That’s not to say I haven’t participated in the festivities as an adult. Just last year, my friend, VJ, showed up at my apartment with a panda costume. She was dressed as a unicorn. On our way to a party, we somehow got on the one car of the R train where literally nobody else was in costume. “So a panda and a unicorn get on the subway…”
Instead, I’m putting my energy toward dreaming up and making excellent “company” breakfasts, i.e. the sort of dessert-masquerading-as-breakfast that is socially accepted when you have a house full of guests in November and December. Cinnamon rolls are a common choice for such occasions, but I recommend you save those for another day and make this Apple Cider Coffee Cake instead. It’s faster, doesn’t involve fiddling with yeast, and has two layers of that crunchy crumb that everyone loves.
The base of this coffee cake is basically a souped up muffin batter. I started with my Orange Pecan Muffin recipe and then made a few changes. I swapped the oil for butter, the yogurt for sour cream, and the milk for an apple cider reduction. Oh, and I threw in some pie spices and chunks of tart apple. Flavor all over the place, y’all.
Let’s talk about that apple cider reduction. It’s an easy way to get big flavor! This is the base of flavor in this recipe, so make sure to use quality apple cider–the refrigerated stuff, not the shelf-stable variety. Pour two cups of it into a saucepan, bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat, and let it go. This will take 20-30 minutes; I recommend checking the amount every ten minutes. Once it’s at 2/3 cup, let it cool to room temperature so it doesn’t melt your butter or scramble the egg. This is a very hands-off task, but if it seems like a little too much, you can do this step a day in advance and then refrigerate the reduction until you’re ready to use it.
Enough about batter though. Coffee cake crumb topping is where it’s at! It’s crispy, crunchy cinnamon-brown sugar magic–the perfect foil for that rich , appley cake. The crumb recipe I use here is the same one from my Cranberry Crumb Pie. It comes together super quickly and easily and…well, I’m totally crazy about it.
To assemble the cake, butter a springform pan and line it with parchment. If you don’t have a springform, you may bake this cake in a deep (!) 9-inch cake pan. Dividing it into two loaf pans may work too, but I haven’t tried it. Let me know if you do!
You are going to love the combination of rich, buttery apple cider cake and the almost meltingly-soft chunks of apple, not to mention the craggy crumb 😍 I’ve made two of these this week and I know there will be many more before 2017 is over.
Apple Cider Coffee Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake
2 cups apple cider
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large tart baking apple, peeled &1/2-inch diced (I used Granny Smith)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
Pour apple cider into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes, until reduced to 2/3 cup. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Make the crumb. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in vanilla. Add butter. Use your hands (or a pastry blender) to work butter into dry ingredients until a clumpy but homogenous mixture forms. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Line with parchment. Grease parchment with butter. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in egg and sour cream; mixture may be a bit lumpy. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in apple pieces.
Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Top with half the crumb. Pour in the remaining batter and sprinkle with the last of the crumb. Place full pan on a baking sheet and bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the springform. If you’d like, invert the cake and remove the parchment before placing on a serving platter. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top. Serve.
Leftover cake will keep well at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.