Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Apple and cinnamon. Classic combo. But wait– And coffee? As strange as it sounds, these trio of flavours do work together in a cake.

Apple Cinnamon Cake

Just kidding! A coffee cake is really just a cake you’d have with coffee. (Though technically that would mean these three flavours do mix. Hm.)

However, don’t let the naming conventions distract you from the fact that this cake tastes pretty much like a McDonald’s apple pie! Except… cakier?

You’re supposed to use buttermilk in this recipe, but I don’t normally have that in my house. Instead, you can make your own buttermilk by adding something acidic, like lemon juice or vinegar, to milk, and letting that stand for about 15 minutes. The milk should sour and thicken up slightly to form a close approximation of buttermilk. If you do happen to have buttermilk, then use that in place of the milk and lemon juice.

Recently, I’ve been watching cooking videos by Sorted. The guys do dabble in baking now and then, but what impresses me is that they spend more than half the time making cakes by hand! No mixer, just a bowl and a wooden spoon. Inspired, I whipped up this cake batter with a bowl, a spatula, and loads of elbow grease. Not that too much effort is required – this cake is pretty simple to put together.



65g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 medium-size Granny Smith apple
1 lemon (or bottled lemon juice)
1/2 cup whole milk

Coarse brown sugar and ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Makes one 8-inch cake.


Step 1: Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Grease and line an 8-inch round cake tin.

Step 2: Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to the milk. Peel, core, and cut the apple into a fine mince. (You should get about 1 cup of minced apple.) Add a little bit of lemon juice to stop the cut apple from turning brown.

Cutting apple

Step 3: Cream the butter and sugar together. (This is the only challenging part to do by hand. Do what you can, but mixing gets a lot easier once the egg goes in.) Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Creaming by hand

Step 4: Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine.


Mix in the soured milk (which should have thickened slightly by now) and the minced apple.

Step 5: Pour the batter into the tin. Sprinkle the top with coarse brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes.

Apple cake slice


To be perfectly honest, while extremely moist and applely, this cake can taste a little lacklustre. It’s really the crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping that makes this coffee cake taste so wonderful, so don’t skimp on it.

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