I remember how the adults would sit around the kitchen table, after dinner or mid morning most likely, each of them with a cup of coffee. It was about the conversations, about relaxing and sitting with one another. Us kids would hang on, listening on the edges, definitely not butting in because this was adult time. You could tell it was their time, and as much as you wanted in you knew better. As the cups emptied they would get up for the next round of farm chores or housework and us kids would prowl around the table looking for a cup that hadn’t been completely emptied, daring each other to take a sip of that bitter black liquid that we had been warned would stunt our growth or give us red hair on our chest….
When I told my kids I was going to make a coffee cake they turned up their noses and said, “Ew, we don’t drink coffee!” and I had to explain to them that there was no coffee in this cake, it was just the kind of cake you wanted to sit down with over a cup of coffee. A chatting cake. An adult time cake. A connection cake. Maybe these are better names for it now because I’m not sure they, or most in their generation, understand the concept of ‘coffee’ as a cultural and community connection point any more… There’s a certain slowness to it, a certain communal aspect that perhaps I (and they) have lost.
Perhaps that’s why I especially love going over to have dinner with some friends of ours who are slightly older than us. After dinner they always offer coffee, and while I never usually drink coffee that late (I’m getting old…), I always say ‘yes’ because it’s a chance to sit down together and continue the conversations, to continue the tradition of ‘coffee’ as my parents and grandparents did it.
So, for making this I reached out to my mom for her coffee cake recipe: I remember loving the streusel in the middle and on the top. It was a simple cake, one she could whip up at a moment’s notice if someone was coming over. She sent me a picture of a lined sheet, stained in spots, with meticulous hand writing and simple notes. This is her recipe with a few small changes. But, I didn’t change much. I promise.
The cake turned out perfect. A crunchy, sugary, golden exterior that holds into shape the incredibly moist cake, two apple laden sections with a cinnamon pecan streusel layer stretching through like a gold deposit through the rock. You feel like you struck gold, too, when you take a bite. More streusel on top, with added pepitas for more crunch and to make it look pretty. So simple, but so perfect. It’s not overly sweet so feel free to eat a slice for breakfast too if that’s your thing, as it is mine.
Apple Streusel Coffee Cake
This recipe is an adaptation of one my mom has made for a long time; it's a classic. It uses sour cream (or yogurt) to ensure a perfectly moist interior, while utilizing a streusel topping to ensure a sugary, crunchy exterior. I recommend using pecans in the streusel but they can also be substituted for slivered almonds or walnuts if you have those instead, and if you're allergic to nuts they're easily left out. No apples? You could easily leave those out as well, as my mom's original recipe was without them (just adjust the baking time down a little). It's a forgiving recipe meant to be low stress, quickly put together, and best served with a cup of coffee and conversation. I hope you love it as much as I do.
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups apples, diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable/canola oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup pepitas
Preheat your oven to 325F.
Melt the butter and combine all the topping ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Dice the apples, coating in lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Set aside.
For the batter, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until creamy. Combine the wet into the dry ingredients, and mix just well enough to combine it all.
Fold the apples into the batter.
Grease a 9-inch round springform cake pan, and spread half the batter in the bottom. Crumble approximately 2/3 of the streusel topping over the batter. Spread the remaining half of the batter in the pan, on top of the streusel layer, and then crumble the remaining streusel over the top and then sprinkle the pepitas on top.
Bake for approximately one hour, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Let it cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing the springform.