This caramel apple crumb cake has a light and fluffy cake layer dotted with tender cinnamon apples, a soft crumb topping, and creamy caramel glaze.
Crumb cake, aka coffee cake: one of those times it's acceptable to have cake for breakfast. It can also serve as an after-school snack, tea-time snack, or after-dinner dessert. And they can be flavored in a number of ways!
This apple crumb cake is filled with chunks of fresh apple, and drizzled with caramel sauce. Some think of apples as appropriate for the fall season only, but I disagree! There's never a wrong time for apples, especially when paired with cinnamon and caramel.
Here are the ingredients for this caramel apple crumb cake, broken down by layer.
- Sugar: both brown and white
- Cinnamon: yes, more cinnamon!
- Butter: unsalted and cold
- Flour: all-purpose
- Sugar: regular white sugar
- Baking powder
- Salt: regular table salt
- Cinnamon: because it goes so well with apples
- Eggs: two large eggs
- Buttermilk: whole is best, but reduced fat is fine if that's what you have
- Oil: canola or vegetable oil. You could also use an equal amount of coconut oil.
- Vanilla extract
- Apples: 2 baking apples. I used Honeycrisp but Granny Smith, Braeburn, or Pink Lady are also good options. These apples hold their shape when baked.
- Sugar: brown sugar (light or dark)
- Flour: just a little, to absorb some of the water from the apples as they bake
- Cinnamon: because yum.
And don't forget the caramel sauce. Homemade or store-bought, salted or not, either is fine.
This cake is so easy, it doesn't require a mixer.
First, make the crumb topping. I find it easiest to do it in a food processor, but you can use two forks or your fingers instead. Set the crumb topping aside.
In one bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, and in a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
Pour the wet over the dry and mix just until combined.
Line an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (leaving an inch or two to hang over opposite sides for lifting the cake out after baking), and spread a thin layer of cake batter.
Spoon some apple filling over the cake then spread more batter on top. Repeat with more apples and batter until the batter is all in the baking pan. Top the batter with some apple filling (you may have leftover apple filling if your apples were large).
Sprinkle the crumb topping over the cake. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, then slice and plate. Drizzle caramel onto individual servings.
As I mentioned above, no mixer necessary to make this cake! Just a few bowls for mixing, and good whisk.
I like a food processor for making the crumb topping. It's not strictly necessary, but it's much quicker than using two forks or your fingers.
The baking pan, on the other hand, is necessary. If you don't have an 8-inch square pan, it's better to use a 9-inch round pan rather than a 9-inch by 13-inch rectangular pan.
If you're not serving the cake immediately, cool to room temperature, then remove it from the pan by lifting it out by the parchment overhang. Place on a plate or serving board, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. It can be stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
When ready to serve, unwrap, cut slices, transfer to plates, drizzle with caramel and serve.
Crumb cakes also hold up well when frozen. Once cooled to room temperature, transfer to a plate or serving board, wrap in two layers of aluminum foil, then place in a freezer-grade ziptop plastic bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw by placing in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, bring to room temperature on the counter.
As with any cake recipe, do not overmix, as this will create a tough cake. Also, I strongly recommend measuring your ingredients by weighing, rather than by volume. It's much more accurate, and much more likely to lead to a successful cake.
Caramel Apple Crumb Cake
This caramel apple crumb cake is a light and fluffy cake dotted with tender cinnamon apples, with a soft crumb topping, and creamy caramel glaze.
- 3 tablespoons (1.3 oz/37 g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons (1.4 oz/40 g) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons (2.75 oz/78 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
- 2 cups (8 oz/225 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (3.5 oz/100 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (2 fl oz/235 mL) canola oil
- ¾ cup (6 fl oz/177 mL) buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
Cinnamon Apple Filling:
- 2 baking apples (such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Braeburn or Pink Lady), peeled, cored and chopped to about ½-inch pieces
- ¼ cup (1.8 oz/50 g) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (.25 oz/7 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup caramel sauce, store-bought or homemade
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square (or 9-inch round) baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Make the crumb topping: In a food processor, combine the sugars, flour, and cinnamon. Pulse once or twice to combine.
- Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse until the mixture forms clumps. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry cake ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon). In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla).
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and stir just until combined.
- In a third bowl, toss together the apples, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
- Spread a thin layer of cake batter on the bottom of the parchment-lined baking pan. Sprinkle on some of the apples. Add more batter, then more apples, alternating until the batter is all in the baking pan. Sprinkle more apples on top.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 to 20 minutes, then slice. Drizzle caramel sauce over the slices before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 424Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 425mgCarbohydrates: 90gFiber: 3gSugar: 25gProtein: 11g
I am not a certified nutritionist. This nutrition information is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only.
Thursday 7th of April 2022
Oh my gosh, look at those lovely chunks of apple! And then you go and add caramel? Yes, please!
Friday 28th of September 2018
It was looking delicious anyway, but the caramel put it over the edge. I need a slice ASAP!
Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
Monday 24th of September 2018
The caramel with the crumb top looks amazing!
Monday 24th of September 2018
These are some yummy looking bars.