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Applesauce Coffee Cake

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This Applesauce Coffee Cake is made with applesauce and sour cream to keep it super-moist, and a cinnamon nut streusel adds sugar and spice in the center and the top of the cake.  This is an easy recipe for the perfect cake to enjoy with your morning coffee or an anytime snack!

RECIPE UPDATED March, 2021

Applesauce Coffee Cake

The words coffee cake make you think of breakfast – a nice slice of cinnamon-y, moist cake paired with a piping hot cup of coffee – right?  Of course, it should, but I also like to think of coffee cake as an any-time-of-day snack cake.  It satisfies the mid-afternoon cravings and the post-dinner sweet tooth.  

This recipe for Applesauce Coffee Cake is no different, and with only a couple minor modifications to a classic coffee cake recipe. 

  • Applesauce to Replace Some of the Sugar and FatThere is still sugar and butter in this coffee cake, but not as much as would traditionally be.  Applesauce is a great substitute for both.
  • Sour Cream for Moisture and Texture – Sour cream has been added to make the cake extra tender and moist.

Standard Portion Coffee Cake Recipe

Given this recipe for Applesauce Coffee Cake – along with the Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake – are one of the first recipes on the blog, they happened before I had fully embraced small batch baking.  With that, this is a standard portion cake that is baked in a 9×13-Inch baking pan. 

Now, if you are here for the small batch baking, I do have small batch coffee cake recipes on the blog:

Plate of sliced applesauce coffee cake squares

What You Need To Make Applesauce Coffee Cake

Ingredients

  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Dark Brown Sugar – For the streusel topping.
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda – We use both for texture and rise.  And since we are using sour cream, the baking soda balances the acidity and contributes to the rise.
  • Salt
  • Sour Cream – The sour cream aids in the moisture and texture of the coffee cake.
  • Eggs
  • Applesauce – I recommend unsweetened applesauce because we still add sugar to the cake, and we don’t want the result to be overly sweet.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Ground Cinnamon – A little spice for the streusel topping.
  • Pecans – The pecans are going in the streusel topping, and any nut will work.

Baking Equipment

  • 9×13-Inch Baking Pan
  • Mixing Bowls
Applesauce coffee cake squares on a platter

Tips For Making Applesauce Coffee Cake

  • Bring the refrigerated ingredients to room temperatureFor the coffee cake, mixing the batter with ingredients that are all the same temperature will make for even distribution and baking.  The exception to this is the butter in the streusel topping – I like the butter to be cold so the streusel doesn’t just melt as soon as it starts baking.
  • Use full fat sour cream – I have not tested this recipe with anything other than full fat sour cream.  The fat desired texture and moisture to the cake.
  • Unsweetened applesauce is best – Because we are adding our own sugar, we don’t want the coffee cake to be excessively sweet by using sweetened applesauce.  I recommend a simple, unsweetened and un-chunky applesauce.
  • Use a food processor to make the streusel topping – It makes it easy.  That said, you can always mix the streusel by hand.  Either using a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the butter in.  Even your fingers will work to make the streusel.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing – It is inevitable that some of the batter will stick to the sides of the mixing bowl while mixing.  Which is why it is important to stop and scrape the bowl as needed.  We want all of the ingredients to mix thoroughly!
  • Try the foil sling – Using foil makes removing the cake from the pan easy.  However, you could always line the pan with parchment paper.  As long as the sides are long enough so you can lift it out of the pan.
  • Use any nut for the streusel topping – I like pecans because they have a bit of a buttery flavor.  Though, any nut will work!
Plate of applesauce coffee cake slices

Common Questions For Making Applesauce Coffee Cake

Is the coffee cake healthier because it includes applesauce?

It is not necessarily a healthier coffee cake. The applesauce is included to replace some of the fat and sugar that the coffee cake may normally have. Plus, it also helps to make the cake moist.

Can I make the coffee cake healthier by replacing ALL of the fat and sugar with applesauce?

I don’t think the recipe will work as written to make that swap. Too much applesauce may make the cake gummy and dense. There are a lot of wonderful vegan and healthy recipes out there!

Can you taste the sour cream in the cake?

No, I don’t think you can. The sour cream adds needed fat and moisture to the cake. It also makes the cake soft and tender.

Does the cake taste like applesauce?

You may find an ever so slight hint of applesauce. The flavor is more likely to come through as a sweetener.

Why is it called coffee cake when there isn’t any coffee in it?

Because it was originally intended to be served with coffee. That said, if you are looking for a coffee cake with coffee in it, check out the Small Batch Mocha Coffee Cake recipe on the blog!

Do I have to use pecans in the streusel? Or can I use a different nut, or simply omit them?

You certainly can use any nut you like, or leave them out all together!

More Breakfast Baking Recipes

Close up of applesauce coffee cake slice
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Applesauce Coffee Cake

Yield: 12 Slices
This Applesauce Coffee Cake is made with applesauce and sour cream to keep it super-moist, and a cinnamon streusel adds sugar and spice in the center and the top of the cake.  This is an easy recipe for the perfect cake to enjoy with your morning coffee or an anytime snack!
Prep15 mins
Cook40 mins
Total55 mins

Ingredients

Streusel Topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Coffee Cake

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce - room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sour cream - room temperature
  • 2 large eggs - room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Streusel Topping

  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter cubes and 'cut' into the mixture using two forks, your fingers, or a pastry cutter. Mix until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in the pecans. Note – Chop the pecans as small as you prefer. Keep in mind, part of the streusel will be in the middle of the cake, so you may want smaller pecan pieces.
  • Option for making the streusel – You can also make the streusel in a food processor – Simply add all of the ingredients – except for the pecans – and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in the chopped pecans after everything has been mixed.

Coffee Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.  Line a 9×13-Inch baking pan with foil – long enough so it hangs over the sides of the pan. This will make getting the cake out of the pan easier. Lightly grease the foil.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, add the applesauce, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix until combined and smooth. Set aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Mix on medium high speed to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix to incorporate after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Turn the speed to low, sprinkle in half of the dry ingredients into the stand mixer. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. Then add the applesauce mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Sprinkle in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until no dry streaks remain. Do not over mix – otherwise the cake will turn out tough.
  • Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the streusel topping over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the top – carefully spreading the batter out as necessary. Then finish with sprinkling the remaining streusel mix on top.
  • Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cake feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 30 minutes. Lift the cake out of the pan using the edges of the foil, and let cool completely on the wire rack.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
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