Apple Coffee Cake

5 from 6 votes

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A light snacking cake, studded with tiny chunks of apples and topped with a crunchy cinnamon sugar dusting.

Apple Coffee Cake

This recipe is super easy and good and tender and moist and takes about 15 minutes to get into the oven and then only 30 minutes to bake. Pretty close to immediate apple coffee cake gratification! And it’s very likely that you have all of the ingredients in your home at this very moment.

The light cinnamon sugar topping is really the kicker. It takes me back; I think I made a Bisquick coffee cake every Sunday for most of my childhood until my parents begged me to stop because how many coffee cakes can one eat? (Answer, actually, quite a few.) But this one has apples!

This is the kind of coffee cake one would be overjoyed to see on a Sunday morning with a steaming cup of coffee (or milk) alongside. For a big weekend breakfast, serve this with fruit salad, scrambled eggs, and some oven-baked bacon. In the fall, add in an iced pumpkin latte!

Slices of Apple Coffee Cake on small plates.

Apple Cake for the Jewish Holidays

This apple cake recipe shows up in my house often during the Jewish holidays. Apples are often featured as part of the Rosh Hashana meal. Traditionally, apples — symbolizing divine presence — are dipped into honey for a sweet year to come at the beginning of the meal. According to Joan Nathan, Jewish food historian and author of 11 cookbooks, apples have been associated with Rosh Hashana since the Middle Ages.

Nathan says, “Every Jewish holiday is a seasonal holiday — and used what was available. Honey was everywhere, and it represented sweetness for the new year, but so were apples. I would personally have apples rather than honey cake for dessert because they are so abundant, and I like them better.” Nathan says that apples symbolize plenty, abundance, and hope for the new year. 

Nathan adds: “As the world is changing, these traditions are even more meaningful. It’s not just wishing for a healthy, happy new year but one in which everyone can eat what they want.”

My version of apple cake is super easy and good and tender and moist and takes very little time to throw together. It is made with butter, so if you are keeping kosher, make sure it is served as part of a parve or dairy meal. (Psst — you might also want to check out Jelly Doughnuts). On Rosh Hashana, I like to cut the sugar topping in half and serve the cake with a tiny drizzle of honey on top of each slice.

Woman using a spatula to serve a slice of Apple Coffee Cake.

Ingredients

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • Sugar – Makes the top of the cake crunchy and sweet.
  • Ground cinnamon – The most perfect partner to apples in the history of spice partners to apples!

For the Coffee Cake

  • All-purpose flour – Provides structure.
  • Baking powder – The leavening that allows the cake to rise and have a light texture.
  • Sugar – The sugar gets beaten into the butter, making the cake airy and light.
  • Unsalted butter – Bring to room temperature so it’s easy to cream with the sugar.
  • Eggs – Give the cake structure.
  • Vanilla extract – Brings out the sweetness and the flavor of the apple.
  • Milk – I recommend using whole milk for the richest flavor (though it’s still a light cake!).
  • Apple – Peeled and roughly chopped. I recommend using Granny Smith, Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Jonathan, Fuji, or Rome apples.

How to Make Apple Cake

  1. Prepare to bake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square (or round) baking pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Make the topping: Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. It takes all of 2 minutes to mix and sprinkle it, so don’t skip it!
  3. Mix the dry ingredients: In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Mixing flour and other dry ingredients for baking cookies, cakes, and bread.
  1. Make the batter: Beat the sugar with the butter, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternately until combined.
Beating flour into dough batter with mixer.
  1. Add the apple: Fold in the chopped apple just until everything is combined.
Adding diced apples to cake batter.
  1. Turn the batter into the prepared pan.
  1. Sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Pouring batter into glass baking dish and adding ground cinnamon.
  1. Bake: Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Apple Coffee Cake in a baking dish.
  1. Cool & serve. This cake keeps well, covered, and at room temperature for several days.
Serving Apple Coffee Cake from pan.

FAQs

How do you cut apples for apple cake?

Sometimes apples are grated before they are added to cake batters, but here, they are very roughly chopped, so you get real bites of apples in every bite of the cake. Make sure the pieces are no more than about ⅓-inch, or the cake won’t hold together so well.

What kind of apples are good for apple cake?

In baked goods, you want to go for a firm apple that won’t turn into mush when it’s cooked, and then how tart or sweet it is up to you. Every time you make this, you can try a different apple and give the coffee cake a slightly different personality.

Here are some good cooking apple options:
– Granny Smith (green, sour, tart)
– Cortland (red skin, bright white flesh, a bit tart)
– Empire (mottled red, sweet-tart)
– Golden Delicious (yellow, pointy bottom bumps, sweet and mellow tasting)
– McIntosh (red with some green coloration, mild, less firm)
– Jonathon (mixed red and yellow, tart, crisp)
– Fuji (red, sweet, juicy, firm)
– Rome (red, a bit tart, fairly crisp)

Tips

  • If you have a 9-inch springform pan, you will be able to take the cake out of the pan before serving without losing any of the cinnamon sugar topping.
  • Make this cake with all different types of apples over the fall, and see which one you like best!

What to Serve With Apple Coffee Cake

Slice of Apple Coffee Cake on a plate.

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5 from 6 votes

Apple Coffee Cake

A light snacking cake, studded with tiny chunks of apples and topped with a crunchy cinnamon sugar dusting.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 People

Ingredients 

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Coffee Cake:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • cup whole milk
  • 1 large apple (see headnote; peeled and roughly chopped)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9-inch square (or round) baking pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon.
  • In another small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, beat the ⅓ cup of sugar with the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternately, in about 2 batches each, beating after each addition just until almost incorporated into a batter — at the end, you still want to see streaks of flour and milk in the thinnish batter.
  • Fold in the chopped apple just until everything is combined. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Bake until golden brown and a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature in squares (or wedges)

Video

Notes

  • If you have a 9-inch springform pan, you will be able to take the cake out of the pan before serving, without losing any of the cinnamon sugar topping.
  • Make this cake with all different types of apples over the fall, and see which one you like best!
  • This keeps, wrapped at room temperature, for a couple of days.
Some good cooking apples are:
  • Granny Smith (green, sour, tart)
  • Cortland (red skin, bright white flesh, a bit tart)
  • Empire (mottled red, sweet-tart)
  • Golden Delicious (yellow, pointy bottom bumps, sweet and mellow tasting)
  • McIntosh (red with some green coloration, mild, less firm)
  • Jonathon (mixed red and yellow, tart, crisp)
  • Fuji (red, sweet, juicy, firm)
  • Rome (red, a bit tart, fairly crisp)

Nutrition

Calories: 272kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 173mg, Potassium: 194mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 460IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 83mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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2 Comments

  1. Just made these for an afternoon snack and my family devoured the entire thing in one sitting. Delicious, quick and easy!