Hunky Apple Crumb Cake

November  9, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • makes One 10-inch cake
Author Notes

I am utterly charmed by the plastic-wrapped wedges of crumb cake that line the checkout counters at delis, bagel shops, and diners around New York City. With an enormously high ratio of crumb to cake, these slices bring me back to a nostalgic place that is only shared with similarly iconic treats, like black-and-white cookies and pound cake.

This version fuses that nostalgic delight with another emblematic New York treat: apples. More specifically, from the apple cider doughnuts that fill market stalls and stands come fall in New York. This cake has an apple ripple in the center as well, combining raw, grated apple with applesauce for a tart and jammy layer. The apples play a supporting role, bringing a little added moisture and bumping up the spices in the cake, but the real star is the crumb topping. It is extra-tall—for cutting hunky slices—and has a thick yet moist filling that only gets better as it sits. It also freezes beautifully, should you wish to make it in advance. Store leftovers as you would at the deli, individually wrapped on the counter.

Note: This cake can also be baked in a deep (at least 3 inches) 9- or 10-inch round cake pan, and will bake for about 50 to 60 minutes.
Laurie Ellen Pellicano

What You'll Need
  • Crumb Topping & Apple Filling
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (213 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (255 grams) unsweetened applesauce, store bought or homemade
  • 1 tart apple (such as Braeburn or Granny Smith), peeled, grated, and squeezed to remove excess water
  • Cake
  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 milliliters) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Confectioners' sugar, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F and place a baking rack in the lower middle position. Grease or spray a 10-inch tube (angel food cake) or pound cake pan.
  2. For the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and salt. Using a fork, stir to combine. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter and begin to mix together. Finish mixing this by hand: It should look and hold together like heavily clumped wet sand, with no streaks of dry flour remaining.
  3. For the apple filling: Stir the applesauce, apple, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl.
  4. For the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  5. In a large liquid measuring cup, measure the buttermilk and oil together. Add the vinegar and stir with a fork to combine, then add the eggs and stir until just combined.
  6. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, stirring with a spatula just to combine.
  7. Distribute about half of the cake batter along the bottom of the prepared pan, using a spatula to help spread. Layer in all of the apple filling, smoothing with a spatula to cover the surface of the batter. Top off with the remaining cake batter, smoothing once again to cover. Then, using a butter knife, swirl the knife through the batter in the center of the pan, and smooth out the top once again. Use your hands to clump together the topping mixture into golf-ball-sized pieces, then crumble over the surface of the batter to evenly distribute small and large crumble clumps (it will be quite a thick layer).
  8. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, rotating the pan after 40 minutes, until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Dust with a heavy flurry of confectioners' sugar and serve hunky slices.

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