Photo: Miriam Kresh

Applesauce crumb cake

This surprisingly sophisticated cake is moist on the inside and crunchy on top.

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It’s a quick and easy cake with a homey face. But it’s more sophisticated than it appears, being moist with applesauce, yet crunchy on top, and perfumed with lemon.

Pretty good cake for about 10 minutes of work. Hopefully autumn’s apples inspired you to make homemade applesauce. Which, of course, went into my applesauce oatmeal muffins. But, and let’s be realistic here, canned applesauce works fine.

A neighbor taught me this recipe long ago, when we were both still young mothers. I was in the middle of a domestic emergency in my Jerusalem apartment.

The washing machine had broken down, the new one was going to take a week to arrive, and I was pregnant. With an energetic little boy falling into mud puddles and wreaking general mayhem, the pile of laundry was growing, threatening to topple over and bury the house. I had no idea how to deal with it. I was overwhelmed.

My neighbor Esther came upstairs on some errand and found me in the rocking chair with a face like a rainy Sunday. She took the situation in with one glance of her lively black eyes, then offered me the use of her washer until mine arrived.

I won’t forget her kindness. It saved me. Suddenly, there was hope beyond hormones. Together, we carried the first two loads downstairs and I sat in her bright, cheerful kitchen almost in tears of gratitude.

Esther was full of ideas for good things to eat made in a hurry. She knew this recipe by heart, and I scribbled it down at her dictation as I waited for the laundry to finish spinning. It was long ago, but the cake still reminds me of Esther, every time I bake it.

Applesauce crumb cake recipe

Prep10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Yield8 people


  • 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup margarine (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 can applesauce (or 2 1/4 cups homemade)
  • 1 lemon (grated rind)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar mixed with 1 tbsp of cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
  • Combine all the ingredients except for applesauce and sugar/cinnamon mix.
  • Pat half the dough into a square, medium-sized baking pan or large pie pan lined with baking parchment.
  • Spread the applesauce over the dough.
  • Crumble the remaining half of dough over the applesauce.
  • Sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture over the top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • This is a delicate cake, best stored in the fridge if any is left over, to keep the crust firm.
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