Get the flavor of a classic apple pie with less than half of the effort! This apple cake features 3 delicious layers: soft vanilla cake on the bottom, tart apples in the center, and a crunchy crumble on top! And even better, the crumble uses the same base ingredients as the cake!
* This post was updated with new photos 🙂
This cake features all of the classic flavors of apple pie, but it's 100x easier to make! Annnd it's a 3 layer cake, all baked at once.
This cake goes great with your morning coffee or as a dessert for Thanksgiving! It's amazing warm or at room temperature, and it will keep moist for days!
Apple crumb cake ingredients:
A few of these ingredients repeat throughout the recipe. But generally speaking, to make this apple cake and crumble topping, you will need:
• baking powder
• sugar: both granulated (for the cake and crumb topping) and brown sugar (for the apple layer). I like to use brown sugar with apples because I love the added color and flavor it brings! But you can of course just use all granulated sugar
• butter: for both the cake and crumb topping. It adds tons of flavor and richness! For this recipe, it actually doesn't matter if the butter is at room temperature, straight from the fridge, or anywhere in between! Just as long as it's not melted. Softened butter is easier to work in, but it also may mean you'll need less milk and water to get the right consistency for the cake and crumb layers. So do keep an eye out for that. The ingredient amounts below assume you're using cool or cold butter
• eggs & milk: room temperature is best so you get a smooth, well incorporated cake batter
• vanilla extract
• apples: I like to stick with apples that hold their shape when cooked like Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Fuji, or Honey Crisp. Those are the best apples for this cake. The worst apple for baking (anything really) would be Red Delicious. It mushes and breaks up like crazy! And it even tends to become grainy when cooked
• ground cinnamon: my favorite fall spice! You can add other spices if you like (some options include nutmeg, allspice, or cloves)
• water: to get a crumbly mixture to top the cake off
How to make apple crumb cake:
1. Prepare the 9x13 inch baking pan. Butter and dust with a light layer of flour (or line with parchment paper). Set aside. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk dry ingredients. Scoop out half of the dry mix (about 1 and ¾ cups) and set aside. We'll be using that half for the crumb topping later!
3. Cut butter into half of dry mix until you get a fine crumbly mixture.
4. Add in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Whisk to combine! And that's the cake layer ready!
5. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread into an even layer. Set aside.
6. Toss the apples in sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly across the cake layer. Set aside.
7. Add flour to the other reserved half of the dry ingredients mix. Whisk to combine. Cut remaining butter into the dry ingredients. Again, you should have a fine, crumbly mixture.
8. Add water. Gradually incorporate water (start with 4 tablespoons and add more if needed) until you get a crumbly mixture. If it feels too dry, add more water until it crumbles nicely. Top the apple layer with the crumb mixture!
9. Bake! Bake at 350°F for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before slicing.
Apple crumb cake storage:
Store your apple crumb cake in an airtight container, or cover tightly with plastic wrap. The cake will keep for around 3 days at room temperature, or 5 days in the fridge.
To freeze this apple cake, wrap tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Store frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge or on your counter for a few hours before serving!
If you liked this apple crumb cake, you may also like some of these other recipes:
Apple Crumb Cake Recipe
For the dry ingredients:
- 2 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
For the bottom vanilla cake layer:
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed * see notes
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the center apple layer:
- 2 cups finely diced apples about 4 medium sized apples
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the crumb topping:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 to 6 tablespoons cool water
- Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and dust with flour (or line with parchment paper). Set aside. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Divide the dry ingredients in half and set aside one half for later (about 1 and ¾ cups for each portion).
- Make the cake layer: In a large bowl, combine half of your dry ingredients (about 1 and ¾ cups) and the butter. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until your get a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Whisk together until the batter just comes together. Take care not to over mix! Some lumps are fine. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish. Spread into an even layer, and set aside.
- Make the apple layer: In a medium bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir together until the apples are fully coated in the sugar and cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle the apples over the cake layer. Set aside.
- Make the crumb topping: In a large bowl, combine the remaining half (1 and ¾ cups) of the dry ingredients and an additional ½ cup of flour. Whisk to combine.
- Add in the other stick of butter. Again, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix. You should be left with a crumbly mixture that sticks together when pinched. If it's too dry, work in more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the right texture.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the apple layer. Bake the cake in the center of a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before slicing.