Apple Coffee Cake

Almost every Sunday morning growing up, my father would make a huge apple coffee cake for us after church. We would hungrily watch him pour the batter into the pyrex baking dish, insert apple slices, and sprinkle with streusel topping. Oh the magic of baking to young eyes! A half hour later the coffee cake would emerge from the oven, perfectly risen and crusted with brown sugar.

Several years ago I found a recipe for a similar coffee cake in the Boston Globe (can no longer find it), one that they had listed as an apple cake for the Jewish high holidays and posted it here. However, the Globe recipe made a much thinner cake than the one I loved from my childhood, and several people over the years have had more success with this one by doubling the batter. I agree, so I’ve adjusted the batter amounts. I’ve also reduced the sugar substantially from the original, and topped the cake with a streusel topping of brown sugar, flour, and butter.

Recipe updated March 16, 2015.

Apple Coffee Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
Yum

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (280 g) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) of white granulated sugar plus 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter (140 g), room temperature
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
  • 1 medium tart green apple, cored, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices

Streusel topping:

  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan (can use a springform pan or square baking pan)

2 In a medium bowl, whisk vigorously together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3 In a separate small bowl, mix 2 Tbsp of the sugar with the cinnamon, set aside.

4 Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat in the eggs until blended. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk, beating after each addition until just combined.

5 Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the apple slices on the batter so they just cover the batter (you may have to overlap some slices). Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Spread the rest of the batter over the apples.

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6 In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon for the streusel topping. Sprinkle over the cake and dot with butter.

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7 Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until it is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Apple Coffee Cake

70 Comments

  1. Linn

    Really good fall morning cake! The kids love it! Really simple to prepare.

  2. Stephanie

    I made this cake this evening, and it was delicious and very easy to make.

    I think there was too much sugar on top, though. Next time, I’ll cut the sugar in half.

    Thanks for a great website! This is my new favorite website to get recipes.

    • Elise

      Hi Stephanie, I agree the original recipe had way too much sugar period, in the cake and on top. I’ve reduced it considerably and love the result!

  3. Anonymous

    Baked the cake this morning. Delicious! But you definitely need to double the batter. Also, I baked it in a square 8×8 pan which was perfect. I also diced the apple which makes it easier to cut and to eat.

    • koolcooky

      I also used a smaller pan and was very happy with the results. I didn’t double the batter but that would also be a good idea. Good coffee cake. Great taste.

    • Elise

      Hi Anon, yes I agree with doubling the batter! The new instructions reflect that. Diced apples do make the cake easier to cut and eat, great idea!

  4. Mindy

    I’ve made this a couple of times now, and it always gets rave reviews from friends, family, and co-workers. I use a lot less sugar than in the recipe, and it turns out great! Thanks!

  5. Lupe from Texas

    I made this cake tonight, my little girl loves to help me bake. We had lot’s of fun, and it was very easy to make. It tasted DELICIOUS!!!:)

  6. Anonymous

    Hi Elise!

    I made this for my family to enjoy at a birthday party, and it was wonderful! I also made an experimental one using halved maraschino cherries mixed with the batter, which went over well (though I prefer the apples, personally!) thank you for the great recipe!

  7. Sarah

    I just made this and my mom and boyfriend both raved about it. We almost ate the entire thing before it even cooled down. Thanks for a wonderful recipe! I already have orders to make more tomorrow.

  8. Natascha

    Do you think that this recipe could use a banana instead of an apple? I was just thinking to change the taste around a bit. Because my family rather into bananas than apples, and the mix is so easy to make.
    Has anyone tried it with bananas before?

    I haven’t tried it with bananas, but it’s a great idea. ~Elise

  9. Natascha

    So I tried the cake with bananas and oh my gosh it was awesome! I recomend it!! just instead of 1 apple use 1 large sized banana and layer them just like you would the apples. it is really good!

    :)

  10. preeti

    I am at present having the cake , it turned out very good, I took advice and doubled the batter but kept the sugar quantity same and it has the perfect sweetness. I love your site, tried lots of recipes off it. Thanks for the recipes.

    • Elise

      Hi Preeti, I agree! I doubled the batter but kept the sugar amount the same in the updated recipe.

  11. limaygolf

    I also doubled the batter for this recipe and used 6 apples instead of one and added a cup of green rasins since I wanted it to have a lot of filling. I was going to marinate the apple slices and raisins in rum but could not find any so I marinated them in Pepsi and vanilla instead. I used 2 cans of Pepsi and 1tsp vanilla flavoring extract. I marinated it for 24 hours before baking the cake. It actually turned out much better than I thought it would. Adding this much filling did increase the baking time however. After 25 mins the cake batter around the edges was cooked properly but the cake batter that had seeped in between all the apple slices was not. This may however have been due to my oven. I don’t have a proper oven, it’s more of a toaster oven.

  12. Marsha

    HI LIMAYGOLF! Did you really marinate apples in Pepsi and vanilla? Maybe lemon juice and sugar would be better, that’s what we do in Italy. And if you like a lot of tasty filling, maybe you could try and add a few teaspoons of apricot or peach marmalade.

  13. Nupur

    Hi

    Wonderful recipe. I tried it this afternoon and its just toooooo yummy!!.

    Only thing is that 9*9 tin is a lil too large, considering the batter is not much. So last min i shifted it to a loaf tin and it turned out wonderful.

    Agree that sugar can be less :-)

    • Elise

      Hi Nupur, I agree! And I doubled the batter amount and reduced the sugar in the revised recipe.

  14. Abi Jones

    I made this last night and am insanely glad that I read the comments

    -Doubling the batter made the perfect amount of cake for a 9×9 pan.

    -Instead of white sugar for the topping I used brown sugar and cinnamon.

    -On top of that all, I cut up 2 tablespoons of butter and put those bits on the very top layer of cinnamon/sugar topping.

    I also accidentally baked it at 325 for the first 10 minutes and so had to turn up the heat and watch it carefully. Fortunately, the cake is nearly foolproof. The final effect of that brown sugar-butter combo was a craggy, crispy topping and a hearty/thick cake. It came together fantastically so this is a recipe I’ll be holding on to for a long time.

  15. Maggie

    Elise,

    I have made this Apple Coffee Cake once and it turned out wonderfully. But I wanted to follow one of the suggestions of doubling the batter and would like to know what the best way of going about that would be. I tried already once by doubling the measurements of each ingredient but it did not turn out well.

    Hope you can help. Thanks again,
    Maggie

    Hi Maggie, don’t know what to tell you here. I haven’t tried doubling the recipe myself. ~Elise

  16. Sorcha

    Hi there,
    I tried this recipe yesterday for a brunch my husband’s family was holding. It turned out super well. I didn’t double the recipe, I just did two cakes. They were gone within minutes!
    The only change I made was that I used canola oil instead of butter.
    Thank you so much for your helpful recipes!
    Sorcha

  17. Maria

    Hi Elise,

    I love your website and all of your wonderful recipes!

    I wanted to make this tomorrow morning, but I only have 2% reduced fat milk. Do you think that will work, or should I just wait until my next grocery trip and pick up a whole milk?

    Should work fine. FYI, what we usually do is add a little cream to our 2% milk when a recipe calls for whole milk and we only have low-fat. ~Elise

  18. Sarah

    Thanks for the great recipe! Peaches have just started coming through our co-op and I couldn’t resist using them instead of apples. Of course, it was a bit gooey, and I substituted ginger for the cinnamon, but this is a versatile, simple recipe that will become a staple around our home!

  19. Devina

    I made this one tonight! Awesome recipe!! I subbed cream for the milk (kids drank all with cereal), which made it sinfully velvety. I also dusted the bottom of the baking pan with vanilla sugar.

    The smell…hard to describe! Thanks!

  20. Ryan

    I La La La Love it

  21. ben

    I thought it was great after I doubled the batter, used vanilla sugar and diced up 2 apples (Granny Smith). Thanks for the recipe.

  22. hfriday

    I love apples and decided to give this a try. However since my husband and I decided to ban some of the good things in life (like butter!) for healthier living, I had to substitute a few things.

    Instead of butter I used apple sauce, instead of whole milk, I used non fat milk and instead of regular sugar, I used brown sugar. This time I had plain flour but next time i’ll probably give whole wheat flour a try. Oh and I had to use Granny Smith because that’s what I had in the fridge.

    I was worried about the outcome with so many substitute but just like someone above said, this recipe is so versatile that it can withhold substitutes.

    It turned out great! It was so good that I can only imagine what the real recipe would taste like (yes i miss butter!) I was hoping to save some for my mom but it seems like i’m going to have to bake another one. Thank God it’s so easy and quick to make!

    Thanks!

  23. Cara

    Just made this tasty gem of a cake. I had some caramel bits in the cupboard I thought I would incorporate. Instead of putting the cinnamon sugar in, I sprinkled caramel bit over the apples. They melted nicely around the apples :) I also pressed a few in a design on the top just before baking. It turned out adorably, and delicious!!!

  24. Trudi

    This reminds of the old fashion Apple Tea Cake we have in Australia.. and again it doesn’t have tea in it.. you have in the afternoon when guests come over to have numerous cups of tea..

  25. Martha

    I have to say, the amount of batter this recipe generated wasn’t NEARLY enough to make two layers in a 9″ cake pan. I got one thin layer down, the apples, and then could barely cover half with what was left.

    I salvaged it by dumping everything back in the bowl and adding the ingredients to make half again as much batter, then baking the cake with the apples and sugar/cinnamon all mixed in. It came out well, though could have used a little more time in the oven than what the original recipe called for.

  26. jdc

    I made this a couple of nights ago and it turned out really well. My husband’s new favorite dessert actually. I’m making another batch tonight. Thank you for another great recipe! ^_^

  27. Shaza

    I stumbled into your site through this recipe — was looking for a good apple pie/crumble recipe to make, and I found this instead. Gotta say, I don’t regret making a batch for my family — it’s an instant favourite. It’s easy to prepare and uses common ingredients, so I can whip up a batch anytime I want. Great recipe!

  28. Anna

    It seems a perfectly wonderful recipe but I had a feeling 1 cup of flour etc. would not produce enough batter for the size of pans recommended. And one apple barely made it. (I use organic apples and they are on the small side). So, adjusted the flour etc. by 1/2 again, and used 2 apples, I would change the topping to a crumble topping (just add some butter and flour to the cinammon and sugar and mix to a crumble), and if you do this, you have to add about 10 mins to the cooking time. Did I say this recipe is flexible too?! Or else, use a smaller pan and all is great as is! In any case this is much MUCH better than Emeril’s version! Good job.

    • Elise

      Hi Anna, I adjusted the recipe so that it now has double the amount of batter that the original one had, and I’m now using a streusel topping. The result if almost identical to the coffee cake I loved as a kid!

  29. purvis

    Wowwww…. this was crazy good. and easy. Thanks for this! I followed the recipe exactly, and used a Granny Smith apple. I had trouble covering the apples with batter, though.. But it was fine, even when they weren’t completely covered.

  30. JX

    Is it a necessarity to add in milk?
    What is the main purpose for adding?

    I’ve tried the recipe and the cake turns out good. However, the cake texture turns slightly too dry and rough when cooled. (Not warm anymore)

    Liquid content, e.g. milk, seems to affect the ability for the cake to rise, which in terms lead to heavy rough cake that is not spongy and smooth enough.

    Please advise.

    The recipe is what it is, and yes it requires milk. Milk provides liquid, as do eggs, to create the cake batter. As for the particular role in the chemistry of this cake, I’m afraid I can’t help you there. ~Elise

  31. Reta and Laras

    We live in Riga, Latvia where all kinds of good apples are available in the market. Yesterday, we baked this cake using Latvian apples and … it worked! Although, we used less sugar for the cake and no sugar added for the topping. Thanks for this simple and yummy recipe.

  32. Dee

    Hi Elise, I made this cake today but I switched the apple with 3 pears. I added cinnamon to the pear with 2 tsp sugar. Skipped the topping. It was very good. Thanks for the recipe. Also lovvve your blog.

  33. Alicia

    Hi! I just made this this morning! Some things that I noticed – it’s very hard to cream such a small quantity of butter with a mixer – next time I will do it with a fork. 1/3 cup sugar for the topping is WAY too much, next time I will probably use a couple of tbls. I had granny smith apples, and used two small ones, but next time might use as many as four and layer them. The batter is a small amount, yes, but if you properly cream your butter it will bake up fluffy and be plenty. I’m considering substituting some sour cream next time for the milk – I think the flavor would be good!

    All in all, this is a great base, and can be easily altered to add what you have on hand! We will definitely make it again!

  34. Kim

    I had no egg for this recipe so I used a substitute of 3 Tbsp of mayonnaise. Thank you for this simple recipe!

  35. Krystle

    Hi Elise!

    I finally caught up with all my comments/reviews! I just made this cake about an hour ago, and it’s very cute/tasty! I agree with the other commenters that more batter would be better – I actually felt a little anxious as I was trying to coax the batter into covering two layers – but it still turned out fine and looks good.

    Thanks for sharing with us, and thanks for being such a good sport with everyone’s questions, comments, and suggestions! Love your recipes!!

  36. Kelly

    Just thought I’d share that I made this cake gluten- and casein-free, and it was delicious. I used ghee in place of the butter, coconut milk in place of whole milk, and a gluten-free flour mixture. Very good!

    While I agree that the sugar is a little on the decadent side, it does make it YUMMY!

  37. Christine

    Pear season here in Nor-Cal. I substituted pears for the apples. Adding more pears didn’t hurt the recipe. I used 3 medium pears. It was sooo good. Highly recommend.

  38. Cindy

    So delicious that I’ve made three of them in the past two weeks!

  39. Bruna

    Hi!

    This looks delicious! I went apple picking on Saturday so I’ll definitely use my apples on this one. Do you think I could use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead?

    No idea. I don’t cook with butter substitutes. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you! ~Elise

  40. Megan

    Can you put this together at night and bake in the morning?

    No, because the leavening starts activating the minute you put the batter together. If you make ahead and bake in the morning, you won’t get rise you should get from this cake. ~Elise

  41. Jody

    Love this recipe. I made it using windfalls from my parents’ trees – they offload on me and everyone else in desperation this time of year – and after looking at the picture using a shallow pie tin. Certainly the batter was enough for that kind of dish and it made a delicious moist desert cake that was fantastic with cream. I had to try some warm out of the oven before sharing with friends, you know, just in case! Can’t believe the commenter who substituted mayonaise, but there we go. Bring on the cream and butter as far as I’m concerned, after all, that’s why cake is a treat! Thanks Elise, your blog continues to help bring foody joy to my household.

  42. susanjen

    I made this for breakfast and we loved it! I also served this for dessert in the evening with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and it was yummy!Its a simple and very easy recipe with all ingredients on hand to make. I did not double batter as others suggested. It came out just fine!! The batter spreads over the top as it bakes. I did use 1/3 cup brown sugar with cinnamon for topping and we found it not too sweet. I also used sour cream with milk and that made the batter moist. thanks for posting this reicpe.I love the simpilcity of this recipe and its yummy too!

  43. Emily What

    I’m thinking about making this with apples and cranberries as a dessert for Thanksgiving. Does anyone know if I should cook the cranberries first, or just add them raw with the apples? I tried this the original way and it was great!

  44. Jules

    I love coffee cakes and this one is my new favorite! I used an 8×8 pan and the batter amount was perfect. The only thing I did differently was to melt about 1/4 c butter and mix it w/ 1/3 c brown sugar and subbed that for the white sugar/cinnamon topping. My mom used to make sour cream coffee cake that way and i’ve always been partial to it. I just put little dollops of it all over the top of the cake, didn’t try to spread it evenly or anything. It came out perfect though! Yum!

  45. Catherine Caplinger

    We made this twice already and each time it was a success! My kids do not eat apples but with this recipe, they devour the cake! thank you so much! Easy to make and such a wonderful cake to have with coffee, tea or anything your heart desires! Thank you!

  46. Harshitha

    The cake looks yummy and recipe simple for a novice like me. You mention just ‘bake’ in all your baking recipes. Can you please specify the temperature that should be set. Also I live in Japan, so the microwave ovens have different settings.

    Your reply is highly appreciated! Thanks!

    This cake must be made in a conventional oven, not a microwave oven. Temperatures are given for all baking recipes, in Fahrenheit. ~Elise

  47. Mymy

    Hello, Elise! I’m a big fan. =)
    Tried this recipe today and it turned out well. Baked it in an 8×8 pan just because that’s what I had. The batter barely covered my apple slices though. Will have to double the recipe next time.
    I have a question though. Would this batter be a good base to hold some other flavor? My sister said it tasted like pancakes, which is not really bad, but I suppose we were just not expecting that. Do you think infusing the milk with say coffee, or more cinnamon would make this taste like a cake than pancakes?
    Much love from Manila!

    Hi Mymy, you could try it with other flavors, I have not. If you do, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  48. Harshitha

    Dear Elise,

    Thanks for your response :) .. I don’t have a conventional oven, but only a microwave oven :(.

    Is it a OK to try it out in a microwave oven and do you have any suggestions for doing it.

    This cake cannot be cooked in a microwave oven. ~Elise

  49. Amna

    Thank you so Elise it was really more delicious than I thought and it is so simple and light ..all of my family praised it..although I reduced the amount of sugar and it tasted very nice :) i’m really a great fan to you and your recipes.

  50. Lu

    I just tried this recipe and have to say it was delicious but I wish I would’ve kept reading all of the comments to double the ingredients. It definitely was not enough to make two layers and my cake did not come out as pretty as the picture :(

  51. sophie may chin

    I’m glad to see others had less batter than they expected. I too had trouble covering the top but I was amazed how well it is rising. Its done and cooling a bit before we try it out… I certainly am excited to try it. I thought the idea to add cranberries was wonderful and I’ll probably try it that way very soon. Thanks for posting this cake recipe!

  52. Lulu

    Delicious! Like others, I thought there wasn’t enough batter. It did rise nicely, but it didn’t fill up the standard pie pan that I used. Next time I’ll probably double the recipe. I used the recommended Cortland apples, which have a nice tartness to them. I used a scant 1/4 cup white sugar for the batter, and for the cinnamon sugar I mixed 1 tbsp brown sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon and I didn’t even end up using all of it. It didn’t turn out too sweet and the flavor of the apples really came through. I’m thinking maybe a hint of nutmeg next time? Thanks for this recipe; I’ll definitely make it again. Probably this weekend, actually. :)

  53. April G.

    This was great! I had some sour cream to use up so I mixed 1/2 a cup of it into 1/2 a cup of milk. It was very moist and tender! Next time I think I’ll make a streusel topping, since that’s one of my favorite parts of a coffee cake.

    I don’t know why everyone is saying there isn’t enough batter. I made the recipe as written–except for the sour cream– and mine turned out pretty much exactly like the picture. I used a standard Pyrex pie plate. It’s the perfect ratio of cake to apples!

  54. Erin

    I’m eating the Apple Coffee Cake as I type this. It was a huge hit with my husband, 5 year old and 18 month old twin girls (who are rather picky eaters). I wouldn’t change anything about it. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the recipe!

  55. Jayne

    Hi Elise, I know it’s been 7 years since you first posted this. But I want to make this into a cupcake. Do you think that can work or is the cake too soft to hold itself up?

    Great question, I haven’t made it for a while so I don’t remember. If you try it as a cupcake, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  56. Chrissy

    I made this last night. It was good for dessert and for breakfast today. Very simple since I only had to peel and slice 1 apple and I always have those ingredients on hand. I feel like there should have been more batter though. Next time I make the recipe I will make more batter.

    • Elise

      Hi Chrissy, like so many have suggested, I’ve doubled the batter in the instructions. Good call!

  57. Joanne

    Hi Elise, thanks for this recipe. I made it last evening. My husband loves it. It was so easy and tasted great. Though I used much less sugar than required. About 1/3 Cup for batter and 1/3 Cup for sprinkling. This is a keeper..thanks again. : )

    • Elise

      Hi Joanne, I agree and I’ve increased the batter and cut back the sugar in the recipe.

  58. Jessica

    My family loves this recipe. My neighbor just gave me some apples from the orchard and I’d like to make some coffee cakes and freeze them for the winter. I know you said it wouldn’t work to make it the night before because the cake won’t rise properly. If I froze it right away would that help? Have you tried baking it, freezing it and reheating it? Any tips would be appreciated. Otherwise I’ll try experimenting!

    • Elise

      You could bake it, freeze it, and then thaw to serve at room temp. Should work fine! To freeze, let cool all the way after baking. Wrap first tightly in plastic wrap, and then wrap with foil.

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