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.

Delicious New York style crumb cake with warm cinnamon apples and DOUBLE the buttery crumb topping! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Delicious New York style crumb cake with warm cinnamon apples and DOUBLE the buttery crumb topping! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Apples for apple crumb cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Best Apples for Apple Crumb Cake

Use any variety of apples you enjoy! You need about 1 and 1/2 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

Cinnamon apples for apple crumb cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make apple crumb cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

Crumb topping for apple crumb cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Crumb topping for apple crumb cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Delicious New York style crumb cake with warm cinnamon apples and DOUBLE the buttery crumb topping! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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:

Print
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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

Description

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


Ingredients

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 (310g) all purpose flour (spoon & leveled)

Cake

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (310g) 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
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled chopped apples (about 1 and 1/2 medium apples)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • maple icingvanilla icing, or caramel icing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 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, then add the flour. Mix and crumble with a fork. Set aside.
  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.

Notes

  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 crumb muffins on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Apple crumb cake with TWICE the amount of buttery cinnamon crumb topping! Soft, moist, sweet, and the perfect Fall breakfast! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

252 Comments

  1. rita sirabella says:

    Third time making this cake and love love it!!
    I made a mistake and baked in a pan I know I will never see again if I send it in this.
    after cooled …tomorrow…can I carefully lift it out and put on a pretty dish? ever try it?

    1. Yes! I do that all the time. Once the cake has completely cooled, lift it out using the parchment paper lining and cut into squares.

      1. Sally, I think Rita forgot to put in the parchment paper. I think she’s asking if you’ve ever forgotten and if you can lift it out carefully anyway.

  2. I’ve made this once and it was so delicious! Unfortunately I messed up the second batch and froze it before I baked it. Do you think it’s still salvageable Sally if I bake it longer?

    1. Hi Emily, While I usually advise against freezing raw cake batter, since you already have it frozen I would definitely give it a try! Let me know if it turns out – I’m curious! 🙂

  3. I halved the recipe for an 8×8 square pan successfully (for the eggs, crack and beat 3 which should give you about 3/4 cup, then measure 3 oz egg out of that for the cake. Save your leftover egg for tomorrow’s omelet). Reduce the baking time to about 35 min for this size pan. Also I highly recommend cream cheese icing and Cosmic crisp apples as variations on this 🙂

  4. Christine Meuser says:

    Sally I want to make this for New Year’s Day brunch. If I make it the day before can I warm this up in oven in morning before brunch without it getting dry?

    1. You can prepare cake through step 7. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate. In the morning simply bring to room temperature, add icing if desired, and serve.

  5. What is the substitute for sour cream

    1. Maggie Bancroft says:

      I had to use greek yogurt, low fat. I know it calls for sour cream but I didn’t have any. Btw, my batter was really thick and not smooth like the picture. It’s in the oven. But I think it will be just fine. The crumb topping will be fantastic. Good luck!

  6. Hi Sally! I baked this cake for daughter’s first birthday and several other time: we all love it (so we do for may of your recipes)! Couple of ideas:
    – If you double the crumb, you use half for the cake and you add two eggs to the other half: result is a delicious cake + a batter of amazing butter cookies (Danish style). They are delicious.
    – If you have some crumb and apple leftovers (I usually do), you can put them together, add some oatmeal and an egg and bake delicious muffins for breakfast (I didn’t add any baking soda or baking powder, but they result being very good).
    This cake rocks! A hug from Italy !

  7. The cake itself is very bland. You can’t taste the apples either. The only thing giving it flavor is the crumb topping. It’s a shame because I had really high hopes for this cake. I would go with a traditional crumb cake over this one.

    1. Yes I agree. It doesn’t scream with flavor but it’s pretty good. the cake is Quite dense. I prefer a more moist and fluffy over a dense cake.

  8. Hi sally. This sounds so delicious. I can smell the cinnamon apples. Can’t wait to make it. Can I use this same recipe for a Bundt pan?

    1. Hi Karen, It should fit in a bunt pant, but I haven’t tested this exact recipe this way so I can’t say for sure how long it the bake time would be. Let me know if you try it!

  9. I love this cake. This is my second time making it and it is absolutely delicious.
    I was wondering if once it is baked and cooled if it can be stored in the freezer?
    Thanks for creating such a yummy recipe.

  10. what if i dont have sour cream?

  11. Taryn Brown says:

    I absolutely love your recipes so much so that now for baking I just use you unbelievable recipes so delicious everyone I sample on love them
    Thankyou so much I never used to bake x

  12. I decided to make this cake this morning because I had some apples that needed to be used. My husband is in love- he had it for breakfast. 🙂 I used about double the amount of apples- I wanted to use them up and I like things extra apple-y. I left it in a little too long, but it is still moist and delicious- the crumb topping really makes the cake!

  13. Hi Sally,
    1st of all, love your recipes! Question for this one: does it not have a good consistency without sour cream, or can you substitute plain yogurt? I don’t mind if it’s less ‘fattening’, but I don’t want it to come out too dry either 🙂

    1. Hi Alessia! You can use plain yogurt instead of sour cream.

  14. Sally, do you think I can make the crumble topping with just an apple filling below it? So it’s kind of like an apple crisp but no oats? Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Samantha, I haven’t tried it but I don’t see why not!

  15. This was delicious and got even better the next day!! Amazing, love your desserts and your helpful and informative tips 🙂

  16. I have made this 3 Times in the last 2 weeks! I love it! I consider myself a crumb cake snob and I am always looking for a good recipe…this one is by far, my favorite…I want to try with the Granny Smith apples but am afraid to ruin my streak lol…want to know if I can make it in a smaller Pyrex than 9 x 13 though? How would I lessen the ingredients/cook time to make in an 8 x 8 square Pyrex?

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoy it so much, Erin! You can try cutting the recipe in half for a square pan and shortening the bake time.

      1. Sally, honestly, every recipe I search, I want to make! I also made the pineapple upside down cake with rave reviews! Can’t wait to try coconut cake!
        Stay safe & healthy!

  17. Scot Solomon says:

    I hate people like me that say “I loved the recipe; but did A,B&C”; but here goes. In the topping subbed 1C oats for 1C of the flour. Added 1/2 t of baking powder and baking soda to topping. Also added 1/2C chopped walnuts. In batter subbed 1C whole wheat pastry flour for 1C of the flour and increased baking powder to 1t. Also added 1t cinnamon to batter. Doubled the amount of apples and added more cinnamon and a bit of granulated sugar. After the apples were on top of the batter sprinkled w cinnamon before adding streusel.

  18. Thought I followed this to a t besides extra cinnamon on the apples but when my husband asked why the 3 eggs were still on the counter realized I hadn’t. He declared we need to make it this way from now on because it was insanely good and moist . I think we need to try it with the eggs to see if it’s somehow better but it was so good I’m not sure how it could be.

    The reason for my post is perhaps you want to list this duplicate recipe or notate it can be made without the eggs for kids with allergies because it was amazing without the eggs

  19. Hi Sally:
    I only have red apples on hand….Can I red apples instead? Thank you

    1. Hi Lupe, Yes, you can use any variety of apples you enjoy.

  20. Pat Weidknecht says:

    Another success! Only thing I will change for next time is more apples! They got lost between the dense cake and the amazing crumble. Took this to my belly dance class practice (outside and safely distant) and it received all thumbs up. Will definitely add this to my baking rotation.

  21. My family really loves this apple crumb cake! It is so good! All that crumb topping is amazing! I am considering making this with rhubarb as I have a bunch in my freezer. Would you recommend thawing it first and draining the juices or just throw it in frozen? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Courtney, We haven’t tried this with frozen rhubarb, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you thaw it first, just blot some of the moisture off.

  22. amanda bonass says:

    wow I baked this for my neighbours and my husbands work colleagues, with the covid at the minute wanted to treat them, this was a big success first time I,ve mde it they loved it thankyou sally

  23. Sally, you have done it again! I swear you’re my go-to girl for a new recipe. I’ve made countless of them and they never disappoint. This was nothing different! I added another small apple and will probably even add more next time to increase the apple flavor. Such a hit and love how big of a batch it makes. We couldn’t wait to let it cool completely and it was still great. But I assume even better tomorrow in the morning with coffee. Thanks again for the best recipes!

  24. Just had a slice. What a delight! Everybody raved. We have an Asian pear tree and I was in search of recipes for this year’s harvest. So glad I found this one. Thank you for your creative, delicious recipes.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

      1. Tania Maria Roman Medina says:

        Thank you! 🙂

  28. 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.

  29. Urvashi Gupta says:

    Hi Sally!
    Your recipe is absolutely amazing! Every time I make this cake it’s finished with in minutes!
    Although I really want to make this for my family and some of them don’t have egg. Is there any substitute for egg or can I just skip it and follow the recipe as it is?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Urvashi, We are so glad you have been enjoying this recipe! We haven’t tested it with any egg substitutes but let us know if you try anything.

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