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Love apple streusel but hate the idea of making it at home? Totally understand you on that; no one wants to spend their precious free time making a dough that then needs to be rolled out to über thinness, then needs to be filled and rolled into an all-too-delicate pastry that will end up being devoured in minutes. Instead, we wanted to get the same streusel flavor with about half the work than the classic pastry requires. Victory.

Turning this pastry into a sheet cake-esque dessert was an excellent idea that everyone would benefit from trying. The cakey shortbread crust on the bottom is perfectly buttery, the apple filling is unfussy and delicious, and showcases the apples without making them too sweet, and the flaky crust on top is light and amazing and exactly what you want to be biting into.

While you might look at these and wonder if it’s really a sheet cake, here are our thoughts: yes, you’re making more of a dough than a batter, but once the apples go in, the bottom crust (which turns out pretty cakey already) soaks up some of the moisture from the apples, becoming even cakier, while still retaining enough crispness to support these cake bars. Then it’s just a matter of sprinkling everything with a buttery, sugary topping that rounds this dessert off and really brings it to the next level. Trust us, you won’t even remember the traditional version once you try this streusel cake!

Serves 12-16

1 hour

Rated 4.8 out of 5
Rated by 16 reviewers
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 apples, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 1/4 cups applesauce
  • 1 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Topping:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • vanilla ice cream, garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter or non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, cream together 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups) butter and 1/3 cup sugar for 2 minutes, or until fluffy.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla extract, then mix in 2 cups flour.
  4. Spread dough out into an even layer at the bottom of greased baking dish, then place in the fridge to chill.
  5. Place diced apples in a large bowl and toss them with lemon juice, zest, cinnamon and applesauce, then set them aside until you’re ready to assemble.
  6. For the topping: cream together remaining butter and brown sugar until fluffy, 2 minutes, then mix in 2 cups flour and beat until mixture is coarse and crumbly.
  7. Spread apple mixture over the dough layer in your 9x13, then use your hands to press crumb topping into slightly larger pieces to top apples with.
  8. Place baking dish in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apples are cooked through.

Recipe adapted from Plated Cravings

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