Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

Here’s the deal: I call this a spoon cake. In reality, it’s not a spoon cake. It’s more like a crumbly, shortbready, delicious, hard-to-name object that comes out of your oven and tastes amazing. So I settled with spoon cake, because you have to spoon it out of the pan to eat it.

Juicy apples get cooked down with bourbon, sugar, fresh lemon juice, and spices (wait until you smell your kitchen), then layered over a shortbread-style crust with more shortbread crumbled over the top. Bake the whole thing and spoon it into your bowl while still warm… with a scoop of vanilla ice cream of course.

Ingredients needed to make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

To make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake, you need the basic ingredients like flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. There’s nothing super abstract in this recipe, so hopefully you have it all readily available to you! Here’s the shopping list:

  • Apples (I prefer honey crisp, granny smith, or pink lady)
  • Bourbon
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Tapioca flour (or cornstarch)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder

Tools used to make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

This is a great dessert to make when you don’t want to dirty a lot of dishes. I love my KitchenAid stand mixer, but boy is it annoying to clean. You don’t need to whip it out for this recipe, luckily! Here’s what you’ll need:

How to make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

This cake is quick and simple to make. You’ll begin by cooking down your apples in a skillet with the bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, tapioca, and spices. Don’t worry if you don’t have tapioca, because cornstarch works wonderfully as well! While the apples cook, you’ll make your crust in a mixing bowl. The key here is to create small pea-sized pieces of butter that are all coated in flour. When the dough bakes, the butter melts and the crust becomes cohesive. It may seem crumbly at first, but should stick together more-or-less when you squeeze it into a ball with your hands. If it doesn’t hold together (it’s ok if some pieces crumble down, but not all of them), you can add some cold water tablespoon at a time. Be careful not to add too much, or your dough will be too wet and goopy.

You’ll press half of the crust into the bottom of the pan and par-bake while your apples cooks. Once the first half is baked, you’ll spoon over your apples, which are fully cooked by the time the bottom crust is baked, over the top. I love when the timing of things cooking just works out, as in this recipe! To finish, crumble the remaining dough over top of the apples and bake again until golden brown. Spoon it into a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Looking for other delicious desserts from The Ardent Cook?

Chocolate Pistachio Rice Crispy Treat

Salted Brown Butter Banana Cobbler

Peanut Butter Peach Berry Cobbler

Recipe Ingredients


3 cups apples, peeled and sliced ¼ thick

¼ bourbon

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 tbsp salted butter

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp tapioca flour (or cornstarch)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (or GF flour blend)

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp baking powder

½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, chilled and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 egg

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and parchment-line an 8×8 glass baking dish. 
  2. Make the crust. Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the butter and mix with the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or two forks until the butter is pea-sized and coated in flour. Stir in the egg. The dough will be very crumbly, but will hold together when pressed between your hands. If your dough is too dry and crumbly, you may add 1-2 tbsp of cool water to bring it together. Some flours are more absorbent than others, so go by feel- the dough should hold together more or less when squeezed into a ball, but should not be wet and goopy by any means. If it doesn’t hold together when some pressure is applied, then it’s too dry. 
  3. Divide the dough in half and press ½ of it into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar, and stir to coat the apples. Sprinkle the cinnamon and tapioca evenly over the top, then mix to incorporate. 
  5. Bring the apples to a boil and let cook for 2-3 minutes at this heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat slightly and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the apples are soft. 
  6. Once the first bake is complete, spoon the apple filling over top in an even layer. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the apples, then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. 
  7. Let the cake cool slightly, about 5 minutes, to let everything set up. Then, spoon into bowls and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

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