Recipes

big apple crumb cake

This is the bouldered and dramatic intersection of two of my favorite things: cinnamon baked apples and a thick crumb cake. I don’t know how they make crumb cake where you are, but here in New York, and where I grew up in New Jersey, crumb cake isn’t a genteel cinnamon-ribboned or finely streusel-ed coffee cake, but a hefty square that’s 50% crumb topping and 50% a golden, sour cream-enriched cake and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Thanks to brown sugar and cinnamon, the crumb topping is always a dark stripe, and a snow-cap of powdered sugar isn’t optional. Fruit is, but this is too good with fresh apples to skip them.


new york applessplit, then coredwedgedtossed with cinnamon, sugar, lemon

For such a loud and attention-demanding cake (I’m still talking about cake, I think?), no delicate slice or dice of apples will do so I use here a full pound of thick wedges snugged so tightly they barely fit in their confines, an all-too-accurate New York real estate story. Squeezing your crumbs in small handfuls before breaking them over the apples created more boulder-like pieces. Baking this cake for almost an hour at a slightly lower temperature gives the apples enough time to get tender, their juices bubbling. Your kitchen will smell, at minimum, like a blissful epiphany of apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and at peak melodrama, the absolutely best decision we’ve made yet in October.

big crumbsthick battersour cream cakeapples on topcrumbs on applesbig apple crumb cake

I’m back! I’ve missed you. I never intended to take such a long break, or any at all, but I was pulled under by a vacation (too short), a manuscript deadline for my next book (too quick), and then the two-week photoshoot for it (100 recipes in 10 days, oh and btw, I’m the photographer) and when I emerged, because I only like sparkly new things, I didn’t want to share any of the recipes I already readied but new ones that had piqued my interest while I was buried. One of the things that’s different about SK, sometimes for the better but occasionally for the worse, is that there’s no editorial or recipe development staff and just one me, and life gets busy. But my central dedication to this space — which turns 15 this fall! — remains unchanged. Good luck ever getting rid of me for good. ;)

Previously

6 months ago: Lemon Potatoes and Sheet Pan Chow Mein
1 year ago: Whole Wheat Chocolate Oat Cookies and Simple Cauliflower Tacos
2 years ago: Chickpea and Kale Shakshuka
3 years ago: Crispy Spinach Pizza
4 years ago: Pizza Beans and Chocolate Tahini Challah Buns
5 years ago: Homemade Merguez with Herby Yogurt and Magic Apple Plum Cobbler
6 years ago: The Perfect Manhattan, Broccoli Cheddar Soup and S’more Cupcakes
7 years ago: Latke Waffles and The Crispy Egg
8 years ago: Frico Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
9 years ago: Crackly Banana Bread and Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto
10 years ago: Apple Pie Cookies
11 years ago: Single-Crust Apple and Plum Pie
12 years ago: Date Spice Loaf and Lebanese-Style Stuffed Eggplant
13 years ago: Summer’s Last Hurrah Panzanella, Sweet and Sour Glazed Cippoline, Majestic and Moist Honey Cake, and Best Challah (Egg Bread)
14 years ago: Red Velvet Cake, Noodle Kugel, Spaghetti Fideos with Chorizo and Almonds and Couscous and Feta-Stuffed Peppers
[Omg!] 15 years ago: Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

big apple crumb cake

Big Apple Crumb Cake

  • Servings: 12 to 16
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

Cakes with fresh chunks of fruit taste good on the first day and fantastic on the second day, when everything has a chance to settle. In this case, the topping adheres better on the second day. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it as soon as possible, just that it will reward you for planning ahead.

    Apples
  • 1 pound apples (3 medium or 2 large), peeled if you wish, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Cake
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Finish
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven: To 325°F (165°C). Lightly coat an 8-inch square or 9-inch cake pan with butter or nonstick spray. For extra security, line it with parchment paper.

Prepare apples: Toss apples with lemon juice, then cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Make crumbs: Whisk butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt together until evenly mixed. Add flour and mix until it disappears. It’s going to be very thick; set it it aside.

Make cake: Beat butter with sugar until lightened and fluffy. Add egg, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Sprinkle surface of batter with with baking powder and salt, and beat well to combine. Add flour and mix only until it disappears.

Assemble: Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and smooth it flat. Arrange apples on cake, slightly overlapped. I usually fit all but 2 wedges; those are cook’s snacks. Pour any cinnamon-apple juices in bottom of bowl over apples. Sprinkle crumbs over apple slices. For bigger crumbs, squeeze the crumbs into small fistfuls and break these up into a couple bigger chunks over the cake.

Bake: Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the apples doesn’t hit any crisp spots and if you look closely, you’ll see juices bubbling around some apples, about 50 to 55 minutes.

Cool to room temperature, if you can bear it, before cutting into squares or wedges. Dust generously with powdered sugar.

Cake keeps at room temperature loosely covered (in an airtight container, the crumbs eventually soften) for 3 days or in the fridge, well-wrapped, for 6 days.

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244 comments on big apple crumb cake

  1. Bentley

    Do tell us what apple varieties are pictured? So pretty. Also, do the skins break down significantly? I once sampled an apple cobbler with a texture that was quite marred – unapeeling if you will – by the presence of skins but would love to skip the peeling step if they don’t stick around like that all the time.

    1. deb

      I’m sorry, I always vow to remember what varieties I grab and then I just throw two of every kind in a big and remember nothing, lol. But ripe, juicy apples are fine here. No need to follow the pie rules of apples that lean sour and hold their shape.

      I don’t notice the skins here, but like the color they add. It might be more noticeable with heavily waxed apples or without a crumb topping.

      1. Tara Gutman

        Well I guess I know what I’m making this weekend! In case the chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake wasn’t enough to have in my repertoire…thanks Deb!!

      1. Alissa

        Amazing! So easy and so good! I almost wish that I didn’t know that there was almost 2 sticks of butter in it because I would make this every fall weekend! 😁 Already on 2nd one this week! And the crumb is just like my family’s favorite NJ bagel shops coffee cake crumb! Thanks for saving me a 4 hour drive when the Goldberg’s cravings hit!

      1. Beth

        The second I saw a new recipe on Smitten Kitchen I was excited. The next second, when I realized I had all the ingredients, I was ecstatic. I immediately ran to my kitchen and started warming up a stick of butter.

        This. Is. Fantastic. I used Jonathan apples I had picked from down the road and their tartness worked perfectly with the sweet crumbs. I dialed back the sugar and upped the salt and vanilla to my tastes, and I can’t stop eating it. Thank you !!

  2. Judy

    In the “Make crumbs” section it says add sugar and mix until flour disappears. It seems like the sugar is already mixed in in the previous sentence. Sounds amazing!

  3. Vix

    When we’re making the crumbs, where it says to whisk the butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt together, and then to add the sugar and mix until the flour disappears…which sugars are we adding when, please?! If it makes much of a difference! Thanks 😁

    1. Alexandra Castle

      Hi Deb, I made this yesterday and it was delicious! But the base was a little dry even though I did everything as written, did I overmix it or could I put a bit of extra sour cream to add moisture?
      I have an oven finally so am baking up a storm (previously lived in a minescule studio apartment and used an airfryer as an oven! Wasn’t great for baking although made your banana breads a few times!!)
      Thanks :)
      Alex

      1. deb

        Give a try on day two! As I mention in the headnote, cakes with fresh fruit are always better on the second day and after, when the ingredients have a chance to settle.

  4. tess

    this looks delicious! am v likely to make it this weekend.

    i just wanted to ask you why the page about your iceland vacation has no tags or comment availability? there’s no way to find it without a specific link. idk if that’s by design or not, so i thought i’d ask.

    1. deb

      Re, tags and comments — I have some static pages throughout the site without comments or tags, including all of the travel pages. I know I will not be able to answer all (or truly any) of the vacation questions that come in; it’s just not my focus here.

      Re, findings these pages — An issue that’s been flagged. On desktop, the MORE menu item has > Travel > A list of vacations I’ve written up places. It’s not working right on mobile but will be fixed very soon.

  5. Marie

    Welcome back! Excited for the new book next year :-)

    Question–I’m dealing with a new dairy allergy and have found a good butter substitute (earth balance), but do you have any suggestions for swapping out the sour cream for something non-dairy?

    1. Morgan

      I have several years of experience with dairy-free baking , so I’ve tried a few sour cream substitutes. If you’re dead set on a non-dairy sour cream I would recommend Daiya brand, but in my own kitchen I’ve had more success substituting any coconut, soy, or oat-based yoghurt. Hope this helps!

      1. Roberta

        Morgan and Marie, like you we have dairy allergies (and a few assorted others like gluten and some nuts and peanuts) and use the same substitutes: Earth Balance without soy for non-dairy butter; non-dairy yogurt to sub for sour cream (we have found aftertastes sometimes with the direct vegan sour cream substitutes), and even use the yogurt instead of ricotta for some Italian fruit cake recipes and tarts, specifically So Delicious unsweetened coconut yogurt; and in general to sub for cow’s milk or heavy cream we use coconut milk or cream from a can or a high fat oak milk. Happy subbing!

    2. Dawn

      The Kite Hill sour cream works fabulously. I have made Deb’s sour cream coffee cake with it and you can’t even tell it’s not dairy.

  6. Jessica

    Can you double this in a 13×9 pan? Or bake two 8×8 cakes at the same time? I need a treat for a goodbye party tomorrow at the office :)

    Thank you!

    1. deb

      Totally different cakes, but I love them both. My mother’s will always be the ultimate, but if you love a crumb cake-style, you should make this one.

  7. Leo

    Fantastic recipe as always, and well worth the wait! I had to put mine back in for another 10 minutes or so to cook it through (probably just my oven) but in the end it tasted incredible. Looking forward to the next cookbook as well!

    1. Lindsey

      Aquafaba (the brine from a can of chickpeas or white beans, or really any beans) works great in cakes and cookies. 3 Tbsp subs 1 egg.

      1. Lindsey

        I’ve actually made this now, twice with aquafaba, and once with egg, and my family actually preferred the texture with the aquafaba! Fantastic recipe.

    2. Amy Wierda

      1 egg = 1 T ground flax seed + 3 T water, stir and let rest 5 minutes until it turns into a slurry. This is my go-to egg substitute for most baking.

    3. JennR

      The egg substitute I use is: dissolve 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water, whisk in 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil.

      (sometimes I skip the dissolve step, put the oil & water in when the recipe calls for egg, and then put the cornstarch in with the flour. Works fine for cookies and quick breads)

  8. Jennifer

    Welcome back! I’m now headed off to add sour cream and butter to the list: our here in the hinterlands, there are literally fantastic apples falling off a number of trees in our neighborhood.

        1. Julia (another one!)

          I made this with KAF measure-for-measure GF flour and some almond flour. I used 1c M4M and 1/3c almond flour in the crumbs and 2/3c M4M and 1/3c almond flour for the cake base. Worked wonderfully! I’ll probably do the blends by weight rather than volume next time, just to see how that will turn out. Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Deb!

  9. Eva

    Looks amazing. I’m wondering how critical the lemon juice is. I’m on a low acid diet and I can eat everything else in this recipe. Thanks.

    1. Pastrychic

      @Marcia, totally with you—mourning the end of peaches (until next year!) and, at the same time, being really ready to celebrate apple season with this most excellent cake!

    1. Lala N

      Would love to add chopped walnuts or walnut meal to the crumble. Do you think replacing 1/3-1/2 C of the flour with nut meal could work?
      Thanks!

  10. Janet C

    Much of the food I place on our table gets announced as Smitten Kitchen. Tomorrow it is going to be this and potato tortilla too. Thanks! And, I’m anxiously awaiting your new book! Any idea when we can preorder it?

  11. Christine

    Sounds and looks delicious, wondering why you don’t peel the apples? Though they soften, I would think the peels lend an undesirable texture to this luscious dessert, or morning cup of coffee cake!

    1. deb

      I was curious to see what would happen and don’t notice the texture and I liked the color it added. I might in another cake but not here, with the long baking time and crunchy topping. You can absolutely peel them if you wish.

  12. Cathleen Case

    I’m from Jersey originally but in MA for 40 years. New England does a lot of things right except pizza, subs and crumb cake. I’m excited to add apples!!! Thanks!!

      1. Having lived in NY for a long time and now a MA resident (for over 20 years) , I feel this was said with humor. Although pizza is getting a lot better!! But very true for crumb cake.

  13. Virginia Luppescu

    Hi Deb,
    Could I use light sour cream in this recipe?
    I want to make it today and I have light sour cream in the fridge.
    Thanks,
    Virginia Luppescu

  14. Anna

    Wonderful timing — I have a bunch of farmer’s market apples and was at a loss as to what non-pie dessert to make with them, and this looks absolutely perfect!! Do you think I could sub buttermilk for sour cream or would the texture be too off?

      1. Kasey

        Deb- I just made this yesterday, and it might be one of my all time favorites. It IS even better on day two! I used honey crisp and peeled the apples. Already planning the next batch. Thank you!

  15. Natalie

    My God Deb, how do you cook 100 recipes in a week! I’m writing a cookbook too and that is such a mystery to me (I have few months before the photo shoot). Send tips or alcohol 😂 So I glad you’re back 💓 Natalie

  16. Libby

    It is impossible to overstate how much you were missed! I am like the rat in the intermittent reinforcement experiment who keeps pressing the food lever in hopes of a pellet. I kept checking your site in hopes of a new column – the receipes are always perfect, but it’s your writing about food that I missed the most. Thank you for this one!

    1. Molly

      Ha ha ha ha ha – saaaame. At least there’s always something good in the archives, even if there isn’t anything new :)

      So glad you’re back, Deb – can’t wait for the new book – and can’t wait to try this cake!!

  17. florapie

    I made this pretty much as written, but did sub Greek yogurt for the sour cream, and doubled the recipe. You’re not kidding about it being half crumbs! So delicious. The only challenge I had was getting the batter to spread because it was so thick-this was easily solved by wetting my hands and just pressing it down that way. In a 9×13 pan, there wasn’t enough surface area to use all of the apples I had prepped, so if I doubled it again, I would use two smaller pans. I would also sub some whole wheat flour for some of the white, both for flavour and to feel better about having this for breakfast. Thanks for a great way to use up some of the glut of apples in my kitchen!

    1. Kerry

      I was having trouble spreading the cake and remembered reading this comment. Wet my hands and it was so easy! Great tip, thanks for sharing!!

    2. Dana

      Thanks for the tip regarding the surface area! I was going to make it in a 9 by 13 and then read your comment. You’re right… the area of a 9 by 13 (117) vs two 9 by 9’s (162) is significant! Not that I was doing math over here…

  18. sandy

    Made this with 2 large galas wedged in tightly, thick yogurt (6%) instead of sour cream, corn starch egg a commenter suggested (1 T corn starch + 3 T water + 1 T oil), and half the crumbs (personal preference; the crumbs were enough to coat the apples). Delicious cake. Not excessively sweet.

  19. Sarahb1313

    I have emperor plums that are neither too juicy nor too dry…
    I am thinking this is the sub. No matter what I use them for it will get soggy after a day or two…

    If anyone has thoughts, would love to hear!!

  20. Stephanie L.

    I had some leftover pumpkin purée and wondered if I made your pumpkin bread recipe for the cake portion and put the apple crumbly goodness on top. Turns out it’s really, really delicious and beautiful. Thank you!

  21. Angela

    I’ve never cooked with apples before, but plan to rectify that this weekend! I have Ambrosia apples, which are sweet. I’m planning to use those, unless someone here says that is a bad idea? (and if so, what varieties do you recommend??)

    1. Mary Beth

      Personally Angela, I prefer a tart apple for baking, my favorite being Granny Smith. I also prefer peeling the apples. However, if you use your Ambrosia apples, I would cut back on the white sugar in the crumb topping. I’m sure it will be delicious!

    2. sandy

      I made this with sweet Galas and half the crumb topping and didn’t find it overly sweet. You’ll definitely want to dial the sugar back if you’re going to use the full amount of crumbs.

  22. Dorothee

    Hi Deb, greetings from Germany! I am definitely making this cake this weekend. I so much appreciate how often you add the metric measurements and weights and since you did again in this recipe I just wanted to give a heads up, that in the crumble topping you only added the amount of butter and left out the weight. This is probably an annoying comment – but it makes things so much easier if I don’t have to figure out how many grams equal one teaspoon. Thank you for your great recipes! Best wishes, Dorothee

  23. Sharon

    I love your apple pie recipe – and will never bake another again! The macerating of the apples is such a great technique. Wondering why you didn’t employ it here? To pre-soften the fruit, so more fits on the cake?

    1. deb

      You could, but I don’t find it necessary. There, it allows you to pile more in the dish and have less gapping between the top crust and the apples once they collapse. This isn’t a concern here.

  24. Amy Sue

    I NEED this is my life. Desperately.

    Sadly I’m temporarily on the outs with dairy because of breastfeeding!

    Are there any dairy subs you think might work? Otherwise I’ll have to keep this recipe in my “make ASAP when done breastfeeding” category.

    1. deb

      I haven’t tested it in a muffin pan but suspect the amount of time needed to bake the apples will overbake the muffins. You could probably halve it in a loaf pan (it won’t fill it).

      1. Rosie

        I could not wait so I made 1/4 of the recipe in a mini loaf pan! Was the perfect size and probably overbaked it at 50 minutes. Super cute! Lining it with parchment first would have been a good idea. Just going to have to cut it in the pan :)

  25. Mie

    I am in such a depression because I haven’t seen new YouTube video uploaded. Glad you are back from your vacation! I NEED MORE DEB BAKING COOKIES (in a cookie monster voice)

  26. Julie Garagliano

    Thank you for the great report on Iceland. Now I am looking at airfares!

    The apple cake is outstanding! Used greek yogurt instead of sour cream (saved a trip to the market) and it was perfect.

    1. Courtney

      Also used Greek yogurt – the batter didn’t come together as smoothly as I think it would have with sour cream. But the cake turned out great and was SO delicious…wow. I think the tanginess of the sour cream would have been really nice here so I am going to make the recipe without subs next time. I had to bake for an extra 15 minutes but I think that’s an issue with my oven, not the recipe! Thanks, Deb – another hit!!

  27. Bob Schriever

    My paternal grandmother was from Hackensack NJ and any visit there required a trip to B & W Bakery. On the rare occasions that I get there now, a stop at B & W is still required, many crumb cakes are bought and so.e even get shipped to Colorado. I cannot wait to try this recipe! Thank you so mich!

    1. Bob – I live 5 minutes walk away from that bakery and I know the very crumb cake you’re talking about. This version by Deb is amazing because it has apples in it and really add amazing depth to it. My husband who swears by that B&W crumb cake is a convert, he said that the apple really makes it 10 times more interesting. He also said that we should eat it with ice cream!

  28. Lynne Keast

    While I have so missed your recipes these last weeks and this one is an awesome welcome back, I have to say your absence has”forced” me to forage through your treasure trove of amazing recipes over the seasons – thank you

    1. Linda Lieberman

      I must be following you forever Deb. I remember making your Big Crumb Rhubarb Coffee Cake till I put on 5 lbs and had to stop!
      I’ll be making thus coffee cake thus week but will be stopping at 1.

  29. Laurie

    This was so, so good! I didn’t have sour cream so I used whole milk yogurt. I halved the recipe and baked in a pyrex loaf pan for about 45 minutes.

  30. Abi

    This looks and sounds amazing! Do you think swapping the butter in the cake for applesauce would make the cake too moist given the recipe already calls for sour cream? Just trying to save a few calories since there’s also butter in the crumbs :)

  31. Teri

    This cake looks absolutely delicious!!! I’m going to make it today and can’t wait to taste it!! I live in Washington state so I am going to go to my local fruit stand and get a variety of our delicious apples and get started Baking!! This is my first time on your website I’m so excited to be here!!

  32. Jeanne

    Absolutely delicious with two notes – yes, cook longer, about 10 minutes seems right. Also, lower the salt in both the topping and the cake – it didn’t seem like much but I can taste it. Still so yummy!

  33. Tracy L Piombo

    This was so amazing that even my tendency to confuse ounces and tablespoons didn’t ruin it. I realized I’d used four tablespoons of butter in the topping, not 4 ounces, only after it was in the oven, and then poured melted butter on top partway through cooking. Not ruined, still delicious! But maybe Deb will take note and standardize measurements for ridiculously bad readers like me! (To be fair, my 14 year old was telling me all about a dream and it was hard to concentrate. :)

  34. Katy

    I LOVE that this site is just you, without all the adds and craziness of the internet. Thank you. I would much rather a long break when you’re busy, than filling the pages with tons of subpar content. THANK YOU for being one of the very few bloggers out there doing things more simply and with great quality. We’re so grateful you exist!

  35. Laura

    I made this! With many substitutions! Realized I was out of flour…. So I used cake flour by weight. Also subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream. Doubled for a 9”x13” and had WAY too many apples… I used a small variety but also weighed them so who knows! Still delicious even with all those changes. Yum!

  36. Julie

    So glad you are back! I understood the absence – SO MUCH GOING ON!! And I kept check my feed reader to make sure it wasn’t broken!

  37. Sonia

    Made this last night for my dad’s birthday. It was a hit!! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe- it’s been added to our “permanent collection” :)

    I only made one substitution- since my dad is very sensitive to gluten, I subbed the AP flour in the crumb topping and cake batter for equal weights of Bob’s Redmill 1-to-1 baking flour. I used one gala apple and one Fuji apple- my apples weren’t tender at the 55 minute mark, and I ended up extending the cooking time to 1 hr 15 mins. Even then, I think the apples could have used another five mins.
    We ate this warm (cooled for 45 mins in the pan). Next time i might serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

  38. Sue

    Just made this last night/ate it this morning – cake for breakfast! Delicious! The whole family loved it! I used Pink Lady apples and peeled them. Their texture and flavor works really well in this.

  39. Mary P

    I made this exactly as written, using the listed weights. It was quite good, but I thought it could use a bit more apple. Next time I might increase that by about 25% or even more and maybe saute the apples slightly to make sure that much apple would be done same time as the cake. I did bake it ahead for the next day, and now we’re day three with a bit left, and I feel like it’s even better today. As mentioned in the recipe, I didn’t cover it tightly in order to keep the crumbs from getting too soft. It spent the first night in the empty microwave and the 2nd night on the counter with some plastic wrap just shoved up against the open face where it had been cut to keep the cake from drying out, but didn’t cover the top.

  40. ElaineSharon

    Deb, this looks amazing! I just made my first batch of homemade applesauce and discovered that I still HATE apple corers. This last one came highly recommended by a national recipe and equipment ratings website. Feh! Do you have one you like?

    1. deb

      I thought I was the only person who didn’t like those apple peeler/corers. Bought one years ago and gave it away — it kept missing spots and leaving parts of the core in; if I still need to do knife work, doesn’t feel like it saves time for the space it takes up. I don’t have another that I use, though. I just use a melon baller for the core and a knife for the stem now.

      1. ElaineSharon

        Exactly—I was struggling to insert the corer, remove the core from the device, and clean the apple of the leftover core, that it seemed at least twice as much work. I saw your photo with the melon baller—will try that.

      2. Nancy T. H.

        You taught me the melon baller trick, and now it’s the only way I ever “core” apples. It is efficient, and the end product looks so much more pleasing than jabbing an apple corer blindly through an apple and hoping to hit the core all the way through. Thanks for sharing this tip.

  41. Holly

    A few changes I made that turned out great:
    -Browning the butter for the crumb
    -Substituting 1/3 cup buckwheat for 1/3 cup of the flour in the crumb
    -Lime juice instead of lemon for the apples
    -A bit of nutmeg on top of the cinnamon
    -Kite hill plant-based sour cream in 1-to-1 volume substitution

  42. Jenny

    Very good, thank you! Will make again. I used King David apples and they hit the spot for sweet/tangy and just-right juicy.
    I am contemplating increasing the cinnamon – would it be better to increase it in the apples, crumbs, or both? What do you think of adding some cloves? And perhaps cardamom?

    1. deb

      I definitely think you could increase the cinnamon in the crumb; I often see 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons in this amount of crumb. You could increase the other spices with the apple, either with a pumpkin or apple pie spice blend, or with the other spices you suggest.

  43. ABC

    Welcome back! We’ve missed you but it sounds like you have, indeed, been BUSY!

    I’m hosting our annual “cider dinner” in two weeks and was still figuring out the dessert piece, and I think this just might be it! Our quince tree is overflowing with fragrant fruit right now, so I’ll likely sub half of the apples for quince, which should prove to be delicious as well. As a New Englander turned Californian, this mash-up seems 100% appropriate.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  44. Anna

    Amazing! Just baked this for our Thanksgiving dinner (we’re in Canada). I’ve been a huge fan of yours for so long, your recipes have never let me down so far. Thanks for sharing your recipes with the world.

  45. Julia

    This was fabulous!!! Followed recipe exactly (did not peel apples). Baked 325 convection for 55 minutes. Super easy to make and simply fabulous

  46. Rosie

    Since I was making this cake only for me, I quartered the recipe! A mini loaf pan was the perfect size! Half a medium-sized honeycrisp apple was the perfect fit. To get 1/4 of an egg, I decided to try using one quail egg instead if weighing one chicken egg. I should have baked it for less time. The cake ended up being a little try. If I make this again, I’ll make less crumb (just personal preference. I didn’t need a layer of crumb as thick as the cake 😂) I’d also try leaving the peel on. I thought with honeycrisp, the skin would be on thick side Mom’s Apple Cake is stlll my fave!

  47. I made this today, so delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. I used 2 large Granny Smith apples we picked at a local orchard over the weekend. Now scouring different recipes to see what we can use the apples with!

  48. Cathie

    I saw this recipe and knew I had to make it. OH MY. This will be made often. I am a decent baker and have a lot of “favorites,” and you have never failed me. Thanks so much for my new favorite cake.

  49. Jennifer S.

    Excellent with Honeycrisps! Swapped some questionable Greek yogurt from the far depths of the fridge for the sour cream – still good!!!! Baked 70 minutes. Nice to have you back, Deb.

  50. Jenn

    This cake is perfection! I made it as written except I medium diced the apples and cooked 5 min longer. Really moist and good blend of tart and sweet.

  51. Johanna

    Thank yo for this recipe. I live in Finland and we do not have crumb cakes. I lived in Florida for few years and got to know crumb cake, which I find brilliant. With the apples it must be even better. Have to try this!

  52. Jeffrey Matisoff

    Delicious. Doubled the crumb, made in an 8×3 round cake pan — otherwise made it exactly as is. Tbh next time I’ll double the cake too. Used honey crisp apples, and they’re perfect. Like others, needed an extra ten mins on the cook time. Really fun to make and turned out excellent.

  53. Elizabeth H. Cordes

    So glad to see a new post on SK!!! Your increased presence on IG is welcome, too, but reading even a few words from DP is my favorite part of SK.

  54. Tee

    hmmmm, found this to be disappointing.

    The cake section had a fine crumb like a birthday cake but it got almost “gushy” once I added apples and their juices and baked. I baked it for 65 minutes until no crisp spots in the apples. The top seemed like just hard (though, tasty) lumps so not that interesting.

    So I turned around and baked a second cake.

    Made the cake much more like a coffee cake (so not as fine a crumb) and reworked the topping with oatmeal so more like a streusel. All much better now and I will make it again.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  55. Nicole

    Made this with honeycrisp apples and it was great! I used my apple corer/slicer, which cuts each apple into 8 pieces, and then I halved each of those, so I think my slices were a bit thinner & I ended up with my cook’s snacks! But didn’t seem to affect the baking times. I also have had leftovers stored in an airtight container in the fridge and the crumble has stayed pretty crisp! Super delicious :D

  56. Tristin

    I made this over the weekend, and it’s amazing! I used peeled Honeycrisps on hand, but I think I’ll use a slightly tarter apple next time. Mine needed extra time in the oven until the apples tested right, but no big deal. The cake is moist and dense, apples semi-soft, perfect amount of cinnamon, and there’s ample buttery crumble. I’m totally making this again!

  57. Marina

    I found this recipe I really liked so I made it today. The cake was light and flufy, the crumbles crunchy and we liked it very much. Surely I will make it again. This is real comfort cake for me.

  58. Thank you once again for a wonderfully delicious recipe. As a New Jersey native far away from home, I will always appreciate a good crumb cake. Man! This recipe is good! Deb, you are the ultimate baking queen!

  59. Susie

    Deb, the fact that you are the photographer, and editor, and recipe development staff is what makes this website so extraordinary. Thanks for all of it.

  60. Gretchen

    Delicious! I doubled the recipe in a 9×13 metal pan, added some cardamon and diced up preserved lemon to the cake batter, used a mix of apples (peeled some but won’t bother next time as I could hardly distinguish between the peeled and unpeeled) and baked for additional 10 minutes. Baked on Friday and served for football watch party brunch on Saturday. Perfect for that type of entertaining.

  61. kim brakeley

    Ohhhhh boy, Deb, do I love you even more right now…
    I grew up on the Jersey shore, and crumbcake was a weekly treat. I have never attempted to make it. And I’ve been gone, to the West coast, for a long long time, having never even tried, although I missed it so! I’m making it TOMORROW. I don’t know if I can wait til the second day. Will do my best, I make no promises!
    Thank you so very very much, muAHHHH!
    (that’s a big kiss)

  62. Rhoda Besecker

    Many of my favorite recipes come from Smitten Kitchen, and this one will join the list! Thank you! Made it today and only half remains. Spouse loves it too. Made it with Fujis and did not peel them, and it was terrific.

  63. Lois

    Tasting when warm I felt the cake bottom should be replaced by something more substantial like shortbread. However in the frig overnight, the texture changed and was perfect. A guest took one bite and wait it was the best thing he’d ever eaten.

    1. Uma

      It’s not shortbread, it’s coffee cake. The bottom layer should be soft, but dense cake. I think you’re thinking of a different kind of dessert.

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL or ⌘ + P [on desktop] from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

      Other ways to print:
      File > Print on a Mac
      From the share button (the one that looks like an up-arrow coming out of a box) at the bottom of the Safari browser on an iPhone

      We will definitely make the button easier to find when we next redesign.

  64. Meryl Lande

    Loved this cake! Perfect balance of tender apple, rich cake and big crumbs. Your recipes don’t disappoint and are easy to boot! Thank you, Deb!!

  65. Elizabeth

    Wonderful! Doubled it and baked it in a 9 x 13 pan for the residents in my first-year dorm–will be quadrupling it for the next time I make it. Huge hit!
    Thank you, Deb. I know it’s the conventional wisdom to NEVER try out a recipe for the first time when you’re serving to others, but with your recipes I am always confident they will turn out delicious. Because they always do!

  66. Kat

    I just had to say how freaking fantastic this cake is! It is worth the three bowls and a mixer, especially if you save the dishes by weighing rather than measuring your ingredients. I had a few stragglers left after canning applesauce and a family dinner to attend, so the stars aligned on this one! For the “which apples did you use?” crew, mine were three teeny tiny Fujis, and I left the skin on. There were eight of us, and another dessert on offer, but very little of this came home with me!

  67. Brooke

    Though you don’t specify what type of apple to use, we recently picked a ton of Romes. I’ve read they’re really only suited to applesauce. Your thoughts?

    1. deb

      I don’t know Rome apples, so I cannot say for sure. Almost any baking or eating apple will work here, but it if truly says “only applesauce” I might caution against it. I tend to avoid getting hyper-specific with apple varieties because it only sometimes matches what people can get at their local stores or markets, and I think it’s best to use what you can get or is grown locally.

  68. Lisa

    This is lovely! I found myself wondering what it would be like if there were a thin layer of applesauce over the top of the batter before nestling the apple slices in… and also I found myself remembering how Stella Parks talks about using powdered dehydrated apples as a thickener in her apple pie pockets… I wonder how either of those ideas might amplify the apple component. Wish I had scrolled through the comments to see the recommendations about using some cardamom, too – that sounds divine!

  69. Julie

    This is an excellent cake. I cut my apples in a fairly small dice to be sure they cooked through and added some dollops of apple butter on top of the apples and before the crumble and it upped the flavor in a nice way. I also subbed 1/3 of the butter in the crumble mix with vegetable shortening and it made the crumbs softer than using all butter. My only complaint about the big crumb coffee cake on this site and many others is that the crumbs are too hard for my liking, and I find the shortening helps to make them a little softer. All in all, I know I will make this cake again!

  70. Made this today and was beyond pleased with how it turned out! The crunchy crumb is incredible and the apples are just right. The cake is also light and flavorful, providing a great base to soak up the flavors of the apple and cinnamon.

    For any high altitude bakers out there, this was easy on the tweaking front. I loosely followed the King Arthur Flour high altitude baking by bumping up my oven to 330 degrees F, left the crumb and apple sections as written but added 1 TBSP flour to the cake, reduced the sugar by 1/2 TBSP, and cut the baking powder to a heaping 1/2 tsp. The bake time needed closer to an hour and 10 minutes, but my oven runs cool. I live at 6,500 feet for reference. Happy baking!

  71. Kate

    Commenting to share how pleased I am at the validation of the ‘cook’s snacks’ acknowledgement actually written into this recipe. I feel seen, as the kids say.

  72. Anna

    This was AMAZING! Had to leave in the oven a bit longer like others already mentioned – additional 10-15 min. Perfect! I’ve made multiple apple recipes this fall to use up my apple-picking haul (traditional apple crumble, apple tart, galette), and this was hands down the BEST!

  73. Noémi

    We took our 3 year old daughter apple picking… and came home with way too many apples! A delicious problem. We don’t sweets very often but will make a batch of cookies or cupcakes to freeze and thaw out for surprise snacks.
    I’d like to make this cake, but was wondering how well it might freeze?

  74. Bethany Ringdal

    Comparison between this and Mom’s Apple Cake (which I made two successive Sundays in a row, no one’s sad.) I’ve been eating it for breakfast with a dollop of yogurt and thinking that I don’t ever need other apple cakes in my life again. But maybe I do???

  75. Amy B

    I made this cake yesterday. I used Granny Smith apples to counter the sweetness of the cake and crumb topping. I upped the temp to 350 after 55 minutes because the cake still wasn’t done. 10 extra minutes and it was done. So yummy. I’d love to try it with peaches when they’re in season., pears too.

  76. Nora

    I made this after apple picking and it is AMAZING. I peeled the apples and used more than the recipe called for (~1.5 lbs after peeling and cutting) and piled them up. I’ve been eating it for breakfast.

    I think I mostly used Spartan and McIntosh but there was also Lobo, Empire, and Cortlandt the bag, plus a mystery variety from my neighbor.

  77. Catherine Dickey

    Thank you a bushel! I made this for a staff meeting today and it went down a treat! Made me the star! I gave credit to you- and everyone wanted the recipe!!

  78. Quin

    Delicious. The cake layer is plush and soft, just perfect. I sliced my (peeled) apples into 16ths, making them more like 1/4″ wide. Some of them were still slightly crisp; next time I will do them even thinner and overlap them a little more. Also, I made half the crumb topping, and though I know it’s a “big” crumb cake, I found half to be just right.

  79. Caroline

    Making this tomorrow for my mom, who I am getting to see for the first time in three years, but more importantly, welcome back!

  80. Tammy

    I made this right away, using bobs red mill 1-to-1 gluten free flour, and reduced the sugar by half in the crumb and the cake. It barely made it to day 2 to test the better-tge-second-day theory. Oh well! Delicious!

  81. Kel

    So yeah, I made this last night. And uh, I can say that if your ADHD and exhaustion have a party in your brain and you forget to soak the apples first?

    It’s still really good. Yes, it’d be better if I hadn’t forgotten. But just take heart that it’s not ruined if you happen to have your own version of an “Oh s#!t” moment.

  82. Karen lambert

    This is just an awesome cake. I made it with three large apples. It was gobbled to the last crumb at our Canadian Thanksgiving!

  83. David

    I made this today in a rush before a zoom meeting started, less than half an hour from walking into the kitchen to sticking it in the oven. Followed the recipe with exception of using a 12” skillet instead of a 9” pan. Cake was a little thin/short as a result but this came out fantastic, will make again.

  84. Laura

    What a great recipe! My son and I enjoyed making this together. He liked the assembly of course – squishing the crumb topping. :) He has eaten at least one piece (usually more) every day since (breakfast, and dinner dessert). I’ve shared it with multiple people.

  85. Anne Marie

    I made this within days of discovering! So easy as I had everything on hand. Delicious and a perfect balance of a thin pound cake with the baked apple and perfect crumble topping! I might throw some oats into the topping mix next time just to boost the fiber but if not it’s perfect as is! Thank you!! Big hit with family and my daughter’s sleep over guests!

  86. Angela

    I made this and everyone loves it, although it took me a while to figure out why mine looked different from yours. Then I realized that although you say a dusting of powdered sugar is “not optional,” it’s not actually one of the steps in the recipe. :)

  87. Shannon

    This is the BEST apple cake….OMG! Every time my family walks into the kitchen past the counter, they cut a piece off. I will definitely make this again.

  88. kitty

    This was delicious! Especially with a few salted caramel chips from Trader Joe’s sprinkled on top too 😌. I would decrease the amount of crumble by about 1/3 next time.

  89. Caroline

    I have mine in the oven right now – I used creme fraiche because I had it in the fridge, and swapped two tbsp of the butter in the crumb for two tbsp of vegetable shortening based on someone else’s comment about the crumb being too hard. It smells amazing and no one in my home is going to let me hold it back until tomorrow.

  90. KA

    This was amazing, and I just ate A LOT of it… Explains why I usually only bake if I know I can share with a bunch of people.

    Made exactly as written, cooked for 55 mins with 3 skin-on mystery apples (I forgot to weigh these and had 5-6 slices left over). Was a bit worried about the cake being too thin when it was in the pan, but was perfect in the end.

    Thanks for another great one.

  91. Tori

    What adjustments would need to be made if I swapped the apples with peaches? Would fresh or canned work best? Thank you! Loved this cake with apples and want to try peaches!

  92. Nais Raulet

    Delicious! Used granny smiths and thought the sugar, salt, cinnamon and lemon amounts were spot on. It cooked through perfectly at 325 degrees with convection for 50 minutes in my Wolf.

  93. Emily Xmas

    I thought I had sour cream in the fridge when I started to make this… but I didn’t! I did have buttermilk, though, and I figured I could just reduce it to 1/4 cup and it did work perfectly! Thank you so much for helping me use some of the apple farm apples.

  94. Daphne

    Oh my goodness Deb. This apple crumb cake is everything. I followed the recipe as written and even with an overmixed dough it still came out tender and delicious. Thank you!

  95. Jennifer

    Absolutely delicious! As Deb suggested, we waited until the 2nd day to eat it. Very moist- and great flavor, I even reduced the sugar a by 1/3. Easy to make since the ingredients are usually on hand. Batter layer was quite thin, but I think my pan was 9” square, so might be better in an 8” pan. Thank you!

  96. Lisa

    Beautiful, chunky cake is in oven baking as I write this. Realized too late that I didn’t have sour cream. Subbed in mayo + some white vinegar. Your thoughts for when you don’t have Greek yogurt or buttermilk as sour cream substitution? We’ll see soon!

  97. Monica Furey Peloso

    Deb, I had a weird experience and hoping you can shed light. I made a quadruple recipe of this for my daughter’s Mindfullness club and it was a total success–the crumbs were gorgeous, the taste was divine, the kids LOVED it! I had made the crumbs in advance, when I was prepping everything for my baking day. Ok, I’ll be honest, we ate almost an entire cake after I baked it bc that first taste was so good…so I had to bake another one. That time I did everything at once. The crumbs on the second one were not nearly as attractive–they looked sort of greasy and weren’t big and plump like the first ones. It tasted as delicious, but just didn’t have the beauty of the first ones.

    Have you encountered this? Is it about letting the crumb mixture sit over night? Could it be the butter was different? Maybe I just messed up the measurements… Any thoughts would be great, thank you.

    This cake is out of this world, just like everything you do–I am so impressed by you, you are this generation’s Ina, in my opinion!!!

    Thank you so much,
    Monica

  98. JCM

    Hi. I made this again this weekend, this time in muffin form- could not resist trying. I ended up with extra crumb topping and apples- made a mini crisp with that! The recipe made 7 muffins- they were fabulous. Baked for about 30 minutes- cut apples into thirds after doing the wedge. Simply love this recipe in any form.

  99. Kate Kessler

    15 amazing years! I love your dedication to SK. Yours is my go-to page (and cookbook) for new recipes. Thank you for sharing them!

  100. Greg

    This was such an easy recipe and tasted so good. I whipped it up after dinner and we had it for breakfasts over the following several days.

  101. Lynn Terpstra

    Deb, My greengrocer guy at PCC, Greenlake Seattle, introduced me to the BEST most extravagant apple I’ve ever tasted! It’s name: SMITTEN! I wouldn’t use it for this cake as it’s just such a perfect chomping apple but… SMITTEN! :)

  102. Amy Fischer

    I was drawn to your site to make the squash spinach pasta bake and then you had to link to this scrumptious cake in the intro comments?!?! I had to make it— took me about 10 minutes and was so amazing. I LOVE the boulder crumbs and will add another apple next time— the fruit layer really baked down in the oven. Another winning recipe!

  103. Marla

    This cake is absolutely wonderful. I made it for some company and received many compliments. The taste of the apples really shines though ad the cake and crumb topping are spectacular. Thank you for this recipe!