We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Joanne Chang is busy. She’s the James Beard Award–winning pastry chef behind the eight (!) Flour Bakery shops in Boston and has five cookbooks under her belt, the latest of which, Pastry Love, officially goes on sale today. Even when she gets the chance to unwind, the activity (naturally) centers on food: Her long weekends start with a leisurely brunch with friends. In the fall, the star of these get-togethers is Chang’s apple-vanilla pound cake. 

The recipe is an old one, inspired by her early days as a pastry cook at New York City’s Payard Patisserie. In addition to helping her make the transition from management consultant to full-time chef, that job also taught her a new technique for getting the lightest, most velvety crumb. As a lifelong fan of pound cake (when she was younger, Chang’s mother used to treat  her to toasted slices of the Sara Lee version on special Sunday mornings), she adapted the method and has never looked back. 

“I shingled dozens and dozens of apples on these pound cakes during the holiday season when I was a pastry cook, and every time, I was worried they would sink to the bottom,” Chang shares. “Every time, I breathed a sigh of relief when I pulled the trays out of the oven and they were gloriously in place. The smell of apples and vanilla and butter all together always makes me think of Thanksgiving.” 

Everyone always asks for the how-to for her light-as-a-cloud take. Luckily, you can find just that (plus several more scrumptious sweet treats) in her new book—and we snagged a peek. We’ll take any excuse we can get to eat cake for breakfast. 

Apple-Vanilla Pound Cake

Makes 1 loaf

The Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups cake flour, sifted after measuring 
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

The Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a rack in the center of oven. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or butter, and flour the pan. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the vanilla seeds and whisk in the cream and vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. 
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and superfine sugar until thick and lemony colored, 4 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed. 
  4. While the eggs and sugar are whipping, sift and stir together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. When the egg-sugar mixture is thick, add the flour mixture and gently fold it in by hand using a rubber spatula. 
  5. Scoop a few large spoonfuls of the batter into the butter mixture and stir to combine well. Once the butter mixture is lightened, add it to the batter and fold until completely combined. 
  6. Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Layer and shingle the apple across the top in two rows. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan midway through the baking time, until the cake peeking out around the apple on top is golden brown and firm when you press it in the middle, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. 

See more recipes to make this week: This Pumpkin Lasagna Is the Secret to a No-Stress Dinner Party 7 Healthy Breakfast Recipes That Are Worth Not Hitting “Snooze” For These 3 Nonna-Approved Pasta Dishes Are as Comforting as It Gets