This golden quick bread is an apple pecan cake, flavoured with brandy and topped with crumble (or streusel). This easy apple cake is perfect to bake in the fall.
This apple pecan loaf cake is very different than the classic apple bundt with caramel sauce, the apple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and the apple yogurt cake which has a crunchy sugar topping that’s super fun. What I love about this cake is that the apple flavour is intense (coming from both the apple butter and apple chunks), but so is the brandy. I hate when I bake with booze only to lose that flavour somewhere along the way. That doesn’t happen here (probably because there’s just so much of it in this recipe). And there’s a mountain of streusel on top, just like there should be on all streusel cakes especially when the Universe is being kind to you.
This apple loaf cake follows the same recipe as most other loaf cakes, whether that’s a banana bread or a pumpkin loaf cake. This cake uses the muffin mixing method, also called the two bowl method because the wet ingredients are whisked in a separate bowl than the dry ingredients, then the two are combined to make the batter. This is the simplest mixing method that you can use for a loaf cake and it works well for this recipe.
Apple butter is different than apple-flavoured butter and it’s not apple sauce. Apple butter is made by boiling down apple sauce into a sweet, dark, thick spreadable preserve that is the colour of molasses. Apple-flavoured butter is a sweet compound butter, where apple is mixed with butter. Apple butter adds a concentrated apple flavour to the cake and also some sweetness, which is why we’ve used a little less sugar in this loaf cake as compared to others. Do not try to substitute the apple butter for a compound butter, which would be adding more fat to this recipe. If you need to replace the brandy for something non-alcoholic, I’d try apple cider or apple juice. Please note that I haven’t tested the recipe with juice but I suspect it will work fine.
Like with most loaf cakes, this apple pecan cake takes a long time to bake and be sure to use a few methods to check if the cake is done baking (like the skewer test).
Apple pecan loaf cake
For the cake
- 115 grams (½ cup) Stirling Creamery unsalted butter
- 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 10 mL (2 tsp) baking powder
- 5 mL (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 100 grams (½ cups) dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 150 grams (½ cup) apple butter
- 63 mL (¼ cup) brandy
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) pure vanilla extract
- 2 Cortland apples cored, peeled, and diced fairly small
For the streusel topping
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 9x5 loaf pan by greasing and flouring it, then line the bottom with parchment.
To make the cake
- In a small saucepan, brown the butter until the milk solids turn golden brown at the bottom of the pan and you can smell a nutty aroma. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dark brown sugar with the eggs, then add in the apple butter, brandy and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir to just combine, then add the browned butter and stir to incorporate. Finally, carefully mix in the chopped apple.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside.
To make the streusel topping
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, nuts and salt.
- Drop in the butter and work it in with your palms until the mixture resembles a coarse crumble.
- Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the loaf.
- Bake the loaf for about 65 minutes, until a cake tester inserted through the centre (not through the fruit if you can avoid them!) comes out clean.
- Let the loaf cool 10 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack to cool completely before cutting.
I do my best to bake with the finest ingredients. Stirling Creamery, a Canadian company, has provided the butter for this post.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.