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Pumpkin Apple Streusel Cake

October 29, 2010

It’s that time of year again. Late October: brisk breezes, fall’s foliage finally falling, pumpkin patches, cute kids in costumes…oh wait. I almost forgot that I no longer live in New England. Here in Australia there is no such thing as foliage, no briskness whatsoever and…wait for it…no Halloween.

I pushed this small fact out of my mind yesterday, in fact, when I went to the nearby shopping center to buy fake spiderwebs (not that we need them here, the spiders tend to move in around September and make themselves veeeery comfortable), Halloween candy, and accessories necessary for one of my favorite holidays.

After visiting 63 stores – anyplace that could have possibly carried Halloween decorations -, I finally gave up. Nothing. Well, not nothing. I did find this sad excuse for festiveness:

Last year, if I remember correctly, not one trick-or-treater came knocking and I just had to eat all the candy I’d bought myself. This year I decided to buy just a handful of full-size Twix bars. That way, when no one comes, I won’t be able to console myself/ self-harm by consuming enormous quantities of the funsize kind.

waiting for the trick-or-treaters who will never come

But wait. It gets worse. I’ve had two people ask me what we crazy Americans celebrate on Halloween and, though I started going on about All Saints Day, pagan rituals, candy and toilet paper, I really didn’t know what to say. I had someone else (ahem, Francesco) ask me when Halloween was. I even had someone ask me in all seriousness what trick-or-treaters do. I still find it somewhat unbelievable that Australians, known for their love of the outrageous, the rebellious, the irreverent larrikin spirit, don’t have a taste for the ghoulish delights of October 31st.

with cream cheese glaze

They do, however, have a taste for sweets. So as spring becomes summer in the southern hemisphere and we gear up for beach season, allow me for just a moment to revert back to my roots and present you with a quintessential autumn dessert. Something all of us – witches, goblins and Australians alike – can enjoy.

I’ve been making this cake for a few years now and never get tired of it. It’s another brilliant way to use pumpkin puree and all those fall apples (see masthead), and it’s really not as complicated as it looks. The recipe comes from Bon Appétit (RIP), and I’ve just barely adjusted the measurements to make the base more moist and similar to pumpkin pie. Sometimes I add a cream cheese glaze, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I use fresh pumpkin, sometimes I used canned. Sometimes I don’t need any excuse to bake it, and sometimes a little nudge from nostalgia is all it takes.

Printable Recipe


It’s a cakey version of pumpkin pie, topped with sauteed apples and a delicious crumble. The glaze is pretty, but totally unnecessary as this cake is moist enough on its own. For the original recipe, which produces a slightly more traditional, drier cake, see Epicurious. This cake is good enough to make a Halloween-less October tolerable.


1¼ cups flour (white or whole wheat)
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (110 grams / 1 stick) butter, softened
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin purée
⅓ cup sour cream (or more pumpkin purée)
2 eggs


3 – 4 tablespoons (45-55 grams) butter
4 – 5 apples, peeled & thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C), butter and flour a 9″ springform pan.

Cook the apples while you prepare the rest of the cake: saute the apple slices in the butter, stirring often, until softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add sugar and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Meanwhile….

For the cake: In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar, salt, flour and butter until well combined. Measure out ⅔ cup of this mixture and set aside in a separate bowl (this is the streusel).

To the big bowl, add the pumpkin, sour cream, baking soda and eggs. Mix until smooth.

In the prepared pan, layer the pumpkin batter, then the apples and finally the reserved streusel. Bake for about 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Top with a cream cheese glaze if you want. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream if desired.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brenna permalink
    October 30, 2010 5:31 am

    FANTASTIC! We are sooo in the Halloween spirit today – my boss made pumpkin pie cupcakes…WHAT!? And I have switched costume ideas 7 times in the last 24 hours. It’s going to be KILLER. MUAHAHAHAHAH


  1. Pumpkin Bread « The Shortlists

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