Apple Cake with Crumb Topping

Apple Cake with Crumb Topping Recipe

This apple cake recipe has become a standard in our house. It's probably one of the first desserts I remember baking as a kid in France. Over the years, the recipe hasn't changed one bit, with the exception of the addition of crumb topping for texture contrast.

The apples in our garden are smallish and a bit tart, which makes them better for cooking than eating. I was able to gather a basketful of the apples and put them to use in this recipe. The flesh was aromatic, crisp and firm, making them perfect for baking. Once cooked, they tasted nutty, sweet and tart. The cake is perfect for brunch as well, and as an added bonus, we ate it again the next day and it was still moist and perfect.


Yields: 8 servings

4 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 lemon, zested and freshly squeezed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, freshly ground
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar, as needed
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

For the crumb topping: In a bowl, combine ¼ cup flour, 2 tablespoons of cold butter, brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix using the back of fork (or a stainless-steel pastry blender) until it forms sandy crumbs of butter, sugar and flour. Do NOT over-mix. Store in the refrigerator until chilled.

For the apples: In a bowl, mix the apples with ground cinnamon and lemon zest. Drizzle with lemon juice. 

Making coffee cake:

Beat the egg yolks in a mixing bowl with ½ cup of granulated sugar until they're pale yellow; the texture of the eggs will be thicker. Add the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Combine the egg mixture and the dry ingredients, alternating with milk so the batter is smooth. Add the soft butter and mix until the cake batter is formed. Finish with ¼ cup sugar.

In another bowl, add the remaining salt to the egg whites and whisk for about 2 minutes at a low speed. Add the rest of the granulated sugar, increase the speed of your mixer and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes until it forms stiff peaks. Don't over-beat or the texture will become grainy.

Using a silicone spatula, mix 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the cake batter to soften it. Add the rest of the whipped egg whites and gently fold them in to get an airy batter.

Assembly time:

Line a (10-inch) cake pan with parchment paper (see tips). Pour 1/3 of the finished cake batter into the cake pan. Spread a layer of cinnamon-favored apples. Cover with the rest of the cake batter and even it out using a spreader. Sprinkle with the cold crumb topping.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F; lower the temperature to 375°F and bake for another 45-50 minutes until the top is golden. A skewer or a toothpick inserted into the coffee cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.

The texture of the cake should be very soft and moist.

Serve the apple dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think the warm cake and cold ice cream complement each other really well.

Serve warm with a hot cup of tea.

Bon appétit!

Apple Crumb Topping Recipe with Picture


You can make this fruit-filled coffee cake with any other fruit such as nectarines, peaches, plums, berries, pears or figs, depending on the season. Be creative!

Sifting the dry ingredients helps to get rid of lumps of flour and also to aerate the mixture when liquid is added. It's very important for all of your baking so you get a moist result.

I usually get a bag of cinnamon sticks at a more reasonable price at the Indian market, compared to the regular local chain stores. I grated it using a Microplane. You can use ready-made ground cinnamon but I think the flavor is more intense when freshly grated.

Parchment paper is very convenient when you use molds that aren't non-stick. If you're extra cautious, grease the molds with butter before lining them with parchment paper. You could also serve this apple cake as individual portions baked in a muffin tin.

To make the crumb topping, it's important to use cold butter. If you want a crisper topping, you can add a paper-thin slice of butter over the top prior to baking.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on September 23, 2011.


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