My Caramel Apple Crumb Cake is made with a fluffy layer of spice cake, a layer of caramelized cinnamon apples, and a generous amount of crumb topping. Finish it off with a drizzle of salted caramel sauce for true fall bliss!
This is not your average Apple Crumb Cake! Fresh apples are cooked down just a bit before adding them to the cake, to enhance their flavor and give them a bit of a caramelized taste. The crumb layer is extra generous, and that salted caramel sauce – I could swim in it! This cake is like a coffee cake wrapped up in your most glorious fall dreams.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Caramelized Cinnamon Apples – The star of this crumb cake is the layer of gently caramelized, perfectly spiced apples. This is a great way to use up all those orchard apples you’ve been picking!
- Fluffy Spice Cake – This crumb cake has a fluffy spice cake base.
- Generous Crumb Topping – A super generous layer of deeply flavorful crumb tops this apple cake.
- Salted Caramel Sauce – Top the whole cake off with salted caramel sauce for a delicious and stunning finishing touch. (This is optional but highly recommended.)
- All-purpose flour – Be sure to use all-purpose flour, not cake flour in this recipe. Cake flour is too delicate and the batter won’t be able to support the apple & crumb layer.
- Apples – Don’t use soft apples like McIntosh as they’ll become soggy. Use any good baking apple like honeycrisp, pink lady, golden delicious, or granny smith apples.
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- Eggs – Use a large egg, at room temperature.
- Milk – Be sure to bring this to room temperature before beginning.
- Sour Cream – Use full fat sour cream, at room temperature.
- Sour Cream – You can swap greek yogurt in a pinch for sour cream.
- Apples – Like I mentioned above, use whatever firm baking apples you like best.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite dairy-free milk, sour cream, and butter to make this cake dairy-free.
How to Make this Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make the Salted Caramel Sauce. Cook sugar until it melts, then whisk in butter and heavy cream. This caramel comes together in just 10 minutes! Set aside to cool while you make everything else. This can be made up to 1 week ahead.
Step 2: Make the Caramelized Apples. Peel and slice your apples, then cook them in a sauce pan over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes, with butter, brown sugar, and spices. Set aside to cool slightly while you make the cake batter.
Step 3: Make the Cake Batter. Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients – the egg, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients last, mixing just until the last streaks of flour disappear. You’ll have a slightly thick batter.
Step 4: Make the Crumb Topping. Whisk together melted butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add flour and spices and gently stir until large crumbs form.
Step 5: Assemble & Bake. Spread half the cake batter in your prepared pan. Sprinkle on a brown sugar and cinnamon mixture to make a cinnamon sugar ripple. Add the remaining cake batter, then the apples, then the crumb topping. Bake as directed in the recipe card below. Cool on a wire rack, drizzle on the caramel sauce, and serve with a cup of coffee!
You will fall head over heels for this Apple Crumble Cake! It’s bursting with fall flavor and makes the perfect party dessert or a festive fall brunch. The sweet apples, moist cake, and crisp crumb on top are a fall dream.
Expert Success Tips:
- Don’t Over Mix – Don’t over mix the cake batter as this can create a denser cake.
- Apples – Again, be sure not to use a soft apple as they will get too mushy in the cake.
- Can I make this ahead? I don’t recommend making the whole cake ahead, as the crumb topping won’t be as crisp the next day. You can make the salted caramel sauce up to a week ahead and store in the fridge, however.
- Powdered sugar – Feel free to finish this cake with a simple dusting of powdered sugar if you don’t want to make salted caramel sauce.
- Oats & Nuts– If you want a little bit of an apple crisp vibe, add 1/2 cup whole rolled oats and/or 1/2 cup crushed walnuts or pecans to the crumb mixture.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
This cinnamon apple crumb cake is best served on the first day, while it’s still a bit warm from the oven. The crumble won’t be as crisp the following days, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge (if caramel is drizzled on) or at room temp (if there’s no caramel on the cake) for a few days.
- Mixing Bowls – I love using a stackable set of glass mixing bowls for almost everything I bake.
- 9-inch Round Cake Pan – I’ve had these OXO Cake pans for ages and they are still in great condition.
More Apple Recipes to Love during the Fall Season:
- Caramel Apple Cider Cookies
- Salted Caramel Apple Galette
- Cranberry Apple Crisp
- Homemade Apple Fritters
- Puff Pastry Apple Turnovers
- Apple Cider Old Fashioned Cocktails
- The Best Recipes to Make During Apple Season
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Caramel Apple Crumb Cake
For the Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp salted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream
- pinch of flaky sea salt
For the Caramelized Apples
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- 2 large apples, sliced into 1/2" slices honeycrisp or golden delicious work well
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of salt
For the Cake
- 1/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature half a stick or 57 grams
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup milk, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 176 grams
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- pinch of allspice
- pinch of ground cloves
- 3 tbsp brown sugar, packed – for the cinnamon sugar layer
- 1 tbsp cinnamon – for the cinnamon sugar layer
For the Crumb Layer
- 1/2 cup salted butter 1 stick or 113 grams
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- Make the Salted Caramel Sauce: Optional but amazing!Make the salted caramel sauce by following my 10-minute recipe linked here. Set aside to cool, or make up to 1 week ahead and store in the fridge.
- Prepare the Apples: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (Let it go a few extra minutes if you want browned butter.) Add the apple slices and remaining apple filling ingredients. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring lazily, until apples are slightly softened but still have a bit of a crunch. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Make the Cake Batter: Cream butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Add the sugars and mix until well creamed with the butter. Add the egg, milk, vanilla, & sour cream and mix until just combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices and mix just until the last streaks of flour disappear. The batter will be fairly thick. Set aside. Stir together the extra brown sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
- Make the Crumb Layer: Melt the butter in a medium bowl. Whisk in the sugars. Stir in the remaining crumb ingredients until you have large crumbs.
- Assemble & Bake: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch round (or square) pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper for easy removal. Spread half of the batter in the pan (it will seem like too little batter, but don't fret). Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture, then add the remaining batter. (An offset spatula is helpful here.) Spoon the apples over the top of the batter in an even layer, leaving the excess liquid behind (I'll drizzle a spoonful or two over, but not all of it). Sprinkle on the crumble topping, then gently press them down a bit so they stick. Bake for 36 to 42 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should have a small amount of moist crumbs, not wet batter. The crumbs will appear baked and will be slightly browned.
- Serve + Store: Let cake cool to your liking or enjoy warm! Slice and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or salted caramel sauce. This is best on the first day (the crumb will lose its crisp ness after that), but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for a few days. Be sure to keep in the fridge if the slices have salted caramel on top.
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