Cakes to Remember: New York Apple Crumb Cake

apple crumb grass

A lot of people remember September 11th, 2001 like it was yesterday.  I’ll be honest, I’m not one of those people.  I remember it like it was ten years ago.  A fairly naïve junior in high school at the time, I had difficulty wrapping my head around the magnitude and impact of the attacks.  I remember visiting colleges in New York City with my mom a few months after the attacks, and you could literally just sense a feeling of change in “the city” – more guarded, but also more proud and unified.

Little did I know that seven years later, I’d spend a year working in a “different” New York City.  One where tourists visit Ground Zero instead of two monumental towers.  Where train stations overflow with security and periodic tall-building fire drills at work are the norm; all in an effort to keep the city a safe place for all. 

Despite its different yet more secure environment, my time in the Big Apple made me appreciate the city and everything it’s been through in the past decade.  It’s next to impossible to not feel a sense of pride every time I’m back on those city streets – knowing that the city is prospering once again.

apple crumb

When I read about Marla’s coordination of a Remembrance Cakes for 9/11 blog event, I knew I wanted to take part.  Given my love and appreciation for all things New York, I knew just what to bake.  Anyone foodie who has spent time in the city is well aware of its quintessential desserts – cheesecake, black and white cookies (still not as good as half moons), or crumb cake

A good crumb cake has a layer of exceptionally large crumbs.  When I worked in New York City, I lived across the river in Hoboken, NJ, and would often visit Carlos’ Bakery.  This was before the Cake Boss era, when you could actually step foot in the bakery and with room to breathe.  Carlos’ does crumb cake right – a light cake and a thick layer of large brown sugar crumbs.  I’ve since done my best to recreate it. 

This particular recipe of mine uses whole wheat pastry flour for added nutrition, and is accented with spices and New York apples.  If there’s one other ingredient that could make this cake more “New York,” it’d be apples, right?!

I plan to enjoy a piece of this patriotic cake for breakfast this morning while remembering those who lost their lives ten years ago today.  Because while I may not be able to physically pay respects to those who lost their lives on 9/11, I can honor them in memory.

apple crumb fork

New York Apple Crumb Cake

A moist, spiced crumb cake bursting with sweet apple flavor, perfect for a weekend brunch or fall dessert. Substitute all-purpose flour if you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour on hand.

Serves 9

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Crumb Topping:

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour


  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 medium apples (peeled, cored, and chopped)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a nine-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

For the crumb topping:

In a large mixing bowl, stir the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter with a fork or whisk until smooth.  Add the flour, and stir until the mixture forms a dry, crumbly dough.  Press the dough into the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

For the cake: 

In a large mixing bowl, stir the sugar, butter, eggs, and Greek yogurt until smooth.  Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; stir until mixed well.  Add the flour; stir with a whisk about 2 minutes or until the batter is very smooth.  Fold in the chopped apples.

Pour the cake batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Break the crumb topping into chunks (about 3/4 to 1-inch), and sprinkle them over the top.  Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


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