This healthy cinnamon apple cake recipe is made with hearty whole-grain flour and gets double the apple flavor with fresh apples and apple butter! It's an incredibly moist and spice-filled apple cake that I look forward to making every fall.
About the recipe
Today I'm so excited to be sharing a recipe with you that I've been making for, literally, YEARS now. I think I first made this cinnamon apple cake it 15+ years ago when I was still living at home and going to college! It's an OG recipe from Cooking Light (originally released in 1997!) that has tons of rave reviews.
My family and I both love it so much and enjoy making it for fall breakfast or just a snack cake to have with tea in the afternoon! But here's the thing - for a Cooking Light recipe, the cake really isn't that "light." I'm not sure if they considered it "light" back in the day because the original recipe calls for margarine or what, but so much has changed since then!
I've modified this recipe heavily to make it a bit more nutritious and to help it fit into the category of "healthified" desserts. Now don't get me wrong, this is a recipe that you should consider to be a treat. It's just a more nutrient-dense one.
This cinnamon apple cake is incredibly moist, easy to make, and reheats well throughout the week to go with your morning coffee. Let's make some!
- White whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- Apple butter - I substituted ½ of the margarine/butter in the original recipe with apple butter, primarily to reduce the calories but also to up the apple cinnamon flavor in the cake.
- Light cream cheese - while the original recipe calls for full-fat cream cheese, I've always made this cake with the ⅓ less fat version and love the results.
- Raw sugar - I love the depth of flavor that raw or turbinado sugar lends to fall baked goods, so that's what I'm using in this recipe. Also, I love the crunch that the raw sugar gives to the cinnamon sugar topping for the cake!
- Saigon cinnamon - if you've never tried Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon before in your baking, you are missing out! It has a higher concentration of cinnamon oil in it and a much more intense flavor.
- Apples - for this recipe, I used Fuji apples. They are a great all-purpose baking apple, though certainly a bit sweeter than Granny Smith. You could really use Fuji, Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp and get delicious results.
- And other baking essentials, like baking powder, salt, vanilla, and eggs. You know, the basics!
Below are some of my best tips for baking success when you try this cinnamon apple cake:
Use room temperature ingredients - I recommend placing out the butter, cream cheese, eggs, and apple butter for one hour before you begin making this cake. Room temperature and properly softened ingredients will ensure that your cake ingredients mix together easily and smoothly. Also, it takes more time to incorporate cold ingredients, which can easily lead to overmixing and a cake that is tough.
Measure correctly - for flour measuring, I use a spoon to stir/aerate the flour in my container a bit before dipping the measuring cup in and then leveling off with the back of a knife. That seems to be the standard for measuring unless you want to be extremely accurate and weigh your ingredients.
Mix lightly - use a light hand if hand-mixing this recipe. If using a mixer, be careful not to overmix. With the addition of each ingredient, just mix until everything is fully incorporated. I suggest folding in the apples lightly by hand with a rubber spatula.
This cozy cinnamon apple cake would be a delicious addition to a fall brunch menu served with maple chicken sausage, cheddar scrambled eggs, and a beautiful fruit salad with grapes and pears.
It's also a great option to take to a neighbor or friend with a homemade batch of spiced tea. The cake is just so comforting and is the perfect way to celebrate the fall season!
If you are looking for more apple breakfast recipes, be sure to check out my Cheddar Grits Bowls with Cinnamon Apples and Crispy Turkey Sausage and these Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes!
Are you ready to make this Whole Wheat Cinnamon Apple Cake? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you!
Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes!
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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Apple Cake
- 1 ¾ cup white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup raw sugar, divided (turbinado sugar or Sugar In The Raw)
- ¼ cup salted butter, at room temperature
- 6 ounces light cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup apple butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Saigon (or Vietnamese) cinnamon
- 3 medium Fuji, Honeycrisp, or Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into thin pieces (about 3 cups)
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease the bottom of a 9’’ cake pan and line it with a round of parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup of the sugar and all of the cinnamon.
- In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together ½ cup of the raw sugar, butter, and cream cheese until combined and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the apple butter, vanilla extract, and eggs, mixing on medium-low speed until just combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined (be careful not to overmix).
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the apples, then lightly fold them into the cake batter with a rubber spatula. Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan and smooth down the surface.
- Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar all over the top of the cake batter. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Transfer the cake in the pan to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before turning the cake out onto a plate and then to a serving platter.
- Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy leftovers cold or warm slightly in the microwave.