I woke up to the sound of a soft rain this morning. It has got to be the most relaxing sound to wake up to (especially on a weekend when I know I don’t a have to go jogging outside). The weather was a cool 63 degrees so I decide to make a breakfast that would embrace the coming of Fall. What better way to do that then with a piping hot piece of apple crumb cake?

This cake has a layer of softly spiced apples and mounds of the most amazing thick marble-sized crumbs scattered over top. Usually, when I make crumb cake, I double the recipe for the crumbs because there never seem to be enough to form a satisfying thick layer, but with this recipe I actually ended up throwing some of the unbaked crumbs away (what I actually mean is stuffing them into my mouth as fast as possible while no one was looking).

The original recipe used rhubarb and came from SmittenKitchen. But since I don’t usually have rhubarb on hand I substituted apple instead. This cake is best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee while listening to gentle rain.

‘Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Apples Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the apple filling:

3 medium peeled baking apples
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

For the crumbs:

1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (all-purpose will work as well)

For the cake:

1/3 cup sour cream (I subbed Greek yogurt)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into pieces


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, combine chopped peeled apples with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs  in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon apple mixture over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over apples; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from apples), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.