Apple-Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

It’s another Free Choice week with Rose’s Heavenly Cake bakers. Jay stayed home from work sick on Friday, and still wasn’t feeling like himself on Saturday, so I let him pick the cake for the week. I gave him a few choices from the list of cakes I have left to bake. Heavenly Coconut Seduction, Red Velvet, Apple Cinnamon Crumb Coffee cake and Sicilian Pistachio cake were all on the list. He stopped me at the Coffee Cake and said “That’s it. Don’t bother going any further.”

I have to admit, I didn’t much feel like baking by the time I got around to baking time. The phone rang Saturday morning, and it was Mom, who said “Have you heard the news?” Her tone made my heart sink, because my first thought jumped to my dearly loved grandfather. When she followed up with what had happened, I felt guilty to feel relieved. My dad’s 54 year old cousin had passed away Friday night. As much as it’s a blessing for him to have passed relatively quickly and peacefully, I’m sure the loss is still a shock to his family. He was diagnosed with brain cancer this past fall, and it had started to spread before any headway could be gained on it. After I processed the news, I realized the best thing to do would be to get into the kitchen and bake something — in part, because it’s a good way to keep myself occupied, but also because baking is something that cousin Glen picked up in earnest after his diagnosis. He would post about all of his creations on Facebook in the wee hours of the morning. Apple Oatmeal maple muffins at 4:30 am. Decisions on whether to sleep or make his daughter’s favourite Orange muffins at 2:30 am. Sourdough bread at 5:30 am. Blueberry pie from Joy of Cooking at 2 am. Suffice it to say I was thinking about Glen while I was baking this cake.

This is a fairly straightforward sour cream cake. You start by making a crumble, mixing together sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. Reserve 1/2 a cup of that for the filling, then mix melted butter, flour and vanilla into the rest. Refrigerate this mixture to make it easier to ‘crumble’.

Mise en Place?
Whoops, missed the apples!

Mix up the batter, using Rose’s butter cake method — dry ingredients + sugar mixed together, butter and some sour cream added, then the rest of the sour cream, the eggs, and the vanilla. Put 2/3 of the batter in the pan, sprinkle on the 1/2 cup of reserved crumble ingredients, add the apple slices, then the rest of the thick batter.

Assembly

Smooth the top, and stick it in the oven.

Ready for the oven

About midway through the baking process, sprinkle the rest of the crumble mixture on top. I had a hard time getting this up to the temperature noted in the recipe, and ended up finally pulling it at about 204 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of waiting to hit 208. It didn’t seem like it was ever going to make it up to 208. I think my total baking time was probably something like 70 minutes, which is about 5 over the upper end of the recommendation.

Regardless, this cake was delicious.

Ready to be enjoyed

I really liked the way the walnut pieces in the filling layer were a bit bigger than the ones in the crumble, because they were removed before the additional processing with the butter. They add a really nice crunch, and I don’t even like walnuts. Well, ok, I guess if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t like walnuts as a kid. I’ve come to appreciate them in adulthood. As Jay said when he first tried a piece, “I bet this is really good. I like the nuts.” He followed it up today with “This is really good, now that I can taste it.”

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