Apple Crumble Cake


I have been keeping some big news from you the last few months—Chris and I are expecting! We are delighted to welcome a baby girl into to our family this January.

The announcement of this baby feels extra sweet because we were not sure this day would ever come to pass. I was born with a heart condition, which carries its own unique set of challenges. Since my teenage years, my doctors have placed a question mark over my head when it comes to the idea of carrying my own children. While I knew I wanted a family someday, the path to creating that family was always in question.

I came to terms with the uncertainty, researching adoption and surrogacy in equal measure. I was fortunate to find a wonderful husband who was open to whichever path life would eventually deal us. Yet, I still fantasized about pregnancy—how could I not? But I knew deep down it was a distant dream that may never be fulfilled.

When I was officially given the doctors’ blessing, it felt like I had been awarded a golden ticket. Happily, I can report that so far this pregnancy has been healthy, for both mother and baby. I was lucky to completely avoid many of the classic pregnancy symptoms, including morning sickness. In many ways, I have felt completely normal except for the ever expanding waistline.

As I near the third trimester, the aches, pains, and exhaustion are slowly starting to set in. Even so, these inconveniences pale in comparison to the moments when our baby shares her little kicks and movements with me. I’m trying to enjoy this time, knowing it is so brief.

I find it hard to believe that we’ll be parents in a few short months.


While this baby hasn’t brought about any food cravings, she does seem to have a preference for salty foods over sweet. Though there will always be room in my diet for cookies, I have been leaning heavily towards natural sugars the last few months, particularly enjoying the sweetness found in summer fruits.

With autumn’s arrival and apple season in full swing, I took the opportunity to create a cake to take advantage of the harvest and fall’s comfort spices. This Apple Crumble Cake is sweetened primarily with honey, which lends the cake a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor that traditional sugar alone cannot provide. Because the cake is not overly sweetened, I recommend using apples that are on the sweeter end of the spectrum, which truly allow the apple flavor to shine.

Along with a cinnamon crumble topping, the slices disappear quickly.


This Apple Crumble Cake celebrates autumn’s apple season. The cake is sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Sweet apple pieces are baked evenly throughout the cake, which provide additional sweetness and texture. After baking, I recommend cooling the cake completely before cutting and serving so the flavors have time to develop. Serve the cake plain or warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

One Year Ago: Spiced Chocolate Swirled Bread
Two Years Ago: Roasted Fig & Almond Cake
Three Years Ago: Carrot Almond Muffins
Four Years Ago: Espresso Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake & Boiled Cider
Five Years Ago: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, & Classic Apple Pie
Six Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Cake, Triple Coconut CookiesChewy Vanilla Bean Bars, & Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Seven Years Ago: Pumpkin Granola, Chocolate Cherry Bread, Pumpkin Spice Latte, & Oatmeal Raisin Crisps
Eight Years Ago: Maple Roasted Bananas, Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes, & Butternut Squash Custard

Apple Crumble Cake

Yields 10-12 servings

Apple Cake
2 1/4 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (118 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (340 grams) honey
2 large eggs
4 cups (500 grams or about 4 medium) apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

Crumble Topping
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (67 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (67 grams) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 10-cup tube pan and set aside.

For the cake, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the vegetable oil, honey, and eggs until uniform. The batter will be thick. Stir in the diced apples and set aside.

For the crumble, stir together the flour, brown sugar, spices, and butter in a medium mixing bowl until uniform and crumbly. Set aside.

In prepared pan, spread out cake batter evenly. Sprinkle the top with the crumble topping and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Apple Pandowdy


Out of all the seasons, the autumn kitchen is my personal favorite. With the warm weather a faded memory, the heat of the oven lends a new warmth. Time slows down as the sun falls lower in the sky and the shadows grow long. Weekend mornings are easily lost among the comforting spices and rich smells. The autumn kitchen carries an ease of relaxation. With the cold air settling in around us like a heavy blanket, there is nowhere to be but in our homes, as we watch the last of the leaves change and fall from the trees. 

With several pounds of apples packed away in the garage, the time was right to pull them out and put them to use. Apple desserts are one of my favorites—the sweet, bright flavor reminiscent of my Grandmother's applesauce recipe. Over the years, apples have taken many forms in my baking, including pies, muffins, and crisps. Instead of coming up with a new use this year, I took a page out of an old book and looked towards the past.


This recipe for Apple Pandowdy dates back to the 19th century, featuring apples, both sweetened and spiced, hidden beneath a flaky pastry crust. The name pandowdy comes from the idea that the pastry is "dowdied up" over the dessert, or, in modern terms, the pastry is cut into pieces instead of being left whole which makes the appearance look "shabby" or "disheveled." 

The pandowdy is a simple, no-fuss dessert. Due to its homespun nature, it is conventionally meant to be shared by loved ones rather than to impress guests. I chose to spend time in my autumn kitchen free-handing leaves with a knife, but the true spirit of the pandowdy leans heavily toward the simple. Cutting the pastry dough into squares and throwing it over top is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged!) here. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—the flavor will be the same no matter how you choose to pattern the pastry.

To me, the Apple Pandowdy combines the best aspects of both crisps and pies, with a heap of bright fruit and a thin layer of flaky pastry to make it feel special. 


The Apple Pandowdy is an old fashioned autumn dessert that is generous on flavor and texture. Thinly sliced apples are combined with warm spices and brown sugar for sweetness. Pie dough is "dowdied up" over the apples and sprinkled with raw sugar before baking to add additional texture. When golden and bubbly, the pandowdy is ready to come out of the oven. Serve warm with a drizzle of caramel or vanilla ice cream, or serve cold with fork straight from the refrigerator (which is especially delightful during breakfast).

One Year Ago: Maple Glazed Pumpkin Scones
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake 
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Molasses Bread, Vegan Caramel, & Rustic Apple Tart
Four Years Ago:  Classic Apple Pie, Butternut Squash Biscuits, & Apple Crisp
Five Years Ago: Apple Cinnamon Scones, Pear Crisp, Pumpkin Rolls, Butternut Squash Cake, & Baked Apples
Six Years Ago: Oatmeal Raisin Crisps, Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Pear Spice Cake, Pumpkin Latte Cheesecake, & Apple Cake
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes, Butternut Squash Custard, Pumpkin Bread Pudding, & Apple Almond Tart

Apple Pandowdy

Yields 8-10 servings

3 lbs (1.4 kg) apples, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon boiled cider (optional)
Single Pie Crust Recipe, chilled
Egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked)
1 tablespoons raw or demerara sugar

In a medium bowl, coat the apple slices with lemon juice to prevent browning. Add the brown sugar, flour, spices, salt and boiled cider and toss over the apples until they are evenly coated. Place into 9-inch pie pan.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the single pie dough round until 1/8-inch thick. To create a patterned top, use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, use a knife to cut dough into squares, or freehand a unique design out of the dough.  Place the dough pieces over evenly over the top of the apples.

Brush the exposed dough with egg wash and sprinkle evenly with raw sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are bubbling. If the edges begin to darken too quickly, cover the pastry with aluminum foil to prevent additional browning.

Cool the pie for at least 3 hours before slicing to allow the juices to set. Drizzle each slice with 1-2 tablespoons of warm caramel sauce before serving or serve with a side of vanilla ice cream.

*To create a vegan version of the pie, use a dairy-free margarine for the butter in the crust (I prefer Earth Balance Vegan Butter), and drizzle each slice with vegan caramel sauce.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

The past few weeks have been a haze of grading papers, tough conversations, and long walks beneath autumn streaked trees. I was at the doctor's office recently and received discouraging news, the words painting a picture of a long road ahead. I am fine right now—healthy, even—but it might not be that way forever.

We all are faced with the unknown that is our future. None of us know how much time we have left. It is something that we all grapple with, in some way or another, at some point in our lives. It is easier for us to push aside the unknown as a problem for another day. We make plans when the future is not promised: this is our paradox. There are too many variables in the future, too many unknowns, too many directions the story could go. The unpredictable nature of the future is what allows us the freedom to distance ourselves from it. 

It feels different, though, when you are given a glimpse of that future. When you know, with some semblance of certainty, what type of elements that future will hold. Instead of feeling like a source of relief, the knowledge becomes a chain. I feel shackled to a fate I did not imagine for myself, but now carries my name. The chain is still new to me, which is why it weighs so heavily on my mind right now. I know the significance will fade over time, as all things do. Soon this knowledge will be absorbed into the narrative of my life; it will become just another part of me. 

At the moment, I am in the middle of the adjustment period, coming to terms with what has changed and what has not. My day-to-day life is identical, but I now see the world with a new pair of eyes. I have had the tough conversations—with myself, with the man I have been dating for six years. I have confronted the idea of the family I imagined for myself through this altered lens. I don't have all the answers to the difficult questions life has posed. I am not sure the questions even have answers. 

I have spent some time in the kitchen lately, using baking as an outlet for equal parts thought and distraction. With my attention elsewhere, the cakes and cookies emerge from the oven inedible. The recipes are scattered, as I skip over important steps and fumble over ingredient amounts. Fortunately, it is the methodical, scripted process that I need right now—the swift leveling of a cup of flour, the tension of stirring a thick batter with a wooden spoon—and not the finished product. 

I wondered whether I should share this here, whether I should keep my thoughts and feelings to myself and tell you a happy story about walking beneath autumn streaked trees instead of the reality of the tough conversations. But then I reminded myself these two stories are intertwined: a cause and effect, a circular chain of events that has evolved from the last few weeks. Writing is a source of therapy, the release of feeling into words, a way to share the joy and pain of our lives.

A few days ago, I pulled a pan of these sweet, cinnamon-scented muffins from the oven. When I took my first bite, I was surprised to find I had created something truly delightful. After weeks of tossing pan after pan into the bin, it felt wonderful—a tremendous relief—that something had come out of the oven right. I would like to believe these muffins represent more than the sum of their parts, that in some way they speak for a positive change in me. 

May these muffins represent only joy for you, dear friends. Enjoy.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins are a simple breakfast staple scented with warm spices. Diced apples are sautéed in butter and sugar until softened. The apples are folded into a spiced batter, topped with a thin apple slice, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar before baking. The exposed apple slice turns chewy, like a dried apple, which contrasts nicely against the tender crumb of the muffin. Serve for breakfast or an afternoon snack alongside a hot cup of coffee or tea.  

One Year Ago: Carrot Almond Muffins, Pear Almond Tart, & Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake
Two Years Ago: Boiled Cider, Pumpkin Molasses Bread, Vegan Caramel, & Rustic Apple Tart
Three Years Ago: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, & Classic Apple Pie
Four Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Bread, Triple Coconut Cookies, Pumpkin Waffles, Apple Cinnamon Scones, & Pear Crisp
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Granola, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Red Wine Chocolate Cake, & Apple Cinnamon Cake
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes, Butternut Squash Custard, Pumpkin Bread Pudding, & Apple Almond Tart

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Yields 6 large or 12 standard sized muffin

Apple Muffins
1/4 cup (50 grams) melted butter, divided
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons boiled cider, optional
2 medium apples (170 grams), peeled and diced
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (177 ml) milk

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Thinly cut apple slices, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a frying pan, combine 1 tablespoon butter, granulated sugar, boiled cider, and diced apples. Sautée over medium heat until apples have softened, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.

For the apple muffins, stir the remaining melted butter and brown sugar until uniform in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients (cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, all-purpose flour) alternatively with the milk and stir until smooth. Stir in the sautéed apples. Set aside.

For the cinnamon sugar topping, stir together the sugar and cinnamon  in a small bowl. Set aside.

Divide batter evenly between liners, filling each approximately 3/4 full of batter. Top each with a thinly cut apple slice. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar topping. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.