One of the best things about TikTok is how it connects far-flung people and ideas, including those with no shortage of inventive answers to the question, “So, what should I cook?” Sure, you sometimes have to scroll past such terrifying phenomena as TikTok’s rightfully controversial NyQuil chicken, but the platform is also a treasure trove for recipes you might never encounter otherwise.
Consider @butternutbakery’s apple fritter skillet cake, a TikTok that was viewed by more than three million people (yes, really!) in less than two months. Studded with apples, covered in gooey icing and served in an oversized cast-iron skillet, the dish appeals in part because it combines familiar flavors in an eye-catching format.
The recipe is a riff on glazed apple donuts, a favorite of its creator, Jenna Barnard. “Out of a box of a dozen donuts, an apple fritter is always what I grab first,” says the baker and founder of Butternut Bakery, “but when it comes to making them at home, I cannot be bothered with deep frying. It’s so much work, so much mess and requires way too much attention.”
Instead, Barnard’s recipe combines a stovetop apple syrup with an easy cake batter. As it bakes, you quickly pull together the show-stopping glaze. “Apple fritters are always dunked in icing, so it only felt right to coat the entire cake in it, too,” says Barnard.
While you do need to use a few bowls to prepare this, it’s an easy process. Plus, according to Barnard, recipes baked and served in skillets are undeniably fun.
“Not only are they quick and easy, but [because cast iron retains heat so well] they also allow you to eat the dessert hot and fresh, which is usually when it’s at its best,” she says. When the apple fritter cake is warm, “each bite is tender and moist, and the icing is just starting to melt into the cake.”
The skillet makes for a festive presentation, too. You can portion the cake into wedges at the table or, depending on your closeness to the people you’re sharing it with, invite everyone to grab a fork and get to work.
That’s part of the fun of this recipe, says Barnard. “There’s just something about seeing a dessert in a skillet. It just makes you want to dive right in.”
How to Make the Apple Skillet Fritter Cake
Adapted from Butternut Bakery, and published on TikTok on September 14, 2022, this recipe gets a double dose of apples from fresh fruit and applesauce.
While you certainly could skip the icing on top, it would be a shame—it comes together quickly, keeps the cake moist and is irresistibly festive.
Apple Filling Ingredients
- 3 cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¾ cup unsweetened or low-sugar applesauce
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- Pinch salt
Apple Filling Directions
Combine all ingredients in an 11- or 12-inch cast-iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and a syrup forms, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Stir and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in applesauce, eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
Gently fold flour mixture into wet ingredients with a spatula until just combined, taking care not to overmix.
Pour cake batter onto apples in skillet and use spatula to gently fold apples into batter.
Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let cool 15 minutes in skillet before adding glaze.
While cake cools, combine powdered sugar, milk and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and glaze has a thick, glue-like consistency.
Pour glaze over prepared cake in skillet. Serve immediately.