I’m currently obsessed with apples. And so, a buttery apple crumble cake follows the post on apple pie. The weather is pleasantly nippy and sweet, crisp apples tumble into my basket (well, almost) every time I’m out grocery shopping. Obviously,I can’t wait to cook with them and fill my home with warm, cinnamon-tinged scents of apples. The apple crumble cake is a rich, butter cake filled with squishy chunks of stewed apples and topped with a crunchy walnut streusel.
A butter cake is delightful with a fluffy, moist and tender crumb. The last thing you want is a dense cake with pockets of wet apple mixture and pockets of raw batter around. In order to achieve a perfect apple crumble cake with the right texture and well incorporated apples, here are a few useful tips.
How To Bake A Perfect Apple Crumble Cake
- Make sure all your cake ingredients are at room temperature – the butter should be soft, not melting and oily.
- Be careful not to overbeat your butter and sugar but just until you have a light and fluffy mixture.
- Ensure your leavening agent – baking powder in this case, is fresh and not past its expiry.
- Sift all your dry ingredients – flour, salt and baking powder, in order to incorporate air into them and prevent lumps from forming.
- Use castor sugar; it creams quickly unlike granulated sugar, thereby reducing the chances of overbeating.
- Your cake pan must be the right size to allow enough room for the cake to rise and aerate. I found the springform pan idea and just has to be snapped open to release the tender cake, which may crack it while turning out from a cake tin.
- Weigh your ingredients correctly.
- Bake the cakes in a moderately hot oven (180℃) and do not overbake.
- The stewed apples must have no residual liquid. All liquid must be cooked off while stewing the apples; but if you do find liquid pooling at the bottom of the apples, just drain it out.
- I separated the eggs and added the whites to the batter only at the end (after beating them till stiff) to give the cake more structure and to create a lighter, more airy crumb. You could add the eggs whole after creaming the butter and sugar but you will get a slimmer and slightly denser cake.
The stewed apples can be prepared in advance. It’s just diced apple cooked with a little butter, sugar, cinnamon and rum (optional) till the pieces are soft but still hold their shape. All the juice that oozes out must be cooked or drained if there is too much of it. You don’t want applesauce. The apple pieces must be able to stay intact in the cake.
Everything about the apple crumble cake is delicate with soft chunks of apple nestled within, and so a topping of walnut streusel provides the missing crunch. Brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and walnuts meld together creating a crown of caramel that gives the cake so much more character. It sort of completes it. Walnuts, pecans and maybe even hazelnuts are good for the streusel. Keep an eye on the topping while the cake bakes. If it starts browning too quickly (ovens differ in heat distribution and often many have hot spots), cover the pan with aluminium foil or a plate. A burnt top is the last thing you want. The cake needs to be handled gently while still warm. It must be allowed to rest and settle in the pan for 10 minutes after it’s done, before being turned out and cooled on a wire rack.
Apple Crumble Cake
- 125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 220 g all-purpose flour,
- 110 g castor sugar
- 125 ml milk
- 170 g stewed apples
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
For the stewed apples
- 2-3 firm, crisp apples (sweet varieties), peeled, cored and diced
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg, grated
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp rum (optional)
For the topping
- 100 g walnuts, chopped
- 80 g soft, brown sugar
- 30 g butter, softened
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- To make the stewed apples, put the chopped apples in a wide pan with the butter, spices, sugar and rum and cook on medium heat for 20, stirring occasionally.
- To make the topping, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Cook the fruit till the chunks are soft but not disintegrating and till all the juice has cooked off. Drain if required and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, lightly grease a 20-cm springform cake pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed till the mixture is pale and fluffy (about 2 mins)
- Now beat in the the egg yolks one at a time.
- Stir in the vanilla and half of the milk and flour, mix and stir in the remaining milk and flour.
- Mix in the stewed apples with a gentle hand.
- In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites till they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the batter taking care not to overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap gently to release any pockets of air, spread the walnut topping evenly to cover the surface of the cake and bake for 45-50 minutes until done. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the cake. If it has any wet batter clinging to it, bake the cake for 5-10 more minutes. Cover the cake to ensure the top doesn't burn.
- Rest the cake in the pan outside the oven for 10 minutes before un-molding, then cool on a wire rack.