Chunky Apple Crumb Cake

Chunky Apple Crumb Cake | Flavors of Light

It's finally apple season, and if you fancy a delicious, chunky apple crumb cake you'll want to try this recipe. Cinnamon scented crumbs top a buttery cake studded with chunks of caramelized apples and raisins. While the fruit will most likely settle in toward the bottom of the pan, it will be like having a delicious bite of apple pie along with your cake.  Doesn't that sound good?

If you're lucky enough to have a farmers market you can shop regularly, you'll probably find a variety of apples you'd never see elsewhere starting in the early autumn. Antique, experimental, and less common varieties along with established favorites. One thing for sure though, all have far superior flavor to anything found at my grocery store.  Be on the lookout for one of my favorites, a variety called "Arlet" also known as "Swiss Gourmet", it has a sweet, tart taste and a beautiful exterior with gold veining.

Recipe notes:
I've used partly whole grain flour (whole wheat pastry or spelt flour adds wholesome flavor)  along with white flour. For the caramelized apples I've used a a mix of tart and sweet varieties and a minimum amount of sugar. It's a delicious recipe, let me know if you try it!

Chunky Apple Crumb Cake | Flavors of Light
Chunky Apple Crumb Cake | Flavors of Light

Chunky Apple Crumb Cake

Recipe adapted from Andrew Zimmerman/Food and Wine 

What I love about this recipe besides being crumbly and delicious, is that you can prepare both the caramelized apples and crumb topping ahead of time which makes prep and baking this cake a breeze.


Caramelized apples:

  • 2 T  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs  apples (about 3 large) peeled and cut into medium-large dice
  • 1/2 cup  golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 t  fresh lemon juice

Crumb topping:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 T  finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 t  ground cinnamon
  • 6 T  cold unsalted butter, cubed


  • 4 T  unsalted butter
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 t  baking powder
  • 1/2 t  baking soda
  • 1/4 t  ground ginger
  • Pinch of  salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
Caramelized apples

In a large skillet; melt the butter then add the apples, raisins, sugar and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat, stir frequently until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook over moderate heat  stirring occasionally (careful not to break up apple chunks) until the apples have become soft and caramelized with golden color, about 20 to 30 minutes.  If the apples get too dry add a little water, one tablespoon at a time.  Let cool to room temperature before using in the cake or store covered in the refrigerator for later use.

Crumb topping

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar and walnuts. Rub or cut the butter into the mixture until coarse crumbs form. Set aside, covered to keep cold in refrigerator until ready to use.


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Use a 9-inch square baking pan or a round tube spring form pan, as I have here. Line the bottom with parchment, spray bottom and sides with butter/oil and lightly flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and salt.

In another medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. At low speed, alternate adding one third of the buttermilk, then one third of the flour mixture, beating well after each addition ending with the flour mixture. Fold in the caramelized apples.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter.

Bake 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool completely.

Cake will be best stored covered at room temp for up to 2 days.

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