Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

A recipe that went through a lot of testing to get it just right. Initially inspired by a Jewish apple cake recipe shared by a neighbor, this apple cinnamon cake is instead baked in a bundt pan and dressed with a rich, thick browned butter glaze. Pass along this super moist apple cinnamon bundt cake to your neighbors and watch them become friends.

Close up of baked apple cinnamon bundt cake with white glaze
Apple cinnamon bundt cake is a slice of fall on a plate.

When we lived in New Jersey, the Shaws were the neighbors who took my parents under their wings. And inheriting Mrs. Shaw’s apple cake recipe (as it came to be known in our family) was one of the benefits of that friendship.

This super moist apple cake—studded with lots of apples, cinnamon and walnuts—symbolized all things fall, back-to-school and coziness for my childhood.

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Testing apple cake recipes

Whole apple cinnamon bundt cake with white frosting glaze on a black cake plate
Browned butter glaze takes the apple cinnamon cake to the next level

Determined to make the apple cake I remembered, I called my mom, got Mrs. Shaw’s apple cake recipe and baked it.

Test #1 | the original recipe

First test of baked apple cake on a cooling rack
Test #1: You can see how dark this version ended up after being baked for the time the recipe called for.

So excited…I tasted it.

And it wasn’t anything like I remembered. It was dense but not as rich as I remembered, likely due to the lack of butter (it’s a Jewish apple cake recipe made without dairy.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s really good. Just not the apple cake texture I had in my head and it wasn’t going to work with the browned butter glaze I was going to add.

Test #2 | a brand new take on apple cake

Second finished apple bundt cake on a black cooling rack
Test #2: We are getting there! You can see that the finished cake ended up much better with this version.

This time, I decided to forget trying to make the original recipe something it wasn’t (or at least what I imagined it to be). I was going to make an apple cinnamon bundt cake.

After changing out the pan to this larger bundt cake pan, I:

Added

  • sour cream – for additional moisture and richness
  • salt – to balance the sweetness
  • cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter- to increase the spice factor
  • brown sugar for white sugar in the apple mixture so as to get a richer, more complex sweetness
  • browned butter glaze – because a bundt cake requires a frosting/glaze, especially a rich, buttery one.

    Adjusted:
  • walnuts – 1/4 cup was never going to be enough.
  • orange juice – reduced to 3 T instead of 1/2 cup which I felt gave the cake too much orange flavor.

RESULT: Closer… but not quite there. Several taste testers liked the texture but still found it a little on the drier side.

Test #3 | The Winning Recipe

Frosted apple cinnamon cake on a cooling rack in a pan.
Test #3: The winning recipe! Slice up a piece of this super moist apple cinnamon bundt cake and serve for brunch.

Not one to give up, I took the feedback from the taste testers, I made even more changes with the cake especially.

Here’s what I changed:

  • added 1 more apple because there wasn’t quite enough apple flavor/texture
  • increased the flour by 1/2 cup requiring a slight increase to the baking powder
  • added even more cinnamon, brown sugar and salt
  • decreased the orange juice to only 1 Tablespoon

RESULT: We have a winner!! One taste tester said, “Great with coffee this morning. Very strong fall apple taste which I loved!”

How to make apple cinnamon bundt cake

Follow along to learn how to make this easy apple cinnamon bundt cake. For best results, I use a stand mixer. A hand mixer works well too. Because there isn’t any butter, you also can this cake mix can be easily mixed by hand.

Make the apple mixture

Peel, core and dice 4 apples to make about 4 cups and set aside.
White bowl of diced apples, walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon
Mix the apples with orange zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, walnuts and a pinch of salt.

Make the apple cake batter

Mixing bowl of sugar and eggs
Use a hand or stand mixer to mix eggs and sugar until lightened, about 2 minutes.
Mixing bowl of apple cake batter with oj and vanilla
Add in orange juice and vanila and combine.
Adding dry ingredients to apple cake in mixing bowl
Mix in dry ingredients until combined.
Black bundt pan of layers of apple bundt cake
Layer 1/3 of the batter in the bundt pan, followed by 1/2 of the apples. Repeat ending with batter.
Layered batter and apples in pan for apple cinnamon bundt cake
Place the apple cake in the oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean after about 1 hour- 1 hour 15 minutes.

Mix up the browned butter glaze

browned butter in skillet for apple cake glaze
Melt the butter in a skillet and then lower the heat until the butter is browned (this will take about 5 minutes or so).
skilled of browned butter with butter solids being skimmed off
Skim the butter solids off the top of the browned butter, leaving behind gorgeous golden browned butter.
adding ingredients for apple cake glaze to a white mixing bowl
Pour the browned butter into the confectioner’s sugar. Add in the vanilla and milk.
White bowl of frosting being whisked for apple cake
Whisk the glaze together until smooth. Add more milk or water (if using half-and-half) until the glaze is rich and smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bundt cake.

Bundt pan vs. tube pan

A Jewish apple cake is traditionally made in a tube pan, like you’d use for angel food cake. Instead, I’m using a large bundt pan primarily because I chose to glaze the cake. Glazing a tube baked cake isn’t nearly as pretty as a glazed bundt cake because the glaze just sits on top of the cake.


Tip for really moist apple cake

Instead of dicing the apples, grate them like my mom does! Grating the apples allows them to melt right into the batter, creating a really moist cake.

Best apples for apple cake

I have two favorites:

Granny smith. Also known as green apples. Great for a baking because they’re firmer and they have a tart flavor that holds up to baking really well.

Honeycrisp. Not as firm as Granny Smith but add a rich, sweetness to apple cake.

Secret ingredient

Orange zest and juice. The zest gets mixed in with the apples and the juice gets added to the cake batter. Orange and apples go hand in hand in fall recipes especially when cinnamon is included.

Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


Close up of baked apple cinnamon bundt cake with white glaze
5 from 1 vote

Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake

A recipe that went through a lot of testing to get it just right. Initially inspired by a Jewish apple cake recipe shared by a neighbor, this apple cinnamon cake is instead baked in a bundt pan and dressed with a rich, thick browned butter glaze. Pass along this super moist apple cinnamon bundt cake to your neighbors and watch them become friends.
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients
 

For the apple/cinnamon mixture

For the cake batter

For the browned butter glaze

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚. Set an oven rack in the center of the oven.

For the apple mixture

  • In a medium sized bowl, mix the chopped apples, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of orange zest along with the remaining ingredients. Set aside.

For the cake

  • Use a paper towel to butter a large 10-15 cup bundt pan with softened butter. Sprinkle in some flour and shake the pan to coat the pan.
    Conversely, spray baking spray inside the bundt pan. (My favorite is Bak-Kleen).
  • Whisk or mix the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together until combined.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and the eggs together with a stand or hand mixer until lightened, about 2 minutes. Carefully mix in oil. Gently mix in sour cream, vanilla, and orange juice.
    Using a spatula or on low speed of the mixer, stir in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Pour the batter in the prepared bundt pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking the cake in the center with a cake tester or long skewer. Cook up to 15 minutes longer, if necessary, until the cake on the outside is golden and the skewer comes out clean.
    Once baked, remove the cake to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Use a butter knife to go around the edges of the cake to release the cake from the pan.
    Place the cooling rack upside down on the top of the cake pan. Flip the cake upside down, releasing the cake on to the cooling rack. Cool completely.

For the browned butter glaze

  • In a small 8" skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Lower heat and simmer until the butter browns, about 5-8 minutes. Watch it the last minute or so as it will darken rapidly. You don't want it burned.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, pour butter into confectioner's suger. Add vanilla, milk and a pinch of salt. Whisk together until combined and the sugar is smooth without any lumps.
  • Add water or more milk to get the desired consistency. You're looking for a thick, white glaze. There will be little specks of browned butter ♥️
  • Pour the glaze over the cooled cake going in circles around the crown of the cake. Allow the cake to drip down the sides. Keep repeating pouring the glaze in layers over top of the cake.
    Set aside until firm. Cut to serve.
Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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