This is probably the best fall cake ever, combining all of our favorite flavors in one place. Though it has several components, it's very easy to make. Super moist from the pumpkin, it also has caramelized apples topped by a wonderful crumble with spices. So good you'll want to make it again and again!
Time for the most amazing fall cake I've made in a long time, this pumpkin apple cake has it all.
Pumpkin apple streusel cake is your answer to chilly weather, crisp leaves, and the need to be done with summer fruit. That never ever happens to me, but still. After a long list of summer fruit desserts (peach cobbler, cherry tart, strawberry tart, and the best cheesecake popsicles) I was craving several bites of this particular cake.
A layer of moist pumpkin cake is topped with caramelized apples and a buttery crumble. Truly memorable.
This is one of those recipes that mutes the never-ending internal monologue of what fall fruit or vegetable to use first, which one is our favorite, how to please apple and pumpkin lovers at the same time. Not to mention crumble fans, like me.
I will eat anything with a crumble topping. Anything. Seriously. This pumpkin apple cake really is the best of both worlds. The crumble on top guarantees it.
- Pumpkin - canned or homemade both work very well. I also love to use butternut squash puree when in season. There's a whole post for how to make pumpkin puree in case you're going that route.
- Sugars - both brown and white are used. You can use only one if that's all you have. Keep in mind that brown sugar adds a little extra moisture.
- Spices - use your favorite mix or blend. Increase or decrease as your palate dictates. You'll be eating this cake so adjust to your taste.
- Apples - I always use Granny Smith (green apples) for baking because they are more acidic and most recipes have sugar, so the balance is perfect. They also hold their shape well while baking. But any baking apple you like can be used.
This cake has 3 components: the crumble, the cake, and the apples.
It's a mixture of sugar, flour, and butter that is worked together until granulated (a.k.a streusel).
A crumble or streusel can be used in cakes and muffins and bars. Check out the scrumptious apple crumb cake, or the lemon blueberry crumb cake, and you'll get my point. They're all made better but that crunchy topping, don't you think?
For this recipe, the crumble is also the base for the cake. A part is reserved for the topping and the rest is mixed with other ingredients to create the pumpkin cake (images above). How's that for convenience? Similar to the fantastic Ina Garten's plum tart.
The pumpkin cake
It's the base of this recipe and it's fantastic on its own. With the apples and crumble it becomes epic!
As you can see in the images above, the cake is simple and only needs some mixing. The batter will be quite smooth in spite of starting with the crumble, which is a coarse mixture. Don't overbeat it, that will toughen the final cake. You only need to mix until it's all well integrated and no dry spots remain.
You can use canned or homemade pumpkin puree. Or butternut squash. And I'd like to add that yams work great in this recipe too. So, take your pick.
Oh, the magic of caramelized apples!
They are part of the topping and very easy to cook. Together with the pumpkin cake and crumble they create a fall cake that is very moist, full of flavor, and utterly delicious!
It's a simple step but it's a huge plus in my kitchen. Caramel goes with almost anything. I frankly can't think of something that isn't made better by the process of caramelization or with caramel added to it.
Easy method: this is the way I cook my apple every time I don't use them raw. I melt butter, add the apples, add sugar and spices, and stir frequently until they begin to turn golden and the liquid evaporates. Sometimes I let them start to slightly stick to the pan so they really caramelize. The flavor!
Both the caramelized apples and the buttery crumble are part of the topping. A clear synergy. The final cake is so much more than the sum of the parts.
I can tell you that you can omit the apples if you don't have time and only go for a pumpkin cake with crumble, but you'd be missing on so much! But you can.
Variation: sheet cake
This is a great cake to serve at large gatherings or holidays, especially Thanksgiving.
To make a sheet cake simply double the ingredients and use a 9x13 inch cake pan. Then cut into squares and you can serve many.
Anyway, this is the fall cake you were waiting for.
Homemade pumpkin puree
I always make my own pumpkin purée and sometimes butternut squash, depending on what's available. I love it, and it's a great thing it can be frozen! It has no additives, no conservatives, just pumpkin or squash.
In case you're interested in using it, here is a whole post devoted to making your own pumpkin puree.
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Pumpkin Apple Crumble Cake might be the best fall cake ever! Super moist with pumpkin, it also has caramel apples topped by a wonderful crumble with spices. So good you'll want to make it again and again!
Sheet cake: double the ingredients and make a 9x13 inch cake.
For the apples:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons brown or muscovado sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the cake:
- 1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose or cake flour
- 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar
- ½ cup (110g) butter, at room tº
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree, at room t°
- ⅓ cup sour cream, at room t°
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- A few grindings fresh nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs, at room t°
For the apples:
- In a large skillet, melt butter.
- When it foams, add apples and cook for a few minutes, until beginning to soften.
- Scatter sugar over apples, stir and let cook over medium/high heat until caramelised, stirring frequently.
- Add cinnamon and remove from heat.
- Let cool while making the cake.
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Butter or spray an 8-inch cake pan.
- In a large bowl mix flour, light brown sugar, butter and salt.
- With an electric beater or your hands, mix well until crumbly.
- Measure ⅔ cups of the mixture and set aside. This will be the crumble topping.
- To the rest of the crumble add pumpkin puree, sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and baking soda.
- Beat only until mixed.
- Add eggs and beat until well incorporated. Don’t overmix.
- Pour mixture into the pan, spreading evenly.
- Top with the caramelised apples. Top the apples with the reserved crumble.
- Bake for 1 hour or until golden and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.
- Unmold and let cool completely. Or serve warm.
- Store leftovers covered, at room t° for a day, and then refrigerate.
Sugars - both brown and white are used. You can use only one if that's all you have. Keep in mind that brown sugar adds a little extra moisture.
Spices - use your favorite mix or blend. Increase or decrease as your palate dictates. You'll be eating this cake so adjust to your taste.
Apples - I always use Granny Smith (green apples) for baking because they are more acidic and most recipes have sugar, so the balance is perfect. They also hold their shape well while baking. But any baking apple you like can be used.
Crumble: it can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks or frozen for a few months.
Homemade pumpkin puree: if not using canned pumpkin and want to use homemade, you can find step-by-step photos and details in my post about How to make Pumpkin Puree.
Keywords: pumpkin apple cake
Adapted from an old Bon Appetit magazine