Recipe: Apple Dapple Sheet Cake

Recipe: Apple Dapple Sheet Cake
Choose three or four firm-fleshed apples and dice up to three cups. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

My Apple Dapple Cake is an updated version of the vintage recipe that combines apples, pecans, butter and more into a decadent dessert that is one of the most moist (or is it moistest?) cakes I’ve ever eaten. The butter and brown sugar caramel sauce fills in holes you poke across the cake to add even more flavor.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

This dense cake is traditionally made in a Bundt or tube pan, but I love making it as a sheet cake in a 9-inch-by-13-inch dish because you don’t have to worry about the cake sticking and you’re able to get more of that delicious caramel sauce down into the cake.

What kind of apples should I use when baking?

For this cake, and most baked goods in general, I recommend using a firm-fleshed apple like a Granny Smith. It’s got tons of apple flavor and is firm enough to not turn to complete mush when baking. That said, you can use other firm-fleshed apples like Honeycrisp, Fuji, Braeburn or Pink Lady.

What’s the difference between a Bundt pan and tube pan?

I know this is labeled as a sheet cake, but since it can be made in a Bundt or tube pan, it’s worth mentioning the difference. For our general purposes, tube pans are round pans that have a center hole that allows thick cakes to bake through. They typically have straight or flat sides and are often called Angel Food pans because they’re often used to bake the confection. They can be found with and without nonstick coatings.

A Bundt pan is a type of tube pan that typically has fluted or decorative sides. Most Bundt pans have some sort of nonstick coating but should still be greased and floured, in my opinion.

While this recipe can be made in either type of pan, they’re not always interchangeable.

Why do you call this a sheet cake?

Every time I post a recipe that includes the words sheet cake, I always hear back from folks complaining that a 9-by-13 is not a sheet cake. Here’s the deal: A full sheet pan is 26 inches by 18 inches. A half sheet is 18 by 13 inches. A quarter sheet is 9 by 13 inches. So technically this cake is a quarter-sheet since it’s made in a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish, but still a sheet cake. Apple Dapple Quarter Sheet Cake just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

How do I store this apple cake?

Poke holes throughout the cake with a skewer or toothpick. While the cake is still warm, drizzle the sauce into the holes in the cake. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

While it’s fine on the counter for a day or so, I recommend storing this cake in the fridge since it has so many apples in it. It will spoil quickly otherwise. But I almost always warm it in the microwave because it’s best served close to room temp or slightly warm.

Apple Dapple Sheet Cake

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 55 minutes

Serves: 10


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups diced apples* (3 to 4 apples)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, melted butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and mix well.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

    Serve slightly warm or close to room temperature. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)
  7. Fold in the apples and pecans.
  8. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
  9. Poke holes all throughout the cake with a skewer or toothpick.
  10. Make the caramel sauce by combining the brown sugar, milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  11. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 1/2 minutes or until the mixture is about 200 degrees.
  12. Drizzle the sauce over the warm cake – paying special attention to get the sauce down into the holes poked into the cake.
  13. Allow to cool, then slice and serve at room temperature or slightly warm.
  14. Store covered in the refrigerator.


*Firm apples like Granny Smiths work best in this recipe, but Fuji, Honeycrisp, Braeburn or Pink Lady will work as well.

To make a Bundt Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan, prepare the batter as written, pour into the Bundt pan, then bake for about 1 hour.
  • A tube pan can be used as well.

This recipe originally appeared on For more great recipes, visit the website or check out ”The Southern Bite Cookbook.”

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