Apple Crumb Cake
Ha, yeah right. It's an oxymoron. 'Happy' and 'winter.' Figured I'd give it a shot though.
Well, what better way to ring in this dreary season than with a hefty slice of comforting apple crumb cake?
Warm, rich, dense, hint-of-vanilla cake packed with tart, cinnamon-y apple slices and topped with a delicious, crispy crumble. That's the way to do it. Take that, winter. In your face. Can't no freezing temperatures bring me down now. Not when I have a warm and loving apple cake by my side.
And this apple crumb cake is not bad looking either. It's quite attractive, actually. Especially when you bake it in a tube pan. It's high and hefty, beautifully golden, has a generous layer of appealing crumbs, and flaunts beautiful layers to ogle at once it's sliced.
But you could also make this apple cake in a 9x13-inch pan. I'd say that would be just as good. Because while the apple cake may not look as majestic in the sheet pan, it'll seem a little less intimidating.
Have you noticed that people are more hesitant to dig into a bundt cake or tube cake than into a simple round, square, or rectangular sheet cake? It's true. At least in my house. The simpler looking cakes get finished faster. I guess the plainer cakes are just easier for people to get all up in.
I've tried out many apple cakes these past few weeks to find a perfect one to post. I have apple cake up to my throat. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), I don't think I would have a problem having one more slice. Of this particular apple cake. Because as many apple cake recipes as I've tried, I always end up going back to this one. I grew up on this cake. It's a family staple. And for good reason.
This apple crumb cake is not as moist as I usually like my cakes to be, but for some reason, it doesn't bother me here. The cake has a unique texture that I can only describe as hefty and heavy. In a good way. It's rich. And dense.
And the richness and denseness is broken up by the delicate, tart apple slices that are coated in sugar, cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice for some extra tartness.
And then there's the crunchy crumb topping. Which is totally optional. But not really. Because why would you want to skip it? Crumb toppings are my favorite part of any cake. Always. I would have no problem eating the crumb topping off of any cake and leaving the rest of the cake untouched. And OMG, have you ever eaten raw crumb topping? SO GOOD. I like it better than raw cookie dough. Seriously.
The original recipe for this apple cake, the one that appeared on the counter of my house very often, didn't have a crumb topping. But I felt the need to add it. Because crumb topping.
I've never tried this particular apple cake with chopped walnuts. But I've tried other apple cakes with walnuts. And I loved the addition. The earthy, nutty flavor from the walnuts pairs perfectly with the delicate apples.
I don't know why, but I just never thought to use walnuts when making this recipe. Probably because my Mom never used them when she made this apple cake. I did add optional walnuts to the ingredient list though, because although I never tried it in this recipe myself, I know it can't be bad.
Next time I make this apple cake, walnuts are definitely making their way into the batter. Definitely.
Every bite of this apple crumb cake provides you with a mouthful of a rich, vanilla cake base, layers of sweet and tart apples, and a crispy, crumb topping.
Try to get all the layers in one forkful. It won't be an easy feat (look how high that slice is!), but it'll certainly be an impressive and worthy one.
apple crumb cake
Yield: Large tube pan or 9x13 pan
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups oil
1/4 cup orange/apple juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts
5 tart apples (Cortland, Macintosh, Fuji, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp etc.)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Crumb Topping (optional):
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-6 tablespoons oil
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a large tube pan or line a 9x13 inch pan.
Cake: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, spices, and baking powder. Make a well and add in the wet ingredients, mixing until combined. If using, stir in chopped walnuts last.
Filling: Peel and slice the apples into half moon slices and place into a medium bowl. Add in the cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice and stir to coat evenly.
Crumb Topping: In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add in vanilla extract and oil and mix with your hand or a fork till crumble forms.
Pour half the cake batter into your prepared pan evenly. Layer the apple filling over the batter. Pour the rest of the batter over the apples. If using, sprinkle the crumb topping on top.
Bake cake for 50-70 minutes (less time for 9x13 pan, more time for tube pan), or until a toothpick inserted has a few crumbs. If you notice the crumb topping is getting too dark during baking, cover top loosely with a piece of foil and continue baking.
Let cake cool about 20 minutes before releasing from tube pan and slicing.
On a completely unrelated note, look at the bright side: