apple cake 2

Despite my overwhelming enthusiasm for anything fall-related, apple-based desserts have never been my thing. They feel like the not-quite-as-vibrant cousin of lemon meringue and key lime tarts and less indulgent than a banana cream. But last week when I was given a surplus of orchard apples from a friend, I knew I had to find a recipe worthy of capturing how great they were on their own. When I asked for suggestions on Instagram on what to bake, the one that came up the most was Smitten Kitchen’s Big Apple Crumb Cake.

I was delighted to find I had all the ingredients on hand, which is always a thrill, and got to preparing the three main components to the dessert: the crumb top, the cinnamon and sugar dusted apple filling, and the cake. It came together easily and the result was nothing less than extraordinary. I dropped off a couple of slices to my friends, who both sent over such glowing reviews that it felt equivalent to a Paul Hollywood handshake (if you don’t understand the reference, go watch The Great British Baking Show immediately). Needless to say, it’s the only apple dessert I will be making from here on out.



  • 1 pound apples (3 medium or 2 large), peeled if you wish, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour


  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

apple cake