Make the most of apple season with this easy and healthy apple cake.

It’s perfectly moist and tender, bursting with lemon flavor and fresh apple slices in every bite. Plus, it’s guilt-free, made without any butter or oil.

A slice of homemade apple cake on a white plate.

This cake may look fancy, but it’s incredibly easy to make, making it perfect for beginner bakers.

It’s such a great recipe to have on hand when you need a quick and easy dessert for a party or when friends are coming over on short notice!

And the best part? You can enjoy it anytime since apples are readily available year-round.   🙌🏻

If you have extra apples, try our other apple recipes like green apple smoothie, mini apple crisps, and harvest salad.

Why you’ll love this easy apple cake

  • Perfect texture: moist, tender, and soft without any oil or butter.
  • Versatile: ideal for breakfast, snack, or dessert.
  • Quick and easy: ready in under an hour for any occasion.
  • Guilt-free: fewer calories, less fat, and dairy-free options for a delicious treat you can feel good about.

Serving suggestions

Enjoy this homemade apple cake with just a dusting of powdered sugar and a mug of steaming hot chocolate or your favorite pumpkin-spiced latte!

For special occasions, serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce, or add a dollop of whipped cream.

Ingredients & substitutions

Ingredients I used to make this apple cake recipe.

Here are some helpful notes about the key ingredients for this fresh apple cake:

  • Apples: lots of apples, both folded into the batter and layered over the top. Use firm apple varieties like Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, or Granny Smith, which hold their shape when baked. Pears can be a delicious substitute.
  • Lemon: lemon zest brightens up the flavor of the apples, and lemon juice prevents them from browning. You can replace lemon zest with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, all spices, or vanilla extract if desired.
  • Eggs: for a lighter texture, use room-temperature eggs. Allow them to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using.
  • Sugar: granulated white sugar provides sweetness and moisture. You can experiment with brown sugar or a combination of brown and white sugar for a richer flavor.
  • Flour: I tested the recipe with all-purpose flour. Some readers have successfully used gluten-free flour as a substitute, with excellent results.
  • Milk: any type of milk works, including almond milk or coconut milk for a dairy-free option. Use what you have on hand or prefer.

See the recipe card below for a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions.

How to make homemade apple cake

Tips for success

  1. Measure your flour accurately by either weighing it or using the spoon and level method. Using too much flour can result in a heavy cake.
  2. It will seem like you are using too many apples. You’re not, and your cake will turn out delicious!
  3. Before putting the pan in the oven, tap it on the counter to release any air bubbles trapped in the batter.
  4. Avoid dusting the cake with powdered sugar until you’re close to serving time. If you do it too early, the sugar may dissolve and disappear from the cake over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of flour instead of all-purpose flour?

Yes, you can use a different type of flour, such as a gluten-free flour blend or whole wheat flour, as a substitute for all-purpose flour. However, be aware that the texture and flavor of the cake may be slightly different when using these alternatives.

What is the best way to store this cake?

Place it in an airtight container and store it in a cool place for 2 to 3 days. If you live in a warm climate, it is recommended to store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for up to 5 days.

Can I freeze apple cake?

You can freeze it for up to 3 month. Once baked, cool it completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap (you can wrap the whole cake or individual slices). Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Can I use a different type of fruit?

Replace the apples with pears or peaches in the summer.

A sliced apple cake dusted with powdered sugar.

The recipe is adapted from the book  “La buona cucina di casa” written by Simili sisters.

Have you tried this healthy apple cake recipe yet? Share your feedback or variations in the comments below. If you have any questions, feel free to ask – we’re here to help!

How To Make It: Apple Cake (No Butter or Oil)

(5 stars) 76 ratings
Make the most of apple season by baking this low-fat apple cake. It's incredibly moist and tender, with a burst of lemon and fresh apple slices in every bite. The best part? It's guilt-free, made without any butter or oil.
Enjoy it with a dusting of powdered sugar and a mug of steaming hot chocolate or your favorite pumpkin-spiced latte!

Ingredients

  • 1.21 lb (550 g) apples
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (90 g) granulated sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (110 g) all-purpose flour sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (75 ml) milk I used reduced fat (2%) milk

Optional:

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar to sprinkle on top
  • powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C).
  • Grease and flour a 9-inch (22 cm) pan, and set aside.

Prep the apples

  • Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Place the slices and the lemon juice in a medium bowl, toss to coat, and set aside.

Make the cake batter

  • Put the eggs, sugar, grated lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl, and beat until thick and creamy.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, and milk, and mix on low speed until combined.
  • Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold two-thirds of the apples into the batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the remaining apple slices, flat-side down, over the top.
  • Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional).

Bake the apple cake

  • Bake the apple cake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
  • Cool completely, then dust the cake with powdered sugar just before serving.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  • Apples: I used 3 apples weighing 1.21 lbs (550 grams) BEFORE peeling and coring. The net weight after peeling and coring was 0.86 lbs (390 grams). Choose apples that hold up well when baked, such as Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or Jonagold.
  • Milk: feel free to use your preferred type of milk, whether it’s reduced-fat, fat-free, whole milk, or a plant-based alternative.
  • Baking pan: I baked my cake in a ceramic pan. You can use your favorite 9-inch round pan.
  • Baking time:keep in mind that all ovens are different, so the baking time may vary. If you notice the cake browning too quickly, simply cover the top with a sheet of foil and continue baking.
  • To store:store the apple cake in an airtight container in a cool place for 2 to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze: once baked, let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Nutrition: nutrition facts are for 1 of 8 servings. Each serving is approximately 90 grams.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 slice, Calories: 137 kcal, Carbohydrates: 28.6 g, Protein: 3 g, Fat: 1.2 g, Saturated Fat: 0.4 g, Cholesterol: 40 mg, Sodium: 18 mg, Fiber: 1.6 g, Sugar: 16.9 g
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #aseasyasapplepie. We’d love to see what you come up with!