For most college students, the arrival of the fall holiday season causes mixed emotions. The changing of the leaves and brisk temperatures not only indicate that it’s the best time to bust out your sweaters, but they’re also associated with midterms, homesickness, travel, and many other stressors. Sometimes, it can feel as if the joy has been sucked out of the season we’ve looked forward to all year; however, in my experience, appreciating the little things that mark the holiday season is what reinvigorates me. What you associate with fall may differ for each person, but my go to each time the season rolls around is anything and everything apple. You may make an argument for pumpkin being the supreme fall flavor, and I am not here to squash that debate, only to share a fantastic apple coffee cake and some facts about America’s second favorite fruit
Apples have a long history on the Eurasian continent, but were first domestically cultivated in Central Asia nearly 10,000 years ago. They made their debut in North America between the 1600s and 1700s and were cultivated by European colonists. During the 19th century, before the shift to industrial agriculture, there were over 14,000 recorded, distinct varieties of apple grown throughout the United States, but today the modern apple industry relies only upon about 90 varieties for commercial distribution. The immense variety of the 19th century was due to what could only be described as a colonial obsession with apples. Like many other non indgenous crops, such as peaches, apples were familiar, easy to cultivate, and did exceptionally well in some of the climates and soils of North America; almost every farm in New England kept it’s own orchard or trees.
Although today the apple obsession has somewhat died down, apples are still one of the most popular fruits in the states and have resulted in many of America’s cultural cornerstones. From butter, to sauce, to pie, if you put an apple in it, it will probably end up tasting delicious and smelling like fall. This cake is no exception, enjoy!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into ¼ inch cubes
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into approximately ⅛ inch cubes
To make the topping, combine your flour, sugar, oats, salt, and pumpkin spice in a bowl. Add your butter and incorporate with a fork or pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350℉ and grease a 9×12 inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray. To make the batter, in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and the mixture’s color begins to lighten. Add your eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each. Next, add your vanilla and yogurt, and mix until homogeneous. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until no dry spots remain and the batter is mostly smooth. Add your chopped apples to the batter and mix until evenly distributed.
For assembly, layer half of the batter in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle over half of the streusel topping in an even layer. Carefully dollop and smooth the remaining half of the batter over the layer of streusel and top with the remaining streusel. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely, then enjoy!
Cover photo courtesy of KingArthurBaking