Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Oat Streusel Topping
Fall places me in a state of emotional turmoil. The restless girl within me anticipates the change. She wants to wear all of the scarves, watch all of the college football, and bake all of the apple coffee cake (with all of the cinnamon oat streusel topping, naturally).
The contented girl within me, however, protests. She watches the sun set earlier with a sadness in her heart, counts the weekends she can still spend on the lake on one hand, and prematurely mourns the loss of good tomatoes. Summer’s end: my personal definition of bittersweet.
As a Wisconsin resident who catches a chill in the freezer section of the grocery store, summer is my favorite season. That said, I am a bit of a cheater. At the same time I profess to sweet summer that it’s my one and only romance, I am seduced by the deep colors and warm flavors of alluring autumn.
Although I am happy to delay fall’s cooler air and tumbling leaves in favor of summer’s lush grasses and late sunsets, fall baking is my Pied Piper. I follow it straight to the pumpkin and apple aisles every year. I’ve already shared my secret recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and now I’m dabbling in fall ingredients once more with today’s stellar recipe for apple coffee cake with cinnamon oat streusel topping.
The day I baked this apple coffee cake, it was 81 degrees, and the sun shone with gusto. I felt a wee bit guilty turning on my oven and digging out my apple corer, but the holy smells of cinnamon and toasting walnuts wafting through my kitchen while the apple coffee cake baked reassured me that I’d chosen a righteous path.
This apple coffee cake also stays far, far away from that horrific offense of coffee cake kind: being too dry. Buttermilk keeps the cake moist, and a few natural juices from the apples also ensure that this cinnamon-spiced apple coffee cake pleases with every tender bite.
Contrasting with the moist cake crumb, we have a delightfully crunchy and dangerously addictive walnut oat streusel topping. Although there isn’t oatmeal in the cake, I like using oats for the streusel topping, because they provide the most pleasing texture, and their flavor is a classic match with the cinnamon and apples in the coffee cake.
And just in case you aren’t already tempted to have more than once piece: this apple coffee cake features whole grains and a reduced amount of sugar, but thanks to the sweetness of the apples and a heap of warm fall spices, you and your fellow apple coffee cake munchers will never suspect. Just ask Ben’s co-workers: he arrived at the office at at 8:19 a.m. with the leftovers, and by 8:53 a.m., the plate was scraped clean.
Although I might be cheating on summer, I’m willing to risk a little reprimand for the sake of streusel-topped apple coffee cake.
Please just don’t tell the tomatoes. I’m hoping they’ll stick with me, at least until October!
Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Oat Streusel Topping
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 — (4 tablespoons)
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round spring form 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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