Digging into a warm, tender apple dessert like this flavorful fruit-on-the-bottom cake is exactly what I crave when the first hint of crisp, cool air creeps in. Nestled into a skillet (more on that in a second), lightly sweetened and sautéed apples are covered with an easy-to-make cinnamon-nutmeg spiked cake and topped with a little streusel. The cool temps are at our doorstep so let’s apple-up and bake this Cinnamon Apple Skillet Cake!

Now, about that skillet. Making this dessert in a pan might seem like an odd thing to do but hang with me as I explain. Using it streamlines the preparation of this light and tender apple cake and, as an added bonus, it makes for a fun and unique serving presentation. Starting the apples in the skillet on top of the stove allows the fruit to begin to soften and the juices to release before adding the cake layer and sliding the whole thing into the oven to finish baking. If we didn’t give those apple slices a head start, they wouldn’t soften in the time it takes for the cake layer to bake, leaving us with unappealingly crunchy apples which is not ideal.

Serve this dessert warm and straight from the skillet. It’s brilliant as is but vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream really seal the deal.

P.S. If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, I would be remiss not to add that they make an ideal breakfast. But that will be our secret.

Reminder: Don’t forget to share what you’ve made in the comments below the recipe. Inquiring baking minds want to know! And if you’re new to Baking Together, check out the 35 other recipes in our column.


Kitchen Notes


  • Choose a firm-sweet apple. I recommend using firm-sweet apples — those that are sweet but will also hold their shape while baking, such as Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, or Honey Crisp. While I think Macintosh are one of the tastiest fall apples, they lose their shape when cooked or baked, making them better suited for sauces, butters and compotes.


  • No need to peel. For this recipe, I don’t peel the apples – just core and slice. The tinge of pinky-red peel on the apples is cute. Of course, please feel free to peel if you prefer.

Flavor Variations

  • I’ve tested this cake using half apples and half ripe pears following the same ounce measurement as the apples with delicious results. While I haven’t tested with other ripe tree fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots), I suspect they would make delicious substitutes for the apples. I suggest you pit them (no need to peel), cut them into wedges, and follow the doneness guidelines instead of the timing when cooking. They will likely cook faster.

Add-Ins (optional)

  • Add a touch of finely grated ginger while the apples are sauteing for a bright, citrus -y note.
  • Add a small handful of dried fruit like dried cranberries, cherries or chopped apricots to the apples while they are sauteing.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of dark rum or apple jack brandy to the apples towards the end of cooking in the skillet to heighten the apple flavor and add a little boozy heat to the dessert.