Italian Apple Crumb Cake

4.9/5 - (10 votes)

Today’s recipe is an Italian Apple Crumb Cake. It may also go by the name of a crumble cake, known as Sbriciolata alle Mele, in Italian. I found my inspiration from watching several videos featuring this delightful dessert.

It’s not exactly a cake, as it boasts a crumble pastry base. This pastry is firmly pressed into the bottom of a cake pan or tart tin. Following that, a layer of apple is spread over the base before the remaining crumble mixture is added on top. As you will see, this recipe is easy to prepare. The same method is applied to create various Sbriciolata variations with different fillings. The pastry is straightforward and uses baking powder to help it rise in the oven, resulting in a tender base. The crumble on top rises as well, producing a satisfying crunch.

For this recipe, simply cooke the apples with sugar and lemon juice. However, you can incorporate a hint of ground cinnamon too, if you wish. Another variation involves omitting the lemon juice and using a touch of vanilla extract. Preparing the crumble mixture is a straightforward process, involving only flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, and salt. In my version, I included some lemon zest because I was already using the juice and didn’t want to waste the zest, which adds a subtle yet excellent flavour to the pastry.

Recipe for Italian Apple Crumb Cake

Italian Apple Crumb Cake, Sbriciolata alle mele
Italian Apple Crumb Cake -Sbriciolata alle Mele

As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is quite straightforward. First, cook the apples in sugar and lemon juice for about 5 minutes until most of the juices have evaporated. Then, allow the apples to cool. Making the pastry is just as easy. Mix the sugar, flour, salt, and zest together. Then, add the egg and room temperature butter and mix and rub them into a crumble mixture. The mixture will have some larger pieces clumped together, as well as a finer mix.

Press roughly half of the mixture into a greased and floured 9-inch/23 cm pan, covering the base and extending slightly up the sides. Cover the base with apple, spreading it evenly. Then, top the apples with the remaining crumble mixture. Press around the edge of the pan to seal the top crumble onto the bottom edge, and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.

The cake will rise during baking, taking on a lovely, light golden brown colour. The base will fully bake through, and the top will be firm to the touch. Allow the cake to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing it from the pan, or let it cool completely if you prefer. Some recipes dust the top with icing sugar, although I choose not to. Once the cake is cool, it slices beautifully and tastes fantastic. It’s delicious on its own but also pairs wonderfully with whipped cream or ice-cream.

My Cake

Italian Apple Crumb Cake, Sbriciolata alle mele
Italian Apple Crumb Cake – Sbriciolata alle mele

I must say, my cake was full of flavour. The combination of the firm yet tender pastry base, the sweet yet slightly tart apples, and the crunch of the crumble top was outstanding. I’m certain I’ll be making this, and other variations, again very soon. Indeed I think a version with chocolate hazelnut spread would be great. Another idea, incorporating a British favourite, is to use some mincemeat for a Christmas version. That is a great alternative to mince pies.

Italian Apple Crumb Cake – Video

Another Italian style recipe, that is easy to make, is Almond Cherry Biscotti

Italian Apple Crumb Cake

Recipe by geoffcooCourse: Cakes, DessertsCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Crumble/Pastry
  • 400g(2 2/3 cups, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour

  • 120g(8 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

  • 150g(3/4 cup) caster sugar

  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)

  • 16g(4 tsp) baking powder

  • 1.5g(1/4 tsp) salt

  • zest of one lemon(optional)

  • Filling
  • 400g(14 oz, about 2-3) peeled and chopped apples

  • 80g(5 tbsp+1tsp) light brown sugar

  • juice from one lemon


  • Place the lemon juice and brown sugar into a pan and stir to combine.
  • Add the apples and bring to a boil. Then cook gently until most of the liquid as evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the apples to a bowl and allow them to cool.
  • Mix the salt and baking powder into the flour.
  • Place the sugar into a large bowl, and rub the zest into it, if using.
  • Add the flour mixture and stir to combine.
  • Beat the eggs and pour them into the bowl.
  • Add the butter and mix into a crumble, ensuring that the mixture is combination of fine grains and larger clumps, with the butter rubbed in well.
  • Chill the mixture until the apples have cooled.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  • Grease and flour a 9 inch/23cm tart tin, or springform pan. You can line the base with parchment paper too, if you wish.
  • Place about half the crumble mixture into the pan and press it down over the base, creating a small rim around the edge too.
  • Add the apples and spread them evenly over the base.
  • Sprinkle the remaining crumble mix on top of the apples, and press around the edge to create a seal with the base.
  • Bake the cake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the top has begun to colour.
  • Remove from the oven and leave in the pan for at least 15 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

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