Apple crumble cake (an everyday favorite)


[From the archives. This very easy cake is especially nice at this time of year, when apples are in season. We don't actually eat this every day, but it's one of my go-to simple sweets to make. Originally published January 11, 2006.]

Sometimes, you just don't want to fuss, but you still want something a little sweet and homemade. At times like that, I sometimes make this simple cake. It combines two of my favorite foods, apple and crumble topping; the cake part is a simple mix-and pour affair; and it can be served warm, or at room temperature. And, the sweetness of it doesn't hit you in the face. The only mildly fiddly part is peeling and cutting up the apples. It's a perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee.

To me, it's a very American kind of cake - the crumble part of course, and the ease of making it, and the apples. The only thing you need to be careful of is to make sure that the cake part is cooked properly. The part underneath the apples cooks a bit slower than the rest of the cake, so once your toothpick comes out clean, bake it a few more minutes to ensure you don't get any doughiness. For my oven that's about 40 minutes total.

This gave me a chance to use a new discovery - organic raw cane sugar from Italy, called Panela Granulata. Here in Switzerland it's always been impossible to find the kind of soft brown sugar with added molasses that you get in the U.S., but the regular Rohzucker (raw sugar) is is a very light brown. This Italian brown sugar is already quite dark without any added molasses, and tastes delicious just out of the bag (not that I'm eating sugar out of a bag, mind you...of course not...)

You can use any kind of apple, but a slightly softer eating apple like Golden Delicious really fits best. Don't use a sour cooking apple for this.

Incidentally, how do you peel your apples? After struggling for years to peel apples with a paring knife and such, trying not to cut off too much of the flesh with the skin, it finally dawned on me recently - just use a vegetable peeler. It was one of those 'doh' moments for sure. No one sticks around to admire those one-long-piece apple peels anyway.

Apple Crumble Cake

A note about the measurements: If you aren't in North America, 1 U.S. cup is 220ml. Remember that all the ingredients here are proportional, and can be scaled proportionately up or down.

  • 4 to 5 medium or small apples - about 4 cups worth of cut up apple, but you can do it with a bit more or less
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 'large' egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup melted butter, or a combination of melted butter and neutral-tasting oil such as safflour or canola

For the crumble mixture:

  • 3/4 cup of raw cane sugar, muscovado sugar, or regular light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350° F.

Grease a standard square cake pan (20cm x 20cm x 5cm, or 8" x 8" x 2") with butter.

Sift the flour and baking powder together, and mix in the granulated sugar. Add the milk, beaten egg and melted butter or butter/oil combo; mix together just until there are no huge lumps. Pour into the pan.

Make the crumble mixture: melt the butter in a pan, add the flour, sugar and cinnamon, and mix well until it become crumble.

Peel, core and cut up the apples, and put on to of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with the crumble mixture.

Bake for about 40 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve warm plain or with whipped cream. You can nuke this to warm it up quite successfully. Also nice at room temperature, such as in a lunch box.

Filed under:  dessert fall baking quickbread cake favorites

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That looks absolutely yummy.

I'll have to try peeling an apple with a vegetable peeler sometime. (Why didn't I think of that?) I tend to cut apples into slices, then peel each slice. Seems like more work than necessary, now that I think about it.

Sounds tasty! But isn't 180C the same as 350F, not 250F as indicated?

> 250 degrees - Oops - corrected now. It is indeed 350 degrees.

Thanks so much for posting this recipe. It was easy and yummy--I baked it in the morning and brought it for a day at the riverside cabin of friends who always count on me to contribute a sweet-yet-healthy homemade something. Their three little boys loved it. And so did the grownups.

(Nice photo, too!)

Ellen, I'm glad it was a hit! :)

hi i was wondering is it possible to add caramel to the crumble part to make it more moist and sweet or will it ruin the recipe????

I guess adding caramel (do you mean caramel candies, or syrup?) to the topping would change it, but wouldn't ruin it. I haven't tried it myself but try it and see what happens!

looks goood! :)
I'll have to try it!

Hiya! First let me say, I love your site! It's dangerous to read before lunch :)

I just wanted to let you know I got the most fabulous apple/potato peeler at a place called Lee Valley. We have it in Canada, and I believe in the US as well, and they have a great mail-order business through their website. The peeler mounts on your countertop with the flip of a handle, you stick the apple or potato on the end, turn the crank and in 10 seconds you have a perfectly peeled apple! It also has a blade you can attach that will also core and slice the apples. It is AMAZING when you have to do several (or more) apples, which you always do when making cake/pie! The base wipes down with a damp cloth, and the blades come off easily for washing. Highly recommended!!

Also, regarding the caramel...if you want to add some, I would simply drizle it over the top after baking, that should give you the gooey flavour without altering the consistency of the apples or cake.

Once again - GREAT site!

I was looking to make an apple crumble but wanted more substance than apple and crumble..... I wanted the cake part so I tried this recipe. It turned out great, although I did jazz it up a bit by adding vanilla to the dough recipe and I added oats and brownsugar to the crumble, WOW! was is yummy........ I even went the extra step with caramel sauce to make it simply gourmet! thanks !


No, really, please use fresh apples for this. It makes a big difference.

I have no idea about using canned apples. I don't encourage it. If you try it you're on your own I'm afraid.

In the States you can get panela (= dulce de panela) in Mexican groceries, but it usually comes in small cakes that you have to grind up yourself - which I do, a few times a year, because I really think the flavor is ten times better than regular brown sugar. Panela is the closest sweetener to just plain sugarcane sap, with very few of the vitamins and minerals lost, and very high in iron - so when I have cravings to just cut a little corner off the block and suck on it, I always chalk it up to needing the vitamins :D I love it especially as a topping for breads and cakes, because it has that intense, almost raisin-y flavor.

Just read your comment. Driving to Dallas this weekend and get some panela - never knew what it was. Thanks for mentioning it.

My solution to the peeling problem: don't peel. I only do this with no-pesticide farmers' market apples, of course, but I honestly prefer the peels on in most desserts.

I have always used a vege peeler to peel my apples... but not because I'm smart, far from it! I am totally incompetent when it comes to peeling apples, potatoes etc with a paring knife :( it never occurred to me that anyone would have the opposite problem to me, well not exactly opposite is it? Just that you never thought of it until recently, using a vege peeler for your apples that is.

BUT! I do look forward to trying our the apple crumble cake... Never thought of combining the two together! Silly me!

This sounds delicious. I'm a sucker for crumble topped cakes, and I love that this one calls for four cups of apples, especially since I recently picked about 40 pounds of them. Can't wait to try it. : )

Just to make sure, is the salt that you listed in the ingredients supposed to be added to the cake batter? I suppose it could also be for adding to a pot of water to dip the cut apples in, to keep the color.

May I ask how big the apples be cut into?

How does the salt factor into the recipe??? It's listed in the ingredients, but not in the directions.

Jody in Japan

i just tried this recipe and it turned out fab! i didn't peel the apples though :) it's partly laziness, but i honestly do like the texture the peel adds.

Hi! I have a wheat allergy (not celiac) so I made this with barley and buckwheat flour and oats in the topping. The nuttiness of the flours really worked well with the apples and cinnamon! I also went without peeling the apples. Thanks!

Yummy! Now if I could actually make it and get it to look some what like the picture!

Does anyone how much calorie is this apple crumble?

Hi, I just had one you bake the cake part first before putting the apples on top or bake it all together? i keep imagining that the apple pieces sink into the batter?

thanks for your help!!

You bake it all together. The apples won't sink (they will settle in a bit but that's all).

love the recipe so does my family! great dessert treat using fruits! thank you! I did it just as perfect as it should be

love the recipe so does my family! great dessert treat using fruits! thank you! I did it just as perfect as it should be

Just made this baby with some delicious Cox's apples that were threatening to go bad soon if left unused! They held their shape and crunch, whilst still cooking nicely. Love this recipe; may even go crazy and bung some blackberries on next time, regardless of the possibility of pinky-purple cake...
Now it's cooling in the kitchen, I was wondering how long it will keep (in a cake tin or box)?

I make mine by soaking the apples in some red wine (merlot or shiraz are great) for a bit of colour and richer taste :) I also add a bit of oats to the crumble for more fibre and crunch.

Hi there,
So I tried this recipe but I'm not sure how firm the cake is supposed to be, because mine turned out quite firm. Also, instead of cutting the apples up I sliced it into crescent shapes, then lay them on top. It doesn't really matter right? Overall, it didn't turn out as moist as I thought it would've. I think I might have to try again. But like how simple this recipe is. =)

I live in the england and don't know what type of flour to use that would be the same as all-purpose flour? I would guess that it's plain flour I'd have to use because you adding baking powder to the mix. Whereas if it was self-raising flour, there wouldn't be a need for the baking powder.
Is plain flour the same as all-purpose?
- Poppy. =]

Yes, plain flour in UK terms is the closest to all-purpose in the US.

Great! Now I can try all the recipes with all purpose flour! Thank you =]

thank u alot for this recipe .

I made it for my family and thay love it.

Hi There, I made this recipe today for our after supper desert and loved it! I used McIntosh apples and it turned out great. Thanks so much for posting it! Many Blessings, Linda from Ontario Canada :)

Do you think not using a vegetable peeler for apples could be a Japanese thing? I say this because my Japanese mother-in-law never used one on apples, but in my American family we always did. Just wondering....

Many older Japanese people have great knife skills and take pride in doing everything with a knife. My mom is like that. But these days, people (younger people especially) use peelers more and more.

Thank you very much for your exellent website.The tofu and soya milk making was clearly written and the great photos.
Q? The apple crumble cake-can we replace apples with pears or strawberries/ etc

using 1/3 cup flour and 3/4 cup sugar for the crumble makes this kinda really sweet. I tried this with 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar, made it look nicer. plus I used raw sugar(brown-er) so it was more fun!

Made this last night - it turned out wonderfully. I used melted butter/oil combination and added seeds of one vanilla bean to the batter instead of using cinnamon. The end result was a simple dessert that was not to sweet and perfectly moist. Thanks for posting this recipe!

Hi! Just wanted to say I love this recipe, it tastes even better than store bought! Thanks for the great recipe (:

stupid question---do we use an electric mixer or can we use a spoon?? I am a new baker--please forgive me! :)
thank u!

I don't even own an electric mixer, so a spoon or anything that can be used to mix together batter is fine. Over-mixing (which can happen quite easily with an electic mixer) will make the cake tough in fact.

This recipe looks just like my Nan's! It's my favourite quick cake recipe, too. :)

Just wanted to mention that 1 cup = 250 ml

RE: People asking about goes in the dry ingredients.

I have used salted butter and margarine when I didn't have unsalted on hand and it came out just as delicious.

If you are looking for a fantastic peeler the Starfrit apple peeler is cheap and comes with a tool to section the apple for you as it removes the core. You just shove it on the peeler, turn the crank handle and viola....peeled apple.

I also found a super easy and delicious caramel glaze recipe but I use sour cream in place of the buttermilk.

Made this AGAIN today (don't know how many times I've made it now!) and highly recommend blackberries on the topping! Soaked the apples in a bit of freshly squeezed orange juice (mainly because I didn't want them to go too brown while I was waiting) but OOOHHHH, WOOOOW! the blackberries, freshly picked, are a great addition! Can't tell you how much I love this recipe!

this apple crumble cake looks so delicous!!!!!!

Hi! I was looking for a recipe for the Apple Crumble dessert from Red Lobster, and guess what - this is it! Thanks so much for posting this - i really appreciate it. It came out exactly the way I wanted it! I added oats to the crumble mixture and a mix of walnuts and almonds - it tastes good!! Thanks again! :)

Can I freeze this recipe after it's cooled?

I've been staring at this recipie for WEEKS and finally decided to try it. To be honest i've never baked anything in my life other than box-made cakes and corn bread...and the corn bread mix came from a box as well lol! This recipie was so easy to follow, and although I have yet to taste the fruits of my labor (I'm pacing back in forth in front of the oven as we speak!, the aroma in the kitchen is quite reassuring. THANKS for taking the time to share so many of your wonderful recipies with us!!!!

With LOVE from South Carolina, U.S.

I hope the cake tasted as good as it smelled ^_^

I have attempted to make it, I hope it works out! ( I am not a good cake person!) It is in the oven now.
I just had to attempt it, it looked so yummy!!!

This recipe sounds delicious and I look forward to making it( especially when the fall comes). But I have a question, how do the apples come out when the cake is done, are the crisp, with a bite or soft ?

Hi! Thanks so much for this recipe! I needed to make something for a vegan potluck that was quick and easy with generic ingredients I could find lying around my student apartment. And! I was able to veganise it SOOO so easily (everyone loved it, no-one could tell it was vegan :) !), just by replacing the beaten egg with 1/4 C applesauce + 1 tsp lemon juice. So moist, so juicy, so flavourful....! It really was PERFECT, and *the* hit at the potluck. So, thanks!

I just whipped up the Mixture and it's now bring baked then i just realized that i forgot to put in the Salt! I Hope it will turn out just as fine. By the way, you mentioned Switzerland in the post, do you live there? Thank you so much for the recipe. I love it as no electric mixer is needed. I will be looking forward to try out your other recipies in the future.

Just wanted to say I randomly came across your recipe of apple crumble cake. I thought I was the only one who thought of that idea but realised when I saw the pic its a different idea from what I was thinking. The idea I thought of is basically a muffin with the crumble being inside it rather than on the outside of a cake. I hope to try this idea soon. As I like both cake and apple crumble I thought to myself what if the crumble was inside a cake/ muffin as you bite into it you would have crumble melting inside your mouth. I love the recipe of yours and hope to try it myself soon.