Harvest Apple Cake highlights fresh chunks of the fruit in a tender, buttery crumb. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post; tableware from Home Rule)

An occasional baking series

I love to redefine the formula of a butter cake batter every now and then, especially to create a dreamy one that’s a little lavish, perhaps less conventional and tailored to the texture and essence of the main ingredient.

Such is this butter-and-cream-cheese-enriched batter, designed to highlight fresh apple chunks. It was inspired by little more than my pushing a shopping cart up and down the dairy aisle. The cake is so welcome as an autumnal dessert, and especially as a sweet on the Jewish New Year table along with the classic honey cake.

Cream cheese was not in the original plan. As I walked, the concept of skipping a liquid component (such as buttermilk or whole milk) in favor of adding a dense one (sour cream or yogurt) plus an additional egg yolk seemed like an effective way to build a mixture for supporting lots of fruit.

And it was. With the introduction of a small amount of cream cheese, the crumb became even more tender. An easy cinnamon-sugar finish completes the cake, creating a scented surface that is airy rather than baked-in. For me, it’s simple baking arithmetic: A few apples + pantry staples = a luscious confection.

Yockelson is a longtime Food section contributor. Her most recent cookbook is “Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011); she blogs at BakingStyleDiary.com. Join her during Wednesday’s Free Range chat at noon: live.washingtonpost.com.