Recipe: B. Dylan Hollis’s Dutch Apple Cake




Everything old is new again; this especially applies to B. Dylan Hollis’s quirky new recipe book Baking Yesteryear (Alpha). Who could forget those classic dishes gran whipped up for Sunday lunch visits? This fun book is a salute to recipes from 1900 to the 1980s and we are pretty sure you’ll find some you love in its nostalgic pages. This Dutch Apple Cake from yore is a great start!

UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE • 9-inch cake

When many think of old-timey baking, the pineapple upside down cake invariably comes to mind. So much so that other varieties of upside-down cake are forgotten. This is worth mourning, as this classic Dutch Apple Cake waits patiently to share its warm, caramelized apples atop a fluffy spiced crumb with you. Oft-associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch who have long settled on the East Coast of the United States and are well-known for their apple cakes and pies, this recipe harkens to the broader adoration of fruit-topped “breakfast cakes” during the mid-1920s. When care is taken to arrange the apple layer in a delightful pattern, those seated at your table will sing its praises long before it even reaches their mouths.

Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 35 minutes


2 tbsp butter, softened

½ cup (110g) packed dark

brown sugar

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

2 cups (215g) thinly sliced apples (Granny Smith, Gala, or Honeycrisp)


2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ cup (100g) granulated sugar ¼ tsp ground mace (substitute

with nutmeg)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup (115g) butter, cold

¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk

1 large egg


  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Liberally rub a 9-inch (23-cm) cake pan with the softened butter. Combine the brown sugar and nutmeg, and sprinkle into the pan. Decoratively arrange the sliced apples over this sugar mixture.


  1. In a large bowl, combine the fl our, baking soda, salt, sugar, mace, and cinnamon. Cut the cold butter into small cubes.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, mash the butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly consistency is achieved.
  3. Beat together the buttermilk and egg, then add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix lightly to form a lumpy batter.
  4. Spoon evenly into the cake pan atop the apples, before smoothing the mixture by pressing gently downward while spreading, as to not unseat the bottom layer.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center can be removed cleanly and the top reaches a golden brown.
  6. Immediately free the sides of the cake with a sharp knife if needed, and invert onto a serving plate. Serve immediately with Chantilly cream or vanilla ice cream.


This cake is best when served right out of the oven and eaten warm, as when it cools it will tend to become more moist in the center.



Edited extract of Baking Yesteryear (Alpha, $49.99) by B. Dylan Hollis. Photography by Kelley Jordan Schuyler and Lauren Jones.