This moist and healthy Apple Coffee Cake topped with cinnamon oat streusel, is a storybook way to welcome fall (whether you do it with open arms or a bit begrudgingly).

Classic Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel Topping on parchment paper

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Fall always places me in a state of emotional turmoil.

The restless girl within me anticipates the change.

She wants to wear cute scarves and cozy slippers and bake every single apple and pumpkin recipe that crosses her path (Healthy Pumpkin Muffins and Apple Bread anyone?).

a slice of healthy apple coffee cake on a plate with a fork and a bite taken out

On the other hand, the contented girl within me protests.

She watches the sun set earlier with sadness in her heart and mourns the loss of peak-season berries (particularly where this Blueberry Buckle is involved).

Summer’s end is my personal definition of bittersweet.

Thankfully I have this buttery apple coffee cake to ease me through this confusing seasonal transition!

Fresh Apple Coffee Cake with glaze being poured on top

5 Star Review

“This was by far one of the best coffee cakes I have ever eaten.”

— J.P. —

Why I Love this Apple Coffee Cake

Aside from being my primary coping mechanism for welcoming the cooler fall weather, I love this apple coffee cake for a few reasons:

  • The delightfully crunchy walnut oat streusel topping contrasts beautifully with the moist cake crumb. (These Coffee Cake Muffins also have delicious streusel topping.)
  • This apple coffee cake recipe features whole grains and a reduced amount of sugar, meaning you can take another slice (or follow with a slice of this Applesauce Cake) with a little less guilt.
  • It’s finished with a drippy vanilla glaze (like these Blueberry Biscuits) that’s so simple to make, it should be a crime.
Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel Topping on a cake plate topped with glaze

How to Make Apple Coffee Cake

I hope you’re ready to enjoy the best apple coffee cake with streusel topping!

Loaded with apple chunks and made with buttermilk, both do their part to keep the coffee cake moist and tender with every bite.


The Ingredients

  • Flour. To make this apple coffee cake healthy and add some whole grain goodness, I use a blend of all-purpose flour paired with white whole wheat flour.

Substitution Tip!

You may swap the white whole wheat flour for regular whole wheat flour if preferred. Note that the “wheat” flavor will be more pronounced. You may also omit the white whole wheat flour entirely and use only all-purpose flour.

  • Apples. Filling the cake generously with juicy chunks of apples turns it into a slice of fall.

TIP!

When selecting apples for baking, choose apples with a crisp, tart flavor and that hold their shape well once baked. Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Gala, and Pink Lady are all excellent baking apples.

  • Buttermilk. While some coffee cakes call for yogurt or sour cream to give the cake moisture, this recipe uses good old-fashioned buttermilk. The acid tenderizes the cake and helps it rise.
  • Butter. Flavors the cake and contributes to its light structure and tender texture.

Dietary Note

If you would like to make this recipe dairy-free, you may experiment by swapping the buttermilk for your favorite non-dairy milk mixed with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and swap the butter for a vegan, dairy-free butter substitute.

I do not recommend swapping the butter for canola oil or other liquid fat since they will not be able to be creamed with the sugar (an essential step for giving the coffee cake its fluffy texture).

  • Cinnamon. Is it even fall if you aren’t baking with cinnamon?
  • Allspice + Nutmeg. Two aromatic spices inspired by apple pie.

TIP!

While it’s not essential, if you can get your hands on whole nutmeg and grate it fresh, it’s worth the extra effort. Trust me!

a slice of healthy apple coffee cake on a plate with a fork
  • Egg. The egg whites make the cake fluffy and give it structure, while the yolk adds fat to soften and tenderize the coffee cake.
  • Vanilla. Contributes an extra layer of flavor to the cake and sweet glaze.
  • Oats. I like using oats for the streusel topping because they provide the most pleasing texture, and their flavor is a classic match with cinnamon and apples.
  • Walnuts. Add an earthy flavor and extra crunch to the streusel topping.

Substitution Tip!

If you don’t like walnuts, try swapping for pecans or even hazelnuts. You may also omit the nuts entirely if there is a nut allergy in your household.

The Directions

  1. Line a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper and grease with butter or cooking spray.
dry ingredients for apple coffee cake in a mixing bowl
  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
coffee cake batter in a mixing bowl
  1. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla.
  2. Gradually add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating between the two.
folding apples into coffee cake batter with a spoon
  1. Fold in the apples, then transfer to the prepared baking pan.
Unbaked apple coffee cake in a springform pan topped with streusel
  1. Make the streusel and sprinkle over the top.
  2. Bake at 350 degree F for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then unmold from the pan.
  3. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cake, slice, and serve. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Keep leftover apple coffee cake in a tight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
  • To Freeze. Wrap the coffee cake, unglazed, in plastic and freeze for up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then glaze just before serving.
A slice of Brown Sugar Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel Topping on a plate with a fork beside

What to Serve with Apple Coffee Cake

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Springform Pan. Believe it or not, these are not just for cheesecake.
  • Mixing Bowls. This is my everyday set of nesting glass mixing bowls.
  • Wooden Spoons. Skip the mixer and grab a good old-fashioned wooden spoon for this recipe.

The Best Springform Pan

This set of 3 non-stick spring pans is ideal for making coffee cake, cheesecake, mousse, quiche, and more without damaging them. Plus, these come with made-to-size parchment paper!

Classic Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel Topping on parchment paper

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Pan Can I Use Instead of a Springform Pan?

If you don’t own a springform pan, you may use a traditional 10-inch round cake pan or an 9×9 square baking pan instead. Just note that the baking time may need to be adjusted slightly depending on the type of pan that you use. Be sure to grease the pan VERY well so it doesn’t stick.

Do Apples Need to be Peeled Before Baking?

While I recommend peeling the apples before adding them to the batter and baking, doing so is a personal preference. Unpeeled apples will add a bit of color and additional texture to the recipe, plus extra nutrients.

Why is it Called Coffee Cake?

Despite the name, most coffee cakes do not traditionally contain coffee. They get their name because coffee cakes are typically eaten in the morning alongside a cup of coffee or espresso.

Classic Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel Topping on parchment paper

Apple Coffee Cake

5 from 6 votes
This healthy apple coffee cake is made with buttermilk, which keeps it extra moist, and topped with a cinnamon streusel crumble topping.

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 50 mins

Servings: 10 slices

Ingredients
  

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg freshly grated if possible
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups tart apples peeled and diced, such as Granny Smith (about 2 medium)

For the Streusel Topping:

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar light or dark
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts

For the Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream for a richer glaze
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease once more. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, all spice, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the bowl with the butter, then 1/2 of the buttermilk, stopping to combine after each addition. Repeat, adding the second 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the remaining 1/2 of the buttermilk, and ending with the remaining 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is evenly combined. Stir in the apples. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, then with the back of a rubber spatula, smooth the top.
  • Next, prepare the streusel topping. In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in the melted butter, then stir until the mixture forms large crumbs. Stir in the nuts. Sprinkle the streusel over the coffee cake batter in the pan.
  • Bake the coffee cake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a butter knife around the cake’s edges to loosen it, then unmold.
  • Last, prepare the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle over the warm cake after it has been unmolded. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Keep leftover apple coffee cake in a tight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
  • TO FREEZE: Wrap the coffee cake, unglazed, in plastic and freeze for up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then glaze just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 10)Calories: 281kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 35mgPotassium: 115mgFiber: 3gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 259IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 1mg

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Related Recipes

Ready for fall baking? Try one of these other healthy apple recipes to celebrate the season.

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Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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30 Comments

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    1. Hi Donna! Whenever I don’t have a particular pan size, this is one of my favorite resources. It lists a few options for a 9-inch springform pan. Just be sure you carefully watch the bake time, since depending upon which pan(s) you choose, the cake may bake more quickly: http://dish.allrecipes.com/cake-pan-size-conversions/. I hope this helps!

  1. Looks delicious! Can I Omit the walnuts in the topping? Also, I want to make it dairy free. I will be using soymilk instead of milk. Can I use oil instead of the softened butter?

    1. Hi! While I appreciate your needing to make the cake dairy free, I’m afraid the changes you suggested would alter the flavor and texture of the cake. You can easily omit the walnuts (or swap them for a different nut such as pecans), but canola oil can’t be swapped for butter with the same results, since it is a liquid and can’t be creamed with the sugar the way softened butter can, so it will change the texture of the cake. I’d suggest swapping a dairy-free or soy butter instead. I’ve never tried the cake this way, but I think that would give you better results than canola oil. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

    2. Hi! This looks amazing! However, I’m having trouble finding whole wheat white flour! Can I substitute with more all purpose flour?

  2. I’ve made this 3 times in the last month. I didn’t have walnuts so substituted pecans but it was still incredibly delicious. Thank you!

    1. Melanie! that is fantastic news!! I bet it was great with pecans too. THANK YOU for trying it and sharing this lovely review.

  3. I’ve made this Apple cake three times (twice for the same person who personally requested it) and people love it!. I don’t have a 9″ pan so I use an 8″ and make a couple of muffins with the left over batter. Mine also comes out much darker than in your photos. Not sure why as it takes a shorter time to cook.

    This last time, the batter was sooooo thick and the only difference is that I used an electric hand mixer (instead of a good old wooden spoon) and I weighed all the ingredients. It’s turned out really tough! This makes me sad.

    Thanks for the recipe! Next time I’ll get it perfect.

    1. Hi Kate! Thank you so much for leaving a review. I’m happy to hear you’re making the recipe and people are loving it! Oven temperatures can vary, and the type of pan you use can affect things too, so there are a couple factors that could be causing the coffee cake to take a shorter time to bake and turn out a bit darker. As for this last batch turning out tough, I think using a hand mixer probably caused the batter to be overmixed, so I would suggest sticking with that good ol’ wooden spoon. I hope it’s perfect next time you make it!

  4. I don’t mind using buttermilk with the exception of not being able to find a carton small enough and I end up tossing half a bottle. Is there something else I can use? I’ve heard of buttermilk substitutions (recipes) but I’ve never used one.

    1. Hi Melanie, there are two substitutions I’ve used. I haven’t tried it for this particular recipe, but I’ve used it successfully in others. The first is to thin yogurt with a bit of milk…for this recipe, I’d use a scant 1/2 cup yogurt and stir in enough milk to make it buttermilk consistency. The second is to add half a tablespoon of white vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk and let it sit 5 minutes before using it. I hope you enjoy the cake!

    1. Thank you so much, Angela! I really appreciate your taking the time to leave this awesome feedback. I wish I could see a picture too—I’m sure it’s beautiful!

  5. This was so so good. Ilooked over so many recipes and most were filled with lots of sugar and sour cream. Thank you for posting something a little healthier.5 stars

  6. I made this cake over and over again last fall. It’s delicious!  The scent of cinnamon in the air is unbeatable.  My family and co-workers could not believe that it was tasty and healthy.

    Thank you for sharing!5 stars

  7. Super delicious cake, nice and moist and with the perfect level of sweetness for me and my husband. I skipped the icing. I bought a bag of Macoun apples for snacking, but I didn’t care for them out of hand, so I landed on your recipe when I searched for an apple buttermilk cake with oatmeal. I added the juice of half a lemon and a splash of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar to compensate for the sweeter apples. I used 1/2 cup King Arthur regular whole wheat flour, and 3/4 cup all-purpose. I added a touch of freshly crushed cardamom to the spices, and subbed almonds in the topping. It smells and tastes so good. I love a simple recipe like this that you can mix with a wooden spoon.5 stars

    1. Donna, I’m happy to hear you enjoyed this! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this review and your tweaks too.

    1. I have not tried this recipe with Splenda, but you could experiment with it. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you give it a try!

    1. Hi Esther! I haven’t tried this myself, but I think it would work fine. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  8. This was by far one of the best coffee cakes I have ever eaten. I will not eat anything that is not healthy and most coffee cakes fall far short of even being close to healthy. But this one is not only healthy, it is absolutely delicious. I am very particular about trying new recipes and scrutinize them carefully especially in relation to the fat and sugar used; I loved that this cake uses whole wheat flour, very little butter, and relatively little sugar compared to most recipes. In spite of it being healthy, the cake is tender, flavorful and oh so moist; and the topping adds just the right amount of texture and sweetness. With the icing, it tastes downright sinful, but it is actually very light and doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down or stuffed. My husband labeled this one “A Definite Keeper” even with the whole wheat flour; the two of us ate the entire cake in two mornings (and it was just as good, or better, the second day! It just goes to prove that you really can “have your cake and eat it too”!
    P.S.: This is the first review I have ever posted in all my years of cooking… that is how good this cake is!5 stars

  9. So delicious, so moist! I substituted whole wheat pastry flour and brown sugar in the cake and it turned out great!5 stars

    1. Hi Laura! Whenever I don’t have a particular pan size, this is one of my favorite resources. It lists a few options for a 9-inch springform pan. Just be sure you carefully watch the bake time, since depending upon which pan(s) you choose, the cake may bake more quickly: http://dish.allrecipes.com/cake-pan-size-conversions/. I hope this helps!