A grandmother’s recipe for apple, walnut and raisin cake served with an equally decadent bourbon whiskey sauce. It is loaded with soft baked apple chunks in every bite with a faintest hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Apple, Walnuts and Raisin Cakes originally were a byproduct of Eastern European housewives’ ingenuity and resourcefulness when ingredients were scarce and time was of the essence. Women were often required to participate in the workforce which made for very less time in the kitchen. Apple cakes were something that could be easily baked within an hour, did not require elaborate table setting and often kept for many days without spoiling. The original recipe has very close connections to variations made in France and is more akin to the Russian Sharlotka recipe vs the Charlotte Russe.
Today, Apple Cakes are one of those recipes that have evolved as they were passed down from generation to generation. I like to believe my Dutch Apple Cake recipe is one such variation.
Making this recipe
The great part about this recipe is that it uses fresh apples and is really quite foolproof. It is a great recipe that even your kids can practice with. To top that, what better way to have your kitchen filled with aromas of cinnamon, apples and vanilla. It’s perfect for those fall vibes.
- Mixing Apparatus – You’ve probably noticed that most baking recipes would require beating or blending of some ingredients. You could get by with a fork but do invest in a good set of spatulas if you can. They last a while and make scraping the batter from the baking dish a whole LOT easier.
- Deep Springform Pan – A deep springform pan will help maintain the round shape of the cake and also prevent any baked cake from overflowing and burning in the oven. It also helps remove the cake without damaging it.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Apples – One of the best things about apple cakes is that the tartness or sweetness of the recipe can be altered by the type of apples. For a sweeter cake, I’d recommend using red apple varieties like Gala, Fuji or Honeycrisp apples which are ideal for baking. If you prefer some tartness, then use a Granny Smith apple.
- Butter and Eggs – The butter and eggs need to be at room temperature. All it takes is leaving them on your kitchen counter top for 10-15 minutes so that it warms up a bit. Cold eggs will actually increase the time taken to bake the cake while cold butter will not cream well and make the cake denser.
- Raisins – Raisins are a nice addition to the recipe. It can be skipped but I do find that it adds an element of sweetness that complements well with the chopped apple pieces.
- Nuts – Walnuts is the primary suggestion in my recipe. However, it can also be substituted with pecans.
- Bourbon Whiskey – I used Woodford Reserve bourbon. Any brand would do as long as it’s not too strong or overpowering.
- Evaporated Milk – Any generic brand evaporated milk will work for this recipe (normal or fat free options will both work). Eagle Brand is more popular here in the US while I’ve heard Nestle is popular in other regions.
Seriously though, this cake is not that hard if you don’t make some important baking faux pas!
- Start with taking butter and eggs and let it get to room temperature.
- Set the oven to the required temperature and begin peeling and chopping the apples. A normal potato peeler would work just fine to peel the apples (a fancy thing-a-majic like this seems a bit overkill).
- Combine the chopped apples and sugar in a large mixing bowl and slowly mix them. The idea is for the apples to be well coated by the sugar.
- Using a hand mixer, beat the eggs and butter till it seems light and fluffy. Add it to the apple and sugar mixture and gently mix them all together, just as gently as you would be petting a puppy.
- Gently fold in the dry ingredients one at a time until you have a well distributed batter. Pour the batter in a springform pan and bake for about 50 minutes.
- It isn’t recommended to add a layer of sliced apples on the top as decoration. During my testing, I noticed that prolonged the baking time by a lot which isn’t ideal (the sides would get overcooked while the top is still raw)
The sauce requires just boiling of sugar, evaporated milk and butter. Once the liquid has boiled, remove it from the heat and mix in the vanilla and bourbon. This is still a very light sauce and is meant to be poured over the baked cake to make it moist.
If you prefer a thicker sauce (as shown in the picture), add 1tbsp cornstarch and bring to a slow boil again. This should thicken it up.
The apple, walnut and raisin cake can be served just by itself with the bourbon sauce poured on top. To amplify the decadency, it can also be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
This apple, walnut and raisin cake with bourbon sauce will keep well for 3 days outside in an airtight container. It can also be stored in the fridge for up to a week. The best way to prolong the shelf life of this cake is to not pour the sauce until just before serving. Just store the sauce in a separate container.
Other Apple Recipes
If you wish for a slightly slimmer cake, then I would suggest trying my Dutch Apple Cake recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Room temperature butter will be soft enough for you to press your finger and make an indentation on it. It will also not be cold to the touch.
This recipe works best with cinnamon and nutmeg. It will work well with allspice or cardamom too, in same portions.
Red apples like Gala, Honeycrisp or Fuji varieties work best for this recipe. These varieties are ideal for cakes and pies.
Apple, Walnut and Raisin Cake with Bourbon Sauce
- Deep Springform Pan or Cake Pan
- Mixing Bowls
- Vegetable Peeler
- 2 Red Apples peeled and chopped
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup Unsalted butter,
- 3 Eggs
- 2 cups Self-Rising Flour
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- 1 cup Raisins
- 1 cup Walnuts ,crumbled
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
For Bourbon Sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup Unsalted butter,
- ½ cup Evaporated Milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Bourbon Whiskey
- 1 tbsp Corn Starch ,Optional
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9inch deep springform pan or cake pan and set aside.
- Add chopped apples and sugar to medium sized bowl and mix. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
- Add butter and eggs to another bowl and beat with a hand mixer (Use a fork or wooden spoon if you don’t have one).
- Transfer the butter and egg mixture to the chopped apples bowl and mix gently. Gently fold the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and raisins) to the mixture and mix well with a spatula until it is well blended.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan/springform pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the baked cake comes out clean.
For the sauce
- Add sugar, butter and evaporated milk to a saucepan. Under medium heat, slowly bring to a boil while stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat. Add the vanilla extract and bourbon to the boiled sauce and stir well.
- For the cake batter, you can substitute butter with 1 cup oil
- If you want a thicker sauce, add 1 tbsp cornstarch to the sauce and slowly bring to a boil again.
- Skip the bourbon whiskey if you want just a sugar sauce instead.