Delicious Apple Cake Recipe: A Perfect Dessert

Are you looking for a new dessert recipe to add to your repertoire? Look no further than John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe, a delicious and visually stunning dessert that will impress any dinner party guest.

This recipe features layers of moist apple cake, made from scratch with fresh Granny Smith apples and warm spices like ginger and cinnamon. The layers are held together with a rich, buttery maple buttercream frosting that perfectly complements the flavors of the cake.

But this isn’t just any apple cake recipe – John Kanell, the mastermind behind popular baking website Preppy Kitchen, shares his secrets for achieving the perfect texture and flavor. With his expert guidance, even novice bakers can create a stunning three-layer apple cake that will have their taste buds singing.

So why settle for a boring store-bought dessert when you can whip up something truly special? Get ready to impress your loved ones with John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe – it’s sure to become a new family favorite.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

John's Three Layer Apple Cake
John’s Three Layer Apple Cake

If you’re an apple lover like me, then I have the perfect recipe for you – John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe! This cake is the ultimate treat for fall, and it’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Here are several reasons why I think you’ll absolutely love this recipe:

Firstly, this cake is made with the freshest and most wholesome ingredients. Granny Smith apples take center stage in this recipe, giving the cake a tangy yet delicious flavor. The baking spices, ground ginger and cinnamon add an extra touch of warmth and depth of flavor that is sure to please.

Secondly, not only is this apple cake scrumptious, but it also has a gorgeous presentation perfect for any fall events; think caramel apples or pumpkin picking sessions. The three-layer cake is easy on the eyes with its layers of cake and maple buttercream frosting in between.

Thirdly, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of a successful homemade cake accomplishment. You’ll be proud to display your John’s Three Layer Apple Cake, knowing that you put in the time and effort to make it from scratch.

Lastly, John Kanell (of “Preppy Kitchen”) shares his baking expertise in the recipe article and online video tutorial for this recipe. He offers plenty of helpful tips and tricks, making it a great option for anyone looking to improve their baking skills.

In conclusion, whether you’re hosting a fall dinner party or just want to indulge in some apple goodness for yourself, John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe is an excellent choice that will satisfy your cravings while impressing your guests.

Ingredient List

 A slice of heaven on a plate!
A slice of heaven on a plate!

Let’s start with the ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe come to life. Most of these items can be found at any grocery store, and it is not an exhaustive list so feel free to make some modifications if you prefer one item over another.

Here are the ingredients for this recipe:

  • Unsalted butter – 1 cup softened, plus extra for greasing the pans and melting
  • Light brown sugar – 2 cups (packed)
  • Granny Smith apples – 4 cups peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces
  • Eggs – 3 large room temperature
  • Salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Ground ginger – 2 teaspoons
  • Ground cinnamon – 2 teaspoons
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking soda – 1/2 teaspoon
  • All-purpose flour – 2 cups spooned and leveled

For Maple Buttercream Frosting:

  • Unsalted butter – 1 cup softened
  • Confectioners’ sugar – 3 cups sifted
  • Maple syrup – ¼ cup (or according to taste)

Note: This recipe makes a three-layer cake with each layer having roughly a depth of around two inches.

The Recipe How-To

 Layers upon layers of deliciousness!
Layers upon layers of deliciousness!

Now, let’s get started with making the John’s Three Layer Apple Cake. This recipe is sure to impress your family and friends, and it’s perfect for any occasion!


  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened plus more for pan
  • 2 cups of light-brown sugar, John uses Preppy Kitchen’s recipe
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 granny smith apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)

For the Maple Buttercream Frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Step One: Preheat oven to 350°F.

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Then butter three 9-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper.

Step Two: Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Set aside.

Step Three: Beat butter and sugar until creamy.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

Step Four: Add in dry ingredients.

Add in the dry ingredient mixture to the creamed mixture in batches alternating with apple slices until everything is well mixed.

Step Five: Divide batter among prepared pans.

Divide batter evenly among your prepared pans.

Step Six: Bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Bake cakes for about 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cakes completely on wire racks before frosting.

Step Seven: Make Maple Buttercream Frosting.

While the cake is cooling you can make the maple buttercream frosting. In a medium bowl whisk together confectioners’ sugar and butter until smooth. Whisk in vanilla extract, salt and maple syrup.

Step Eight: Assemble cake.

Spread over the first layer of cake then top with another layer of cake running through with more frosting if necessary. Top with final cake layer frost the top then the sides of your layered apple cake using your spatula to blend out the swirls into an even coat.

Now that all three layers are together and fully frosted, you can slice them up and serve! Enjoy!

This recipe was inspired by Preppy Kitchen John Kanell’s Apple Cinnamon Cake recipe but with tweaks made by our baker John himself!

Substitutions and Variations

 A cake that's almost too pretty to eat!
A cake that’s almost too pretty to eat!

While this three-layer apple cake recipe is delicious as is, there are a few ways you can customize it to better suit your preferences.

One easy substitution you can make is the type of apple you use. Granny Smiths are recommended for their tartness and texture, but you could also try using sweeter apples like Honeycrisp, or experimenting with different varieties altogether for a unique flavor profile.

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, you can skip the bourbon in the butterscotch sauce and instead use vanilla extract, or even switch out the butterscotch entirely for a caramel sauce.

For those who prefer a cream cheese frosting over buttercream, swap out the maple buttercream frosting in this recipe with a classic icing made of cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. This will give your cake a tangier taste and creamier texture.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding some chopped nuts to the batter or sprinkling some on top of the frosting for added crunch. Pecans, walnuts or almonds would all work well.

Finally, if you’re looking to take your presentation up a notch, consider decorating the cake with fondant or piped flowers made of frosting. The possibilities are endless with this versatile recipe.

No matter how you decide to make this cake your own, there’s no doubt that it will be an irresistible treat that everyone will love.

Serving and Pairing

 Each bite is bursting with juicy apples!
Each bite is bursting with juicy apples!

This three-layer apple cake is a showstopper that will impress any crowd. Made with fresh Granny Smith apples and topped with a rich maple buttercream frosting, this cake is perfect for any occasion. It’s moist and flavorful, and the layers ensure that every slice has the perfect balance of cake and frosting.

When it comes to serving this cake, it can be sliced into small pieces for individual servings or into larger slices for sharing among a group. For an extra decadent touch, consider serving it alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

As for pairing, this cake is a great complement to a cup of coffee or tea. The warm spices in the cake go well with the earthy notes of black tea, while the sweetness of the frosting pairs nicely with the bitterness of coffee. It’s also a great dessert to enjoy during autumn when apples are in season and their flavors are at their peak.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a delicious dessert to share with friends and family, this three-layer apple cake is sure to please. It’s easy to make, impressive to look at, and most importantly – it’s delicious!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A perfect fall dessert for any occasion!
A perfect fall dessert for any occasion!

One of the best aspects of John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe is its convenience. You can make it up to two days in advance of serving and store it in an airtight container at room temperature. The cake will become even more moist and flavorful if you let it rest overnight.

When it’s time to serve, you can either enjoy the cake at room temperature or reheat it for a few minutes in a low-temperature oven. However, be careful not to overheat the cake, or it could dry out.

To store leftover cake, wrap each individual slice tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to five days. Before serving, let the cake slices come to room temperature so that the frosting and cake can soften.

If you want to freeze this delicious treat, cut the cake into slices, wrap them individually in plastic or foil and store them in a freezer-safe container for up to one month. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, simply take out a slice and defrost it in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours.

In summary, John’s Three Layer Apple Cake recipe is perfect for making ahead of time, storing, reheating and even freezing. Everything about this recipe is sure to have your kitchen smelling like fall!

Tips for Perfect Results

 This cake is worth the extra effort!
This cake is worth the extra effort!

When it comes to baking a three-layer apple cake, achieving perfect results can be challenging. So, to help you get the best cakes every time, I’m going to share with you my top tips for success.

Firstly, before starting the recipe, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. I’ve found that when butter and eggs are at room temperature, they mix better and help create a lighter cake. Moreover, room temperature ingredients can also ensure that the cake rises evenly and results in a smooth textured cake.

Secondly, when preparing the apples for this cake recipe, I prefer using Granny Smith Apples. But if you prefer tart or sweeter apples, you can use different varieties of apples that are firm enough to hold their shape during baking. Peel and core your apples and cut them into small cubes so that they cook more consistently.

Thirdly, be precise with the measurements of the ingredients called for in the recipe. Use measuring cups and spoons to ensure accuracy while adding your ingredients. Too much flour or sugar can affect the texture of your cake and too little may result in a burned or collapsed cake.

Fourthly, once you’ve added all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, don’t overmix it. Mix it until all the lumps disappear but gently fold in apple cubes until just incorporated. Over-mixing can cause air bubbles to burst and lead to flatter cakes – remember, no one wants a flat apple cake!

Lastly, make sure your oven is preheated to 350°F (180°C) before baking. Use an oven thermometer or place an extra thermometer inside your oven because oven temperatures may vary significantly from what’s displayed on the dial on the stove. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

By following these simple tips, you are guaranteed to bake a delicious and moist three-layer apple cake that will be loved by everyone who tries it!


Now that we have gone through the recipe itself, let’s dive into some frequently asked questions that people might have when trying out John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe. These are common concerns that may come up in case an ingredient is not readily available, or if some aspects of the recipe require further clarification. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with helpful tips and extra information that will make baking this delicious cake a piece of cake!

How can I make a three layer cake?

When assembling your cake, start with a cooled and flat top layer, placed upside-down on a cardboard round or your cake stand/plate. This sets the foundation for a perfectly constructed cake. Apply about 1 cup of your chosen frosting or filling on top of the first layer, spreading evenly. Repeat this process with the remaining layers to build a delicious towering cake.

What are the best apples to use in an apple cake?

To make a truly scrumptious apple cake, it’s important to use a variety of apples that offer different textures and flavors. This includes including apples that are sweet, tart, crisp, and soft. A great combination for a tart cake is a mixture of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples, whereas for a sweeter cake, you should try using Gala or Fuji apples.

Why does my apple cake fall apart?

If you find that your apple cake is not holding its shape, there may be a couple of reasons behind it. Firstly, it could be because you attempted to cut and serve the cake while it was still too warm. Alternatively, the issue could stem from using too many or unsuitable types of apples in the recipe. Remember to reference the tips mentioned above when selecting the best apples for this cake.

What is in a Queen Elizabeth cake?

This sweet and scrumptious cake, known as Queen Elizabeth cake, incorporates key ingredients like sugar, flour, dates, eggs, and butter. The icing on top features a delicious mix of sugar and shredded coconut, which can be achieved through broiling or grilling. Notably, this cake was named after the beloved British monarch, Elizabeth II, and has become a beloved dessert in Canada.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe is a wonderful option for those who enjoy a delicious and moist cake. The combination of apples, ginger, and cinnamon in the layers gives the cake an exceptional taste that one cannot resist. Additionally, the maple buttercream frosting adds sweetness and enhances the flavor of the apple cake, making it a perfect dessert for any occasion.

This recipe is versatile enough to accommodate various substitutions and variations to make it your own. It is also easy to make in advance and store without compromising its taste or texture.

So, whether you’re preparing for a fall-themed party or simply have a craving for a mouthwatering apple cake, John’s three-layered cake recipe is definitely worth trying. I strongly recommend this recipe to anyone who desires to satisfy their taste buds with something phenomenal. With just a few simple steps and ingredients from your local grocery store, you can create an unforgettable gourmet dessert straight from your kitchen.

John's Three Layer Apple Cake

John’s Three Layer Apple Cake Recipe

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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: < 4 Hours, Dessert, Low Protein
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Calories: 597.7kcal



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 granny smith apples, peeled, two coarsely grated and two diced


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch-round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter, then flour paper and sides (tapping out excess); set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined; fold in grated and diced apples. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Divide batter among prepared pans; smooth tops.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 20 minutes, then invert onto wire racks; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again, and let cool completely on racks.
  • Make buttercream: In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt until sugar has dissolved; remove from heat. Using an electric mixer on medium, beat mixture until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes. Increase to high; beat until stiff peaks form. Reduce to medium-low; gradually add butter, beating until fully incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Assemble cake: Place one layer on a serving plate; spread top with buttercream. Top with another layer; spread top with buttercream. Top with third layer; spread remaining buttercream over top and sides of cake.
  • Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 4 days). To serve, bring cake to room temperature; slice with a serrated knife.
  • Helpful Hint:.
  • You can also bake the cake in a 13-by-9-inch pan; the baking time will be about the same. Also, if the buttercream separates, continue beating -- it will come together.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 195g | Calories: 597.7kcal | Carbohydrates: 76.3g | Protein: 4.9g | Fat: 31.8g | Saturated Fat: 19.7g | Cholesterol: 116.6mg | Sodium: 475.2mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 57.9g

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