This apple streusel coffee cake takes a tender cake and tops it with cinnamon apple chunks and a crumb topping. This apple cake has comforting flavors and is a special breakfast that is perfect for a weekday or to serve to house guests for the weekend.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
This is truly one of the best apple coffee cakes! While it's particularly awesome to enjoy during peak apple season in the fall, this is a perfect year-round recipe. If you prefer something strictly fall-based, try my Pumpkin Sour Cream Coffee Cake!
Flavor - the fresh, tart apples tossed with warm spices pair so nicely with the vanilla cake and the brown sugar streusel. It's buttery, sweet, tart, and is such a delicious apple streusel coffee cake recipe.
Texture - the cake has such a wonderful, delicate texture. Pair that with the slight bite from the apple pieces and the crunchy yet soft, crumbly texture of the coarse crumbs and it is really the perfect pairing.
Make ahead - coffee cake recipes are the perfect bake ahead options to serve for a weekend of guests or just for a quick weekday breakfast. The apple coffee cake stores at room temperature for days, and also remains moist and delicious.
- Dry ingredients. All-purpose flour, baking powder, salt.
- Dairy. Unsalted butter (both room temperature and melted butter), eggs, sour cream, and milk.
- Light brown sugar. This is the only type of sugar used in the recipe.
- Rolled oats. For the streusel topping. This can be omitted if you don't want to include them.
- Tart apples. I used Pink Lady Apples in this recipe, but other tart baking apples like Braeburn, Granny Smith, or Honey Crisp apples are also great apple varieties to use.
- Cornstarch. One tablespoon is used to thicken the apple pie filling.
- Lemon juice. For the apple pie filling.
- Spices. Ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are used in this recipe.
See the recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions & Variations
- Use greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Just be sure to use a high-fat version.
- Use 120ml (½ cup) of buttermilk in place of both the sour cream and milk.
- Omit the rolled oats from the crumb topping if you aren't into it.
- Add up to ⅓ cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds for extra crunch. Add them to the top during the last 10 minutes of baking.
- Add ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the topping to make a cinnamon streusel.
- Use slightly firm pears in place of apples for another seasonal version.
- Make the sour cream coffee cake in a springform pan (9") and bake for roughly 10 minutes less.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Cook the fresh apples, sugar, lemon juice, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Then add the cornstarch, water, and vanilla.
Two: In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix the streusel ingredients until medium and small chunks form.
Three: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar, then the eggs and vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture and mix to combine.
Four: Mix together the sour cream and milk and add half to combine into the batter. Then add the remaining flour, then the last of the milk mixture.
Five: Pour the cake batter into the prepared square pan, then spread the apple mixture over top.
Six: Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the apples, then bake until risen and the cake is set. Cool completely, then slice and serve.
Hot tip! Use a large, sharp knife to cut the apple streusel coffee cake, cleaning the blade in between each cut for the cleanest slices.
- Try not to cut the apple slices too large. You want them to be in easily edible pieces.
- Preparing the pan with parchment paper allows you to remove the cake from the pan to cut it more easily. It's always best to remove the cake to cut it so you don't scratch the bottom of your pan.
- Don't over-mix the cake batter! Too much mixing can result in a tough, dry cake rather than a moist delicate crumb.
- Cool the cake on a wire rack so air can circulate under the bottom of the pan and cool it more quickly.
Using tart, firm apples that specifically hold up to baking and heat are best. These are apples such as Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, or Honey Crisp, which hold their flavor and texture.
Traditionally, streusel, crumble or crumb topping is made from a mixture of flour, sugar, and butter. I typically like to add old-fashioned oats for a bit of extra texture. A variety of nuts can also be incorporated.
Store the apple crumble coffee cake lightly covered at room temperature for up to five days or in the fridge for a week. I like to allow just a bit of air into the container so the streusel topping doesn't turn mushy. The apples help to keep the cake moist, so it doesn't dry out too quickly using this method.
To freeze the coffee cake, wrap the cake or individual slices tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, and place it into an airtight container or zip-top bag. Freeze for three months. Unwrap the cake completely, then thaw at room temperature for about one to two hours.
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Apple Streusel Coffee Cake
- 8x8 inch pan
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Rubber spatula
- Vegetable peeler
- 2 large tart baking apples peeled, cored, and diced into 1cm pieces (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice 30ml
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 25g
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted (57g)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour 90g
- ¾ cup light brown sugar packed (150g)
- ½ cup rolled oats 50g
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour 180g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (85g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed (200g)
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ cup full-fat sour cream room temperature (57g)
- ¼ cup whole milk room temperature (60ml)
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃ and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.
Apple Pie Filling
- Peel, core, and dice the apples into 1cm pieces.
- Add the apples, spices, lemon juice, and sugar to a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the apples begin to soften slightly.2 large tart baking apples, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Mix together the cornstarch and water and stir it into the apples. Cook for thirty seconds, stirring the whole time.1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside while you make the streusel and cake batter.1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Melt the butter, then use a fork to mix it together with the flour, sugar, oats, and salt until medium sized crumbles form. Set aside.¾ cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup rolled oats, ¼ cup unsalted butter, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.1½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium high speed for five minutes, then scrape down the sides.6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 cup light brown sugar
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed for one minute. Scrape down the sides again.2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- Mix together the sour cream and milk. With the mixer running on low, add half of the flour mixture then half of the milk mixture. Repeat with the remaining wet and dry ingredients.¼ cup full-fat sour cream, ¼ cup whole milk
- Mix until the flour is just combined, and use a rubber spatula to finish folding in any flour on the sides of the bowl.
- Add the cake batter to the prepared pan and spread it to meet the edges and corners.
- Add the apple pie filling evenly over top of the cake batter.
- Sprinkle the streusel over the top, getting it the whole way to the edges.
- Bake the coffee cake in the center rack of the pre-heated oven for 45-55 minutes until no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted down into the cake layer comes out clean.
- Place the pan on a wire rack to cool, at least one hour, before slicing.