Apple Streusel Cake – crunchy and crumbly, yet moist and full to the brim with seasonal apples. The cake to bake NOW.
Do you like apple cake? Silly question. Of course you like apple cake.
Wholesome, slightly sweet and perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, this Apple Streusel Cake is a step up from my sugar-dusted Dorset Apple Cake. Where the Dorset apple cake has 225 grams of delicious apple populating its cinnamony batter, this one has a whopping 600 grams. That’s about seven apples. In one cake.
This cake is also a bit different in that I’ve not only added a nubbly streusel topping, I’ve separated the eggs. Why do that, you may wonder? The folded in whites somehow magically migrate to the top and add a welcome layer of crackle and sheen. I think it helps to aerate it a bit, too.
What’s a streusel?
The word streusel is German in origin; a culinary term meaning “scatter” or “sprinkle”. Most commonly a mixture of butter, sugar and flour, streusel often has chopped nuts and warm spices, too. As this cake is chock full of apples, and apples and cinnamon are best friends, feel free to add in extra spices. I have gone for a different complementary spice. But if you don’t have it or don’t fancy it, sub away. Other ideas would be nutmeg, mixed spice or cardamom.
And, speaking of apples…
Best apples for baking
Apples can fall (no pun intended) into – roughly – two camps: eaters and cookers. Eating apples tend to be sweeter, less firm, and with less pectin (which gives structure) than cookers. Think Golden and Red Delicious, McIntosh, Gala and Fuji. These are also great for making applesauce and juices.
As for cooking/baking apples, these can be eaters, too. But we are generally looking for more of an acid hit when they are used in baking, as a contrast with the sweeter elements in the cake or pie.
The perfect cooking apple in terms of keeping its shape during baking, but collapsing just enough, is the Granny Smith. I love their sharp “green” taste, the high acidity making the mouth water. Bramleys are another good option, getting tantalisingly fluffy-edged during a brief spell in the saucepan. And these are definite cookers. Mouth-puckering acidity prevents Bramleys from being an eater to all but the most hardy (masochistic?) of folk.
Another apple that keeps its shape and delivers nice acidity is the Braeburn. Less acidic but still firm are Pink Lady and Honeycrisp.
Check out this article from America’s Test Kitchen for more sciencey info on cooking with apples.
The best apples for cakes are:
So, what’s in this Apple Streusel Cake?
Apples. Peeled and cored. As you are slightly cooking them down before adding to the cake batter, “collapse-resistant” Granny Smith types are preferred (see above). But add any that you fancy. I would advise however that you keep with one type of apple as mixing them may affect the texture. In the recipe card I let you know how long to cook your apples, depending on whether or not they are collapsers.
Lemon juice. To cook down the apples and help retain their colour.
Plain and wholemeal flours. Equal parts are what I do, but you could use a higher proportion of wholemeal if you don’t mind an overall denser cake.
Milk and yogurt. Or all of either.
Unsalted butter. For cake and streusel.
Muscovado sugar for the cake and streusel. Not overly much for either.
Vanilla and (optional) almond extracts. Pure stuff, please.
Anise seeds, star anise or fennel seeds. I LOVE using just a touch of toasted anise seed in fruity cakes. A smidge of any of these similarly flavoured spices will add a warm, slightly spicy, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it taste. Whichever you use, make sure to lightly toast for one minute in a pan, then pulverise to a fine powder. I buy my spices from the high-quality UK brand, Steenbergs (not an affiliate link).
And, for the streusel topping, a small amount of blender-mixed porridge oats, muscovado sugar, butter and mixed seeds.
Making the cake.
First of all cook the peeled, cored and chopped apples with a dash of lemon juice until “fuzzy” edged but still very much intact. If they collapse a bit, that’s fine: the texture of the cake will be less open but will taste bloody brilliant.
Then pop the streusel ingredients into a food processor bowl or blender and process/pulse until you get a rough, nuggety streusel. To streusel. 🙂
For the cake, you can approach it one of two ways. Either separate the eggs, whipping up the whites to soft peaks, folding in just before baking (for a crackly, shiny top that peeks through the streusel). Or add whole eggs to the mix. Whichever way there is no creaming of the butter and sugar. Bung it all together and mix with electric beaters until smooth, fold in the apples and dollop in to a baking paper-lined 20 cm round baking tin. Streusel the streusel and bake for about one hour. Patiently wait as the cake cools a bit, then slice into chunky wedges. Serve as-is (I do) or with crème fraîche, yogurt, ice cream, or even dusted with icing sugar. This fragrant, hug of a cake keeps well for up to five days.
Adapted from a recipe in Nadiya’s Family Favourites by GBBO winner Nadiya Hussein.(UK Amazon affiliate link).
Oh, just to say, if you need to stay away from nuts and seeds, this cake is lovely without the streusel topping. Or make the streusel with a higher volume of oats to make up for the missing seeds.
More apple recipes on Food To Glow
Slow-Baked Apple Pie Granola (uses apple and applesauce)
Do try this outrageously appley cake. Come for the tempting streusel, and stay for the moist and tender cake. Props to autumn.
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Apple Streusel Cake
Filled to bursting with apples and topped with a nutty streusel, this tender, slightly sweet cake is a great snack or dessert
- 600 g Granny Smith apples* peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 100 g unsalted butter softened
- 125 g muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
- 2 medium organic eggs separated
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract optional but nice
- 100 g plain flour
- 100 g wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 50 g plain yogurt or buttermilk or kefir
- 50 g milk of any kind
- 1 tsp anise seeds or fennel seeds lightly toasted and finely ground
- 25 g oats
- 40 g muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 70 g mixed seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin and linseed
First of all, sort the apples. Put the apples in a saucepan along with the lemon juice and cook on a medium flame just until the apples pieces have softened - about 10 minutes. If you are using another type of apple that "falls" quite quickly to apple sauce, this will take much less time. You ideally want the edges just to look "blurred" and them still to be distinct pieces. If the apples go very soft the cake will still be good, but just not as light in texture. Once cooked, set aside to cool a bit.
Now make the streusel. Pop all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse or process until just mixed and still nubbly. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/350F. Completely line a 20 cm loose-bottomed round cake tin with non-stick baking parchment.
Put the egg whites in a clean, oil-free bowl and use electric beaters to whisk to soft peaks.
Put the softened butter, the sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts, baking powder, flours, yogurt, milk and ground anise seeds/fennel seeds into a large, wide mixing bowl. Use electric beaters to mix until very smooth - about two minutes.
Fold in the cooled apples, followed by the whipped egg whites. Fold just until the whites disappear into the batter.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and evenly crumble over the streusel mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven for up to an hour, checking at around 50 minutes. Look for the cake to be pulling away at the sides and the overall cake to be a lovely golden brown.
Remove the cake from the oven and onto a cooling rack. Leave it for about half an hour before releasing the cake from the tin to cool further, removing the bottom bit and baking paper when mostly cool.
This cake will keep well for up to five days in a sealed cake tin.
You can use any apples that you like. My own garden apples fall very easily to soft pale lumps. With apples that fall very easily you can either cook them until soft and collapsing, or add them in raw. If doing the former the texture of the cake will be close rather than lighter. More like a pudding cake. If you add them in raw, make sure that the pieces are small cubes.
Feel free to leave out the anise seeds or fennel seeds. We like the subtle taste of both of these; they complement the apple very well. You may like to use 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead, or in the streusel.
Serving suggestions: with a fruit compote, such as plums cooked down with frozen berries; with crème fraîche or ice cream; a dusting of icing (confectioner's) sugar.
Pin now. Make soon!