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Apple Crumb Cake

September 20, 2023

Tender, buttery and moist, this seriously delicious apple crumb cake is quite possibly our favorite treat of the season.


Apple Crumb Cake with a piece cut from the corner with a knife sitting beside it

Move Over PSL—Apple Crumb Cake is Our New Favorite Autumnal Treat

After a long, glorious summer of favoring the grill over the oven—and forgetting about baking all together—something about the autumn air pulls us back into the kitchen. Even when the skies are blue, the air and light take on a different tone that has us longing for the warmth of a kitchen with a cake in the oven. And this perfectly autumnal apple crumb cake is one of the first things we bake to welcome the season. Spiced with cinnamon, a basic sour cream coffee cake recipe gets a boost from apples and a buttery crumb topping. Toasted pecans add a bit of crunch and wonderful nuttyness for a dreamy autumn crumb cake that’s simply sublime. Our Dutch Apple Pie also has a buttery, brown sugar crumb topping if you're wanting to bake all of the apple-y fall things.

homemade apple crumb cake ingredients in bowls on a baking sheet

Grocery List: Apple Crumb Cake Ingredients

We love to bake with sour cream. Its in our classic sour cream coffee cake recipe, and it’s the not-so-secret ingredient in our holiday cut-out cookie recipe, too. If you’re new to using it in cake recipes, welcome to the sour cream cakes fan club! What exactly does sour cream do in baked goods? Well, it’s super fatty and that fat will make the crumb cake as moist and tender as can be. It’s also a bit tangy, which means it doesn’t just contribute to texture, it adds flavor, too. In other words? Don’t skip it! Full-fat yogurt could stand in for sour cream in a pinch, but the cake will taste its best with sour cream. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this fabulous apple crumb cake recipe:

  • All purpose flour

  • Baking powder

  • Baking soda

  • Salt

  • Cinnamon

  • Unsalted butter. Just to really keep you on your toes, you’re going to need 10 tablespoons of this butter to be as cold as can be (for the crumb topping) and you’ll need one stick of butter that’s at room temperature (for the cake). You’ll also need a little more for greasing the pan, so yes, you’ll need at least 2 and a half sticks of butter on hand for this recipe.

  • White sugar

  • Brown sugar

  • Egg

  • Vanilla

  • Sour cream

  • Milk

  • Apples

  • Pecans

flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter in a processor for apple crumb cake topping
flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter mixed together in a processor for apple crumb cake topping
homemade apple crumb cake topping in a bowl on the counter
flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon sifted together in a bowl on the counter

What Kind Of Apples Should I Use to Make This The Best Apple Crumb Coffee Cake Ever?

This is a fantastic question! Apples vary so much! And one of the reasons this apple crumb cake recipe is so much fun to make this time of year is because we truly cannot stop buying and picking apples and therefore we need ways to use them up. They’re falling from neighborhood trees, they’re overflowing at every farmers market stand, and even supermarket apples are plentiful and fabulously good right now. If you love apples—and we do—this is a pretty darn exciting moment. The fact that autumn is apple season really takes the sting out of the fact that it’s also the return of the cold-and-rainy season. But, what apple is the BEST apple for this particular cinnamon apple cake recipe? We’ve got a few answers for you:

  • Tart apples! This is sort of a matter of taste, but we like the way that tart apples taste in this apple crumb cake because they provide a little balance for the cake’s sweetness.

  • Crisp apples! We like to use crisp, firm apples as baking apples because they hold their shape and texture through the baking process.

  • With all of that in mind, though, the truly best apple for this apple cake recipe is whatever apple you love to eat! This may seem like a cop out answer, but it’s true! If you love Honeycrisps, use those! If you love Granny Smith apples, use those! If you’re super psyched about some weird heirloom variety that you’ve only ever seen at this one farmers market stand and you were so into it you bought 20lbs of them and now you’re like “what what I thinking”? Use those! The crumb cake will be delicious no matter what. It’s sour cream crumb cake! It’s always going to be awesome.

butter and sugar creamed together until light and fluffy in a bowl
homemade apple crumb cake ingredients in a mixing bowl
homemade apple crumb cake batter in a mixing bowl
homemade apple crumb cake batter topped with apples in a baking pan ready for the oven

How To Make Apple Crumb Cake

  1. Toast the pecans.

  2. Make the crumb topping. Pulse flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt and cold butter in a food processor until it looks like thick sand. Squish it together to make big crumbly clusters and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to top the cake.

  3. Sift the dry ingredients together—the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

  4. Stand mixer time! Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  5. Add the egg and vanilla!

  6. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix!

  7. Add the sour cream and milk! Mix!

  8. Add remaining dry ingredients! Mix just until the ingredients come together—try not to overmix! Overmixing will take your cake from tender to tough.

  9. Pour half of the crumb cake batter into a greased 9x9 pan and top it with the chopped apples and about 1/3 of the crumb topping.

  10. Top it with the rest of the cake batter, pecans and crumb topping.

  11. Bake! It’ll take about 45 minutes at 350°F. Let it cool (obviously the hardest step of all) and then dig in!

homemade apple crumb cake batter topped with apples and crumb topping in a baking pan ready for the oven
homemade apple crumb cake batter topped with apples and crumb topping in a baking pan ready for the oven
homemade apple crumb cake in a baking pan
Apple Crumb Cake with a piece cut from the corner with a knife sitting beside it

How To Store Your Apple Crumb Cake

Thanks to all that sour cream and butter, this apple crumb cake will stay moist and tender for a long time! In an airtight container on the kitchen counter, it’ll stay good for at least four days, and yes, you could freeze it! Let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap. Then wrap it in foil and freeze—it’ll be good for up to three months.

two slices of apple crumb cake stacked on top of each other on a plate

Tools You’ll Need:

More Autumnal Apple Recipes To Try

a piece of homemade apple crumb cake on a plate with a fork

Pairs Well With Pumpkin Carving and Hot Coffee

This apple cake is a year-round treat, but we love it most of all during the fall. Apple-y and cinnamon-y, it just tastes like what we’re supposed to be eating when the leaves turn and the wind starts to howl. We hope you love it as much as we do! If you make it, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Apple Crumb Cake

  • Serves: 9
  • Prep Time:  25 min
  • Cook Time:  50 min
  • Calories: 583


Crumb Topping

  • 1/3 cup pecans, toasted, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup All purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 10 Tbsps cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces


  • 1 3/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter softened, plus more for baking dish
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, preferably not low fat
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 tart apple (such as a Granny Smith), chopped into 1/2” pieces (about 1 cup)


  1. In a small skillet set over medium heat, toast the pecans, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove the pecans onto a plate to cool before chopping.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center of the oven.

  3. Make the crumb topping: In the base of a food processor, add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter. Pulse until combined and the mixture resembled thick sand. Pour it into a bowl and squish as much of it together as possible creating large clusters. Place it in the fridge until ready to use.

  4. Make the cake: In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.

  5. In a stand mixer, or by hand, cream together the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with a mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 of the sifted ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add the sour cream and milk and mix until combined before adding the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until there are no longer any dry parts left, but don’t over mix it.

  6. Grease with butter, then flour a 9x9 inch baking dish.

  7. Remove the crumble topping from the fridge and break it up with your hands, but keeping some pieces intact about the size of a piece of a dime.

  8. Add half of the batter (it is thick) to the pan. Place the chopped apples on top of the batter and gently push the apples to the edges of the pan ensuring that the batter reaches the edges too. Evenly sprinkle on 1/3 of the crumb topping. Add remaining batter to the pan followed by the pecans and remaining crumb topping (using each layer of toppings to press the thick batter to the edges of the pan).

  9. Bake for 45-50 minutes on the center rack. Check for doneness with a toothpick, which should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories583
  • Protein7 g
  • Carbohydrates70 g
  • Total Fat31 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol99 mg
  • sodium504 mg
  • Total Sugars29 g

Apple Crumb Cake

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jenn

    This cake is absolutely delicious! The few non-pie eaters in my family were especially excited for a seasonal apple dessert that wasn't pie, so thanks from them!

    So happy we could help!