Apple crumb cake is a moist spice cake made with fresh shredded apple and topped with a cinnamon streusel topping. This cake is so warm and cozy and a beautiful celebration of the start of the Fall season!

3 pieces of apple crumb cake on plates and a basket of apples

Overview

One of my favorite things about this apple cake is that it is incredibly easy to make and doesn’t need any kind of special equipment. No mixer needed! Just a couple of mixing bowls and spoon and you can throw this impressive cake together with minimal effort.

The cake batter is actually quite similar to the batter I use to make banana bread and zucchini bread. Shredded fresh apple is the star of the show as the base flavor and then a good dash of apple pie spice adds the warming flavors that we associate with all apple baked goods.

If you are unable to find it in the store you can make homemade apple pie spice to use in this cake! It just takes a few staple spices you likely already have on hand including cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger.

Slice of apple crumb cake on a plate with an apple crisp on top and a bite on a fork

Characteristics of this Apple Crumb Cake

  • Incredibly moist cake that stays fresh and soft for days due to the oil in the recipe.
  • Filled with fresh shredded apples that are the star of the show and not overwhelmed with other flavors!
  • Topped with a classic streusel topping that is spiced with a touch of cinnamon to highlight the warming spices in the cake.
  • No mixer needed! Comes together in a snap with just a mixing bowl and spoon!

What Kind of Apples to Use?

The best apples to use for baking are those that maintain their flavor after being cooked. For something like a pie, you also want apples that hold their shape. But for the apple cake, it really doesn’t matter if the apples don’t hold their shape after heat because they are so finely shredded.

I tested this cake with a variety of apples and I liked it best made with honey crisps and granny smiths. Golden delicious apples were also delicious and I suspect McIntosh apples would have also been great because they have some apple cider notes in their flavor profile.

Slice of apple crumb cake on a plate with a bite on a fork and an apple chip on top
Yield: 9 Servings

Apple Crumb Cake

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

Apple crumb cake is a moist spice cake made with fresh shredded apple and topped with a cinnamon streusel topping.

Ingredients

For the Streusel Topping

  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 75 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • large pinch of salt
  • 56 grams (1/2 stick, 1/4 cup) butter, melted

For the Cake

  • 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons apple pie spice (*see note for substitution)
  • 225 grams (about 2 cups) finely grated apple (you can leave the peel on)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) neutral oil (canola, vegetable, safflower) or melted butter
  • 75 grams (1/3 cup) milk (any percentage or non-dairy)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (optional)
  • 100 grams (1 cup) chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prep: Position an oven rack to the center position. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Butter or grease an 8-inch (20 cm) square or round baking pan and set aside.
  2. Make the Topping: In a mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients for the topping and stir together until crumbly. Set aside.
  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and apple pie spice and whisk until well combined.
  2. Grate Apples: Use a box grater or a food processor to grate the apples. You can leave the peels on.
  3. Mix Wet Ingredients: Add the grated apples to a separate mixing bowl and add the eggs, oil or melted butter, milk, vanilla, and orange zest (if using), and stir until combined.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and use a silicone spatula to stir until combined. If you are using the nuts, fold them in here.
  5. Pan: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with the streusel topping.
  6. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 50-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  7. Store uneaten cake at room temperature covered in foil for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • You can make homemade apple pie spice if you do not have any on hand or substitute with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each of allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, and ground ginger.

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