Also known as a Dorset apple traybake, this delightful apple cake is a British classic. Perfect for morning or afternoon tea with a cuppa, add a little whipped cream for some extra indulgence. While often these cakes are made in a larger tin, I use a 9 inch to reduce the amount of leftovers.

  • Quick and easy to make.
  • Moist sponge laced with cinnamon and apples.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • It’s the perfect, fruity snack cake
  • Serve with whipped cream or ice cream for dessert.

If you love this, I know you’ll love my cinnamon apple crumb cake or my caramel apple muffins.

Squares of apple cake with half an apple in the background.

Ingredients you’ll need

Ingredients for apple tray bake on a baking tray.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Apples: Tart cooking apples work best here to balance the sweetness of the cake. Granny Smiths are my go to for baking and for this cake but Bramley apples (UK) are quite commonly used in apple traybakes. You could also swap them for pears.
  • Flour: Just regular plain flour / all-purpose flour is all you need.
  • Baking powder: Baking powder gives this cake it’s lift and lightness.
  • Cinnamon: The cake is lightly spiced with ground cinnamon.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter, so you can control the salt level.
  • Brown sugar: You just need one sugar here – light brown sugar or dark brown sugar. Muscovado sugar is also commonly used.
  • Eggs: I use large free-range eggs.
  • Vanilla: You’ll get the best flavour from pure vanilla extract (don’t use vanilla essence which is a synthetic flavouring).
  • Milk: Just regular whole milk, though you can swap it for plant-based milks too.

How to make apple tray bake (step-by-step)

This super-simple tea-time cake takes very little time to make.

A collage showing the steps to making apple traybake.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Prepare the apples: Peel the apples. Cut them into quarters, then slice the core out of each quarter. Now cut each quarter into 6-7 thin slices then cut those in half (photo 1).
  2. Dry ingredients: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Wet ingredients: Start by creaming together the butter and sugar until creamy. Follow with the eggs (photo 2), one at a time and adding the vanilla with the second one.
  4. Combine: Add ⅓ of the flour mixture (photo 3) and use a spatula to stir them in gently. Follow that with half the milk (photo 4) and stir in gently. Repeat this process – flour, milk, flour – until it’s all just incorporated.
  5. Add the apples and bake: Fold in the apple pieces (photo 5) holding a few back for topping. Tip the cake batter into a prepared 9-inch square tin and level it out, then top with the remaining apples (photo 6). Bake for 40-45 minutes.
Closeup view of the inside of apple tray bake.

Tips and tricks

  • Weigh ingredients: I always recommend weighing ingredients where a weight is given first (especially things like flour and sugar). There are several different ways to measure with cup measures and you can often end up with far too much of an ingredient. Too much flour can make your cake dry. If you don’t have kitchen scales, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into the cup measure, then level it off with the flat edge of a knife.
  • Don’t overmix: Be very careful not to overmix the batter or you’ll end up with a tough cake.
  • All ovens vary: Many ovens don’t actually run true to the temperature showing on the front so I always recommend keeping an oven thermometer inside the oven to keep an eye on it.

Yield and storage

This apple traybake cake recipe can be sliced into 16 perfect squares for serving.

It’s lovely served as is, warm or room temperature, with a cuppa. You can make it more dessert-like and indulgent by adding a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Leftovers should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Cut into slices and place into an airtight container then pop it in the freezer for up to 2 months.

A slice of apple tray bake on a small dessert plate.

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An apple traybake cake cut into squares on a baking tray.

Apple Traybake

5 from 3 ratings
This apple tray bake cake is easy to make and is a lovely tea time treat. Filled with Granny Smith apple pieces and lightly spiced with cinnamon it’s moist and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
  • 225 g plain flour (all-purp flour) (1 ¾ cups / 7.9oz)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 170 g unsalted butter, softened (¾ cup / 1 ½ sticks / 6oz)
  • 200 g dark brown sugar (1 cup / 7oz)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk (125ml)

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with baking paper and set aside.
  • PREPARE THE APPLES:
    Peel the apples. Cut them into quarters, then slice the core out of each quarter. Now cut each quarter into 6-7 thin slices then cut those in half.
  • MAKE THE CAKE BATTER:
    In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to disperse and set aside.
  • In a large bowl with handheld electric mixer (or a standmixer) beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes).
  • Add the first egg and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as required. Add the second egg and the vanilla and beat until smooth too.
  • Add ⅓ of the flour mixture and gently mix together with a spatula. Add ½ the milk and gently mix in again. Repeat this process 3 more times – flour, milk, flour – until everything is mixed in. Don't overmix.
  • Add most of the apple slices, just holding a few back to top the cake. Fold them in then transfer the cake batter into your prepared tin. Level it out then add the remaining apple to the top of the cake.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a sticky crumb or two attached (not wet batter). Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
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Notes

  1. Apples turning brown: Once sliced, tart apples like Granny Smiths don’t oxidise as quickly as other, sweeter types but if you’re worried, just sprinkle over a little lemon juice or a dash of apple cider vinegar and mix through.
  2. Weigh ingredients: I always recommend weighing ingredients like flour and sugar. Weighing will give you the most accurate mixture and the best result. Kitchen scales are cheap and last a lifetime. Plus, less cups to wash up!
  3. Cream the butter and sugar: Possibly the most important tip of all, make sure the butter and sugar are well beaten and creamy. Beating the butter and sugar actually creates air which adds to the texture of the cake.
  4. All ovens vary: What takes 40 minutes in my oven may only take 35 or maybe 45 in yours. This is because many ovens run hot or cold, meaning the temperature of the inside of the oven isn’t always the temperature you’ve selected. I recommend keeping an oven thermometer in your oven so you can check – they’re very cheap and last a long time.
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