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Great-Great-Grandma’s Dutch Apple Cake

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This dutch apple cake recipe has been in my family for generations.  It is a simple cake topped with apples and plenty of golden streusel topping.  It is great as a coffee cake at breakfast, for an afternoon treat or as a simple dessert.  You can take it straight from my great-great grandma’s recipe box and put it into yours!

Slice of streusel topped apple coffee cake ready to eat.

This vintage Dutch apple cake features a simple cake base, fresh apples and plenty of buttery golden crumble topping.  It is easy to whip up and is perfect served any time of the day. 

It is a wonderful simple treat for your family or perfect for impressing guests.  It is no wonder it has been a favorite in our family for so many generations!

This recipe is straight from the recipe box of my dad’s father’s mother’s mother.  My family usually serves it as a breakfast cake, like an apple coffee cake.

Slice of dutch apple cake with fresh apple slices and streusel on top, ready to eat.

It would also be a great afternoon tea time treat.  My grandparents used to make a bunch of these up in the fall when they had a lot of apples and freeze them for the rest of the year. 

What a great way to use the harvest and have that autumn taste all year long! Plus having these apple crumb cakes in the freezer means you can have a special breakfast with almost no effort later.

Old Fashioned Apple Crumb Cake Recipe

The original instructions that came with the recipe left a few holes.  Here they are in their entirety:

  • Put dough in pan, then press apples into the dough.  
  • Rub sugar, flour and butter into crumbs and sprinkle on top of dough and apples.  
  • Bake slowly in a moderate oven.

I have to admit, I almost broke out the old stand mixer. I rely on that thing pretty heavily and pull it out of the pantry whenever I get the chance.

But, that seemed untrue to the recipe.  My guess is that my great-great-grandma didn’t have a nice stand mixer.

So, I went after it with nothing but a bowl and spatula.  It was kind of fun.

I baked the cake in a 9″ cast iron skillet because I thought it seemed right.  However, you don’t have to bake it in a skillet.

This recipe would work in an 8 or 9-inch cake pan or a square baking dish. You could even bake it in a deep dish pie plate if that is what you have handy.

cast iron skillet full of dutch apple cake with buttery topping with one slice missing.

Serving Your Old Fashioned Dutch Apple Cake

This yummy cake is an excellent coffee cake.  The cake itself has a moist, slightly dense crumb like you’d expect from a breakfast cake.

It’s almost like a shortcake cake with thick batter and good rise.  The sliced apples retain just  bit of crunch and the buttery crumb topping adds a little crunch as well.

Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a dessert treat. If you warm it up a bit and let the ice cream melt into it, the combination is extra delicious.

The contrast in texture and light flavor will have you clamoring for another slice. Plus it is fun to serve something to my little guy that his 3xgreat-grandma made.  That is a lot of greats!

Update:  I originally shared this recipe very early in 2015.  In fact it was during the first month of collecting and sharing recipes.

I shared it and that quickly inspired my mom, grandma and a cousin to all bake dutch apple cakes that weekend.  It was a lot of fun!

I thought it was time to come back and refresh the post a little bit with a video and printable recipe card. I hope you enjoy it!

Possible Adaptations to the Original Recipe:

Not surprisingly, I suppose, the original recipe did not call for vanilla extract.  I like to add a little because it feels so strange to bake without it.  It is delicious either way. 

Over the past few years we have tried this base recipe with a number of different fruits.  One of our favorites is the peach breakfast cake, it is great with blueberries as well!

looking across a slice of old fashioned dutch apple cake showing shortcake like cake texture and golden buttery streusel on top.

There is something really nice about the simplicity of this recipe.  However, I think it would also be great with a half teaspoon (or a bit more!) of cinnamon mixed into the streusel topping.

If you are adding cinnamon, why not a little brown sugar too? Substitute half of the sugar in the topping with brown sugar for a warmer flavor profile. 

Storing Your Cake:

As with most cakes, this is best when it is fresh.  It can be stored loosely covered on the counter for a few days.  We like to warm up the leftover slices in the microwave a bit to ensure they are soft and delicious.

As I mentioned above, my grandparents used to bake up a bunch of these during the fall and freeze them.  Just wrap them well to keep air and freezer smells out and then freeze them to up to several months.

You could also freeze individual slices.  Just wrap them tightly and freeze them for up to several months.  

Lifting first slice of dutch apple coffee cake out of pan showing shortbread like texture of cake, fresh apple slices and buttery crumb topping.

Why is it called a Dutch apple cake?

I believe it is the buttery crumb topping that makes this a Dutch apple cake. It is similar to the topping on a Dutch apple pie.

More Vintage Recipes That Have Been in my Family for Generations: 

Great grandmas on both sides of my family were known for making wonderful scalloped corn. Their recipes were slightly different, but the results were both delicious.  This simple but tasty side dish still makes an appearance on our table every so often and my grandpa often requests it. 

Frozen fruit salad is still a holiday staple with my dad’s family.  It is a creamy, cool change of pace to a big holiday meal.  It is a perfect make ahead recipe that is our little way of keeping great grandma a part of the party. 

Great grandma was also known for having a jello salad on the table, I suppose that may be a sign of the times! This green jello salad was a favorite and Little Dude has taken a liking to it and not requests it.

My great grandma on my mom’s side made a fabulous apple crisp with no added sugar.  The recipe is simple but absolutely delicious.  Of course we love ours with a little vanilla ice cream, but it is fabulous on its own too. 

My mom’s other grandma was famous for her homemade apple pie. She made a lard pie crust for the pie and the combination brings back all of the feelings for my mom (and for good reason!)

Did you make this great recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

Slice of streusel topped apple coffee cake ready to eat.

Dutch Apple Cake

Servings: 12 Servings
Author: Carlee
This cake recipe has been in my family for generations. It is a simple cake topped with apples and plenty of golden topping. It is great as a coffee cake at breakfast, for an afternoon treat or as a simple dessert. You can take it straight from my great-great grandma’s recipe box and put it into yours!
4.96 from 41 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour



  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 apples cored and thinly sliced or diced*


  • ¾ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Makes: 8inch round


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch cake pan or cast iron skillet
  • In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar.
    ¼ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • Add the egg, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
    1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
  • Pour in milk and combine.
    ¾ cup milk
  • Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients until incorporated.
    2 cups all purpose flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Spread into prepared pan.
  • Arrange apple slices over the cake batter. Gently push apple slices into batter.
    2 to 3 apples
  • Mix sugar, flour and butter in small bowl until it is coarse and crumbly.
    ¾ cup granulated white sugar, 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Spread over top of apples.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes back mostly clean. 
  • Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. The cake is great served warm or at room temperature.


*Grandma’s recipe says 6 apples, but I think she was using smaller homegrown apples. Use enough to cover the top of your batter.
Vanilla was not in the original recipe, but I like to add some. It is good either way.
Feel free to add a little bit of cinnamon and/or nutmeg if you want some spice in your cake. Adding it to the crumb topping would be delicious.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 251kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 238mgFiber: 2gSugar: 26g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Wednesday 4th of September 2019

I'm impressed that you didn't break out your mixer. I know that I would have. I love this old fashioned apple cake. One of my favorite things when cooking, is making a family treasured recipe. I love that I have the blog so my children have these old fashioned family recipes. Thank you for sharing this recipe and congratulations on updating it, especially the video!


Monday 9th of September 2019

I wouldn't blame you if you did use the mixer, but it was kind of fun not to!

Andrea Nine

Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

I am a sucker for any kind of apple cake! The apples make it so moist and decadent. Hope you have a fabulous day my friend!


Monday 9th of September 2019

Me too and this one is particularly special to me!


Friday 27th of January 2017

Only me again. Just made this and half of it's gone already. My daughter says it's the nicest cake she's had in a long time (thanks, daughter of mine!). I did add a grating of nutmeg to the topping, only because I like nutmeg and apple.

The cake was superb, nice and homely. Can't wait to try the peach one sometime!



Saturday 28th of January 2017

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY! I am so happy that you all enjoyed it! This is definitely a highlight of my day!! Have a super weekend, Debbie!


Friday 27th of January 2017

Hi Carlee, just as I thought. Your Great-Great Grandma was also a whiz in the kitchen. I will be trying this recipe for sure.



Saturday 28th of January 2017

Thank you, Debbie!


Saturday 17th of September 2016

Thank you for the lovely photos and notes, including those about the history of the recipe!! I have a couple trees and have been looking for new options!! Have you ever tried adding cinnamon or nutmeg, etc as variances? Tamara


Saturday 17th of September 2016

Thank you, Tamara! I am really envious of your apple trees. I have tried it with a bit of spice before and it is delicious, but wanted to post it true to how my family makes it.