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Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

An old-fashioned apple cake from "Upscale Downhome" by Rachel Hollis

An old-fashioned apple cake from “Upscale Downhome” by Rachel Hollis

A crisp fall day practically begs for an old-fashioned apple cake, and have we got a good one for you! This apple cake recipe comes by way of Rachel Hollis of The Chic Site, and her new cookbook “Upscale Downhome.”

Upscale Downhome

The recipe is called “Grandma Neeley’s Apple Cake,” but the truth is, it could be just about anyone’s grandma’s apple cake, if your grandma was the kind who was likely to make cake, which mine was. Although my grandma’s was a little bit different, Grandma Neeley’s version still feeds the soul in a warm and reassuring way, kind of like the memories of grandma all coming back with one cake.

Grandma Neeley's apple cake

Two things in particular hit home about this cake. One, when we had the chance to meet the lovely Rachel Hollis while at Melissa’s Produce, we were touched by what she had to say about food in general, and about this cake in particular. She said that food was a way for her to remember people who have passed on – and that this cake in particular brought back sweet and fond memories of her grandmother.

Apple Cake and Ice Cream

Two, when we made this cake at the Jolly Tomato house, we had a young 20-something guest who was extremely surprised. “Apple cake?!?!” he said, “I didn’t even know there was such a thing as apple cake.” And that made us very sad. When we were kids, Mom used to make a “snack cake” of some kind every week, whether it was apple cake, applesauce cake, date cake, or spice cake. Even though the “snack cake” is now definitely out of vogue, kids should appreciate that there are more kinds of cake than simply the neon-frosted sheet cakes you see at the grocery stores. Everybody needs a little apple cake in his or her life.

Grandma Neeley's Apple Cake

An old-fashioned apple cake, just like Grandma used to make, from "Upscale Downhome" by Rachel Hollis.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 9 servings
Author Rachel Hollis


  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 medium apples peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, the add the eggs to the shortening mixture and stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the apples, then combine with the wet ingredients. Fold in the apples.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note for dessert lovers: This cake is especially tasty with a scoop of ice cream on the side. Note for breakfast lovers: You CAN have your cake for breakfast – we won’t tell.

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