vegan apple peanut butter coffee cake


One of my favorite anytime snacks is an apple with peanut butter. The tarter the apple the better, and always with salted, crunchy peanut butter. There really is nothing better or more satisfying for between meals, post-workout, late night, you name it.

So I thought, shouldn't this affinity be translated into cake-form? (I ask this questions about a lot of golden flavor combinations.) In keeping with our mostly-vegan tradition and in attempting to mimic this summer version we had in August with peaches and cinnamon, I decided to try my hand at a vegan apple & peanut butter ... coffee cake.

Coffee cake is one of the best kind of cakes. Why? Because it's delightfully diverse in that you can have it after dinner, with coffee, of course, or in the morning, as a slightly sweet but perfectly-okay-nutritional-wise breakfast. Right? Whole wheat flour, oatmeal, apples, peanuts. It's pretty much born into balance.

Alright, I'm pushing it a little, but you try to turn down a nice crunchy corner piece of this cake at 7AM on a Monday: notttt going to happen.

For the cake layer, you'll need:

1 cup of almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups apples, peeled and diced

For the crumb topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4-5 tablespoons peanut butter (melted)

If the peanut butter you use is unsalted (why?), adding a pinch of salt to your crumb topping will really lift up the flavor of the peanuts. Which is why you should buy peanut butter with salt in the first place. But I digress.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a square 9"x9" baking dish and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together your almond milk and apple cider vinegar until it is slightly foamy. Allow to sit for 3-4 minutes, then add your sugar, coconut oil and vanilla. Whisk to combine - if it seems slightly separated, don't worry about it.

In a larger bowl, whisk together your flours, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger and salt. Combine with your wet ingredients. Quickly fold in your apples and transfer to your prepared baking dish.

To make the crumb topping, put your flour, brown sugar, walnuts, ginger and salt (if using) in a small bowl. Mix together, with a spoon or your fingers. Add your peanut butter (1-2 tablespoons at a time) and toss together with your hands. Large crumbs should start forming, but if the mixture still looks sandy or dry, continue working in your peanut butter one tablespoon at a time until you've reached the correct crumb consistency.

Sprinkle this mixture evenly on top of your batter, then transfer to the oven for about 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The topping should also look slightly browned.

So while this baked treat version of my favorite snack isn't going to replace my apple-a-day routine, it could certainly give it a run for its money. Sweet, a little salty, a hint of spice from the ginger and the crunch of the walnuts, this cake is better than good. It might even be better than the peach one.

What do you think?