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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. Today’s homemade apple crumb cake is like my apple cinnamon muffins and apple cinnamon bread but in cake form. Those are favorite seasonal recipes to make (along with pumpkin crumb cake muffins), so a cake version is a no-brainer.

stack of 2 squares of apple crumb cake

Video Tutorial

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:

Print
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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 1x
  • 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

Scale

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)

Cake

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

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.

Keywords: apple crumb cake

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Made this tonight while I was at work, my co-worker was drooling while smelling it baking…I was a little taken back by the amount of crumb topping, but it was awesome. Only change I made was I added walnuts to the crumb topping.

  2. I want to make this for breakfast tomorrow mornin. I do not like sour cream so I’m going to give it a try with a low fat plain yogurt I have on hand. I know you said not to use low fat yogurt, but it’s what I have. It will still be tasty, right??

    1. Hi Katie, There will be more flavor with a full-fat yogurt, but let us know how they turn out!

  3. I was a little hesitant to try this given the reviews, but decided to go for it because I needed a new way to use up some apples and crumb cake is one of my favorite things on this planet. Also, I have a lot of trust in Sally as I’ve tried countless recipes from her and they always turn out great.

    Based on the reviews I made a couple modifications. I used 3 granny smith apples instead of 2, and I cut the crumb topping in half. It turned out perfect. It was so delicious and well-balanced. The cake itself isn’t too sweet but has good flavor, and combined with the apples and crumb topping it is just amazing. I felt that cutting the crumb topping in half made the perfect amount. It was still a little more topping than your average crumb cake, but not too much. I also have never used melted butter for crumb topping, I always cut in cold butter. So I was skeptical at first but it actually turned out really nice. It was more crumbly and crisped up slightly and I think I’ll try this method for other recipes that utilize crumb topping.

  4. This is the best recipe I have found for crumb cake – ever! I’m not looking anymore. This will forever be my go to. I made it exactly as the recipe calls. No modifications needed. It’s perfect.

  5. Hello,
    OMG!!!!! I made this last night, and it was phenomenal! I had no idea a simple apple crumb cake could taste this amazing! Since I did not have any sour cream (and it’s a couple hour round trip to the nearest store) I used buttermilk, and it was still beyond amazing! Thank you for this receipe, sorry no pictures, only a couple crumbs left 🙂

  6. I have no idea how anyone could have anything bad to say about this cake, or why on earth someone would want to decrease the amount of crumbs. I made it as written but I doubled the amount of apples and added a little more spices (upped the cinnamon, added a smidge of nutmeg, ginger, and allspice). Otherwise I followed the recipe to a T and it was perfection!! I bake for my family all the time and even though they’re used to it by now they still had a hard time accepting the fact that this wasn’t from a bakery. I’ll be making it every chance I get. Thank you Sally for another winner!

    PS I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8” springform

  7. Can I add raisins and walnuts or pecans? Do you recommend one over the other ?
    If yes, what proportions ? Thank you!!

    1. You can absolutely add raisins or nuts to the cake batter. I recommend 3/4 cup (110g) raisins or 1 cup (about 120g) chopped walnuts or pecans. Any of those would be great!

  8. I was looking for ideas to use up the leftover homemade Strawberry and blueberry sauces I had from making crepes. I made 2 batches separately and after spreading the cake out I poured the strawberry sauce (about 1.5 cups) on one and the blueberry (about 2 cups) on top of the other. I put the crumbs on top and baked. They were wonderful… sooo good!

    I think this recipe would be awesome without the fruit too.
    Its crumb cake, the crumbs are right on target!
    I have made several of your recipes and they never disappoint. You are my new go-to recipe place!

  9. Perfectly moist and delicious! From the cake to the apples to the topping, everything is great. I did use extra apples, but that’s a personal preference. The crumb topping is a lot, but it’s my favorite part so I didn’t mind one bit! Will definitely be making again.

  10. I made a bit of changes like adding more apples , cinnamon and nutmeg . This is definitely my favorite coffee cake ❤️

  11. Fast, easy and delicious!
    I made this tonight. Added an extra Granny Smith apple and it was delicious! We didn’t wait for it to cool. Ate it right out of the oven! Can’t wait to have it with coffee tomorrow morning

  12. Love it! Moist delicious cake, more apples next time and the best crumbs! Sooo good!! I’m giving it out to family and friends to share the Love. Thank You for all you do and I love baking with you ❤️

  13. I made this tonight for my mom’s birthday, apple desserts are her favorite. It did not disappoint! So delicious. I was worried I may have over mixed the batter as it looked much thicker than it does in the video here, but I think it was maybe because I used a really thick sour cream. I think the only thing I would do different next time is add more apples. Thank you Sally for an excellent recipe!

  14. Hi, can I get the quantities to make in a 9 inch springform? It’s for a birthday celebration and I need to impress my MIL!

    1. Hi Marnie, If you have a 10-inch springform pan, this cake would definitely fit. The bake time will be about the same or a little longer.

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