermometer this week. The cake also raised way higher than in Deb’s 2012 photo; it was super moist and lightly sweet so didn’t bother with icing (calories need to be cut somewhere, lol!). It’s a scrumptious breakfast/snack cake and put a nice big dent in the foraged apple supply! Will definitely make again.