Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
12 servings

This 5-star cinnamon apple cake is one of our best-ever recipes and can be served as dessert or a breakfast coffee cake. The cream cheese in the batter gives the cake lots of moisture, while the cinnamon sugar topping is dense and crumbly. The cake is best warm out of the oven, and will keep for a week after you've baked it. Toss in walnuts or pecans to the batter for an added nutty crunch.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step 2

Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, margarine, vanilla, and cream cheese at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

Step 3

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl, and stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.

Step 5

Note: You can also make this cake in a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan; just reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes.

Ratings & Reviews

LisaMiller1's Review

May 13, 2014
Delicious! I made some changes though. I don't buy margarine, I use real butter. I also couldn't find fat free cream cheese so I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese (neufchatel). This makes 12 servings, so I don't think that makes that much of a difference calorie wise. I use Granny Smith apples. I cook mine in a bundt pan. I spray with cooking oil, then sprinkle in some of the cinnamon sugar mix. Next I add half of the batter without the apples in it. It's thick, you need to spread it around. I put the apples in next, then the rest of the batter followed by the remaining cinnamon sugar on top. Does not dry out, very moist and looks awesome!

January 22, 2018
omg this must make amazing pancakes! brilliant!

Moist and delicious

December 31, 2015
I love this recipe and have made it several times.  Like others here, I modified it because I felt it wasn't moist enough the first time I made it.  I replaced margarine (!) with real butter (also tried with 1/2 butter and 1/2 coconut oil, came out great), used 8 ounces of cream cheese instead of 6 and cut the sugar down to 1 cup and cinnamon to just 1 tsp.  Americans add too much cinnamon in desserts and I find it overwhelming so 1 tsp worked great.  Delicious as a dessert and for brunch the next day morning.   Top it with some whipping cream or creme fraiche.  

JudithInBklyn's Review

December 23, 2013
Followed the reciped exactly except used full fat cream cheese. It was delicious and a huge hit with friends. Would consider using less cinnamon/sugar mixture on top and mix more into the apples.

melisslenihan's Review

September 21, 2012
I have been making this recipe since it came out in 1997. You do have to watch the cooking time, I have alway had to cook alittle bit longer but I don't always use the spring form pan. I have used cake pans, baked as muffins and even did a take on this with pancakes!! Huge Hit everytime I make it!!

All time favorite but can we cut calories somehow?

October 13, 2018
This is one of my all time favorite recipes. But as a lifetime Weight Watcher, is there anyway for the CL staff to work to try and cut the calories? Would love to be able to have a healthier recipe!

Valentina's Review

March 15, 2015
I made this cake this morning and it was a success with my family. the only thing i have changed in the recipe is the sugar...i think that 1 3/4 cup of sugar is too much so i just used 3/4 cup for the cake and 1/4 for the apples...and it come FANTASTIC!!!!!!!  thank you!!!

An awesome recipe made even better...

November 01, 2015
Okay, so I read the ingredients and thought, 'This sounds awesome.'  I have to admit that the idea of voluntarily putting margarine into my children's dessert made me immediately think, 'I need to swap that out.'  If you have an allergy to coconut, I have to apologize now for telling you about this incredibly delicious swap.  I made an even swap of coconut oil which is a solid at room temperature.  I also made the recipe in muffin pans because it's just easier with toddlers.  The coconut oil made this awesome recipe even better.  I love my apple muffins.  I also swapped out the apples for granny smith and put almost twice as many in.  I always do granny smith for baking and I always put more of the fruit/veggie/nut.  I could never have enough.  Thank you for this delicious dessert. 

Love that cinnamon Smell!

January 22, 2016
I make this cake in all shapes and sizes. Very adaptable to mini muffins, the full size cake, and every size in between. A great go to recipe for many occasions. Always take copies of the recipe - I promise someone will ask for It!

An All-Time Favorite, super moist and delicious

November 16, 2016
I have been making this recipe since it was first published in the magazine. It's one of my favorite things I've ever gotten from Cooking Light, and pretty much everyone who's ever tried it goes crazy for it.I've always done it with butter instead of margarine, generally use Neufchatel cheese (aka "1/3 less fat cream cheese") and don't actually measure the apples--so I'm pretty sure I usually wind up with a bit more than specified. Otherwise just as written. I can't imagine what's happening with the handful of people who say theirs was dry, because this is so insanely moist it's difficult to cut even with a serrated knife.One thing as I age is I'm starting to not like things quite as sweet as I used to. I'm glad to see others here have had success cutting back the sugar. I'll have to try that next time I make this, because it definitely is a very sweet cake.