Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Apple Crumble Cake

Apple picking is my single favorite fall activity, and I look forward to it all year long. There is something so magical about strolling through an orchard, plucking ripe fruit from the trees, and eating altogether too many apples in a short span of time. If I get to choose, I prefer to go when the sun is shining, the air is chilly, and I can comfortably wear a sweater for the excursion. Seems like the perfect embodiment of fall in New England.

This year, we went to a place in New Hampshire — Brookdale Fruit Farm — that has 19 varieties of apples for picking. In the last few years I’ve gone picking at farms near Boston, which is always less relaxing than I’d like, because it feels like the whole of the city has escaped to the country for a day, and the country doesn’t really have capacity for all those people.

This year’s trip was such a treat. The weather was spectacular, and the farm wasn’t so full that we ever felt crowded. They had a great system for marking trees to denote which of the 19 varieties was growing in each row, and armed with two bags, we were able to sort by “eating apples” and “baking apples.”

Apple Crumble Cake recipe - Sweetly Serendipity

Ironically, I didn’t use those apples in this dish. Even more ironically, I ended up eating nearly  all the apples instead of baking with them. Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t pan out. But the apples were incredible, and since the “baking apples” are inherently crispy and firm, they lasted a couple of weeks without losing their crunch!

Instead for this recipe, my Dad ran out late one evening to grab some apples, after I’d forgotten to bring my own when we visited home for the weekend. Had I not eaten all of my Brookdale apples, however, I’d have gladly made this cake again, because it was amazing. Truly unique and wonderful, and something I’ve never really had even in all my years of eating apple confections.

Apple Crumble Cake recipe - Sweetly Serendipity

The photos enticed me to try this recipe, and it wasn’t until I was actually assembling it that I started to worry about what I’d gotten myself into. You bake a very dry, dusty mixture of flour, sugar, and butter with sliced apples for 20 minutes before you even add any liquid, and when you do add the liquid, it doesn’t really marry with the dry flour mixture, but fills in the gaps around it and the apples. As soon as I poured the liquid into my springform pan, it started leaking out the bottom (make sure to use a baking sheet with edges under your springform pan!), and I started to really question the recipe.

A couple hours later when I was slicing and serving this cake, all my worries were laid to rest. This cake is amazing. The texture is really unique, due to the way in which you layer the ingredients. The apples don’t get too soft, and instead retain good structure (I used Granny Smith’s), and the crispy crust balances nicely with the delicate crumble topping. I served this with a dollop of whipped cream (only very lightly sweetened) and it was a huge hit.

Apple Crumble Cake recipe - Sweetly Serendipity

What is your favorite fall activity?

Apple Crumble Cake


    For the cake:
  • Scant 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Scant 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • Scant 1 cup heavy cream, light cream, or half and half
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used greek)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • For the crumble topping:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 360° F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan (I used a 9-inch and it worked out fine). Place on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is well combined with the dry ingredients. You'll end up with a very dry, almost sand-like mixture.
  3. Sprinkle 3/4 of the flour mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan. Don't press it down at all, but move it around towards the edges of the pan so the mixture goes up the sides a bit. Place the sliced apples over the crumbs (keeping them from touching the sides of the pan), then sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the apples. Don't press down - just leave it as is - and bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  4. While the cake is baking, place the eggs, cream, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  5. When the cake has baked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and carefully pour the liquid mixture evenly over the top.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  7. When cake base has baked 20 minutes, remove from oven and carefully pour the egg mixture over the top. Make sure the pan is set on a baking sheet with sides, and return the cake to the oven. Cook for an additional 20 minutes.
  8. While the cake is baking for a second time, prepare the crumble topping. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl, and mix to combine. Add the melted butter, and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and them mixture comes together in large clumps. Place the bowl in the freezer until ready to use.
  9. When the cake has baked for an additional 20 minutes, remove from oven. The custard mixture should be somewhat set so that the crumbs won't sink into the cake. (If it hasn't set yet, return to the oven for a couple more minutes until set.)
  10. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top, and return to the oven to bake for a final 20 minutes. The cake will be finished when it doesn't jiggle and a tester inserted into the center comes out with crumbs but no liquid. Total baking time should be about 60-65 minutes.
  11. Allow the cake to cool in the pan set over a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes, and then run a knife around the edges of the pan before carefully removing the outer ring. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes