Cinnamon Apple Pie-Cake

This is part two of what I made the night I brought home a big giant bag of apples. It's an apple pie with a soft and sweet cake-like crust that tastes almost like a butter cookie with just a tiny hint of cardamom and vanilla. Inside, the apples are firm and tart, with the perfect touch of cinnamon.

As I mentioned in my last post, I made this pie the same night I made the apple cake, and my boyfriend and I tested both to see which one was better. It was a close race, but this one proved to be his favorite as he loved the way it really showcased the tartness of the Granny Smith apples. While I'm sure you can use several other varieties to bake this pie, a sour apple really works best against the sweet and prominent crust.

With a soft crust like this one, it really is important that you not store it in the fridge where moisture and those "fridge smells" will ruin the texture. This kept well in a dry spot on our dining table, covered well with plastic.

Boyfriend took a large slice to work with him every morning for a week to enjoy with his afternoon tea and recommended heating it up in the microwave for a few (15-30) seconds just before eating to wake up that freshly-baked flavor.

This pie is perfect for those of you who are terrified by normal pastry crusts. I admit, I don't love working with pie crusts and appreciated the simplicity and familiarity of working with a dough that is a lot more forgiving than a crust. The leavening in the dough assures that any cracks will fill up and heal themselves as the dough rises in the heat of the oven. And you won't have to worry about the age-old debate between whether or not to cook the apples first to avoid that filling/crust gap. The dough will fill out and take care of that for you. Really all you have to worry about is keeping yourself from gobbling it all up!

Cinnamon Apple Pie-Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

For the crust:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
½ teaspoon cardamom
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the filling:
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1” thick wedges
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Course decorating sugar (optional)

To prepare the crust:

In the base of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to mix for an additional 2 minutes.

Reduce the mixer to low speed, and add the baking powder, salt, and lemon juice.

Split and scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mix (leave out the pod) and add the cardamom.

Slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time until it is all incorporated and the batter has turned thick like a dough and pulls away from the sides.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for a few seconds before gathering into a ball then dividing in half. Roll each half into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to three days.

When you are ready to bake your pie:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center.

Toss your apples with lemon, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Make sure they are coated evenly. Taste and feel free to add more of the sugar or spices if you’d like.

To assemble the pie:

Remove the dough from the fridge and work with one half at a time. Roll it out between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and place in the bottom of your pie plate. It’s ok if it breaks (it probably will), just press into place. Remove any excess.

Arrange the apples inside the pie and pour any liquid left in the bowl over the apples.

Roll out your second half of dough and place on top, rolling and pinching the edges shut.

Use a paring knife to cut 4 or 5 even one-inch slits in the center of the pie to vent.

Bake for 60-80 minutes or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices start to bubble up through the slits. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before you serve.


  1. what an interesting idea- like a hybrid of the two best ways to use apples- pie and cake! I finally made the pumpkin challah- I posted some pictures of it here
    It turned out great- but the loaves weren't nearly as pretty as yours! Thanks for a wonderful recipe- now I'll have to try the vanilla bean one!

  2. this looks great! i have a recipe from a friend in germany for "Gedeckter Apfelkuchen", which literally is a "covered apple cake", and it is the closest thing to an apple pie i've encountered in germany, and also exactly like your recipe...though a minimalist version (sans cinnamon, vanilla, cardamon).

  3. If we can't find vanilla beans, how much vanilla extract would be equivalent?

  4. It looks good, I can understand why it was greatly enjoyed :)

  5. Looks like a wonderful way to get around having to make a traditional pastry.

  6. An apple pie with a cake-like crust that tastes like a butter cookie? Sounds like the perfect dessert, so many tasty treats in one! :)

  7. I really enjoy reading your blog! It sounds so vivid and alive. It actually keeps me engrossed. Even though the membrillo scares me a bit; one day I plan to make all those recipes. (when I have my own kitchen of course) I might try a pie out for Thanksgiving!!!!


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