Apple crumb coffee cake

A crumb cake with a gorgeous, crunchy-sweet topping and a lesson in using the right sized pan.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
This apple crumb coffee cake has a gorgeous, crunchy-sweet topping.

I kinda messed up on this recipe. Fortunately, it survived me so you may want to keep reading. Otherwise, you're going to miss a really fabulous apple coffee cake.

I put together the crumb mixture, peeled and sliced the apples, and made the cake batter just fine. Had my 9- x 13-inch baking pan all lined with foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, the oven was preheated, everything was good to go. Except when I started spreading half the batter for the bottom layer of the cake and there was hardly enough to cover 3/4 of the pan. Seriously, it looked like I was making a really big rectangular pancake. Never mind that the other half of the batter was supposed to cover all of the apples and a part of the crumb layer. Eek.

So I got the brilliant-to-me idea of using a smaller pan. In hindsight, I should've gone with a 10- x 10-inch pan as it was closer in size to the 9 x 13 I was supposed to use. But no, don't be silly; that would've made too much sense. Instead, I went with a 9- x 9-inch pan. The first half of the batter spread nicely and covered the bottom of the pan like it was supposed to at a height I would estimate would be great for the cake once it was baked.

Except – I still had the apples to layer, then part of the crumb topping, then the rest of the cake batter then the rest of the crumb topping. If you guessed I would have run out of room before I could layer all that, you guessed better than I did. I layered the apple slices, I crumbled the crumb topping on top and hit the top of the pan. And that was before baking. I knew the cake would rise so it would end up even higher.

Yeah, that's when I belatedly remembered how crumb cake was really all about the crumb, not the cake. As in, I had so much crumb topping that had I stuck to the 9 x 13 pan, things would have been fine. Fortunately, I knew enough not to insist on cramming everything in that 9 x 9 pan. Instead, I went with just the bottom cake layer, the apple layer and a generous amount of crumb topping on top. The extra batter and crumb topping I split between different ramekins.

Despite my blunder, this was an excellent crumb coffee cake. The crumb topping was probably one of the best I've ever made. It mixes together easily and is easy to squeeze into big lumps so you get gorgeous, crunchy-sweet topping on top of your baked cake. When making a crumb cake, you don't want crumb dust. No, you want big pieces of streusel that crisp up during baking provides a sweet crunch to go with the cake. Just bake it in a big enough pan.

Apple crumb coffee cake
From NeighborFood

For the crumb:
3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large or 3 small tart apples, peeled and chopped (I used Granny Smiths)

For the cake:
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons apple cider
1-2 tablespoons milk
pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inc baking pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Crumb: In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract and stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Set aside.

3. Batter: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream. 

4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture, stirring just until combined. Do not overmix.

5. Spread half the batter into a thin layer at the bottom of the pan. Line the apple slices evenly over the batter. Top with about 1 cup of the crumble mixture, Spread the remaining batter over the top followed by the rest of the crumble. Squeeze some of the crumble into large chunks before topping the cake.

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If top is getting too brown, lightly cover with foil for the last 10 minutes.

7. While the coffee cake bakes, whisk together the powdered sugar, apple cider, milk and salt. Drizzle over warm cake and serve.

Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

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