This spiked apple spice loaf cake is better than any pumpkin dessert you'll bake this fall

Walnuts lend a nice crunch to every bite, and a hint of bourbon adds a sophisticated layer of warmth

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published September 27, 2020 9:58AM (EDT)

 (Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)
(Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)

You can find pumpkin-flavored everything on dessert menus now that fall is officially here, but the fresh fruits you should bake as soon as you feel that first crisp breeze in the air are apples.

"Fall is when holiday baking season officially begins, because it's not too hot to turn on your oven," Salon's resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry of Buttercream Blondie says.

The recipe the culinary personality made this year to welcome the new season was her classic Apple Spice Loaf Cake, and it kicks off our fall baking series. The ingredients, which include walnuts and bourbon, spell fall. Also, it's been a difficult year, and this is one easy cake to assemble. 

"It's just incredibly simple to make. You don't need a mixer or a stand mixer. You can whisk the eggs and sugar together by hand," McGarry tells Salon Food. "Then you bake it a loaf pan just like a quick loaf."

This loaf cake conjures up memories of some of our favorite quick bakes from McGarry's library, which include her Meyer Lemon Blueberry Loaf and her Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread. By definition it is a cake, but it's perfectly acceptable to eat a slice for breakfast or as a snack.

RELATED: These spiked apple crisp cheesecake bars are a hit even if it's not fall

"This is my favorite fall Sunday bake. It's one of those desserts that you throw in the oven on Sunday morning, and slice off a piece for brunch," McGarry says. "Later in the day, it'll turn into an afternoon pick-me-up, and the leftovers will make a great dessert when you don't feel like turning on the oven again come Monday."

The star of this loaf cake is the Granny Smith apple, which McGarry prefers to use because of its crispness. The remainder of the ingredients enhance the flavor of this fresh fall fruit. Spices, including cinnamon and cloves, provide a hint of coziness. Walnuts lend a nice crunch to every bite. And a splash of bourbon cuts the sweetness while adding a sophisticated layer of warmth. 

RELATED: You can bake this quick loaf with ingredients on hand in your pantry, because substitutions are easy

This dessert tastes like fall in a bite, and it smells like it, too. Within ten minutes of turning on your oven, your entire house is guaranteed to smell like a trip to your local apple orchard. That's why this is one of those cozy fall bakes that will become a staple in your recipe wardrobe for years to come.


Recipe: Apple Spice Loaf Cake

Serving suggestion: Add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream on top of a warm slice, and enjoy.


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled and diced apple
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with nonstick.
  2. Whisk eggs and sugars together in medium sized bowl till they get lighter and thicker.

Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's apple spice loaf cake. And don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to bake through it.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

MORE FROM Joseph Neese

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Apples Baking Buttercream Blondie Cake Fall Food Meghan Mcgarry Recipe Stress Baking