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Brown Butter Apple Coffee Cake

Incredible brown butter apple coffee cake with a delicious streusel center and topping. This apple coffee cake recipe is perfectly moist, filled with warming spices, and has hints of caramel-like flavor thanks to the brown butter. Drizzle with the homemade cinnamon glaze for the ultimate treat that's great for the holidays!

Course Brunch, Cake, Dessert, Nut Free
Cuisine American
Keyword apple coffee cake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Author Monique Volz of AmbitiousKitchen.com


  • For the topping & streusel:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup salted butter, melted
  • Wet ingredients:
  • cup salted butter* (unsalted is fine too!)
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Dry ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (or sub gf all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Mix-ins:
  • 1 medium honeycrisp apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped into ¼ inch pieces (about 1 cup chopped apple)
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk of choice, to thin glaze to your liking


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. First make your streusel: in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add in the melted butter and stir together with a fork until it begins to form into crumbles and resembles clumps of wet sand. You may need to use your hands/fingers to form into nice thick ‘crumbs’. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.
  3. Make your brown butter: add ⅓ cup butter to a large saucepan or skillet and place over medium heat. The butter will begin to melt, crackle, and then eventually foam. Make sure you stir constantly during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan, this usually happens right when it foams. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients until well combined: applesauce, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cooled brown butter.
  5. In a separate medium bowl: whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in the chopped apples.
  6. Pour HALF of the batter into the prepared pan; sprinkle with HALF of the streusel mixture. Then top with half of the remaining batter and top with remaining streusel mixture.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached. Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes before glazing.
  8. To make the glaze: In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and milk. Start with a little bit of milk to thin the glaze, knowing you can always add more to thin if necessary. Drizzle the glaze back and forth over the cake. It does make a good amount of glaze, so you can always cut it in half or omit it from the recipe (but I highly recommend the drizzle!). Cut into 12 slices. Store covered at room temp for 1-2 days, then transfer to the fridge for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

To make dairy free: I recommend using vegan butter in this recipe instead of dairy butter. Do not brown the vegan butter, just use it in the recipe as is (just melted).

To make gluten free: I suggest a 1:1 gluten free all purpose flour.

If you want to jazz this cake up and get a little ambitious: add in ½ cup of butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips to the batter.

See the full post for tips on making it ahead of time and freezing it for later!