During my last trip to the grocery store, for reasons unknown even to myself, I bought half a dozen apples. I know that’s not like, a TON of apples, but I don’t really eat very many apples (neither does my husband) and so when I got home and put them away, I started questioning what on earth I was gonna do with them. I’d bought them during a two minute period that can only be characterized as some sort of mental break during which I’d planned on making smoothies for lunch for the following week. There’s nothing wrong with smoothies, of course, but the whole smoothie-for-lunch idea was never gonna take off in my house, where hot sandwiches for lunch are almost religion to my husband.
Luckily, apples are versatile little things, and soon I had no less than half a dozen ideas for how to use ’em up – baked apples with cheese and nuts as a sweet & savory side dish, baked brie with apple compote, pork chops stuffed with apples and onions…it was honestly a lil’ tough to decide exactly how I was gonna use ’em. Ultimately, I landed on a loaf cake because lately, my husband and I have been thoroughly enjoying a slice of banana bread with our morning coffee, and our banana bread was down to the last slice.
This Apple Cinnamon Loaf is absolutely divine, and I’m so happy my apple surplus made it into this treat, and not smoothies, to be completely honest. This loaf is so delicious, in that quintessentially nostalgic way – is there any smell cozier than baking apples? It’s moist but light, perfectly crumbly, and it’s loaded with flavor. Between the baked apples, cinnamon swirl and browned butter, this really is the perfect thing to have with your morning coffee (or afternoon coffee, or after dinner coffee…) and it’s also really, really easy to make, despite looking really impressive. Swirling the cinnamon sugar through the batter gives the loaf that fancy, marbled look, and the layer of apples running through the middle of the loaf looks pretty darn good if I do say so m’self.
There’s a few substitutes and tweaks you could make to this recipe, if you’re so inclined, and I’ve added a few notes in the recipe, itself, below, but here’s a few other notes for ya: If you wanted to add nuts to the batter itself, that would be great! If you find yourself without sour cream, plain greek yogurt would work just fine in this recipe. If you don’t want to take the time to brown the butter, standard melted butter’ll do, and if you felt inclined to glaze or ice this loaf, I think you’d be pretty darn happy with the result. Here’s my go-to recipe to get you started, happy baking!
Apple Cinnamon Loaf
Dry Cake Ingredients
- 1.5 cups AP flour sifted
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
Wet Cake Ingredients
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup unsalted, browned butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 red apples, peeled & finely chopped you can use up to 4 apples here
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 160FAN or 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a standard loaf pan.
Prepare your apple mixture first. Simply add the apples, butter and brown sugar to a pan or pot and heat over medium heat until the butter has melted and the brown sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook until the apples are softened, but not mushy, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside. NOTE: I usually use 2 apples, but you can use up to 4, depending how apple-y you want your loaf.
Next, prepare your cinnamon swirl mixture by whisking or stirring the cinnamon and sugar together completely, eliminating any lumps.
Make the cake batter by first combing the ingredients listed under "Dry Cake Ingredients" in a large mixing bowl.
In another mixing bowl, prepare your wet ingredients: begin by adding the sour cream and vanilla to the bowl and whisking them together. Add the beaten egg and the sugar and whisk to incorporate everything completely.
Add the browned butter and whisk until it has incorporated completely – since butter is a fat, it will want to sit on top of the mixture, not mix right in. Just whisk it until it combines with the other ingredients, it won't take too long.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and begin to stir. Then slowly add in the milk, while stirring, and continue to stir everything together until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Add half of the batter to the loaf pan and use a spoon or small offset spatula to distribute the batter into an even layer.
Add half of the cinnamon swirl directly on top of the batter and use a butter knife to swirl the mixture throughout the batter.
Add the apple mixture directly on top of the batter/cinnamon swirl mixture. Add 1 tbsp of the apples' cooking liquids directly on top of the apples.
Add the remaining batter to the pan and once again be sure to evenly distribute the batter.
Add the remaining cinnamon swirl to the top of the loaf in a single, even layer.
Pop the loaf into the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. If your loaf browns on the top quickly, just cover it with foil while the inside of the loaf continues to bake.
Allow the loaf to cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before removing it from the pan, preferably close to half an hour.
I like to serve mine with a simple glaze of butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup or just some honey butter. Enjoy hot or at room temp!