Moist sponge cake, chunky apple pieces throughout, a cinnamon sugar layer running through and a crisp crumb topping. This apple crumb cake is perfect for Autumn weekends!
As we welcome in September, the comforting bakes are coming out in full force. And for me, apples and cinnamon are the perfect choice. This apple crumb cake is packed full of moist apple chunks, a cinnamon sugar layer and a crisp crumb on top. It’s simple to make, lasts really well and delicious served as a dessert with cream or custard!
Key Ingredients You’ll Need
- Apples – I used Royal Gala Apples, as they have a crisp, sweet taste. These apples are often used for salads, applesauce and even pressing into cider. They also keep their shape well when baked, without being so firm that its unpleasant to eat. If you can’t get hold of gala apples, you could use Braeburn, Pink Lady or Honey Crisp instead.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon and apples go together like bread and butter. The spicy warmth that cinnamon gives to the sweet apples, is perfect for those colder days.
- Soft Light Brown Sugar – I use light brown sugar in sooo many of my bakes. I knoww! But I just think the flavour it gives every bake is unmatched. It adds moisture, caramel notes and makes for a perfectly tender crumb. You can of course use caster sugar in its place if you can’t get a hold of it, but the taste and texture will be a little different.
How to make apple crumb cake
This is a fairly simple recipe, but there are a few separate elements to create before baking.
Making the cinnamon crumb
First step is to make the cinnamon crumb, so that once your batter is ready, you can top it and get straight in the oven. As a general rule. once you have mixed a cake batter you don’t want it to be sitting around too long, as the chemical reaction from the baking powder has already begun. If the batter is left too long outside the oven, you may end up with a dense flat cake!
So first, the crumb. Like making a streusel or a crumble, this is a mixture of cold butter, brown sugar, flour and ground cinnamon! With everything in a bowl, the butter should be rubbed in. This means to literally rub the mixture between your fingers and thumbs to break down the butter and incorporate it with the dry ingredients. You’ll be left with a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs. I like to try and keep the breadcrumbs irregular in size, just to make the top of the cake look more interesting! This can then be set aside, while you make the batter.
Making the apple cake
The batter for the cake is a fairly standard sponge, so nothing too tricky here. You do need to make sure you’re using room temperature butter however, so if you didn’t read through the recipe already and separate your butter. Your butter might still be cold from the making the crumb above. Here are a few quick tricks to warm it up!
- The easiest and quickest, is to pop it into the microwave (without the foil packaging of course!) for just 10 seconds or so, just to bring it to room temp. Be careful not to melt it though!
- Or, you can wrap the butter tightly and place it into a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes or so.
Once your butter is at room temperature, beat this together with both the caster and brown sugars until light and fluffy. Then the eggs should be added one a time, mixing well between each addition. The flour and baking powder can then be added and mixed until just combined. Finally, you need to stir in your chopped apples.
The apples need to be peeled, cored and cut into eighths. You could cut them smaller if you prefer, but I like them quite chunky. I prefer to chop these once the batter is made, so they can be added straight in, to prevent any browning. But, if you feel like the peeling/coring/chopping process will take you a little while, feel free to do this first and just coat the apple chunks in a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
Assembling the cake
Finally, the cake can be assembled! Firstly, half of the cake batter needs to be spread evenly into your lined tin. Because the apple chunks are quite big this will take a minute or so, but just keep smoothing with a offset spatula or just the back of a spoon.
Then in a small bowl, mix together the caster sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle this evenly across your cake batter. The final half of the cake batter can then be spread carefully on top. And finally, the cinnamon crumb that you prepared earlier can be sprinkled across the top. And voila! You are ready to bake.
This cake does have quite a long bake time, as its fairly deep and also full of moisture! But its totally worth it, not just for the glorious apple, cinnamon and sugar smells that will be emanating from your oven!!
Tips & Tricks
Yes! Double wrap the cake tightly in clingfilm, and defrost at room temperature when ready to serve. The crumb topping won’t stay crisp, but you could place it back into the oven for 20 minutes to warm through and this will give a little of the crispness back.
Keep the cake either wrapped tightly in cling film or in air-tight tupperware, and it will last for 4-5 days.
As the crumb topping obscures your view of the cake, it is harder to tell when the cake is ready as the crumb topping will brown faster. Use a skewer or small knife to insert into the centre of the cake – if it comes out very wet the cake needs longer to bake. If there is only a few moist crumbs then the cake is ready – as the cake has apple chunks in it, it will be moister than a regular sponge cake.
I really hope you love this apple crumb cake as much as I do! Its moist, flavourful, warming, comforting…I could go on! It also lasts so well, making it the perfect weekend bake to see you into the week! And it comes together so easily! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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Apple Crumb Cake
- 60 g unsalted butter cold, cubed
- 40 g soft light brown sugar
- 75 g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 190 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 95 g soft light brown sugar
- 95 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 190 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 300 g fresh royal gala apple chunks approx. 3-4 apples
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- For the cinnamon crumb: In a medium bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, flour and ground cinnamon, rubbing between your fingers and thumbs until it resembles irregular breadcrumbs. Then set aside.
- For the sponge: Firstly, grease the base and sides., and line the base of a deep 8inch round cake tin, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together with an electric hand-whisk until light and fluffy. Then mix in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Then in a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder together. Mix this into the wet batter in two additions, mixing only until just combined. Peel, core and chop the apples into eighths, then stir this into the batter by hand.
- To assemble: Pour half the batter into your prepared tin and spread out evenly. Then, for the cinnamon layer. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle this evenly over the top of the batter. On top of this, spread the remaining batter evenly. Finally, sprinkle over the prepared cinnamon crumb in an even layer.
- Bake for 1 hour until golden brown on top, and a knife/skewer inserted into the middle comes out almost clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.