These apple crumble cupcakes are made with light, moist sponge filled with gently spiced, stewed apples, and topped with incredibly smooth custard cream icing and golden, buttery crumble mixture. Say hello to your new favourite treat for autumn!
This delicious recipe with a modern twist takes a little bit more time to come together, but most of it can be made ahead of time, resulting in completely irresistible treat, that tastes just like the traditional crumble and custard!
September marks the official start of Autumn, and that means it's time for cozy baking and all things apple!
These apple cupcakes are a modern twist on the British classic- apple crumble. They're inspired by my Spiced Apple and Blackberry Cupcakes, and will make a great treat for any apple fans out there.
I urge you not to get discouraged by the slightly longer recipe and preparation process. These few extra steps of making additional components of this recipe are TOTALY WORTH IT, once they all come together!
This recipe will make 12-14 cupcakes, depending on the size of your baking tin. The ingredients for these delicious apple crumble cupcakes can be split into 4 different sets:
- Custard cream icing: This delicious custard cream frosting is made from icing sugar, double/ heavy cream, custard powder (I used Bird's) and vanilla extract.
- The filling: To make the filling you will need 3 large apples (I like using Granny Smith, because they have sharper and more tart flavour and they remain firm when baked, but you can use any variety), unsalted butter, soft light brown sugar and ground cinnamon.
- Sponge: For the cake sponge you will need softened butter, caster or granulated sugar, plain flour, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
- Crumble topping: You'll need flour, oats (I used rolled oats, but any type of oats will work), ground cinnamon, chilled butter (cut into small cubes) and soft light brown sugar.
As mentioned above, this recipe is much easier if you manage it in stages. Start with making the custard cream icing first. It needs time to chill in the fridge, so I recommend allowing 5-6 hours for that, or an overnight chill.
Please see the section below for the full instructions on how to make it.
To prepare the apple filling, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add chopped apples, sugar and cinnamon and stir it all together, making sure the apple pieces are covered in the mixture.
Cover the saucepan with the lid and stew the apples gently for 5-8 minutes or until they are soft and cooked, but not mushy. Set them aside to cool.
Now you can start preparing the cupcakes. Use an electric mixer to make the sponge batter by combining butter and dry ingredients first. Follow up by adding wet ingredients in two stages, until you have smooth batter.
Once you have smooth, thick batter, divide it between the muffin/ cupcake cases.
Hint: Make sure not to overfill your cupcake cases. You want to fill max of two-thirds of each case with batter.
It is now time to add the stewed apples. Using a teaspoon, put about 2 teaspoon of the apple mixture into each case (it will sink into the batter during baking). Bake the cupcakes, then allow them to cool completely, before you add the custard cream icing on top.
Lastly, prepare the crumble mixture by combining flour, oats and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the chilled butter and rub it in, using your fingertips, until the ingredients come together and resemble crumb-like texture.
Place this crumble mixture on the baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Hint: Freeze any leftover crumble topping to use in another recipe, like my Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins.
Custard cream icing
To make this silky-smooth, delicious custard cream icing, start with sifting the icing sugar with custard powder into a large bowl, add vanilla extract and 5 tablespoon of cream.
Whisk them together until smooth, thick paste forms. Make sure there are no lumps in the mixture. Gradually pour the hot cream over this custard mixture and whisk it all together.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook it for 5-6 minutes, stirring at all times. It should become smooth and thick towards the end. Pour it into the bowl and cover it directly with clingfilm, to stop the skin forming on top. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
Hint: If you are chilling it overnight, then allow it to sit at room temperature next day, before using it. 15-20 minutes should be enough to soften it up, however, if the icing feels really stiff, add 1 tablespoon of milk to loosen it up.
When ready to use, whip the chilled icing until soft peaks, only a minute or so, then transfer it into piping bag fitted with a large nozzle. It should have the consistency of whipped cream.
Hint: Do not over-beat the icing! Once chilled, you only need to whip it gently to loosen it up. If you whip it too much or for too long, it will split and become grainy. Using a kitchen whisk, instead of electric mixer will give you more control when beating it.
Now that all of the components of this recipe are ready, it is time to assemble the cupcakes!
Simply pipe the custard cream icing on top of each cupcake, and top generously with crumble mixture.
Alternatively, instead of piping the icing on top, you can just top each cake with some of the custard icing and use a small palette knife or a spoon to spread it.
This recipe is really easy, but it requires a bit of ahead planning. You can start making it a day or two before, which will make the rest of the process much quicker.
The icing/ frosting needs to be made at least 5 hours before you are planning on serving the cupcakes. But you can also make it up to 2 days ahead, and just store in the fridge until you need it.
Same goes for the crumble topping. You can prepare it up to two days ahead, and just store it in the fridge, in the airtight container. It can also be frozen for up to three months.
Cakes can also be baked ahead of time. If you want, you can bake them 1-2 days earlier, and store them in the airtight container or wrapped in clingfilm, until ready to assemble.
The apple filling is best prepared on the same day.
Here are few ideas on how you can change this recipe a bit:
Different icing - Although I highly recommend sticking with the custard icing, you can swap it for my chai frosting from this Pumpkin and Chai Cupcakes recipe, or this cinnamon buttercream recipe from Pies and Tacos.
Salted caramel sauce - you can drizzle some salted caramel sauce on top of the cupcakes. See my Apple Pie recipe for homemade caramel sauce.
Apples - use any variety you like. I opted for Granny Smith apples because they have sweet, yet sharp taste and stay firm, even after they're baked.
Make mini cupcakes - you could use mini cupcake cases (fairy cakes) and turn them into the mini version of this recipe.
There are few different pieces of baking equipment necessary for this recipe. Here's what you will need:
- 12-hole muffin/ cupcake tin - They can vary in size, but most common ones are around 75ml - 100ml in capacity of each cup (the one I used for this recipe was 75ml capacity per cup).
- Cupcake cases
- Hand-held electric mixer or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Piping bag and large piping nozzle (I used large open star nozzle). Alternatively, use zip-lock style bag and just snip the end from one corner to pipe the icing. Or just top the cupcakes with the frosting using a spoon or palette knife.
- Baking tray lined with baking paper
Apple crumble cupcakes taste best on the day they're made. Any leftovers can be stored in the airtight container in the fridge for 1- 2 days, but be aware that the icing will become harder and will dry out.
The cakes can also be frozen on their own, without the icing, for up to 3 months. To freeze, wrap them tightly with clingfilm and place in the freezer-friendly container.
The icing can also be frozen in a sealed tub or piping bag. Thaw it in the fridge overnight.
You will more likely have some leftovers of the crumble topping. This can also be frozen in a zip-lock style bag for up to 3 months.
Start this recipe a day ahead to make it easier for yourself. It will be much quicker to assemble the cakes on the day, when you have your icing and crumble topping ready.
Use an ice cream scoop or a cookie dough scoop to equally measure and divide the batter between cupcake cases. This will ensure the uniform look.
If any of the batter and cooked apples are left over, use them to fill up to two or three more paper cases in the second muffin tin.
If you tried these Apple Crumble Cupcakes, or any other of my recipes, feel free to leave me a comment and a rating below. I love hearing from you!
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Apple Crumble Cupcakes
- 12-hole cupcake/ muffin tin
- cupcake cases
- hand-held electric mixer or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment
- mixing bowls
- kitchen whisk (optional)
- medium saucepan
- baking tray lined with baking paper
- piping bag with large nozzle (optional)
For the custard cream icing:
- 100 g icing sugar
- 3 tablespoon custard powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 600 ml double cream
For the filling:
- 3 large apples (I used Granny Smith) peeled, cored and chopped into 1 cm pieces
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 50 g soft light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the sponge:
- 80 g unsalted butter softened
- 280 g caster sugar
- 240 g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 240 ml milk whole or semi-skimmed
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crumble topping:
- 55 g plain flour
- 55 g rolled oats
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 55 g unsalted butter chilled and cubed
- 40 g soft light brown sugar
- I highly recommend starting this recipe a day ahead. Preparing the icing and the crumble topping a day before you are planning to serve these cupcakes will make it much easier and much quicker on the day.
To make custard cream icing:
- The custard cream icing will need to chill in the fridge for at least 5-6 hours, so make it ahead of time or the day before you want to serve the cupcakes. Start by sifting the icing sugar and custard powder into a large bowl. Add the vanilla extract and 5 tablespoon of the cream and whisk until you have smooth, thick paste.
- Pour the remaining cream into a medium saucepan and heat it gently. You want the cream to be hot, but not boiling. It is ready when the small bubbles start appearing around the edges of the saucepan. Gradually, start pouring the hot cream into the custard mix, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring it all the time, until it becomes thick, smooth and the custard powder dissolved completely. Transfer it to the bowl, cover the top with clingfilm (make sure the clingfilm rests directly on the mixture to avoid the skin forming on top), and place in the fridge for 5-6 hours, or overnight.
- Remove the icing from the fridge. Whisk it gently with kitchen whisk (or using hand-held electric mixer, but make sure NOT to over-mix it!), only for a minute or so. It should have the consistency of whipped cream. If it feels a bit too stiff, add 1 tablespoon of milk to loosen it up.
To make crumple topping:
- Heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Place the flour, oats and the cinnamon in a large bowl. Add chilled cubes of butter and rub it in, using your fingertips, until all of the ingredients have come together and have crumb-like texture. Spread on the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
To make apple filling:
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over a low heat. Add the apples, sugar and cinnamon and mix well to combine. Cover with lid and cook gently for 5-8 minutes, stewing the apples until they are soft and cooked, but not mushy. Set aside.
To make cakes:
- Using an electric hand-held mixer (or freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment), beat the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until the ingredients are combined and they resemble the texture of fine breadcrumbs.
- In a small jug, mix the eggs, milk and vanilla. Add ⅔ of this mixture into dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. Scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl, add the remaining egg and milk mixture and fold together until you have smooth batter.
- Divide the batter between cupcake cases, filling each case up to two-thirds full. Place two teaspoons of stewed apples on top of each cupcake (they will sink into the batter during baking), and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the sponges feel springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave them to cool for few minutes, then remove from the tin and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
- Transfer the custard icing into a piping bag fitted with large nozzle and pipe on top of each cake. Sprinkle each cupcake generously with crumble topping before serving. Enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Make ahead: You can prepare this recipe in stages, a day in advance. The custard cream icing will need at least 5-6 hours in the fridge to chill properly. The crumble topping can be made in advance, and so can the cakes.
- When whisking the chilled custard icing, do so only for a minute. Do not over-beat the icing, as it will split and become grainy.
- Storage: Store any leftover cupcakes in the fridge, in an airtight container for 1-2 days max. The icing will harden and the crumble topping will become softer with time.
- Freezing: You can freeze the icing, the crumble topping and the cakes, for up to 3 months. Icing can be frozen in the sealed tub or piping bag. Thaw it overnight in the fridge. Crumble topping can be transferred to zip-lock style bag or freezer-friendly container. Cakes should be individually wrapped in clingfilm and placed in freezer-friendly container, before placing in the freezer. Thaw the frozen cakes overnight in the fridge.