The LA to L.A. Chef: Apple Nut Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing


Apple Nut Cupcakes

My mother’s go-to recipe for family gatherings and potlucks, when I was a child, was this Apple Nut Cake, a recipe she clipped from the pages of the L.A. Times in the early 1960s. She would bake the cake in the pan reserved especially for it, cover it with Cream Cheese Icing, then special-slide the pan’s cover onto it for transport.

When Mom first read through the recipe, she expressed concern that there had been a mistake made in the printing, as there are 4 cups of diced apples to 2 cups of flour. She felt sure that it wasn’t enough flour to hold the cake together. But, no, the recipe was correct, and quite delicious, too. All those apples make for a very moist cake.

When I was in culinary school, I adapted the recipe to make little individual apple cakes, with a fancy finish of a white chocolate curl perched atop. And last year, in searching through my mother’s cache of clipped recipes after her death, I came across it again. It was afforded a special place among the clipped recipes, by being recopied into a little binder of favorites.

I decided then to introduce the cake to a new generation in my family, by baking it into a cupcake size and taking the cupcakes to my extended family’s Christmas Eve gathering, as the youngest among us love cupcakes.

Oh, and apparently, it’s still a nostalgic favorite of many baby boomers. I see the cake pop up on blogs, Facebook posts, and as a popular search item at my own blog.

Apple Nut Cake

Because of all the apples, this cake stays incredibly moist for several days, if it lasts that long.

    •    2 cups all-purpose flour

    •    2 eggs

    •    1 cup sugar

    •    1 teaspoon vanilla

    •    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    •    2 teaspoons baking soda

    •    3/4 teaspoon salt

    •    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    •    4 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely diced

    •    1 cup walnut pieces

    1.    Beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.

    2.    Mix in the oil until smooth.

    3.    Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

    4.    Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. then add the apples and nuts.

    5.    Scoop into muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Cool and frost with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing.

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Every one, no doubt, has a recipe for Cream Cheese Icing. When I was in culinary school, however, I received one made with pouring fondant rather than powdered sugar, which solved the problem of the icing’s tendency to become way too soft and melt, thanks to fondant’s invert sugar properties. In the past, pouring fondant was only available through professional baking outlets, and only in very large quantities. Now it’s available to everyone through Amazon, as is the Boyajian Lemon Oil I used to flavor the frosting. Just a couple of drops of this oil packs a powerful punch to flavor this icing.

  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened at room temperature

  • 4 ounces butter, softened at room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    1.    Cream together the butter and fondant until well blended.

    2.    Add the cream cheese and blend slowly, only until smooth.

    3.    Add vanilla, lemon oil and salt.


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