I first tasted this apple cake at a lovely brunch my friend, Leslie, hosted about a year ago. It was a simple, satisfying cake, full of juicy chunks of apples, warm spices, and a bit of crunch on the surface and around the edges. As I helped myself to a second serving, I grilled Leslie for the details and she promised it was silly easy – a one bowl affair that didn’t even require a mixer. Sold.
Leslie’s apple cake is awesome as is. I made minor tweaks to it, cutting down a bit of the sugar and swapping in olive oil for the light vegetable oil. This cake feels wholesome. The kind of breakfast cake or snacking cake I could whip up on a whim and eat without feeling guilty.
Sometimes though, times call for something…well, a little less wholesome. Sorry Les, I got nasty with this apple cake. I added two sticks of butter and layered it with thick swaths of decadent New York-style crumb topping. I know, I’m a depraved soul. Forgive me. Or, um, thank me 🙂
The inspiration for the crumb topping comes from one of my favorite baking blogs, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Peabody and I met on a press trip over Harry & David pears and I immediately respected her immodest use of butter. Peabody didn’t let me down, and indeed I found what I was looking for on her site. A thick, cakey, swoon-inducing crumb topping, the kind you find perched on top of old fashioned crumb cakes or crumb cake doughnuts, the kind that those Hostess Crumb Cakes never have enough of.
And then I had another brilliant idea. What’s better than crumb topping? Well, three layers of crumb topping, of course. Why be stingy with the good stuff?
The best part is, this is still a pretty low-maintenance cake. It basically requires three main steps:
#1: Make the crumb topping
#2: Make the apple cake batter
#3: Layer it all together: crumb, apples, crumb, apples, crumb.
Really though, when all is said and done, you kind of lose track of where the crumb layers end and where the apple cake starts, and it all becomes one heavenly morsel.
This Apple Crumb Cake is simply out of this world. It has a comforting heft to it. It will remind you of apple picking and old fashioned doughnut shops. The cake on its own is wonderful, but the crumb topping just pushes it over the edge.
And, think of it this way…you now have a naughty and nice version to choose from! Merry Christmas, my darlings!
This is officially my new favorite coffee/breakfast/snack/anytime cake. It has a comforting heft to it. It will remind you of apple picking and old fashioned donut shops. The cake on its own is wonderful, but the crumb topping makes it swoon-worthy. You will eat every last crumb. Promise.
If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute using this handy formula:
1 cup AP flour – 2 Tbsp AP flour + 2 Tbsp corn starch = 1 cup cake flour
Be sure to sift everything well, 3-4 times, before using.
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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Powdered Sugar Icing (aka White Fondant Glaze)
Recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.
4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons (or up to 1/2 cup) warm milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Slowly add 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Only add as much milk as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste. Whisk in the vanilla.
This post was published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on December 23, 2012.