A few months ago, I volunteered to bring baked goods for the local cycling coalition’s monthly Bike to Work breakfast, as is my wont. I decided that I was in the mood for coffee cake, but I couldn’t find a single recipe that encompassed everything I wanted: a crunchy, crumbly topping, with a moist, fruity, not too sugary interior, all in a tender cake that would cut into nice pieces for eating without utensils.
This is what I cobbled together; I’ve made it three times now, and it’s been a big success every time. In fact, I might just argue that this is my platonic coffee cake. So while it does involve a “mise en place” approach of preparing several different components, then combining them, I think the results are worth it. Enjoy!
Crunch-Topped Apple Coffee Cake
(makes 32 smallish pieces)
Mix together until well-combined:
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- grated zest of 1 large orange
Squeeze from the orange (add water to make up the volume if it’s not enough juice):
- 1/2 cup orange juice
Mix in electric mixer for 2 minutes, until thick and smooth:
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon molasses (*)
Cut together (use your fingers, it’s yummy!) until blended into crumbly chunks:
- 1/4 cup softened butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups cored and coarsely-chopped tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith (about 3 to 5 apples)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9×13 baking pan.
- Stir the flour mixture and the orange juice into the egg mixture, stopping as soon as the ingredients are blended together and there are no large lumps or dry spots.
- Pour half of the batter over the bottom of the pan. Cover evenly with the apple mixture, then pour the remaining batter over the apples. Use a spatula to smooth the batter over the apples to cover completely.
- Sprinkle the oat crumbles evenly over the surface of the cake.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack for an hour. Cut into squares within the pan, remove, and serve.