This apple coffee cake is the perfect recipe for any fall or summer breakfast! Or any winter or spring dessert, as long as apples are available!
It features a moist, tender cake and a cinnamon-infused streusel topping. It’s a treat the whole family will enjoy.
Honestly, there’s never a bad time for coffee cake. It’s an every-season confection that works well any time of day.
But I crave apple coffee cake more when the weather turns cool and the leaves start falling. Buttery and crumbly, it’s the ideal fall treat.
The Best Apple Coffee Cake
There’s much to love about this apple coffee cake. The rich scent and taste of brown sugar and cinnamon. The moist cake and streusel crumb topping.
But it’s the chunks of sweetly tart Granny Smith apples that I love most. They’re my favorite apples anyway, and they make any dessert better.
Simply put, this cake is perfection from top to bottom.
Why Is it Called Coffee Cake?
Just in case you expect this cake to taste like coffee, let me clear things up a bit. Coffee cakes do NOT contain coffee. (Unless they’re coffee-flavored, that is!)
They’re called “coffee cakes” because they’re meant to be eaten with coffee (or tea). Don’t let the name fool you!
A coffee cake has 2 layers: butter cake at the bottom and crumbly streusel on top. It’s usually flavored with fruit or berries — not coffee.
Here’s what you’ll need for this fall favorite.
- Cooking spray and flour. Use both in the pan to prevent sticking and make cleanup a breeze.
- Butter. You’ll add butter to the cake and the topping. It enriches the flavor and gives everything a great taste. Plus, it helps hold the topping ingredients together.
- Brown sugar. Brown sugar is another ingredient that goes in both the topping and the cake. It adds sweetness and moisture and keeps the cake from being too dense or dry.
- Egg. The binding agent that holds everything together.
- Sour cream. Your secret ingredient when baking. Sour cream adds a wallop of moisture to baked goods, resulting in softer, moister, and fluffier treats.
- Vanilla yogurt. For flavor and texture.
- Vanilla extract. Acts as a flavor enhancer for the other ingredients.
- Flour. Regular, all-purpose flour works fine. You’ll add it to the cake and the topping.
- Cinnamon. Add a dash of cinnamon to the cake batter and the streusel topping mix. It provides warmth and a gently spiced depth of flavor that makes the cake irresistible.
- Baking soda. The leavening agent that makes the cake rise.
- Salt. Another flavor enhancer. (You can omit if you use salted butter.)
- Granny Smith apples. You could use other apple varieties, but none are as good as Granny Smiths. They hold their shape well while baking and have the perfect balance of sweet-tart flavors.
How to Make Apple Coffee Cake
1. Prepare the equipment.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick spray and dust it with flour.
If you have parchment paper, better. Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish, leaving some overhang on the sides for “handles.”
2. Combine the wet ingredients and sugar.
Beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Be sure to use softened butter to avoid lumps.
Then, beat in the egg, sour cream, vanilla yogurt, and vanilla. Continue beating until the ingredients are well combined.
3. Add the dry ingredients.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. (Sifting also prevents lumps.)
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix carefully, stopping as soon as you no longer see streaks of flour.
Gently fold in (mix) the apples. Then, pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
5. Make the streusel.
Using a fork, whisk together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and melted butter until they form a crumbly mixture.
Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter.
Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Cool, serve, and enjoy!
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, transfer it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for baking apple coffee cake:
- Measure the flour accurately. Otherwise, your cake may turn out dry and rubbery. Use a kitchen scale for best results.
- Don’t over-mix the batter. This is another culprit for dry baked goods. Stop mixing as soon as you no longer see streaks of dry ingredients.
- Eliminate the mess. Instead of greasing the baking dish with non-stick spray, line it with parchment paper. It gives you a cleaner, more effortless cake release.
- Transform it into muffins. Just pour the batter into a muffin tin lined with muffin liners. Then, top with streusel and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Add some crunch. This cake is predominantly tender. If you want some crunch, fold chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter.
- Add a glaze. A glaze will make this cake even more mouthwateringly delicious. Whisk together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Drizzle on top right before serving.
What Are the Best Apples for Baking?
I use Granny Smith apples for this recipe. Honeycrisp and Pink Lady are fantastic, as well.
You want to use apples that are firm enough to hold their shape when baked.
Soft apples will only disintegrate and turn into mush, giving your baked goods an off-putting consistency.
As for the flavor, go for sweet-tart apples to balance out the richness of the cake.
How to Store Apple Coffee Cake
This coffee cake is incredibly moist, but it’ll start to dry out over time. For the best results, consume it within 1 to 2 days.
Here’s what to do with any (unlikely) leftovers:
- To store. Cut into slices and wrap the slices tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for up to 4 days.
- To freeze. Cut and wrap the slices just as you would for refrigerator storage. But transfer the slices to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Remove as much air as possible before sealing and freeze for up to 1 month.
- To reheat slices. Reheat for 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave on high power.
- Make-ahead freezing instructions. This cake is best served fresh. However, you CAN make it ahead of time and freeze the entire thing. Simply let it cool, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Then, wrap it again in aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 month.
- To reheat an entire cake. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, reheat in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 to 8 minutes. Note: The consistency won’t be optimal.
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