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Brown Sugar Cake

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Tender brown sugar cake with apples, cinnamon and a crunchy topping, easy to make and perfect for having with coffee.



slice of brown sugar cake

This brown sugar cake is one of the easiest apple cakes (or cakes generally ever). You can stir it up in about 5 minutes, place it in the oven and wait for it to be ready.

The fact that you can serve the sugar cake warm as well, makes it really suitable to make when friends decide to come over unexpectedly. Or when your kids invite their friends over, children absolutely adore the brown sugar cake.

Not to mention that kids love to help bake the sugar cake as well, the perfect activity on a rainy afternoon when they cannot go out to play.

And we just love apple cakes, so this one was a must! I seem to bake apple cake more often than any other cakes, I have so many of them on the blog. This Moist Apple and Cinnamon Cake, the Cinnamon Apple Muffins, this Apple Cinnamon Pie, they all combine apples and cinnamon and are so good, you will not be able to stop eating them!

This is an updated post from 2016. The source of the recipe is Pinch of Yum, the recipe is slightly changed.

brown sugar cake in a casserole dish



  • You will need brown sugar for the batter and white sugar for the topping. Although this might seem like a lot of sugar, the cake is not overly sweet. Sweet enough, but not extremely so.


  • I love to use oil in baking, oil adds moisture to cakes and there is no danger of having a dry, hard to swallow crumb as it sometimes happens when you use butter.
  • Use a neutral tasting oil, like canola.


  • If you don’t have buttermilk in the fridge, but still want to bake the brown sugar cake immediately, make your own buttermilk, it is dead easy!
  • To get one cup buttermilk, place 1 cup milk in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes. That’s it!
brown sugar cake sliced close up


  • You can use whatever apples you happen to have in the house.
  • I mostly have crisp, sweet tangy apples like Pink Lady, Jonagold or Braeburn. Granny Smith or other sorts of apples are fine as well.


  • The spices in the batter are optional, but I love to use them, they add more depth and make the brown sugar cake more interesting.
  • Cinnamon: needed for both the batter and the topping.
  • Nutmeg: optional.
  • Cardamom: optional.
slice of brown sugar cake on a plate served with milk


  • Finely chop the apples and set aside. Don’t bother peeling the apples, it is not necessary.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, egg, buttermilk.
  • Add the baking soda and vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour and the chopped apples and stir until just combined. I prefer to use a spoon or a spatula to stir in the flour and the apples.
  • Pour the batter into a greased baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.


  • This sugar cake is perfect to serve with coffee or tea.
  • You can serve the cake warm or at room temperature.
  • Optionally, you can top the warm sugar cake with vanilla ice cream.
  • When serving the cake at room temperature, you can top it with whipped cream or crème fraiche mixed with a little brown sugar.


brown sugar cake with apples in a casserole dish


Apple Crumble Cake – a typical German coffee cake, which you can probably buy in every bakery in Germany.

Lime Drizzle Cake – sweet and tangy, moist and delicious!

Pull Apart Yeast Cake – a Hungarian coffee cake, so fluffy and full of nuts.

Rhubarb Loaf Cake with Blackberries – remember to make this one in spring when rhubarb is in season, you will love it!

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe – if you love chocolate, this chocolate loaf cake with hazelnuts is for you. Deep flavors and a moist crumb.

Brown Sugar Cake

Tender brown sugar cake with apples, cinnamon and a crunchy topping, easy to make and perfect for having with coffee.
5 from 4 votes
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Course: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 266kcal
Author: Adina


  • Sugar cake:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom optional
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped apples
  • Topping:
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/ 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 23×33 cm/9×13 inches baking dish.
  • Batter: Place the brown sugar, oil, egg, and buttermilk in a large bowl. Whisk together. Add baking soda and vanilla extract. Mix the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom and stir it into the sugar mixture together with the chopped apples until just combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  • Topping: Melt the tablespoon butter in a small pan. Remove from heat and add the granulated sugar and the cinnamon. Stir to mix. Spread the topping over the batter in the baking dish.
  • Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Serving: 1square | Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 155mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

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Recipe Rating

Lauren @ Sew You Think You Can Cook

Sunday 6th of November 2016

I love anything cinnamon!


Wednesday 26th of October 2016

Just went through all of your recent apple posts and I'm having a hard time deciding which one I like the most. I want to make them all! This cinnamon cake and the pastry rolls look quite irresistible! Thanks for all of these recipes!


Monday 24th of October 2016

I love the moistness apples lend to a cake, and that sugar crust topping sounds perfect. What a great Fall dessert.


Wednesday 19th of October 2016

perfect snack cake, adina!

Evi @ greenevi

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Absolutely love your apple recipes! Cinnamon and apple are so delicious, and simply all I want to eat this time of the year :)