Edna Staebler’s “Small and Easy Apple Cake”

I love the fall season which brings cooler and crisp air, the huge autumn moon and a plentiful harvest of pumpkins, gourds, winter squash, greens and apples. I especially like crunchy and aromatic apples which are in season in the fall. This week I’m making Edna Staebler’s “Small and Easy Apple Cake” with Caramel Icing as a tribute to fall. The cake is low-fat and healthy, too.
simple-apple-cake-and-caramel-glaze-img_7209Apple Orchards, Cider Mills and Donuts

In Louisiana, the autumn break from the humid climate is a welcome change and although the colorful tress aren’t as dramatic, the scenery does change. Contrast that to the mid-west and northeast with beautiful changing and colorful trees and very cool weather.

When I lived it Detroit, Michigan, one of our favorite weekend activities in the fall season was to drive out of the city and visit an apple orchard with a cider mill. Fresh pressed and unfiltered cider is the best and the cider was always accompanied by donuts. And the grocery stores were full of many interesting varieties of local apples that a person would never encounter anywhere else. The wonderful aroma filled the stores. rochester-farmers-market-and-apples-2-img_8106We miss out on the apple orchards in Louisiana, so when I visit the mid-west or northeast I have to stop at a farmer’s market for the apples. Here we are in autumn two years ago at Rochester’s farmer’s market in upstate New York.rochester-farmers-marketThe farmer’s market had quite a large selection of pumpkins and gourds, too.rochester-farmers-market-and-pumpkins-and-gourds

Edna’s Small and Easy Apple Cake

I noticed the recipe for “Small and Easy Apple Cake” with Caramel Icing while browsing through an old cookbook. Just the thing to make with some of my apples. The recipe is mixed up in one-bowl by hand stirring and the apples are grated with the skins on and added to the batter. Nuts and cinnamon in the cake mix add a spicy and nutty flavor. The cake is made with a small amount of oil, so no saturated fats. The cake is moist, very low in fat and tasty. The cake really doesn’t need an icing — although the accompanying caramel icing is pretty good.

The cake makes a great snack as well as dessert.Easy Apple Cake - 2 - IMG_7170_1Edna’s Cookbook

The recipe is from Edna Staebler, popular Canadian cookbook author. She lived in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario in a rural, agricultural area among a community of Old Order Mennonites. Edna gained the trust of the community and collected their recipes which resulted in several cookbooks. These farmers emigrated to Canada several hundred years ago from Switzerland and Germany. The recipes were handed down from generations to generation from the German descendants, greatly unchanged by the times. A treasure full of recipes.

It is often difficult to obtain permission to use the recipes on my blog with respect to old cookbooks or and magazine articles from publishers since often the rights revert back to the authors after a period of time. Random House of Canada now represents this cookbook. So I’m reprinting this recipe with credit to Edna as printed in her book without being able to obtain explicit permission..

“An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away”

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” goes the old adage. Are apples healthy? Apples are low in Vitamin C, other vitamins and minerals especially compared to other vegetables and fruits. But that’s not the entire health story.

Apples are rich in soluble fiber–pectin. This type of soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and may help prevent the metabolic syndrome of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Apple skin pigments are rich in phytochemicals, especially an antioxidant called quercetin, with anti-inflammatory properties. Apples are associated with lower risks of some types of cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes according to many studies. So eat lots of apples; I’m convinced!Easy Apple Cake - 4 - IMG_7464_1

Making the Recipe

This is an easy, one bowl cake. Grate the apples with the peels. I use a food processor. Mix in the other ingredients and bake. For the icing, boil the ingredients and then beat for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Edna Staebler's Small and Easy Apple Cake in Schmecks Appeal Cookbook

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is a good way to use up those shriveling, winter-stored apples. The cake is very moist and would keep well if it weren’t so irresistible.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 cups grated apples, unpeeled
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method and Steps:

  1. Beat the egg.
  2. Add the sugar, oil, grated apples, the vanilla and nuts.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients.
  4. Smooth into an 8-inch square pan and bake for 350 degrees for about 30 minutes – or until done.

With a caramel icing it is scrumptious, a complete dessert.

Source: “Small and Easy Apple Cake” in Cakes Chapter, p. 210, Staebler, Edna. “Schmecks Appeal: More Mennonite Country Cooking”  McClelland and Steward: Toronto, Canada. Copyright ©1987

Caramel Icing in Schmecks Appeal Cookbook

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This can be made quickly and is guaranteed to make any cake that needs enhancing into one that will make you eat two or three pieces.


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet or sour cream or milk

Method and Steps:

  1. Put everything into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Boil for 2 minutes only.
  3. Cool, then beat for a few minutes.
  4. Pour on the cake, then spread.

This is good on anything that has spices or a mild flavor that wants to be dominated by maple cream flavor.

Source: “Caramel Icing” in Cakes Chapter, p. 210 Staebler, Edna. “Schmecks Appeal: More Mennonite Country Cooking”  McClelland and Steward: Toronto, Canada. Copyright ©1987

Easy Apple Cake - 5 - IMG_7456_1

And here is a photo of our drive through rural Louisiana in the St. Francisville area during the Labor Day weekend. Too early for a change in colors of trees, but a very romantic drive and road.scenic-road-in-st-francisville-img_1017_1


5 Health Benefits of an Apple. Eating Well Magazine  www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/

15 Health Benefits of Eating Apples, The Best Health Magazine of Canada http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/nutrition/15-health-benefits-of-eating-apples/

Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits by Jeanelle Boyer and Rui Hai Liu, The Nutrition Journal 2004: 3: 5. published online May 12. doi:  10.1186/1475-2891-35  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/


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