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Best Old-Fashioned Nooks ‘n Crannies Apple Cake with Pecans & 5-Minute Homemade Caramel Sauce

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The best, homemade from scratch, old-fashioned apple cake out there. Period. Hands down. No contest. None other will do! It’s literally packed with Granny Smith apples, served warm and very nicely spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and complimented with chopped pecans. It’s then fairly heavily drizzled with a quick and easy, rich, creamy homemade caramel sauce to fill the tiny “nooks ‘n crannies”, seep in, and puddle on the plate for dipping, and then garnished with more whole or chopped pecans. And if that isn’t enough already, it’s topped with a bit of whipped cream that says….This is what I want with my last dying breath! For the love of god give it to me now!!  🙂 



My poor hubby had to wait almost 11 years for this cake. I should be shot. But I’ll tell ya, after making literally hundreds of them, frankly, I got burned out and tired of making them! Everyone in town wanted this cake!! I once made TWENTY of them for an event. Twenty cakes. Forty apples. Uhm, yeah, it got tiresome. I had to cut them off!!! I was starting to have nightmares of chopping bushels of apples that just kept coming and coming…truckloads being dumped on the lawn! MOUNTAINOUS piles of apples rolling all over and down the road…shoo-ing away hundreds of squirrels running off with them laughing…chopping as fast as I could…!! The madness had to stop! But as time passes, we forget the pain and begin again. My hubby had heard of this cake of mine…so I knew what I had to eventually do. I had to make one. ONE. For him only. And so the madness begins again…



What is it about this rather humble cake that everyone adores so much? It’s pure and innocent simplicity. It’s just what you would expect it to be, but yet shockingly more. It’s just one of those things that after your first small bite, makes your eyes roll back and close. No words. Just take it all in. Slowly savoring every single morsel…swiping the plate of every last tiny crumb. Simple as that. 


Just before popping into the oven….see how wonderfully packed it is with apples?! Now THAT’S an apple cake!! 😉 





Just out of the oven and cooling a bit! I so wish you could take a whiff!! It smells like a pioneer lady made it in a log cabin from apples picked fresh from the nearest clearing in the woods! Not kidding! Though humble as can be, this is no ordinary cake. 😉



And finally, the grand finale, all garnished and dressed for even the pickiest of company! Blanketed with warm caramel sauce and topped with a pillow of sweet, fluffy whipped cream!! 



Uhm, yeah. Hello. By now you can see why this was such a popular cake that I had to practically HIDE when it was apple pickin’ time!!! I hope you all enjoy as much as we do, and have many years of enjoyment making and sharing this wonderful autumn treat!! And the caramel sauce is fantastic over just about anything from apple pies to pancakes! And heavenly over butter pecan ice cream. Jus’ sayin’. 😉 So enjoy all, and happy apple pickin’!!! 🙂 




6-8 servings


For Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup (1 stick) real butter

1 packed cup (*minus 1 Tbl.) dark brown sugar, light brown can also be used

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


For Cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) real butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 extra large egg, room temp

1 cup flour, (*scoop and level method)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped fairly fine

1/2 cup chopped pecans


Serve with:

caramel sauce

sweetened whipped cream

vanilla ice cream

whole or chopped pecans to garnish




To make caramel sauce:

Melt butter, dark brown sugar and salt in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Simmer and stir for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and heavy cream and continue stirring, scraping bottom and sides of pan, for 1-2 minutes to ensure sauce is creamy and no more sugar grains remain. Set aside to cool. When cool, pour into glass jar or container, and refrigerate. When completely cooled, cover tightly. *Sauce will be quite thick after refrigerating. Rewarm only what’s needed in small bowl in microwave for 10-15 seconds on 50% heat. Or until softened to consistency desired. (*After packing my dark brown sugar into my measuring cup, I scoop out 1 Tbl. lightly packed. Any time I’ve used a whole cup the end result of the sauce just seemed to always be a bit grainy. Removing just that 1 Tbl. has resulted in perfectly creamy caramel sauce every time.) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and make sure your oven rack is in the center of the oven. 

Prepare 9″ cake pan by spraying with butter-flavored cooking spray, placing a 9″ round of parchment paper in bottom and making sure it sticks to the bottom well. Then re-spray again to coat parchment and any places on the sides you might have missed. Then use about 2-3 Tbl. flour to lightly flour bottom and sides of pan. *Don’t skip and of these steps. It really does need that parchment paper on the bottom. 

To make cake: 

In large mixer bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add egg and beat. Add rest of dry ingredients and beat until mixed. (*I sprinkle the flour in first, then evenly sprinkle the rest of the dry ingredients next, then mix.) 

Lightly mix in chopped pecans. Use a spatula to scrape sides and bottom of bowl of needed. 

Peel, core and slice apples. Then chop into small pieces. Add to batter and mix in just a bit to get it evenly distributed. Then fold. Just don’t over beat and turn the apples into applesauce. 

Spoon batter into prepared pan, level with a small offset knife or the back of a spoon. Pop into preheated oven and bake 35-40 minutes. My oven always takes the whole 40 minutes.

Remove, loosen edge from side of pan with knife carefully, and let cool for 15 minutes on cooling rack. Place cooling rack on top of cake and flip over. Carefully peel back parchment paper and remove. Place cake plate or stand on top of cake, centering, and flip over onto plate. Let cool. Cover.

To serve, place wedge of cake onto serving plate, warm slightly in microwave if desired. Warm a nice spoonful of caramel sauce in microwave on 50% for 10-15 seconds or less. *The sauce reheats immediately and you don’t want it too thin. If you get it too hot and thin, just stir some of the unheated sauce into it to cool it down a little and re-thicken.

Drizzle sauce over cake wedge letting it seep into all those tiny nooks ‘n crannies. Top with chopped or whole pecans, whipped cream, and/or ice cream. Serve warm.   



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