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Rustic Apple Cake Recipe

NJ Lifestyle Magazine: Recipes from Main Street Manor

I hate being predictable…but what’s better than an apple-anything in early fall! I had to feature this recipe since it won me FIRST PLACE and a Blue Ribbon at the Hopewell Harvest Fair back in September, 2002 with a kind of funny story.

Prior to buying the Inn, Ken & I lived in Hopewell Boro in an quaint old Victorian house for 10 years. The of town of Hopewell has a great sense of community and every year they have an old-fashioned Harvest Fair complete with hay bales, piles of pumpkins for carving, live music, games for kids, face painting, local crafters, farmers market, pet costume contest and a bake-off.

I had never entered any of my recipes in a contest before, but because it was a local thing and easy to drop my entry off in the morning before heading to work, I decided to do it. I’ve always loved to bake and as an aspiring Innkeeper, it made sense to try out my recipe on strangers rather than just for family and friends. I had made my ‘cinammon apple coffee cake’ dozens of times, but this time it was particularly important that it turn out perfect. As all dedicated bakers know, even though you do the same process the same way, every time you bake the same thing you’ve baked a thousand times, it does not always turn out the same…

Well, this was one of those times. EXCEPT it was really important that this cake be perfect; it was being entered into the ‘Coffee Cake’ category THAT MORNING…so there was no margin for error! I added all ingredients, as I had many times, beating the butter and sugar the proper amount of time…adding the eggs..adding the dry ingredients, apples, cinnamon and so on. I topped the cake as I always had with a generous sprinkling of cinammon & sugar and put it in the oven. It looked and smelled glorious! When the timer rang, I pulled it out of the oven and I tested it…eek…the top had formed almost a crust…but the inside was done to perfection…and the cinnamonny smell was oh, so good…except the top was NOT supposed to be crust-like and bronzy colored! EEK…what to do?

Well, thinking through the process, I decided…what is there to loose…but I wanted to come up with a different name for the cake so that the judges would think that the top was really supposed to be crusty…so I pulled out my ump-teen cookbooks and started looking at recipe names…’Crusty Apple Coffee Cake’…? no, it didn’t sound appetizing…’Crispy Apple Coffee Cake’…? no that didn’t sound good either…WOW…how about ‘Rustic Apple Coffee Cake’…?…that had a nice sound to it…(love the word rustic!) …and it really did look kind of rustic…

OK then…Rustic Apple Coffee Cake it was! I copied the recipe to allow for the new name and whisked it off to the bakers tent on the Harvest Fair grounds. Later that day, we arrived for the judging…there were about 20 coffee cakes entered into that category…but the judges narrowed it down to the last 5…and MY Rustic Apple Coffee Cake was one of the finalists! The judges each took another taste of the final cakes and my cake was chosen the First-Prize-Blue-Ribbon-Winner and a standout!

The judges commented they liked the moistness & flavor of the cake and most especially the contrast of textures. YAY!! A mis-hap had turned into a winner… the cake was totally gone because they sell slices of the top 3 cakes to onlookers, so I went home with an empty dish and a BLUE RIBBON! With that said, I give you my September contribution for my Blue Ribbon Winning Rustic Apple Coffee Cake. Please leave a comment and let me know what kind of apples you used and how you like it…Happy Baking & Bon Apetit!

Donna’s Rustic Apple Cake


  • 1 ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ½ cup stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces block-style cream cheese, softened (about ¾ c)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cup chopped peeled apples; about 2 large (I like Fuji apples but most crisp baking apples will do)
  • Cooking spray



Preheat oven to 350

Beat 1 ½ cups sugar, butter, vanilla, and cream cheese
At medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
Combine ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon.
Combine 2 T. Cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl and
Stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch spring-form pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle the top of cake with a little cinnamon & sugar mixture.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 mins. or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Cool the cake completely on a wire rack and cut using a serrated knife.

Yield: 12 servings
*Note: You can also make this cake in a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9 inch springform pan; just reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes.

About the author, Donna Arold, Owner of Main Street Manor in Flemington, New Jersey:

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I’ve lived here all my life and I can’t remember a time when I wanted to live anywhere else. My husband Ken and I own a Bed & Breakfast in Flemington called Main Street Manor. I run the Inn during the week and Ken helps on the weekends. The inn gives me a chance to do many of things that I love most in life, like baking, gardening and entertaining. The inn is a labor of love for Ken and I. We enjoy welcoming guests into our home and telling them about the best of our area. What could be better than being home, doing all the things you love to do and have your guests thank you for doing it!

Visit us online or drop by and see us at Main Street Manor.

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