Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Charlie’s old friend Aaron shared a version of this recipe with me many years ago, when he was a little kid baker (he has now become a big kid cook and baker).  I tinkered a bit (as I am wont to do) and 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.  

Apple Coffee Cake

This recipe is super easy and good and tender and moist and takes very little time to throw together.  The light sugar topping is really the kicker.  It took 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).

Apple Coffee Cake

This is also highly suitable as a dessert, a snack, or a bake sale item, not to mention a potluck offering (when potlucks are a thing again).  Note that the batter will feel somewhat thin in texture compared to more traditional cake batters.  This is intentional – it’s a very light textured cake.  

Make Ahead Note:

This keeps, wrapped at room temperature, for a couple of days.

Apple Coffee Cake

What Kind of Apples Can You Use in Apple Coffee 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.  When making an apple pie or apple sauce, or anything with a larger quantity of apples, it’s nice to mix a couple of kinds to get more multifaceted flavor action, but in the case of a recipe like this, you’re really just grabbing one apple, so pick one you like.  And then, every time you make this, you can try a different apple, and give the coffee cake a slightly different personality.

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)
Apple Coffee Cake

Cutting Apples for Coffee 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 1/3 inch big or the cake won’t hold together so well.

Apple Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Topping

The simple mix of cinnamon and sugar gives this cake a crunchy sweet topping laced with the spice that is the most perfect partner to apples in the history of spice partners to apples.  It take all of two minutes to mix and sprinkle it, so don’t skip it!

Apple Coffee Cake

What Can the Kids Do?

Measure, dump, mix, and possibly peel the apple and chop it if they are old enough to cut firm fruit with a sharp knife.  Sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar.

Other Apple Dessert Recipes:

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Apple Coffee Cake

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


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


  • 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 1/3 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 for 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).

Nutrition Information

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

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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