How to make a perfect apple cinnamon crumble cake

This cake is so moist and buttery, it does not need icing.
This cake is so moist and buttery, it does not need icing. Photo: William Meppem

The only apple cake you'll need all autumn long is this rich, tender, buttery cake with its own sugar-dusted, cinnamon-scented crumble. Sweet.


  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 x 70g eggs
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 3 tbsp apple juice
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tbsp granulated (white) sugar

Cinnamon crumble

  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated (white) sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chilled butter, diced


  1. Heat oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional), and butter and flour a deep-sided 20cm springform cake tin.
  2. To make the cinnamon crumble, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until you have rubble the size of peas and refrigerate until needed.
  3. To make the cake, beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer for 3 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  4. Add the flour all at once and beat until just combined. Slowly add the apple juice until just incorporated, and the batter is thick and creamy.
  5. Pour half the batter into the cake tin. Peel, quarter and core one apple, finely slice and arrange in a single layer on top, overlapping slightly. Cover with remaining batter. Peel, quarter and core remaining apple, finely slice and arrange in a single layer. Scatter the cinnamon crumble over the apple, and scatter with the extra tablespoon of granulated sugar.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before gently removing the tin. Cut into slices to serve.

Serves 6

Need to know

  • The Granny Smith is the perfect apple for baking, being tart, juicy and crisp. It even has a backstory. In 1868, Maria (Granny) Smith tossed out a box of French crabapples on her patch of land near Ryde in Sydney. Up grew a seedling, a chance hybrid that she nurtured into a tree bearing strong apples with bright green skin. The Granny Smith was named in her honour, as is Granny Smith Memorial Park in Eastwood.
  • For a chunkier apple cake, chop the apples instead of slicing them. And to prevent them from going brown through exposure to air, prepare the apples when you are ready to add them to the cake.
  • Keep the crumble in the fridge or freezer until needed. This stops the butter from melting too quickly, and helps keep the crumble rubbly.
  • Bake the cake on the middle shelf of the oven. If it starts to get too brown towards the end of baking time, cover with a loose sheet of aluminium foil.
  • Sprinkling a tablespoon of granulated (white) sugar over the top just before baking adds a nice little crunch.
  • This cake does not need icing. It's so moist and buttery, it doesn't even need cream or ice-cream. But feel free to go crazy.

Each month, food writer and cook Jill Dupleix guides us through the making of a classic dish.