Apple cake

Apple cake DSC8664

A year ago, I was diagnosed with thyroid disease. Usually when you’re told you have an incurable ailment, it’s cause for concern. But learning my thyroid wasn’t working was actually a relief. See, for several years, I’d been gaining weight and had lost most of my energy. It was frustrating, as no matter how much I dieted my clothes no longer fit and I couldn’t find the energy to get up off the couch.

This sluggishness was both strange and depressing. But I just assumed it was simply part of getting old and it was time to settle into a heavier, slower life. So when I learned that my thyroid was the culprit, it was very good news. And after hearing that all I needed to do was take a pill every day to keep my thyroid running, I was over the moon.

Now, I can sometimes be a little dramatic. When I told my family and friends that if I didn’t take my thyroid pill every day I would die, I discovered that having hypothyroidism is quite common and many people were in the same situation. Of course, they all thought I was being ridiculous with my dire proclamations, so I soon decided to keep quiet about the whole thing.

Apple cake | Homesick Texan

That said, as my energy returned I began to question if I was on the correct path. I felt like I’d been given a new lease on life and that perhaps I should make some changes. So I went to the hairdresser and got bangs for the first time since I was a kid. I also bought some skinny jeans, a style I swore I’d never wear. And despite my better instincts, I decided to help some people open a Tex-Mex restaurant in NYC.

Well, I soon discovered there was a reason why I had stopped getting bangs. And the restaurant turned out to be wrong for me, too. So I’ve grown out my hair and I’ve left the restaurant. (But I am keeping the skinny jeans as I love how they fit!)

In any case, it’s been a tough yet educational year. There are no villains in this story and I’m not writing this to speak ill of anyone. And I don’t regret the choices I made or the risks I took, though I have learned you should always listen to your instincts—they do know best. I’ve also realized that there’s nothing like being away from something you love to re-affirm just how much you care.

Indeed, my true joy has always been cooking at home and sharing what I create with others. And this blog and my books have been an excellent forum for doing just that. At the moment, I’ve been working on a ton of new recipes, though I haven’t figured out quite what to do with them yet. But while I decide what’s next, I wanted to share with you a recipe from my second cookbook, The Homesick Texan’s Family Table.

One of my favorite recipes in the collection is this simple apple cake, something that my grandma bakes often this time of year. I realize there are many recipes for apple cake in existence. Heck, in my file of old family recipes I have at least five! This one, however, just may be my favorite, with its abundance of juicy apples and crunchy pecans gently nestled into a cake both tender and crisp. As one friend remarked, it’s as if you combined apple cake with apple pie.

Apple cake | Homesick Texan

The best thing about this cake, however, is how well suited it is for sharing. It’s not too fancy, so a slice is welcome when friends stop by for a causal visit. It also travels well if you’re headed to a potluck or simply want to give something sweet to someone you love. And as my grandma shared it with me, I now share it with you.

Apple cake DSC8664
4.75 from 4 votes

Apple cake

Servings 16
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pound about 3 baking apples, such as Braeburn, Granny Smith, or McIntosh, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4” dice
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13 pan or a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

  2. In a large bowl, stir by hand the oil, melted butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the apple and pecans. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon to the bowl, and then stir until combined. Please note that this is a very thick batter, in fact it’s more like a cookie batter. And while it may seem like it’s unable to contain the apples, don’t worry, it will be fine.

  3. Spoon the batter into the baking pan or skillet, patting down the top so it’s even. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is lightly browned and an inserted knife comes out clean.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can easily be halved. If you choose to do so, bake in an 8×8 pan or an 8-inch cast-iron skillet, and reduce the baking time by 5 minutes.

  1. Summer Says...

    Fresh apple cake is one of my favorite treats in my grandmother's recipe cards. It always reminds me of how well she loved, comforted and provided for us.

    Cheers on listening to your instincts…welcome back to your kitchen and blog full of adoring fans.

  2. Lisa Fain

    Summer Says–Thank you! And aren't grandmothers the best?

  3. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in February, after the same thing happened. I hadn't really gained a ton of weight, but I was so exhausted and my brain was super foggy, but I thought I was just getting old and fatter and didn't realize anything was wrong. Man, synthroid makes my life SO MUCH better.

  4. Lisa Fain

    The Bon–Isn't it great? So glad you're feeling better!

  5. Kemmel and Lisa Dunham

    This is just what I've been looking for! I live in the Guatemalan Highlands and it's apple season here too. I keep getting gifted apples and now I have something else to make besides pie filling. Thanks, and glad you are getting back to normal!

  6. thejameskitchen

    Nothing beats an apple cake that was made by one's Grandmother, I love the pecans in yours and that it is made in a skillet (mine would issue a faint hint of bacon, I presume). I've just rediscovered a recipe for German apple torte by my Grandmother's twin sister and eating a slice is like coming home – wonderful. Nicole

  7. Glad that you found out what was causing your issues. "Knowing is better than not. Robert B. Parker.

  8. ruthnestvold

    I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism several years ago, during a completely unrelated hospital visit. I too had been gaining weight relentlessly for several years. Unfortunately, the drugs didn't help me to get back my old figure, but they did stop the weight gain and cleared up a skin condition I'd developed on my hands.

    Glad you're feeling better and looking forward to more Texan recipes again!

  9. Kelly at The Meaning of Pie

    First and foremost, I'm so very happy you have solved the health mystery. My kiddo, Lily, was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in the 3d grade (read: NO thyroid whatsoever) and the difference that that daily pill makes is night and day. Health regained! She grew inches in months when she hadn't grown for a year. It is a powerful little butterfly, the thyroid. I'm so happy for you.

    Second, apple cake is the best and I cannot wait to make your skillet version.

    Third, you have your health, your intellect and creativity, and apple cake. The rest surely falls into place when you have those.

    Come visit.

  10. TexasDeb

    I'm pleased you are back to this shared medium and feeling more yourself again. Talk about a win/win situation!

    At the moment all the pecans I have are toasted – would that detract from their being used in this cake? I'll be getting fresh nuts soon and can (barely) wait to make it. I was wondering if you have any experience to share about baking with already toasted nuts?

  11. Tom Sproull

    This cake looks marvelous. Need to use up the apples for my tree before the deer eat them all!

  12. Lisa Fain

    Kemmel and Lisa–Happy to help! Hope y'all enjoy the cake!

  13. Lisa Fain

    thejameskitchen–Bacon goes very well with apples and pecans!

  14. Lisa Fain

    Unknown–Great quote and so true!

  15. Lisa Fain

    ruthnestvoid–Glad you're feeling better! The weight loss is the hardest part for me, too.

  16. Lisa Fain

    Kelly–Thanks, friend! I remember your telling me about your daughter and how relieved you were to have found a solution to her issues. I'm headed to Texas in three weeks and will definitely holler at you.

  17. Lisa Fain

    TexasDeb–Toasted pecans would be wonderful in this! I bake with them all the time. If they're nestled in a batter they don't get burnt. If they're salted, just reduce the salt in the recipe.

  18. Lisa Fain

    Tom–Yes, you certainly do!

  19. The good news is that hair grows back!!!Easy recovery. lol
    Other tings not so easy to recover from but always an education.

  20. Lisa Fain

    Rebecca–Indeed it does!

  21. Kalyn Denny

    Hi Lisa, I have a sister who has thyroid disease so I know how it can sap your energy. Glad you are getting a new lease on life. Isn't life just a long series of changes; hope this is a good one for you!

  22. Lisa Fain

    Kalyn–Thank you! And the changes we go through and the lessons we learn definitely make life more interesting!

  23. goingnuts2

    Your apple cake looks delicious and I plan on trying it this weekend. I'm happy to hear you solved your health issues. I also was diagnosed with thyroid disease and it took long to get help since I have Grave's disease. It took the doctors years to diagnosis me until my thyroid went crazy and made too hormones making me hyperthyroid. After treatment with radioactive iodine, now I'm Hypothyroid. Dealing with thyroid issues are no fun, but there's a huge community out there for advice and support.

  24. Lisa Fain

    goingnuts2–The thyroid is a delicate tricky thing. Hope you're feeling better!

  25. My friend has the same condition and is doing well on medication now. Good luck to you with it!
    The apple cake sounds delicious. A restaurant here used to serve the best apple cake ever and I've been trying to duplicate it forever with no success. Maybe this is the recipe to try!

  26. Robert Frazier, Pyro Pigs

    This sounds good, especially the skillet version, knowing your love for spicy . … suprised you didn't add some sliced/jalapeños or Chipotle in Adobe sauce (the bacon sounded good too )

  27. Lisa Fain

    Pam–Thank you! And enjoy the cake if you try it–hope it matches the memories of your favorite restaurant.

    Robert–Ha! This time I went with a more old-fashioned Southern recipe. I still have the chipotle apple cake recipe you sent me, though!

  28. Love your stories, Lisa, as always. So glad you are feeling better and yes, thyroid medications are some of the most dispensed. The biggest regrets I've had in my life were when I ignored my intuition. It seems to me that God repeats the lesson over and over until we finally learn it. Can't wait to try this recipe out over the holidays. My dad will love it. -Eric Roberg

  29. Lisa Fain

    Eric–Thank you! Hope your dad enjoys the cake and here's to listening to our instincts!

  30. Anonymous

    Yes bangs finally grow out. We grow wiser. AndU-turns though risky. can get you going back in the right direction. May The Force be with you and keep you.
    (I'm not anonymous…I'm susie b) :-))

  31. Thank you for sharing your experience. When I made this cake from your cookbook, I had the same thought regarding the cake/pie hybrid!

  32. Lisa Fain

    Susie B–Thank you! May the force be with you, too!

    Bonne–You're welcome! And so glad you've made the cake and had the same thoughts!

  33. Leslie Loftis

    And am I catching from these comments that you are a Star Wars fan too!? Sweet. I came to grab the link for linking. Just stumbled on this. I'm not able to keep up with reading blogs as much as I used to. But this is great!

  34. Made this cake today!! Needed a boost before my surgery in a week and this put a smile on my face!! Thank you! 🙂

  35. Anonymous

    Lisa, we have just begun the pecan harvest (native pecans) in Colorado County, Texas. This is a perfect way to use some frozen last year. Thanks!

  36. Lisa Fain

    Leslie–I'm a fan of the original three films, though not so much the later ones. But I am looking forward to seeing the new film.

  37. Lisa Fain

    Rosa–You're welcome! Best wishes to you on your surgery and here's to a speedy recovery!

  38. Lisa Fain

    Anon–It is a delicious way to use your harvest!

  39. Italian Girl Cooks

    This apple cake looks fabulous…will definitely try! My mom had and my sis has thyroid disease; glad you got it figured out…there are far worse things to have. All the best!

  40. Anonymous

    So glad that you are back, Lisa! Was a bit worried while you were away so much.

    Meanwhile, we are dealing with the big C here, and this cake looks just wonderful, especially since we were gifted with a grate of apples yesterday. They are Red Delicious, but the price was right. Wasn't looking forward to attempting to get them all into jars – cake is a terrific alternative.

    Will be subbing in wheatless flour, but otherwise, will replicate as you have written it, cast iron skillet and all. Thanks!


  41. Celeste

    Lisa, I struggle with hormonal issues myself, and they are vexing until you get the right help. I'm sorry the restaurant didn't work out for you, but hopefully this means we'll see lots more of you here. Cheers to home cooking!

  42. Michelle

    Happy to hear you are well and enjoying those skinny jeans! This cake recipe is wonderful-I made it this morning for my book club. Before leaving Texas this fall, I stocked up on pecans from a farmer east of Austin. My Michhigan friends enjoyed their taste of Texas!

  43. I find it really interesting how many people I know have thyroid disorder. It seems to have grown lately (or maybe, like other diseases/disorders, we're just paying more attention) though I know my own issues stem from my pregnancies.

    I'm glad you're following your instincts, as hard as that can sometimes be. Sometimes I feel like I'm supposed to have everything lined up and perfect at 35, so the constant struggle with figuring out what I'm actually GOOD at is frustrating and depressing. It's nice to hear that for some of us we just keep evolving.

  44. gringosinargentina

    Wow…I just found out I have hypothyroidism about 3 weeks ago. Similar to you, I figured it was age that was causing my exhaustion, weight gain and foggy brain. AM happy to find out that is actually due to "something"! However, my head is still spinning on what to believe when I read about the condition…the internet can be a scary place when it come to health conditions. Wondering if you could answer two questions for me: 1) what have you found to be good resources for learning more about hypothyroidism? and 2) How long did it take for you to notice you were feeling better? (I am not seeing any changes yet and am a bit discouraged)

    Thanks for the great apple cake recipe…can't wait to make it!

  45. Lisa Fain

    Italian girl cookies–Indeed there are!

    Pete–Hope everything is okay!

    Celeste–Cheers to home cooking, indeed!

  46. Lisa Fain

    Michelle–I'm so glad y'all enjoyed it!

  47. Lisa Fain

    Michelle–Life's a journey and it would be boring if we didn't change and evolve along the way!

  48. Lisa Fain

    Gringosinargentina–For guidance, I decided to follow what my doctor advised. It took me about six months to get my levels where they should be, though everyone's different. Best wishes to you and hope you feel better soon!

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