It all started with my Mama's gumbo recipe!

Ma Ma’s Fresh Apple Cake

Ma Ma’s Fresh Apple Cake


This moist apple cake of sweet fresh apples and warm cinnamon is my grandmother’s signature dessert. It’s quickly associated with her just by it’s appearance at family gatherings. We all remember enjoying a piece after Sunday dinners or with a cup of coffee during an afternoon visit. She was not just a good cook, but always  a gracious hostess.

My Ma Ma

Noelie LeMaire Trahan was born in 1909, the third of 4 children in Vermilion Parish just south of Kaplan, Louisiana. It was a time when families lived nearby and stayed closely connected. At the age of four a contagious fever had taken the lives of both her parents within a few weeks of each other. She and her siblings were then raised by their grandparents. For some reason she only finished the third grade, but never appeared to be a woman of little education.  

She spoke mostly Cajun French and I can still hear her words of broken English, the new language she learned from her children after they began grade school. “Cher, bon Dieu!” was something she said when she would have had some surprising news. Or, if one of her grandchildren had fallen and hurt themselves. Or, if she decided to make a wise call and not swear. It means “Dear, good God!” and she used it often.

At the age of sixty-one she faced another loss which was the death of her husband. Even through she grieved deeply from these tragedies and hardships they didn’t seem to mark her life in a negative way. Rather, she left a mark on others from her upright character and nurturing love.

She was my mama’s mama, my Ma Ma Trahan. Visiting her home and yard was like walking into the pages of Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens. Her meals were always delicious and appealing to the eye. We experienced them at many Sunday and holiday dinners year after year where she enjoyed the gathering of her four children and their families. A tradition she has passed on tho me. 

Always busing herself, I never knew her to stop her work unless it was to watch her favorite daytime soap opera or to visit with drop-in company. Then she’d make a strong drip pot of Community Coffee and serve it in small demitasse cups. Small because that’s all one needed of the potent brew. She may have even served her fresh apple cake with it. I still use the faded, hand written cake recipe that she gave me. It’s framed in my kitchen for quick access when the need for that cake arises. I have made many of these for bereaving families. When my husband smells this fresh apple cake baking he always asks, “Who died?”

The Apple Cake


Ma Ma Trahan’s Fresh Apple Cake

apple cake

A delicious classic cake made with fresh fruit that intensifies after a few days as the apples release their moisture and blend with the spices.

  • Author: Louisiana Woman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 16 pieces
  • Category: sweets
  • Cuisine: american


2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (not in this original recipe, but in another of hers)

3 cups all purpose flour

3 cups pealed, cored and diced red delicious apples

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


Prepare your favorite bundt pan with oil and flour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour in a medium bowl. Whisk together and set aside. 

In a large bowl beat the sugar and eggs until a lemon color then add the vegetable oil to the mixture and beat some more to blend well. 

Next, add the flour mixture to the batter a small amount at a time. The batter will be stiff.

Stir in the apples and nuts, if you choose. Spoon batter into the prepared pan evenly smoothing the top of the batter with the back of your spoon, but don’t pack down.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Let it cool some, pass a dinner knife to release the cake from the pan. Turn onto a cake rack to cool completely.

Apple Cake

This is our weimaraner, Cord. He likes apples. The minute I pick one up he never leaves my side.

Apple Cake

This cake stands alone without nuts, but if you want to change it up a bit you can stir them in. Some people have nut allergies so if you don’t add them you are not missing out on any of this cake’s goodness. “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t!”

Apple Cake

Apple Cake

Ma Ma Trahan's Fresh Apple Cake

Apple Cake

This cake gets better with age and keeps well. After a few days the apples release their moisture and the flavor intensifies. It’s a good idea to bake it midweek before weekend guests arrive at your door. You can store it in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life or freeze it to keep even longer, but I seldom get to do that. I hope you try it soon and find yourself saying, “Cher bon Dieu!” or “Dear good God!”  if your french isn’t that good because this fresh apple cake is awesome!

“Successful mothers are not the ones who have never struggled. They are the ones who never give up, despite the struggles.”  Sharon Jaynes

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