Before making the batter, cut the apples to your desired shape and size. Simply leave the skin on and core the apples. Cut them in large chunks. Now, finely chop them on a cutting board by hand, OR, pulse them for 8-10 times in a mini food chopper. Feel free to also grate the whole apple on the large wholes of a box grater.
Preheat the oven at 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, add oil, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, egg, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Using a whisk or spatula, mix till thoroughly combined and no sugar lumps remain.
Add flour and walnuts and using a fork or spatula, gently coat the walnuts in the flour before mixing. Now fold in gently, until all the flour is incorporated. Add the chopped apples and fold into the batter.
Line an 8 X 8 inch baking pan with a strip of parchment paper with ends hanging over the sides or grease it with any baking spray. Pour the batter and even it out using the spatula.
If making the topping, mix sugar, cinnamon and melted butter in a small bowl and combine till it looks like wet sand. Spread the mix evenly on top of the batter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Total time may vary depending on oven temperatures, so be sure to check at the 30-minute mark.
This apple cake it delicious as-is, especially if you make it with the cinnamon-sugar topping. However, you can really enhance your apple cake by adding a dollop of whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream on top of a slice. Enjoy!
Choose your favorite apple. I love semi-sweet gala or pink lady apples, but tart granny smith, sweet honey-crisp or soft golden delicious all work beautifully.
Chop or grate the apples to your desired size. There is no need to peel. Simply cut into ¼-½ inch chunks. Leave as-is or finely chopped in a mini food processor for ease. You could also grate the whole apple on the large wholes of a box grater.
Use natural coconut sugar, brown sugar or white sugar. I use palm sugar in this recipe to keep it refined sugar free. Feel free to substitute it with an equal amount of brown sugar or regular sugar instead.
Use applesauce (store-bought or homemade) or dairy. Use a 4oz. container of store-bought applesauce. To make your own, simmer 2 peeled, cored and diced apples with 2 Tablespoons of water until soft, then puree in a blender or food processor. Alternatively, replace it with an equal quantity of buttermilk or regular milk. Keep in mind that if you use dairy, you will lose a little bit of apple flavor.
Skip the egg. Make it egg-free by using 2 additional Tablespoons of applesauce instead.
Pick your flour. I made this cake with whole-wheat flour. If unsure about the taste, start with with a 50-50 blend of all-purpose and whole-wheat flours. Alternatively, the same recipe works well with 100% all-purpose flour.
The topping is optional. But it gives this cake a crispy-sweet texture. This transforms a regular apple cake into an apple coffee cake.
Serve as is or with a touch more elegance. My girls and I enjoy this apple cake as-is, but when we are feeling fancy, we dollop it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serve it hot from the oven or room temperature. To rewarm leftovers, microwave a slice for 10-15 seconds or pop it under the broiler for 2 minutes for ultra crispness.
Turn it into muffins. Scoop the batter into a lined, 12-cup muffin tin. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 22-25 minutes, or until the centers spring back to the touch.
Store in the fridge or freezer. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. For freezing leftovers, wrap in plastic wrap or foil, then place in freezer storage bag. Label, date and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.