Donna Hay’s spiced layered apple cake

This spiced layered apple cake by Donna Hay is the perfect autumnal recipe – a delicious way to enjoy granny smith apples.

From Modern Baking by Donna Hay


330g white (granulated) sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 vanilla beans (pods), split and seeds scraped
2kg granny smith (green) apples (about 12 apples)
2 tbsp lemon juice
double cream to serve (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a 20cm round springform tin with nonstick baking paper, placing an extra layer of paper on the base. Line a baking tray with nonstick baking paper and place the tin on the tray (see note).
2. Place the sugar, lemon rind, cinnamon and vanilla seeds in a medium bowl and use your fingertips to combine.
3. Peel the apples and rub all over with the lemon juice (see Tip). Using a mandolin slicer, finely slice the apples to 2mm thick.
4. Line the base of the tin with one layer of apple slices, placing each slice over half the previous slice. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture. Repeat the layering with the remaining apples and sugar mixture. Bake for 50 minutes. Press down gently on the cake, using the back of a large spoon, and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Bake for a further 35-45 minutes or until the apple is very soft and the top layer is caramelised. Allow to cool slightly in the tin.
5. Put a sheet of nonstick baking paper over the tin and place a slightly smaller plate or cake tin on top of the cake. Weigh down with a can of beans or tomatoes and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until cool and firm.
6. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake. Carefully remove from the tin and place on a cake stand or plate. Serve chilled with double cream, if you like.

NOTE The apple will release quite a lot of juice as it’s baking, so it’s a good idea to double-line the tin and place it on a lined tray, to catch any spills.
TIP The lemon juice helps prevent the apples from browning.

Modern Baking by Donna Hay will be published by Fourth Estate on 18 October, price £30. To pre-order a copy for £24 (a 20 per cent discount) until 21 October, visit, or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15. Donna’s TV series Basics to Brilliance Kids continues on UKTV until 26 October; to be followed by Basics to Brilliance later in the year. To mark the publication of Modern Baking, she will be in London at the end of October for events at Fortnum & Mason ( for details) and The Soho Hotel ( for details). And you can catch Donna on BBC Saturday Kitchen on 3 November.