Amanda Mack's Apple-Almond Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting 


Amanda Mack is one of our 2021 Cooks of the Year.

Amanda Mack’s Apple-Almond Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
Photo: Gabriela Herman
Active Time:
20 mins
Bake Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs

Amanda Mack's bakery, Crust by Mack, in Baltimore, Maryland, is mostly run by her family, and she wants customers to feel like they are walking into her home. "You don't know what people are carrying. We want to make sure that this is a bright spot on their journey," she says. Accordingly, Mack remains dedicated to feeding her community in more ways than one. In addition to supporting and raising money to help social- and food-justice organizations, Mack opened Layers, a space where she can host mentoring programs and events for other entrepreneurs.

Mack's Apple-Almond Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting is a quintessential fall dessert, packed with all the seasonal nostalgia. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom work together to bring a hearty dose of spice to this pretty loaf cake. Chunks of apple and sliced almonds add texture to the cake, while shredded apple provides plenty of moisture and apple flavor. Mack piles her loaf cake high with plenty of apple chips and toasted, sliced almonds, but this cake requires no bells and whistles—the brown butter frosting drizzled over top makes for a pretty appearance.



  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½ cup whole buttermilk

  • 1 large Honeycrisp apple, peeled, cored, and shredded on largest holes of a box grater

  • 1 cup sliced almonds 

Brown Butter Frosting

  • ¾ cup butter, softened, divided

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons whole milk


  • Apple chips 

  • Toasted sliced almonds


  1. Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 1 (9½- x 5½-inch) loaf pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper, and grease parchment paper. Whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, egg white, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a large bowl until well combined. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom in a separate large bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk flour mixture into sugar mixture, alternately with buttermilk, until combined (be careful not to overmix batter). Stir in apple and almonds. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes, covering loosely with aluminum foil after 1 hour to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack. Remove and discard parchment paper. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

  2. Prepare the Brown Butter Frosting: Cook ¼ cup of the butter in a skillet over medium, stirring often, until rich amber in color, about 6 minutes. Transfer butter to bowl of a stand mixer; cool completely at room temperature, about 30 minutes. Add remaining ½ cup butter to brown butter, and beat with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating on low speed until blended, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium; gradually add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating to desired consistency, about 1 minute. Spread frosting over top of cake as desired, and garnish with apple chips and toasted sliced almonds.

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