Apple Crumb Cake

Ease into fall with this buttery apple crumb cake studded with apples and finished with a crunchy cinnamon crumb topping.

a slice of apple crumb coffee cake served on a white plate with the rest of the cake in the background

This morning when I walked out the door the air felt…different. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and while I wasn’t uncomfortably cold, something made me run back inside and grab a sweatshirt. Slipping into a fleecy hooded sweatshirt just felt right.

It’s that time, friends. And I think I’m finally ready.

a lone slice of apple crumb cake with a fork sticking in it

I Crumble For Autumn Apple Cake

As proof, I broke out the first apple baked goods of the season. While the September days are still rather hot around these parts, the mornings are cool and crisp. It’s the kind of weather that begs for something a little cozier than a bowl of cereal, something like this Apple Crumb Cake.

Warm, sweet, and gently spiced this is just the thing to ease you into Fall. It’s not super in-your-face with the Autumn-ness. There’s no brazen pumpkin spice, no overpowering scent of cloves, and definitely no hint at Halloween or Thanksgiving. Instead there’s the subtle scent of cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg, and the just-barely-there crunch of apples. It’s Autumn goodness, but in a super chill, non-confrontational way, that could easily feel right-at-home in any other season of the year.

a single slice of apple crumb cake sits on a plate beside an apple and a dish of other crumble cake

Apple Coffee Cake: Dessert With A Good Excuse

I’m going to cut to the chase here. This Apple Crumb Cake is an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. This is nothing new, of course. We’ve been coming up with ways to eat cake for breakfast for centuries. Pancakes, waffles, muffins. They’re all cake, people.

But of all the cake-for-breakfast incarnations out there, the coffee cake did the worst job at hiding it’s dessert-ness. I can just imagine the recipe development meeting now.

Guy #1: Hmmmmm….pancakes seem to be a hit and we managed to slip muffins through, but we really need another way to eat cake for breakfast. 

Guy #2: I know! Let’s see…What if we made a cake, topped it with a buttery crumble and then drizzled it with sugar syrup! That totally makes it breakfast, right?

Guy #1: By golly, I think you’re on to something. Sounds like the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee. In fact, I think we’ll call it Coffee Cake!

And that’s how we’ve been enjoying apple crumb cake for breakfast all these years.

closeup image of a fork in a slice of apple crumb cake topped with icing

Buttery Apple Crumb Cake

I’m not even going to try to convince you that this is healthy. It’s not. It’s buttery cake topped with buttery crumble topped with apple cider-spiked glaze… with a little bit of fruit in the middle. In other words, it’s darn delicious.

So trade in your swimsuit for some stretchy pants, grab a blanket, and cozy up with a cup of your morning joe, and a slice of this Apple Crumb Cake. It’s fall, and it’s totally allowed. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get to work on my sweater body.

And just in case you are in central Ohio and you’re looking for some apples to pick, or more family focused fall festivities (like slides, pond fishing, corn pit, bouncers, tractor rides, farm markets, and apple cider, etc) then check out all the great things to do in my old hometown in this awesome post from my pal Julie. 

Apple Crumb Cake Recipe

Apple Crumb Cake Recipe

Yield: 8-10

Start your Autumn day off the right way with a slice of this Apple Crumb Coffee Cake. Buttery cake meets spiced apples, all topped with cinnamon crumb streusel.

Ingredients

For the crumb:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large (or 3 small) tart apples (such as honeycrisp, granny smith, or pink lady), peeled and chopped

For the cake:

  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons apple cider
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
  • For the crumb:

    1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the melted butter and vanilla extracts and stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Set aside.

    For the batter:

    1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream. Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add this to the butter mixture, stirring until the ingredients are just combined.

    To assemble:

    1. Spread half the batter into a thin layer at the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the apple chunks evenly over the batter. Top with about 1 cup of the crumble mixture. Spread the remaining batter over top followed by the rest of the crumble.
    2. Bake the mixture for 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If the top gets too brown, cover with foil for the last 10-15 minutes.
    3. While the coffee cake bakes, whisk together the powdered sugar, cider, milk, and salt. Serve the cake warm with the cider drizzle. This recipe can be made up to two days in advance. Store in an airtight container or in the pan with saran wrap on top.

    Notes

    The batter is quite thick and will have to be spread thin to fit the 9 x 13 inch pan. It will rise in the oven.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Leave a review, or head over to Instagram and share a photo! Tag your projects with #neighborfoodies!


    Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion 

    This Apple Crumb Coffee Cake is dotted with apples and an amazing crumb topping for a great fall dessert or breakfast!

    78 Comments

    1. I Love this cake!!! I think that it is perfect for anytime of the day. I switched it up and use some fresh peaches that I cooked down with spices and added to the cake. The cake was perfect. Thank You for this recipe.

    2. Made this yesterday and it was delicious. There were not to many crumbs ( never to many crumbs). I just put extra in the middle layer. I had apples to use up so I added maybe one extra. The batter is thick. I used a big spoon that I kept wetting with water to spread it out. A little tougher with the top layer but I managed.

    3. I just made this recipe and I’m in love!! I never follow recipies exactly but I did this time. I read the reviews/comments but did not make adjustments. It is perfect!! Moist and delicious. Do yourself a favor, don’t read the comments, just follow the recipe exactly!! No its not too thick… no its not too sweet and no, there is not too much topping. 5 stars for this one!

    4. This recipe is disappointing and wholly inaccurate. I had this recipe in my oven for an hour and 15 minutes, and the batter on the bottom never cooked through. I also had a difficult time spreading the second layer of batter…too thick. There is also WAY too much crumb topping. I pretty much just felt like I was eating mouthfuls of floury sugar instead of anything resembling a cake. Almost forgot I had even put any apples in it to begin with. I will not make this again.

    5. This recipe looks phenomenal! We are working on our third bushel of apples to stock up applesauce for the winter. We live in the Columbus area but drive to Walnut Creek (Holmes County aka Amish country) to a favorite orchard. The apples are 1/3 the price of anywhere in our immediate area. I have a fall ladies luncheon I’m going to this coming weekend and this apple cake will be perfect to take! Thank you for posting such an “applelicious” recipe!

    6. Made this for the 1st time today & it’s currently baking – house smells delish! I doubled the vanilla in both the crumb & batter because I do that for every recipe. I also added 1 tsp pie spice to the batter & used 1/2 brown, 1/2 white sugar as I like to build depth of flavor in every layer. Since I’m surprising my stepmom w/this at work when it’s done, I’m putting the glaze on the side so folks can add their own if they choose. I made my cinnamon roll glaze as I think it again is a little more flavorful: 4 ozs light cream cheese & 4 tblsp salted butter (both room temp), 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, & 2 tblsp 1/2 & 1/2 (can easily sub milk or cream). Mix until blended smoothly.

    7. I made this recipe as muffins and they were so so good. The only thing I did differently was sautéed the apples in a bit of butter and brown sugar with a dash of cinnamon. We own a B&B and the guests loved them. So moist and very pretty. Thanks for sharing!
      Jan

    8. This recipe was very good! I would possibly add a little more Apple. I used Cortlands. The crumb topping is also great, not to much for me!

    9. Yours looks delicious but I couldn’t get it to spread out in a 9×9, much less if I’d used a 9×13. So I spread it in one layer, put the apples on top and half the topping. Unfortunately this means half of my topping was wasted, so in the garbage bin it went :/ looking forward to trying it, it’s still in the oven and starting to smell good!

    10. Really wishing I would have read the comments on here about the crumb topping and batter. Batter was definitely too sticky and VERY hard to spread the second layer. I’m thinking it would be easier to take a cookie dough baller and scoop the batter eveningly and then lightly spreading the second layer to avoid so much movement. I threw away about half of the crumb top… WAYYYYY too much! Otherwise, it’s baking now and smells delicious… hopefully it tastes as good as it smells.

      1. I hope it tasted wonderful for you! The cookie dough baller is a great idea for handling the thick dough.

    11. thank you for the recipe. This is the 3rd time I made it. My husband likes it so much. I made some changes, added more apples, for 1/2 c sugar I used 1/4 cup, and for 1 c brown sugar, I used 3/4. I also eliminated the glaze. We did not miss the less sugar. We don’t eat it for breakfast, it is desert after dinner. I also freeze it in small quantities, it is als very good after frozen for a few months, We are only 2 people and I freeze it so my husband can’t eat it till it is all gone.
      Very good recipe and a keeper. Thank you.

      1. So glad you and your husband enjoy it! And thanks for the tip about freezing. I will have to freeze half next time!

    12. I’ve made this recipe twice now. Fortunately I read the comments before I began the first attempt.
      The CRUMB: WAY TOO MUCH SALT. I use salted butter. Did NOT add any additional salt. Crumb is perfect. Can’t figure out why you add a teaspoon of salt?
      I found it easiest to put on food prep gloves and mix the butter into crumb mixture with my hands.
      Peel and chop apples immediately after mixing crumb, definitely before you start mixing batter. I used a little fruit fresh to keep my chopped apples from turning brown while they sat off to the side.
      2 large, or 3 small apples? What is a large apple? what is a small apple? For some the perspective may vary. I used 2-1/2 to 3 cups of chopped apple. Chopped how small? I chopped mine pretty small. less than 1/4″ inch.
      Mix flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder for batter first, and set aside. Then start mixing wet ingredients for batter.
      I used my kitchen scale to determine how much is half of the batter.
      How do you spread such a sticky batter? I wet my hand under running water, then spread a little batter. When the batter starts to stick to my hand I rinse my hand clean under running water, shake excess water off my hand, and start spreading again. Repeat as many times as needed until first layer of batter is spread out evenly. Be careful not carry too much water into batter by shaking excess water off your hand before trying to spread batter.
      There’s too much crumb? possibly I would agree, BUT! Why only put 1 cup of crumb on top of apples. With so much crumb mixture I put almost 3 cups of crumb mixture on top of apples. Use enough crumb to completely cover the apples.
      Spreading second half of batter on top of apple crumb layer, use the wet hand method again. It works great.
      Someone wrote there isn’t enough mixture to fill the pan, and they didn’t even put it in the oven. I’m really sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work for that person. As I stated I’ve made this recipe twice now. Each time my 9×13 pan was about 1/4″ below the top when it was ready to go in the oven, actually a little higher than the picture of the finished product in the stoneware dish pictured above. After baking there was about a half of rise. Everything held together nicely, and not spill over, or fall out the sides of the pan.
      My oven cooks unevenly. My remedy is to line the oven rack with aluminum foil, then cut out rectangle, leaving 2″ inches of the ends and sides of pan shielded from the heat. This allows the center to cook without burning the sides and turning them into a crispy crunchy failure. I check for done after 50 minutes, usually end up with almost 60 minutes baking time.
      April 7th is National Coffee cake day. I Made this for co-workers to celebrate the day. It was big hit.

    13. This recipe needs a LOT of work. Too much salt. Triple checked it before I added it and the crumble is salty!! Yuck! Not enough batter for both layers even if it is split in half. Cumbersome to make and barely edible.

      1. Hi Kelly,
        I’m really sorry this didn’t turn out for you. Can I ask if you used salted or unsalted butter for the crumbs? I use unsalted butter to bake because it helps me to control the amount of salt in the recipe, but I realize I didn’t specify that in the recipe above. I thought that might be the culprit! I will be adding that to the recipe.

        As others have mentioned and is mentioned in the recipe, the batter is very thick and appears to be not enough when you’re spreading it, but it does rise and fill the pan when baked. Again, so sorry you didn’t enjoy this!

    14. I was looking to make something in a jelly roll pan. This looked so good, I thought I would see how it turned out. So I made 1 1/2 batter recipes and just 1 of the topping. I haven’t tasted it yet, but it smells yummy!

    15. Hi i notice by the dates I’m too late but I have made it twice now and it’s delicious but the battery is thick and I have a hard time spreading it did I miss something

    16. This looks so delicious! I want to make this in a bundt pan, so do I just put the mixtures into the pan in the opposite order and how long would I bake it for?

      Thanks!

    17. This looks amazing!! I was wondering, have you ever tried replacing the apples with apple pie filling? Do you think it would add too much moisture? Just a thought! 🙂

    18. I have this in the oven right now. I followed the directions to the T. I am hoping it turns out well! I agree there is too much crumb for the cake. I used a lot and still had about a cup left, which I froze and will use another time. I am not a baker by any means! I started dialysis about a year ago and lost my job (long story) so on my off days I scan Pinterest, Just A Pinch and Betty Crocker web sites for new recipes to try on my family! I am really hoping this one is a keeper!

    19. I made this recipe today after finding it on Pinterest. I had all the ingredients on hand and it was simple to make. I didn’t make the glaze, mostly because I forgot, but it was amazing without it, just as I am sure it would be even better with it! I’m so glad I found this recipe and gave it a try Definitely a new go-to. I wonder if it can be made in muffin tins and frozen?

      1. I am so glad you enjoyed this! I’m not sure how this would be in muffins. I think it might be hard to get the batter evenly distributed since it’s so thick. I would maybe just make it in the pan, cut into squares and then freeze. 🙂

    20. This was so great! We went apple picking this weekend, and before we knew it, we were toting almost 20 pounds of Fuji and Staymen apples home with us! I’ve never made a coffee cake, but I’m a big fan, so I checked on Pinterest and found this recipe. I was a little worried because the batter was SO thick, and also because I was a few tablespoons short on the butter for the crumb layers. But it totally worked out, and was delicious and filling! I’m going to try to see if I can pre-cut some squares and freeze them for easy breakfast treats during the week. Hopefully it works out!

      Thank you!

      1. I totally feel you on the excess of appless. I always get so caught up in the moment and end up with way more than I know what to do with! I’m so glad this worked out for you. I know the batter looks way too thick. It’s one of those recipes that makes you nervous as you put it in the oven but it always turns out lovely! Thanks so much for coming back to share!

    21. Thanks for sharing the recipe. However I had to make a few substitutions
      due to what I had. I used coconut oil in the crumb layer vs butter. (the crumb
      mix was too much for my cake) next time I will use less crumb maybe 2 cups vs 3…And I used Yogurt Butter for the batter since DD is lactose intolerant as well as yogurt vs sour cream.
      Used both whole wheat/white flour/fresh ground oatmeal as the flour mixture called
      for as I was out of everything needed…Cooked a little longer close to 1 hour..
      Super Yummy but make this recipe that I subbed again worked great!!!!

    22. Ok so the drizzle wasn’t happening. It was so much powdered sugar and only 2 tbsp of milk & apple cider it wasn’t even mixing together. Are they suppose to go on separately?

    23. This looks delicious! I am planning on making it for the jewish holidays… how many days after baking do you think it will stay fresh and safe to eat? And any storage recommendations?

      1. I know it lasts at least 3 days, but it’s never made it past that in our house. 🙂 I recommend storing it unglazed in the pan covered in saran wrap. Before serving, warm it up in 200 degree oven for 10-15 minutes then glaze right before serving!

    24. Sounds delicious, just one question though. The crumb topping calls for 3 cups of flour divided.
      The instructions call for 2 1/2 cups. What happens to the remaining 1/2 cup?

      1. This recipe is a WASTE of time and ingredients. The pan size is way to huge for such little batter and then you end up with 9 cups of the crumb topping. I didnt even bother popping in the oven cause the batter was so thick you it barely fit the 9×13 pan. Fix your measurements

        1. Hi Alicia, I’m really sorry you had a bad experience with this recipe. I’ve gone back and checked all the measurements and they are correct. You’re right the batter is very thick and it gets spread into a thin layer in the 9 x 13 inch pan. I remember when I made the recipe I thought the batter to crumb ratio was off, but the recipe is correct. The cake rises in the oven and it ends up having a nice thick layer of crumbs like you see in the recipe. Again, I’m sorry this didn’t work for you. I will make a note in the recipe that the cake batter is very thick and will be spread thin into the pan.

        2. Made this yesterday… I admit I was a little skeptical about the measurements / pan ratio at first too because the batter did come out really thick and very hard to spread… .but once you bake it it fills the entire 9X13 inch pan and the batter does rise so you do get a good ratio…. Only thing that went wrong with mine is I think I took it out a little too soon. The tester came out clean in all parts of the cake (longer than 40 minutes though probably about 50 min with my oven) but the bottom of the cake did not come out as brown as the picture…it came out a shade darker than the cake itself. It wasn’t raw or anything, just could have used a few extra minutes I think. Still tasted good though! Great recipe!

          I wonder… do you think it will brown/bake a little more if i put it in the oven before serving (a day later)? Or does that really defy the rules of baking lol?

          1. Hi Ali! So glad it turned out for you! You can definitely put it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes before serving. I would probably do it at 350 degrees–the crumbs will brown too though, so if you don’t want them any browner, I would cover it with foil.

    25. Lmao – ain’t nothin’ wrong with cake for breakfast, Courtney. You’re preaching to the choir here! Tony will freaking LOVE this. He adores apple desserts. Your apple crumb cake looks like delicious perfection, as do these gorgeous photos! We had an amazing summer in Vancouver and it looks like fall will be just as lovely – we’ve had nothing but sunshine and blue skies. The temperature’s dropping but that’s ok. I’m happy to climb into my sweaters and boots, just as long as it doesn’t rain!

    26. Okay, you found my Achilles heel, Courtney–I adore this recipe SO much! Apples are probably my favorite excuse for fall, and coffee cake and crumb. Just ermigawsh. Please Willy Wonka-style send me these, ASAP!

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