Apple Crumb Cake

Ultra soft apple crumb cake is loaded with warm cinnamon apples and extra crumb topping. A homemade version of classic New York style crumb cake, this breakfast cake is moist, deliciously spiced, and drizzled with sweet maple icing.

slice of apple crumb cake on a silver plate

If crumb topping is your love language, you’ve come to the right place. And if warm cinnamon apples make your mouth water, today’s your day. Finally, if soft buttery cake is your ideal breakfast indulgence, I’m your gal.

Because today we’re indulging in APPLE CRUMB CAKE!! It’s your morning fall indulgence and the smart answer for breakfast, but also very acceptable for lunch, dinner, or dessert. You’re probably familiar with a similar recipe– today’s homemade apple crumb cake is my apple crumb muffins in cake form. They’re definitely one of my favorite seasonal muffins to make (along with pumpkin crumb cake muffins), so a cake version is a no-brainer.

stack of 2 squares of apple crumb cake

Apple Crumb Cake Ingredients

I tested this apple crumb cake a few times, changing things ever so slightly to land on this final recipe. Like my traditional crumb cake recipe, this is a butter and sour cream based cake AKA the best kind of cake and here’s what you need to make it:

  • Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of this cake. It’s sturdy enough to support the thick batter and multiple layers of this crumb cake.
  • Baking Soda + Baking Powder: Baking soda and baking powder help the cake rise.
  • Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the cake.
  • Butter: Butter adds flavor and provides structure in the creaming process.
  • Sour Cream: Sour cream gives us an extremely moist crumb cake that’s a little denser than, say, a fluffy vanilla cake. Tight crumbs, like pound cake, but with a much softer texture. Don’t remove the fat from this cake by using a lower fat alternative. Fat = flavor! We don’t want to skimp there.
  • Eggs: Three eggs add moisture and bind the cake together.
  • Salt + Vanilla Extract: Use both for flavor.
  • Cinnamon: We can’t have crumb cake without cinnamon!
  • Apples: The star of apple crumb cake, of course.

peeled granny smith apple

Best Apples for Apple Crumb Cake

Use any variety of apples you enjoy! You need about 2 medium apples for this recipe. Personally, I love tart Granny Smith apples paired with the sweet crumb cake.

  • Tart apples I love: Granny Smith, Braeburn, Jonathan, and Pacific Rose
  • Sweet apples I love: Jazz, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Gala, and Fuji

chopped apples and spices in a glass measuring cup

Overview: How to Make Apple Crumb Cake

When I first tested this recipe, I mixed the apples into the cake batter (just like we do in my apple crumb muffins recipe). This was tasty, of course, but the pieces of apples each held a soggy outline inside the baked cake. It just… didn’t look appetizing. I found that layering the apples on top of the cake batter was best. This gives us a soft and buttery cake, topped with soft and sweet cinnamon apples, and a TRUCK LOAD of crumb topping.

This crumb cake comes together easily:

  1. Make the crumb topping.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients except cinnamon together.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla, then beat until combined. The mixture may look curdled– that is OK.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  5. Toss apples and cinnamon together.
  6. Pour batter into pan. A 9×13 inch pan works perfectly for this volume of batter.
  7. Top with apples and crumb topping. Press the crumb topping tightly down into the cake so it sticks.
  8. Bake. If you find the top and/or edges of the cake are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  9. Top with icing.

layer of chopped apples on top of cake batter in a 9x13 baking pan

Crumb Cake with Extra Crumbs

You’ll notice A LOT of ingredients in the crumb topping. Not in the number of ingredients, but in terms of the volume of ingredients like more butter, sugar, and just as much flour as in the cake itself. Why? The crumb topping is the best part of a CRUMB CAKE.

You’re using the same ingredients in the crumb topping as you are in the cake, so it’s an extremely convenient recipe. The gang’s all here– granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, melted butter, and flour, plus brown sugar because it’s not crumb topping without brown sugar. 🙂 Make sure some crumbs stay in larger chunks because those are the best bites.

The crumb layer is literally over half the cake and I see zero problem with this!

2 images of pouring butter into a glass bowl of crumb topping mixture and crumb topping mixture in a glass bowl

apple crumb cake in a 9x13 pan after baking

overhead image of apple crumb cake cut into squares

Icing Options

This apple crumb cake truly doesn’t need an accessory on top, but if the opportunity for sweet maple icing presents itself, we’d be fools to say no! Here are some icing options:

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slice of apple crumb cake on a silver plate

Apple Crumb Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Crumb Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Delicious New York style crumb cake with warm cinnamon apples and DOUBLE the buttery crumb topping!


Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all purpose flour (spoon & leveled)


  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peeled chopped apples (about 2 medium apples)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • maple icingvanilla icing, or caramel icing


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Make the crumb topping: Mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Using a fork, lightly mix in the flour until crumbles form. Don’t overmix.
  3. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, sour cream, and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. The mixture may look curdled; that’s ok. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until smooth. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick.
  5. Toss the chopped apples and cinnamon together.
  6. Spread the batter evenly into prepared baking pan. Top evenly with cinnamon apples. Top with crumb topping. Using a rubber spatula or the back of a large spoon, press the crumb topping tightly down into the cake so it sticks.
  7. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to slightly cool for at least 30-45 minutes before slicing and serving.
  9. Top with icing, if desired. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare cake through step 7. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, add icing if desired, and serve.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Hand Mixer, Glass Mixing Bowls, Apple Peeler, and 9×13 Baking Pan
  3. Sour Cream: Sour cream is a key ingredient in this cake. I don’t suggest subbing the sour cream with a liquid– plain full-fat yogurt would work though. But don’t remove the fat from this cake by using a lower fat yogurt or sour cream alternative. Fat = flavor! We don’t want to skimp there.
  4. Room Temperature: All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.

Want to make this recipe into muffins? Here is my recipe for apple crumb muffins.

Apple muffin with vanilla icing


  1. ANNA SAINT JOHN says:

    yuuuuum! i made this recipe following my new-to-baking brother’s recommendation (it turns out one of his newfound super powers is how to read a recipe and know if it will be good). and my transplanted-from-manhattan husband was very eager to try this cake, but he wanted it without apples. so, omitting the apples and their 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon was the only change. this is a fabulous, tasty creamed cake. yes, it has a lot of topping.
    i am going to try making it with a thin layer of applesauce between the batter and the topping. question: how to make the topping a little softer? given the brown sugar, the topping was a teensy softer on each successive day after baking, but we would like it softer still. my initial instinct is to change the ratio of sugar to flour to butter, but upon further reflection i wonder if the answer is cutting in cold butter instead of fork-mixing in melted butter. your thoughts would be helpful. thanx!

    1. I’m so glad you made and enjoyed this recipe! Happy to help for next time. For a softer topping, try leaving out the white granulated sugar (and only using brown sugar) in the crumb topping. The crumb topping will still be plenty sweet, but the reduced sugar may help keep the topping on the softer side.

  2. I can’t decide which one should bake!! cake style or muffin style? Is there any differences between? Is texture same?

    1. Hi Kake! The cake is a little denser (think of a tight crumbed cake), while the apple crumb muffins are a little fluffier.

  3. Hi Sally! Can this recipe made in a loaf pan? 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tania, This recipe could work in a loaf pan, but you’d need to divide it between 2 or 3 loaf pans.

  4. The cake sounds delicious. Can I bake it, cool it and freeze it for Thanksgiving? I want something different instead of a pie this year. Thanks!!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jane, absolutely! See recipe notes for freezing instructions.

  5. Made one for the office and it was gone within the hour. I bake anew recipe of yours each week for home and office – the crowd said this was a favorite so far – probably until this week 🙂

  6. A couple of things I was disappointed about with this recipe….you need way more apples! And they should sit in a bowl with cinnamon & sugar while you prep the rest. When making apple pie filling, the apples sit and get juicy in sugar & cinnamon, they’re very blah following the instructions in the recipe. Also, the crumb topping is WAY too much! I had to check the recipe twice when I saw how much I had made compared to the size of the cake. I love sugar and sweets and it is not like me to say anything is “too much” but this is overkill. Plus, it’s a very hard topping, I was hoping it would be more crumbly. I think the better method is cutting cold butter into the brown sugar mixture. Sorry, not a fan : (

  7. 1st time making
    very delicious next time going to add raisins and use more apples.
    very moist and delicious
    my sister and I made it this morning

  8. You should at least have mentioned in your recipe to GRADUALLY add flour to make the crumbles. As a first timer, all I got was a liquid topping. What a waste of ingredients.

    1. Hi June, gradually adding the flour could certainly be helpful, but if you stop mixing the ingredients once crumbles form, it will never reach the paste consistency. Thanks for trying the recipe and the feedback.

    2. Some people just either never fully read the instructions (skimming over), or they simply overlook some things. The latter is an honest mistake for some.

      Anywho, as with most recipes, the option always stands that the recipe could be tweeked to fit ones liking. In other words, you can essentially make them your own.

  9. Meh. I wanted this to be better – it is really quite bland. The amount of topping, too, had me step back a bit. Was looking for something different to do with apples…I don’t think this cake is the way to go.

  10. This one’s become a family favorite. My. husband just requested it as his birthday cake!

  11. Tried this recipe and it turned out good except for two things: really dont like the EXCESSIVE crumble shouldve put half of the written amount or at most 2/3 of that And omit the salt .
    Secondly needs wayyy more apples can barely taste them in there. (Id add atleast 2 cups)

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad you found ways to improve it for next time!

  12. Loved this recipe, thank you! I halved all the ingredients for my 7×7 baking pan, added reeses peanut butter chocolate chips and added apple pie spice with the cinnamon. Had to cook 20-25 minutes longer. Will be making this again!

  13. Love the recipe, love the amount of crumble and added as much apples as I liked. Delicious, my family said it was restaurant standard . Thank you, love your recipes.

  14. This cake will get you engaged, get you friends, and get you promoted. It’s perfect every time and simply magical. I’ve got people thinking I’m Julia Child because of Miss Sally’s recipes. Sally, you are a genius and a savior. The crumbs are perfect, there’s ALOT and I love that. The inside is so flavorful, and the apples don’t make the cake soggy, perfectly moist; never tasteless or boring. God Bless Sally, and God Bless this cake.

  15. Yet another Sally success! This is my fourth recipe from this website, and I gotta say I am absolutely loving the consistency and accuracy of the recipes! I am constantly getting balanced results with perfect ratios, and the taste is phenomenal. I agree with other when they say the apple taste is a bit underwhelming, however I feel like putting more apples would make the cake soggy. I will experiment with more apples the next time to see if that’s the case. Thanks Sally!

  16. I just made this recipe and it turned out well. I took a commenter’s advice and added more apples (i doubled the recipe amount and used four apples, which was just the right amount). One thing I would do differently is to mix the apples in with the cake batter, rather than layering them on top of the batter.

  17. Hi I made this today, the crumble was really nice and so were the apple but for some reason the cake it self tasted of banana which was of putting I was wondering where I might of gone wrong I swapped the sour cream for Greek yoghurt

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amelia, Your Greek yogurt swap shouldn’t have been a problem. We can’t think of why this cake would have tasted like banana without any banana in it, but thank you for giving it a try!

    2. It’s the oddest thing, but mine came out with some bites tasting of banana as well, lol. I don’t mind it though. I just found it funny. I substituted crème fraîche for sour cream since I can rarely find it here (I’m an American living in Spain).

      I too would add more apples in the future!

  18. Bill , Syracuse, NY says:

    Best Crumb Cake recipe ever. Have made it 17 times, always perfect. Surprised at the negative comments on here. Fantastic!!!

  19. Pepa Amenabar says:

    I just made this cake and made the whole neighborhood happy! So yummy. I’ll definitely make it again and again and again!

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