Apple Layer Cake with Cream-Cheese Frosting


Three layers of delicately spiced apple cake are filled and frosted with tangy cream-cheese frosting here, yielding a towering dessert worthy of any celebration.



  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 cups packed light-brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, two coarsely grated and two sliced


  • 3 sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 ½ pounds (three 8-ounce bars) cream cheese, room temperature

  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 2 pinches kosher salt

  • Apple chips, for garnish (optional)


  1. Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans; line with parchment. Butter and flour parchment, tapping out any excess.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown 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.

  3. Bake until a tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans 20 minutes, then invert onto wire racks; remove parchment. Invert cakes again; let cool completely on racks.

  4. Frosting: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat 5 minutes.

  5. Place a cake layer on a serving plate. Spread about 1 cup frosting evenly over it; top with a second cake layer. Repeat with another 1 cup frosting and third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 days. Return to room temperature before serving. Garnish with apple chips, if desired; use a serrated knife to slice cake.

    three layer apple cake on cake stand
    Mike Krautter

Cook's Notes

You can also bake the cake in a 9-by-13-inch pan; the baking time will be about the same.

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