Battle of the Apple Cakes: Apple Nut Coffee Cake vs French Apple Cake


It's officially fall here in Edinburgh- I mean, obviously, it has been for awhile, but we've had a bit of an Indian Summer here and it's been great. Judson and I have been taking the dog for long walks in crunchy leaves that she loves to pounce around in, and she's totally camouflaged when she goes frolicking in them. I've gotten out my tonka beans and my tiny nutmeg grater, have had my annual desire to spend an afternoon peeling and chopping apples and have finally given up on stone fruit and have started experimenting with pork chops, roasts, pies and anything I can think of with potatoes in it.

I've gotten really into having friends over for brunch lately- this new habit has two root causes: 1) the brunch scene in Edinburgh is fine, but it doesn't compare to the brunch scene in any other city I've ever lived in, so there aren't a lot of options outside of my own kitchen (or at least, not options for breakfast foods I enjoy) and 2) I now have a doggo who gets me up every Saturday morning at... well, not the crack of dawn but awfully close. Which means I've got time in the morning to put the finishing touches on brunch things I prepped the night before, like quiches and fruit salads and baked eggs and loads of danishes and coffee cakes.


My rules of thumb for planning a brunch are as follows, made up entirely by me so don't take these as etiquette gospel, but they've served me well in two cities in two countries for countless brunches with my lady friends, so you should probably still write this down:

  1. One savoury dish (usually egg-based; baked eggs en cocotte are my current go-to, but in the past I've been really into quiches laced with bacon, cheese, mushrooms or onions, and I'm about to host my first large-scale poached egg brunch)
  2. One salad (berries with mint or greens with bitter vinaigrette).
  3. One sweet dish (pound cake or homemade danishes or muffins or a sweet bread or one of these apple cakes)
  4. Hot drinks: coffee and tea
  5. Cold drinks: OJ and sparkling water
  6. OPTIONAL booze: prosecco or bloody marys or Bailey's to add to the aforementioned coffee

While banana bread or pumpkin squares or pound cake or gingerbread are all great options for a sweet dish because you can prepare them the night before, there's something about apple cakes that make your entire house smell like fall- a smell that somehow always persists until the next morning, and anyone who cooks always knows the faff that is peeling/coring/chopping a billion pounds of apples, so I feel like you enjoy it more because you know you worked for it.


So here are two different recipes for apple cakes- one marginally simpler than the other, both delicious, one coffee-cake bar-style and the other bundt-pan, sliced and served with sauce style, but both totally worth serving the next time you have weekend guests or friends coming over on a Sunday morning or you just need a treat to reward yourself for making it through another harrowing week.

The verdict:
Apple Nut Coffee Cake:

3 spoons out of five. This is very much my own preference, because this cake was great. Crunchy cinnamon mixture on top; pillowy-soft cake underneath? What's not to like? The answer: Nothing, I just liked the other one better.

French Apple Cake:

4 spoons out of five. I knocked a spoon off because the first time I made this, it broke coming out of the pan. Since then, I've made it successfully about a billion times, but I feel like I should provide you with the warning. Caramel-y and sweet with a brown sugar toastiness you'll love, this cake is everything I love about breakfast in the autumn.


One year ago: Red & White Delight
two years ago: Baked Noodles Romanoff

the recipe:

Apple Nut Coffee Cake

the directions:

Grease a 13x9 pan and preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Cream together shortening and sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla, then beat well.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.
Fold in apples, then spread in prepared pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Stir in melted butter, then sprinkle nut mixture over pan.
Bake 20-30 minutes until cake batter is cooked through.

the ingredients:

½ c shortening or Stork
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 c sour cream
2 c apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
½ c pecans, coarsely chopped
½ c brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, melted

the recipe:

French Apple Cake

the directions:

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Beat eggs.
Add oil and sugars, then beat for another three minutes.
Sift together brown sugar, white sugar, cake flour, baking soda and cinnamon, then add slowly to creamed mixture, stirring constantly.
Fold in apples, nuts and vanilla.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out slightly sticky (if in doubt, poke the cake a few times as batter will look thinner if you poke a piece of apple).


While cake cools, make the glaze.
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Turn off heat and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally, before drizzling or pouring over cake.

the ingredients:
the cake:

2 eggs
1 ¼ c oil
1 c brown sugar, packed
1 c sugar
3 c cake flour (or 3 cups minus 3 tbsp flour, plus 3 tbsp cornflour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 c apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 c pecans, chopped
2 tsp vanilla

the glaze:

½ c butter
1 c brown sugar, packed
¼ c milk
1 tsp vanilla