Chinese Five Spice Apple Cake

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This simple apple cake was baked by my great-grandmother on a wood stove over 100 years ago, and I’m happy to still be cooking it today. This recipe is timeless, rustic and highlights the flavors of both the apples and the spice. This old family recipe was one of the first that I adapted to experiment with the amazing world of spices and I’m thrilled to share it.


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  1. Corinne says:

    um … how much sugar?

  2. Kim says:

    I just made this and substituted Poudre Forte for the Chinese Five Spice. It might be the best apple cake I’ve ever eaten–the pepper makes a stunning complement to the sweet apples. What a simple, elegant recipe this is! Thank you!

  3. elena says:

    This really is a delicious apple spice cake! Thanks for sharing!!
    I cut back on the sugar (1 1/2 cups) and used 1 tablespoon five spice powder.
    regards from Greece 🙂

  4. Amanda says:

    Me and my dad made this cake today and it was the best cake EVER. we made a cream cheese frosting for the top and it is the most decadent spicy moist cake. I can’t wait to make this for Christmas! Thanks for the recipe.

  5. larry says:

    Could I use thus recipie for cupcakes ?

    • Sherrie says:

      You could. You would just have to adjust the baking time. (When you stick a toothpick in the center, it should come out clean, if the cake (or cupcakes) are done.)

  6. Dale says:

    I made roasted Butternut Squash tonight with Chinese 5 Spice and Maple Syrup and it was so good. I got to thinking about how this spice would be really good in an Apple Cake. I started researching and I found this recipe. I can not wait to make this. As a chef, I like to think outside the box. I’m thinking a Maple Spiced glaze would be ideal for this dense and moist style of cake. Thanks for the ideas and Happy Holidays!

    • Sherrie says:

      That sounds amazing! We love playing with recipes, too (obviously). Maple would go good with this cake. Let us know how it tastes.

  7. Heidi Davis says:

    I just had a slice:) I love the 5spice in this recipe! Much better than regular spice cake!

  8. mmm sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing. Simon

  9. Linda says:

    Added kiwi, and uses 1 cup Brown sugar and 1 cup stevia. Love the licorice taste!

  10. Lori says:

    I don’t like walnuts, but I would still like to use nuts. Would pecans be a tasty substitute? Or what other nuts might work well?

    • Sherrie says:

      Pecans would be delicious, as would pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or pistachios. Chopped or sliced almonds would be good, too!

      • Lori Ernst says:

        Pecans were absolutely delicious! I had a bunch of Chinese Five Spice to use up. I bought it for a recipe my kid wanted to make. Neither one of us really likes anise, but I didn’t check before I bought it. So I made this cake with pecans and cream cheese frosting. So delicious! My kid said it was the best cake I’ve ever made. We couldn’t stop eating it. And she still doesn’t know I used the Chinese Five Spice that we don’t like! Ha ha

  11. Emma Wade says:

    Is this recipe new or an old one???

  12. louisa says:

    fantastic.. i made this last night (without nuts) and it was great but i feel like it tasted better today. I took it to work and it ended up in the fridge for a while and maybe the time and cold made it just fantastic. ten times better the second day. Literally every person that tried some came back for a second piece, i may drizzle homemade caramel sauce on top next time or try making it with pears.

  13. Dorie says:

    What can be substituted for five spice powder?

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