Think of this cake when you need a sweet treat to serve a crowd. It’s great for an after-school snack or play dates at your house, as well as for a casual get-together with friends. Use a soft, tart apple, such as Gravenstein or McIntosh. Pippin or Granny Smith apples work well, too.
Frosted Apple Cake
For the cake:
2 cups (10 oz./315 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
2 cups (8 oz./250 g) diced, peeled apples (about 2 1/2 apples)
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
For the frosting:
1 lb. (500 g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (5 oz./155 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides by several inches.
To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Then fold in the apples and walnuts, if using. Using a light lifting motion and turning the bowl continuously, fold in until the batter is smooth and the flour is thoroughly incorporated. Do not fold too vigorously or the cake will be tough. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake until the top is brown and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. When the cake is cool, grasp the edges of the parchment paper and lift up to remove the cake from the pan. Place the cake on a work surface.
To make the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
Using a long cake spatula, spread the frosting over the surface of the cake. Cut the cake into squares and serve. Serves 12.