Apple pie works better for the holidays when it’s a cake

A buttery brown sugar glaze completes this crisp-edged apple cake.
A buttery brown sugar glaze completes this crisp-edged apple cake, easier and more portable than apple pie.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian)

Thanksgiving in 2020 is going to look a lot different this year in more ways than one. So instead of doing things the way they’ve always been done, here are recipes that throw tradition out the window — at least just this once — and play around with the expected holiday tropes. You’ll see that the classic dishes can be much easier — and more fun — when you focus on highlighting the qualities in each that really matter.

After almost a year of being at home and the same old, same old, reinvigorate your Thanksgiving table with a fresh outlook on the traditional holiday staples.

Apple pie is only really stellar when piping hot and scooped into a bowl with a scoop of cold ice cream melting on top. So why deal with all the work of precooking apples, making double pastry crust and baking for hours just to mash it up in a bowl? Either cut out the extra work and make apple cobbler or, better yet, make this cake. It has all the flavors you need from apple pie but in a less stressful package. Plus, it’s a boon to those who don’t love pie but are forced to eat it for the holiday.


Sweet-tart apples are diced fine and coated in cinnamon before being mixed into a simple cake batter. The apples cook to a yielding, al dente texture in the batter, while the edges of the cake bake up crispy. Paired with the cake’s pockmarked appearance, it resembles a giant apple fritter doughnut, complemented further by a butterscotch glaze that sets shiny on top.

It’s the perfect cake for after Thanksgiving and gets better and more moist the longer it sits. Top it with ice cream if you want, or grab a square to take with you for snacking while you stroll around the neighborhood walking off the big meal.

Apple Fritter Cake with Butterscotch Glaze

Time1 hour 15 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 12