Apple Tea Cake

Tea and novels go hand in hand, and children’s books are certainly no exception. Today, I’m co-hosting this post with my good friend Danielle Davis from This Picture Book Life, a brilliant blog about children books, both classic and modern.

When Danielle asked me to recreate a recipe showcasing Julie Paschkis’ charming book, Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love, I jumped at the opportunity. With all the beautiful apples available at the market this fall, I knew that I could easily create a cake to celebrate the book’s whimsical imagery and endearing theme of expressing love through cooking.In the book, a boy makes a girl an apple cake to get her to stop reading and notice him. She’s the apple of his eye. He takes 1 green apple, 2 red apples, and some other yummy spices and ingredients to create a beautiful cake for his sweetie.

Success! The cake is enticing enough to catch her attention. At the end of story, they share the cake together, a heart full of love between them.

Staying true to the book, I used 1 green apple (Granny Smith) and 2 sweet ones (Honeycrisp) in this Apple Tea Cake recipe. The sour apple is mixed into the cake batter while the 2 sweet apples are cubed, dusted generously with cinnamon sugar, and scattered over the top of the cake to create a rustic topping.

My personal ingredient addition not included in the original recipe of the book is buttermilk. The baked apples meld together with the buttermilk based batter to create an almost custard-like texture to the cake–moist, tender, and deliciously creamy!

Brimming with apple goodness, this is a scrumptious cake that’s simple enough to make any day of the week. I’m not sure what the exact difference is between a coffee cake and a tea cake, but in my opinion a tea cake is lighter both in texture and in flavor so that it enhances a tea instead of overwhelming it.

Adagio Tea’s Candy Apple Tea goes perfectly with this Apple Tea Cake. It’s maple-like sweetness highlights the golden baked apple chunks and adds a touch of caramelized richness to each bite. The blend is good on its own, but great with this cake.

Tea, cake, and an adorably sweet love story like Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love? Now that’s a trio worth exploring.

A sincere thank you to Danielle Davis of This Picture Book Life for the opportunity! Please hop on over to her site to check out some of the beautiful illustrations from Julie Paschkis’ book.

Apple Tea Cake

Makes 1-8″ cake.


{Cake Base}

4 Tbsp butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ cubes

{Apple Topping}

2 Tbsp butter, melted

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Honeycrisp, Gala, or Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ cubes

sifted powdered sugar for serving (optional)


8″ baking pan (I used a spring form for easy removal), sprayed with non-stick spray

large mixing bowl

medium mixing bowl

rubber spatula

peeler and paring knife

small heart-shaped cookie cutter (optional)


1.)  Make the Cake Base. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the 1 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, cream the 4 Tbsp of butter and 1/3 cup of sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix them in. Gradually add the flour mix into the butter mixture until barely incorporated. Gently mix the Granny Smith apple chunks into the batter, then pour the batter into the baking pan. Use the back of the rubber spatula to smooth and even out the batter. Set aside.

2.)  Make the Apple Topping. Place the Honeycrisp apple chunks into the medium bowl. Pour the remaining 2 Tbsp of melted butter over the apples, then dust with the cinnamon and sugar. Toss the apples so that all the spice, sugar, and butter is evenly distributed. Topple apples over the cake batter evenly, then lightly press them in so that they adhere to the top surface of the cake.

3.)  Finish the Cake. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly golden, the apples look slightly dry, and a toothpick comes out clean. Wait for the cake to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the baking pan. Dust the top of the cake with sifted powdered sugar just before serving. For an optional decorative touch, top the cake with red apple heart cut-outs. Enjoy!

apple cake cutouts