This applesauce coffee cake recipe relies on applesauce for added moisture and sweetness, while the streusel topping provides a crunchy texture and additional flavor.
A Short History of Applesauce and Applesauce Cakes
Applesauce has been a popular food for centuries and was originally used as a sweetener before the widespread availability of sugar. Although we think of apples as “all-American,” they are not in fact native to North America. The Massachusetts Bay Colony imported seeds and cuttings from England. John Chapman, more famously known as “Johnny Appleseed” traveled throughout Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio planting apple trees.
By the 19th century, most farms in the United States and Canada grew apples. During the 18th and 19th century apple cider was the most popular drink in America, due largely to the availability of apples, as well as the fact that the alcohol in the cider made it a safe beverage at a time when water could be contaminated with bacteria. Beer only supplanted cider at the very end of the 19th century when waves of immigrants from Germany and Central Europe brought with them a passion for beer. During the 19th century, applesauce became a popular food for infants and young children due to its high nutritional value and easy digestion.
In the early 1900s, bakers began using applesauce. The first recorded recipe for applesauce cake was published in 1902, calling for basic ingredients such as flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, and cinnamon, as well as applesauce. The cake’s popularity grew during the Great Depression due to its low cost and simple ingredients. Bakers continued to innovate, adding nuts, raisins and, eventually, a streusel topping. By the mid-20th century, applesauce coffee cake had become a popular brunch item.
If you have some past-their-prime apples rolling around in your fridge, it’s very easy to make your own homemade applesauce, by simply throwing large apple slices in an instant pot and letting them cook for 20 minutes.
Huge fan of apple desserts? So are we!
Seeking more brunch inspiration? Here are some of our favorite desserts to eat first thing in the day.
Useful Tools for Making this Applesauce Coffee Cake Recipe
Applesauce Coffee Cake Recipe
- 1 8 x 8 inch square pan
- parchment paper
- 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 egg
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
For the cinnamon sugar filling:
- 1/6 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
For the walnut streusel topping:
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 cup flour
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- Grease and line an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the cinnamon sugar filling.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, flour, chopped walnuts and cinnamon to form the crumble topping. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar.
- Add the applesauce and sour cream to the butter-sugar mixture, followed by the egg. Mix well to combine.
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and baking soda) into the wet ingredients. Combine flour mixture and wet ingredients, stirring until no streaks remain.
- Pour half the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the top of the batter. Top with the rest of the coffee cake batter, followed by the walnut crumb topping.
- Bake 50-60 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove to a wire rack and allow to fully cool before slicing into 9 squares.
- This easy coffee cake with a tender crumb keeps well wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, or stored in an airtight container.
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