We have an 1895 home that we have now lived in for 2 spring/summer seasons. The first season, the apple tree bore about 4 fruit. This season, literally hundreds of apples! Delicious ones, too. We did remove a lot of the brush and about 8 trees in the yard. It's possible that is't getting more sun and water, but this is dramatic! Also, wondering about the variety. Small, very little to no core, and juicy...is this what they call a 'baking' apple? thanks!
Yes, some varieties of apples and pears are (in)famous for fruiting well only every other year, especially in some parts of the country. Removing excess fruit set in early summer and judicious pruning and better care of the tree overall can help these to bear more reliably. The extra care you gave your tree may be why you are seeing much more fruit this year. However, if it only bears lightly next year, then you may indeed have an every-other-year fruit bearing apple.
It's hard to tell what type of apple you may have from just the description you gave in your question, though. Do you have a picture you can show us, or can you give more information on the color, markings, ripening time and flavor? Baking apples, btw, tend to be a bit more firm and on the tart side than "dessert apples" although many apple varieties that are great for eating are also good for baking as well. The small size of your apples may be due to not being thinned enough to allow each to develop to a normal size, and may not have much to do with the variety.
it's possible that it's a variety that does it every other year but, could be because of a myriad of reasons something just isn't right for a particular year.