Nobby Apple Cake

I always bake a special cake for my mother’s birthday, even though she and I live far apart and won’t be together that day. Usually I bake a carrot cake, using the recipe she gave me almost twenty years ago. This time, I tried the apple cake she has been raving about. It is called Nobby Apple Cake, and recipes for it are all over the internet, each with its own variation, including a spelling variation of “knobby.”

My variation is Whole Wheat Nobby Apple Cake. If you have been reading my baking recipes, you know by now that I favor less sugar in desserts, as well as exchanging white flour with whole wheat flour. Ever since I read that paste for school crafts is made with white flour and water, I’ve cast a wary eye at white flour in recipes. I use white flour for special occasion cakes when appearance can trump nutrition, but I prefer whole wheat flour for every-day baking. My family and friends love my cakes and other desserts. Often, they don’t realize they are eating whole wheat flour and are surprised when I tell them. This has given me confidence to carry on with whole wheat exchanges.

While fuji or gala apples are recommended for baking, I used small red delicious apples. This time of year, trucks go through the streets, announcing over their tinny loud speakers, “Manzanas de Chihuahau!” The small apples are sometimes a little wormy, which I prefer. The worm holes are easily trimmed out, and mean, I hope, that the apples were not sprayed. I’ll take a few apple worms over pesticides any day.

Nobby Apple Cake

  • 1 cup sifted whole wheat flour (4.5 oz./125 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar (3.5 oz./100 grams)
  • 1/2 stick soft butter (4 tablespoons/2 oz./56 grams)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups apples, peeled and diced (about 3 cups/18 oz./520 grams)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans/walnuts (2 oz./60 grams)
  • 1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates (2.5 oz./70 grams) softened in 2 teaspoons warm rum
    1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. F (180 C). Butter and flour 9″ (228 mm.) round cake pan or a small tube pan, using buttered parchment paper in bottom of pan for fool-proof removal of cake.
    2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour through sugar) in the mixing bowl for 30 seconds to blend.
    3. Add the butter and mix on low speed until evenly blended; mix on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate batter.
    4. Add the beaten egg and vanilla in three parts, beating on medium speed 30 seconds with each addition.
    5. Fold in apples, nuts and raisins. Spoon into prepared pan and level top.
    6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until top of cake begins to lightly brown. Sides should pull away from the pan after cake is removed from oven. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack and cool completely.
    7. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


    This recipe follows the mixing procedure used by Rose Levy Beranbaum in her cakebooks, The Cake Bible and Rose’es Heavenly Cakes, the best cakebooks I know of.

    If you use whole wheat flour, sift it first to remove the bran and save it for the next time you bake bread or muffins. If using all whole wheat is too much of a change for you, try using half whole wheat and half white flour, something I sometimes do when I want a special cake that is extra tender.

    If you don’t have superfine sugar, process regular sugar in a food processor for three minutes until fine.

    Washington state apples have shown dangerous levels of pesticides in the past. Tests found that there were enough chemicals on half an apple to exceed safe levels if eaten by a small child. Buy and eat organic.

    More Reading:

    Banned Pesticides Found on Apples

    Cover of "The Cake Bible"
    Cover of The Cake Bible


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    7 thoughts on “Nobby Apple Cake

    1. nona

      I live in India, and came upon your cake when I was searching for a healthier apple cake. I’m baking this one – it’s in the oven right now and its smells divine. I’ve used indian jaggery and demerara instead of superfine white sugar; and a bit of grated carrot as I ran short of chopped apples. Thanks for this recipe :-)

      1. I think jaggery is an unrefined sugar, and it would make a great substitution for white sugar. Mexico has an unrefined cane sugar also, called piloncillo (or panela), but I have stopped using it, and now use organic white sugar in my baking. I think your idea of using grated carrot is great, as carrots are naturally very sweet. I hope you enjoy your cake. Thank you for your comments.

    2. I baked the Nobby Apple Cake yesterday and we really liked it. I can see that the use of different types of apples could change the texture of the cake. I used Honeycrisp apples because that was what I had in the house. They don’t get mushy when baked, retain just a little crispness and are just a little bit tart. Unfortunately, they have a short season. I also used pecans in the cake and next time I will try the walnuts. I think I chopped the pecans a little too small and next time I will add larger pieces to give it more crunch. This was a pretty easy cake to make, had great flavor and healthy ingredients. I think it would freeze well and will be trying that also. This would be a great cake to have frozen in reserve.

      1. I’m glad you tried it! Different apples will give different texture. The last time I baked this, the only apples I could find in our little town were small delicious from the mountains in the state of Chihuahua. Golden delicious are usually in the stores here, also, but we pay premium prices for imported Gala and Fuji.
        Yes, this cake would freeze very well. Cakes with fruit contain more moisture, so they aren’t dry when you thaw them. Wrap well in plastic wrap when completely cool, then wrap well in foil. Let thaw while still wrapped.

    3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Nobby Apple Cake for my mother — twice! « Cooking in Mexico --

    4. Casey Storer

      Ok I like this and less sweet is always better for me
      Wonder how well this would freeze ?
      Apple Season is a bit away (too many apples here) Will try this later this year
      Looks really comforting with a Big java with a lil shot of Rum on a cold morning

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