Apple Crumb cake – a soft-as-a-pillow cake studded with apples, flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, with a sweet crumble topping.
Disclosure: Special thanks to Calphalon for sponsoring this post and for choosing me as a Calphalon Cook brand Ambassador. All opinions, as always, are my own.
I’ve only mentioned this a few thousand times on this blog (and on all my social media) but Fall is my favorite season. I came to this country on Halloween day, 8 years ago (like an old lady, she repeats this story, yet again!) and as the plane touched down on JFK, descending amidst trees glowing red, orange, gold and green, I fell irrevocably in love with this season.
From the colors to the smells to the tastes, everything about this season calls to me like siren song.
And this Apple Crumb cake, to me, is the embodiment of Fall.
My favorite bakeware set
If any time of the year demands baking, it’s this one.
Every piece in this Calphalon Premier™ Countertop Safe Bakeware set has been thoroughly used, and since I got my hands on these, all my old baking pans have sadly been forgotten.
With a sturdy construction that ensures even baking, my favorite feature here are the heat-resistant, no-slip silicone feet that protects countertops, saving me having to lay out trivets or pot holders when the hot pans come out of the oven. Unless the recipe calls for it, sometimes, I don’t even get the wire rack out, letting the baked goods cool in the pan (shortcuts are an essential part of my new mommy life now).
And despite my having used them for the better part of the year, the nonstick pans look as good as new (as you can clearly see), even though, most of the time, I neglect using parchment paper or foil, because even without them, the food slips out without effort.
P.S. The only times I do recommend using parchment/foil is when cooking something with turmeric in it, to prevent stains, AND/OR if you need to remove something from the pans without overturning it (like this cake).
Gift yourself (or your favorite baker pal) this bakeware set for the holidays. Available on Amazon.
Apple roses, anyone?
This VEGAN Apple Crumb cake needs no prettying up, but the apple roses DO add a little extra oomph to this cake at the table, making it fit to be served at a special gathering (although, this pandemic year, I’d encourage everyone to exercise caution while celebrating, limiting interaction with too many folks indoors. Safety first!).
Seriously, how cute are these? Time willing, I’d have covered the entire cake with roses, so that everyone gets a rose in each slice, but I did want the crumb topping to show for the images, and for it to crisp up without being shadowed by the roses, so I went with just a few roses.
I found this video by Jessica quite helpful in fashioning the roses.
Here are a few foolproof tips to making apple roses:
1) Don’t use raw apples, which will break when bent. Steaming, or even microwaving the apples for 3 minutes, will make them more pliable, and prevent oxidation as you work with them.
3) Make roses of varying sizes and colors to make the cake more interesting. I used as mix of Gala and Red delicious apples for the orangish-red hues you see in these roses.
4) Use toothpicks to secure the shaped roses until you’re ready to use them. On bigger roses, I needed 2 toothpicks, skewered in the shape of an ‘X’.
I think that with this recipe, my search for the ultimate crumb topping is over. This is delicious on its own, and I can’t wait to make an apple crumble next weekend with it, simply because I miss this topping already.
With chewy oats, almond meal and a hint of Maldon salt, with fragrant cinnamon and nutmeg, this is heaven in a bowl.
While I’ve shown great restraint in the amount of crumble I’ve topped on this cake, I will not judge you in the least, should you want to double the crumble recipe and pile on the topping thick. Next time, I might even do just that!
Prep tips – prepping right is work half done!
This might seem like a complex recipe with a lot of things to do, but it’s really not. With a little smart planning, you could be eating this cake in just a little over an hour.
Step 1: Make the apple roses. Honestly, this is the most time consuming part of making this cake, so if you’re just doing this on a regular day, I’d just skip the roses. But special occasions warrant the extra effort, so make the roses the day before and refrigerate. Simply thaw over a wire rack to bring to room temperature before adding to the cake, so that it doesn’t make the cake soggy.
Step 2: Make the crumble topping. Again, this can be made the day before and refrigerated. And bonus, no need to thaw this one. It can go straight from the fridge onto the cake!
Step 3: Combine the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. This too, can be made a day ahead, although the butter and the wet ingredients should be brought to room temperature before mixing. Shortcut: Microwave the chilled wet ingredients in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until it’s at room temperature.
On the day of baking the cake, simply cream the dry mixture with the butter, then add the wet ingredients, pour into baking pan, top with crumble and roses, and BAKE!
NOTE: Since the cake is baking for an hour, it is recommended that you use a sturdy built baking pan (like the Calphalon Premier™ Countertop Safe Bakeware) to prevent burn spots that can happen with flimsy pans.
Enjoy, as this cake swirls your home with the intoxicating aromas of apple, cinnamon and nutmeg as it bakes. Take it warm from the oven, and fight the temptation to steal for yourself a warm spoonful of cake. Or, be like me and fall into temptation. But careful, it’s hot!
I’m planning on serving this cake at my Thanksgiving dinner this year. Not just because it’s delicious, soft and oh-so-pretty, but because it’s quite an easy thing to do too! Enjoy!
For the Apple Roses
- 3-4 medium apples (I used a mix of Gala and Red Delicious for color variation)
- A steamer setup
For the Crumble topping
- 90g Cake flour
- 100g Almond meal
- 60g quick cooking rolled oats
- 100g brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (I used Maldon salt)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 45g vegan butter, chilled, cubed
For the Cake
- 40 grams aquafaba (room temperature)
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk (room temperature)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1-2 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 150g cake flour (substituting with all purpose flour yields a denser cake)
- 30g almond meal
- 160g brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 100g Earth Balance VEGAN butter, unsalted, softened
Make the Apple Roses
- Cut the apples in half, then in half again till you get a wedge, then de-core it. Using a mandoline slicer in #2 setting, cut into thin slices (You can also do this with a knife, but make sure you slice evenly). Keep slices immersed in water as you work to prevent them turning brown.
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and place a steamer basket on top.
- Place the apple slices in the steamer and steam for 3 minutes covered.
- Transfer steamed slices into a bowl of water to stop them from cooking, then drain. Steamed apples won't turn brown.
- On a work surface, place about 10 slices, overlapping over one another with the curved part on top.
- Roll from one end, then add more slices to form more petals. This tutorial by Jessica was very helpful.
- Repeat with the remaining slices to make as many roses as you like.
- Take a toothpick and run it through the bottom to secure the petals, using 1-2 toothpicks per rose.
- Set aside on a wire rack (for excess water to drain), while you prepare the cake batter. You can make the roses upto a day in advance and refrigerate. Remember to thaw on a wire rack and bring to room temperature before adding to the cake batter.
Make the crumble topping
- In a bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Add the chilled butter and using your finger tips, rub butter and flour mixture together until you get a mixture that resembles wet sand.
- Refrigerate this mixture until the cake batter is ready.
Make the cake batter
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a clean dry bowl, add the aquafaba and cream of tartar and using an electric whisk, whip until foamy. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients: soy milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and chopped apples. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: cake flour, almond meal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- To the dry ingredients, add the vegan butter and start creaming the flour and butter until it resembles wet sand.
- Pour in the wet ingredients, and stir well to combine.
- Fold in the aquafaba, using only the foamy part, and discarding the un-whipped water underneath. Mix well to combine, making sure there are no streaks of unmixed aquafaba in the batter. NOTE: If your whipped aquafaba has deflated, use a clean whisk to whip it back to foam again. If you try to whisk the aquafaba with the same electric whisk you used to whisk the batter, the fat will cause the foam to collapse and it will never whip back to foam again.
- Transfer batter to the prepared baking pan.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping on the cake batter. Place the apple roses on top.
- Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan (carefully without damaging the roses), and serve. Keeps well refrigerated for a week.
- The apple roses are purely decorational, and when pinched for time, can be removed from this recipe.
- For a thick, New York Style crumb topping, double the crumble quantity.
- I used Gala apples for this cake - when baked, it holds it's shape well without turning mushy, and is also sweet. But feel free to use any other baking apple of your choice.
- Make ahead instructions: The apple roses and crumble topping can be made several days ahead and refrigerated until use. Thaw the apples to room temperature (over a wire rack to drain) before adding to cake.
- The wet ingredients (including aquafaba and butter) should be brought to room temperature before using in the cake batter.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 418mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 5gSugar: 37gProtein: 6g
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.