This nostalgic apple crumb cake is the ultimate no-fuss dessert to bake at home

A no-fuss recipe translates into "no stress" — and that's an easy win

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published October 10, 2020 5:30PM (EDT)

 (Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)
(Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)

If there's one dessert that reminds Salon's resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry of home, it's crumb cake.

"Crumb cake has a certain nostalgia to it, because there was always a crumb cake in my house growing up," McGarry, the owner of the beloved Buttercream Blondie brand, tells Salon. "Whenever a guest would stop by, we would cut off a slice of crumb cake to ensure a warm welcome."

When McGarry developed her recipe for apple crumb cake, her goal was to recreate that same nostalgia factor. It's the third recipe featured in her series of go-to seasonal bakes for Salon Food. It follows an apple loaf cake, which was a warm welcome to fall, and apple crisp bars, which magnified the star fruit of the season.

This week's apple crumb cake is another cozy bake, and all of the falls spices you've become acquainted with are back again to work their magic. Cinnamon, ground cloves, light brown sugar and freshly-grated nutmeg work together to create a depth of warmth and flavor.

This is arguably the easiest recipe yet to make, and it's guaranteed to deliver a satisfying crumb every single time. You'll want to bake it immediately, but also file it away to make again throughout the holiday season.

"It's the recipe I make every year when I'm prepping for Turkey Day," McGarry says of her beautiful dessert. "And it's what we snack on Thanksgiving morning while we're making dinner."

RELATED: These cozy apple crisp bars redefine a classic fall dessert

Even though the holidays aren't here yet, this no-fuss nature of this recipe is exactly what you need in your life right this very second. 

"A crumb cake it's a no fuss bake," McGarry tells Salon. "Now, more than ever, I think all of us are reaching to these simple bakes."

McGarry's favorite part of a crumb cake growing up was the actual crumb, and she has fond memories of eating it off of the top off the cake. A key objective when developing this recipe was to yield a cake that her inner child would want to eat as much as the crumb. Her technique yields a moist cake, and she levels things up with a few special ingredients. 

RELATED: This spiked apple spice loaf cake is better than any pumpkin dessert you'll bake this fall

"I'm still definitely a crumb girl. There's got to be an excellent crumb," McGarry says. "But I wanted to make a cake that had as much flavor as the crumb topping does."

Adults who enjoy a cocktail will want to add the optional splash of bourbon to the cake batter, as well. 

"My biggest tip is to make the crumb topping first, because you want to give all those dry ingredients some time to absorb the butter before you top the cake batter," McGarry tells Salon. 

RELATED: These spiked apple crisp cheesecake bars are a hit even if it's not fall

But if you don't have an apple in hand or don't crave something fruity, don't fret. Like many of McGarry's dessert makeovers, this recipe is easily adaptable. You can leave the fruit out entirely, or you can sub a pear for the apple, too.

This crumb cake makes for a good brunch bake or Sunday bake. It's not too sweet, because McGarry allows the fruit to shine. If you're serving it after dinner, you may want to add a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream for a little à la mode journey.


Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake 


Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 tsp. teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3.5 ounces (7 Tablespoons) unsalted butter-melted


Crumb Topping

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in bowl.
  2. Pour in melted butter and mix together with a fork making sure everyone gets coated. Set aside.

Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's apple crisp bars. And don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to bake through it.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

MORE FROM Joseph Neese

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Apples Baking Buttercream Blondie Cakes Crumb Cake Fall Food Meghan Mcgarry Recipe