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.
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).
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.
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 (this year the holiday goes from September 25 through September 27). 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 and 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).
Make Ahead Note:
This keeps, wrapped at room temperature, for a couple of days.
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)
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.
How to Make Apple Cake
In a small bowl, stir together the ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon.
Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt in another small bowl. 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).
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!
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:
- Easy Apple Crisp
- Favorite Streusel Apple Crisp
- Best Apple Streusel Pie
- Dutch Baby Pancake with Sauteed Apples
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Apple Coffee Cake
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
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , at room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- ⅔ 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 is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
That’s a Sunday morning staple around here!