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Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Apple cinnamon coffee cake is so tender and moist–and perfect with a cup of coffee. You’ll want to make this comforting treat anytime guests drop by or just for a cozy evening at home. Whip up the simple batter and layer in tart apples for a truly delicious treat.

a slice of apple cinnamon coffee cake on a table with other slices in the background

Tips for the best cake

Want to get the apple cinnamon coffee cake right the first time? Pay close attention to these simple tips and tricks.

  • Measure accurately. Especially the flour. Use the spoon and level method.
  • Get the temperature right. Temperature reads on ovens are woefully inaccurate and baking at the proper temperature is essential for achieving a cake that is cooked thoroughly and evenly. I highly suggest investing in an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is preheated properly.
  • Avoid over mixing. Once you begin alternating the flour mixture and milk, make sure to only mix until the flour and milk disappear into the batter, then stop. Mixing too much will make your cake tough.

Choosing the Best Apples for Baking in Your Cake

It is super important to pick the right apples for this coffee cake. You want an apple that has the perfect balance of sweet and tart and that doesn’t carry too much moisture (no one wants a soggy cake). It’s also important that the apples are firm and hold their shape well during the baking process, otherwise, they will get mushy.

I am a big fan of Granny Smiths but Honeycrisps and Pink Lady apples are great too (they are a little sweeter). Steer clear of McIntosh as well as Red and Yellow Delicious apples as they tend to get mushy.

Preparing Apples for Baking

When it comes to getting your apples ready to layer into the coffee cake batter, you don’t need to do much. Just peel, core, and dice the apples with the intention of creating even-sized pieces to ensure even baking.

How to make sure the cake is done

There’s nothing worse than a dry, overcooked coffee cake. Here’s how to avoid it.  

  • The toothpick test. Insert a toothpick or a cake tester into the center of the cake. You want it to come out nice and clean with maybe a couple of crumbs on it, but no gooey batter.
  • Aesthetic. Have a look at the cake. It should have a nice golden-brown color when it’s done and the edges should be just barely pulling away from the sides of the pan.
  • Touch. Gently press the cake. It should spring back a bit. If it doesn’t it is not cooked enough.

Coffee cake vs “Regular” cake

While coffee cake is a kind of “cake”, it has some differences that set it apart from standard dessert cakes.

  • Topping. You won’t find it on a coffee cake like you would on a “regular” cake. Instead, it’s topped with a signature crumbly streusel topping made of cinnamon, sugar, butter, and flour.
  • Layers. Many coffee cakes have that same streusel used to top them also baked into the middle (a layer of batter divided by a layer of streusel), a delicious treat you won’t find in other cakes. We used apples in this version though.
  • Purpose. Coffee cake is designed to be paired with coffee* (or tea if coffee isn’t your thing) whereas traditional cake is meant to be served after a meal for dessert.

* Note that coffee cake does not taste like coffee. It derives its name from the beverage it was designed to be paired with.

How to assemble apple coffee cake

Start with the most time consuming part and get those apples, peeled, cored and chopped. Toss them with cinnamon and set them aside.

Next, make the crumble. Use your fingers to work in the butter until large clumps form. Leave this in the fridge until you’re ready to top your cake. You can even make it a few days in advance if needed.

Beat the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, zest and egg. Add the flour mixture alternating with the liquids. Don’t over mix–stop as soon as the dry flour is absorbed.

Layer half of the batter into a greased 8×8 pan. Add the apples in a single layer, and top with the remaining half of the batter. Top with streusel and bake.

How to Store Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

  • Countertop: Allow the coffee cake to cool to room temperature before sealing it in an airtight container or wrap it well with plastic wrap. It will stay good at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • Refrigerator: If you live in a warmer climate and don’t trust storing your coffee cake at room temperature, you can store it in the fridge. Just note that the cold temperatures will dry it out a bit. Wrap it as tightly as you can to prevent moisture loss.

How to Freeze Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Allow the cake to cool completely before wrapping it in a double layer of plastic wrap. You can also wrap individual slices for easier single-serve access. Place the wrapped cake (or slices) inside a freezer-safe airtight container, such as a large Ziplock bag, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to label mine with the date to keep track of freshness.

How to Make Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

To make this coffee cake gluten-free, just use your favorite 1:1 gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour. I like King Arthur but any brand will do so long as it contains xanthan gum.

a plate of apple cinnamon coffee cake on a plate with a fork in it

Other apple recipes to try

Ready to turn apple season upside down? Try these seriously delicious apple-centric recipes:

a slice of apple cinnamon coffee cake on a table with other slices in the background

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Moist, tender cake flavored with tart apples and cinnamon. Great with coffee and so easy to make.
Print Pin
Servings: 16 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


Streusel layer

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour 180 grams
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup milk

Apple layer

  • 1 1/4 cups diced apples peeled, cored and diced into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Makes: 2 x 2inch rectangle


Make the streusel

  • Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt to a medium bowl.
  • Add the butter and using your hands or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture forms pea size or slightly smaller clumps.
  • Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. This step can be done up to three days in advance.

Make the cake

  • Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper that hangs over the edges or grease well with baking spray or avocado oil.
  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Toss the apples with the cinnamon and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl add the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes.
  • Add the zest and vanilla and stir to combine.
  • Beat in the egg.
  • Add half the flour and blend until no pockets of dry flour remain. Don’t over mix.
  • Add all of the milk and mix gently until just combined.
  • Add the last half of the flour and mix.
  • Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan and top with the apples in an even layer.
  • Add the remaining half of the cake batter, and top with the streusel.
  • Bake on the center rack until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean–25 to 30 minutes. Tent with foil if the streusel starts to brown before the cake is done.
  • Let the cake cool in its pan on a cooling rack.


Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 193mg | Potassium: 50mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 234IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword apple cinnamon coffee cake, apple coffee cake, cinnamon coffee cake, homemade coffee cake

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