Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Apple Coffee Cake Recipe

This Apple Coffee Cake recipe is a tender cake that is studded with diced fresh apples and topped with a cinnamon streusel crumb topping!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Soft and tender cake filled with apples and spiced with cinnamon.

Tender cake, tart apples

There are several recipes for coffee cake in my copy of Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. I have tried them all and I must say that my favorite, by far, is the sour cream coffee cake.

Sour cream adds a bit of tartness and keeps the cake moist. It also helps to provide lift when it reacts with the baking soda. This cake rises beautifully and is delicate and delicious.

But I think I made it just a little bit better. Adding the apples gives this cake a fresh bit of flavor. I always have apples on hand so I can throw this cake together anytime. And apples and cinnamon are a match made in heaven!

The biggest problem is trying not to eat too much of it!

I have also changed the topping a bit by using more butter. The written recipe makes a sandy crumble but I prefer slightly crunchy chunks.

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Soft and tender cake filled with apples and spiced with cinnamon.

Reverse Creaming the cake

There are two bits of genius in this apple coffee cake recipe. First, the recipe is written so that the reverse creaming method is used. This simply means that the fat is added to the flour instead of the sugar and is mixed in, which coats the flour molecules, keeping the formation of gluten to a minimum.

But Cook’s Illustrated took it one step further and adding 1/3 of the sour cream in the recipe to the creaming step. This method really seemed to help keep the cake tender. The crumb is still strong enough to cut a slab that holds together but it just melts in your mouth.

Never too much streusel!

The second bit of genius is a trick that I have used before so it is not unique to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe. But it just works and increases the yum factor by approximately 4000%!

The trick is to add some streusel topping into the middle of the cake, creating a filling. I added the apples at the step that the original recipe adds the streusel filling. Then I topped the apples with the streusel, covered with the remaining batter and then the rest of the streusel.

The streusel on top of the coffee cake gets crunchy and provides the perfect contrast to the cake. But this filling mixes with the apples and creates a soft filling that you will find yourself digging for!

If you love apples, check out some of my other inspired recipes!


Apple Coffee Cake

Recipe by Tanya Ott


Prep time


Cooking time



Tender cake studded with fresh apples, all topped with a delightful crunchy streusel. This recipe is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book


  • For the Streusel
  • 100 grams all-purpose flour

  • 150 grams granulated sugar

  • 100 grams light brown sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

  • 60 grams unsalted butter, melted

  • For the Cake
  • 320 grams all-purpose flour

  • 240 grams granulated sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced

  • 170 grams unsalted butter, cubed, cool room temperature

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 350 mL (1 1/2 cups) sour cream, at room temperature, divided

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, and cinnamon. Pour in the melted and cooled butter and mix to form a sandy mixture. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350℉. Spray a 9×13 pan with baking spray.
  • Make the cake: First, peel, core and dice apples. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix for about 30 seconds.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 cup of sour cream and the vanilla extract until combined.
  • Add the butter and 1/2 cup sour cream to the flour mixture in the stand mixer. Mix until crumbly, about 45 seconds.
  • Add one third of the egg mixture to the stand mixer and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add another third, mix for 30 seconds, scrape again and then add the last of the egg mixture. Mix for 30 seconds on low speed.
  • Turn mixer up to medium and mix for about 45 seconds until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the diced apples on top of the batter. Sprinkle about 1 cup of the topping mixture over the apples.
  • Pour the remaining batter over the apple/streusel layer and spread carefully to keep the layers seperate.
  • Sprinkle on the remaining streusel mixture to cover the top of the cake.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until the a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool at room temperature for at least an hour before serving so that the cake slices well.


  1. Found and made this coffee cake recipe on the snow day that followed the snow day it was posted on. Kids were home from school this day, too. It did not disappoint … delicious!! Might add pecans to the streusel next time.

    • So glad that everyone liked it! I agree with the pecans in the streusel – my family is weird and doesn’t like nuts in cookies and cakes. They only eat them raw by the handful!

  2. Hi, I’ve just found your blog via a FB post ! Can I please ask, you say granulated sugar in the recipe……in the U.K. granulated is very coarse and I’ve never seen a recipe using it for the cake mixture. We use castor suga which is fine. Is this just a language thing or do you really mean granulated ?

    • I actually made this cake recently while I was in the UK and I used caster sugar. The texture was perfect! You should be able to substitute caster sugar in all of my recipes where I list granulated. Caster is just so expensive in the US!

      • Thanks very much for your quick response ! Wonder why castor sugar is so expensive there ? We have “Golden Castor Sugar”here in the uk which is the only one i use. It’s just unrefined. Thanks again….. looking forward to following your recipes !

  3. I hear you. We did not have as much snow as you guys, but it was enough to make my mood turn quite rotten…

    Looking out at the lab window, I felt like only going home to bake could make the day better… And your coffee cake would have been perfect!

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