Jessie Sheehan’s Apple Sheet Cake (or Loaves)

We’re thrilled to welcome Hammertown friend, Jessie Sheehan, as a guest food blogger here on our website.  I’ve known Jessie for awhile now and I’m so impressed with her talents as a cook and a writer…and frankly…she’s just plain lovely to be around!  Jessie is a cookbook author, recipe developer, and occasional blogger at  She is the author of Icebox Cakes (available at Hammertown) and is working on another baking book for Chronicle Books, this one with a vintage baking theme, to be released in the Spring of 2018.  She lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn and Sharon, CT.  WELCOME JESSIE!  —  Joan


I wish I could tell you that I am an apple cake lover from way back, but truth be told, I really only got on the apple cake band wagon a few years ago, and I have to say: I am not getting off. Not that I don’t love apple crisps and crumbles and betties and pies, because I do, but there is something so very special about eating chunks of apple suspended in an uber-moist yellow cake that cannot be beat. I know I don’t need to tell you that it is apple picking season – which may just mean you have a few too many apples in a bowl on your counter – but I do want to tell you that whether you have apples already in your kitchen, or you need to go to the market to buy some, this cake is their perfect vehicle: it is easy to make (practically one-bowl) and takes almost no time at all. AND on the crazy off chance you are anti-apple, this cake would be wonderful with Italian plums or early-fall peaches (I have a friend who makes this cake year round, switching out the fruit depending on the season: yup, it’s that versatile). To take a peek at the original blog post for my apple sheet cake, and to peruse my collection of original recipes, click here:


for the apples

  • 5 large (or 6 small) apples (use a variety)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

for the cake batter

  • 2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large yolks
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup buttermilk (the smaller amount is for those who fear the moistness factor of this cake may overwhelm them – not sure those people exist, but just trying to please the masses, here)

preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13x9x2″ pan with cooking spray. set aside.

to prepare the apples: peel, core, and cut them into 1/2″ to 1″ chunks. place in a small bowl and add the cinnamon and sugar. toss to coat with your hands or a wooden spoon. set aside.

to prepare the cake batter: in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.

whisk together the oil, sugars, and vanilla in another medium sized bowl. add the eggs, yolks, and buttermilk and whisk again until incorporated. add the dry ingredients to the wet, and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry into the wet, until almost totally incorporated (a few little visible flour pockets is a good thing).

to assemble the cake: add about half of the batter to the prepared-pan and smooth it out with an offset spatula. add the apples (optional: drain some of the liquid, if a lot has accumulated in the bottom of the apple bowl – full disclosure: i add all the liquid when i make the cake, but am thinking it might be interesting to try it without ) and use a rubber spatula to spread them evenly over the first layer of batter. add the rest of the batter and smooth the top of the cake (as best you can) with an offset spatula.

transfer the cake to the oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan after 30 minutes, and checking the cake after about 45. the cake is done when a tester inserted into the cake (not an apple-chunk, ideally) comes out with a few moist, but not wet, crumbs.
bring to room temperature before slicing the cake and serving with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

to store, do not cover the cake. instead simply cover any exposed sides with a strip of parchment paper. and don’t cover it at all prior to serving. it will keep at room temp for up to 3 days. some say the cake gets better with age, fyi.


to make two loaves instead of a sheet cake: decrease the amount of apples to two, and add only 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tbsp sugar to the apples. combine the apples with the batter prior to dividing the batter between the two 9×5-inch loaf pans, that have been sprayed and lined with parchment and sprayed again. the baking time is about 45 minutes. let the cakes cool in the pans until you can comfortably handle the pans. then remove the loaves from the pans, and let them cool on a cooling rack before slicing and eating …