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Cuca de Maçã com Doce de Leite (Apple Crumb Cake with Dulce de Leche)

Mmmm!!!!  The intoxicating aroma of something good baking in the oven is getting me all anxious… I am as excited as a kid!!!! 🙂  Oh, didn’t I tell you that we are baking Cuca de Maçã or Apfel Streuselkuchen?  Huh? Well, this wonderful German creation can be translated as apple crumb cake

Our apple crumb cake or cuca de maçã, as it is known in Portuguese, was brought to Brazil in the 19th century– more specifically, to Southern Brazil.  This is where the bulk of German immigration was concentrated, profoundly influencing Southern Brazil’s architecture and cuisine. The German influx also gave us Gisele Bündchen, a Brazilian-German descendant  well known to the rest of the world! 😉  Well, returning to cuca de maçã or apple crumb cake, this traditional coffee cake is made of a either a yeast dough or a shortening-based dough (ours) which is covered or filled with apples and topped with a sweet crumb topping (streusel).  Many variants of apple crumb cake or cuca de maçã can be found in Brazil that differ both in regards to the recipe for the dough, and whether or not apples are incorporated as a filling or as a topping (ours).

Our cuca de maçã is great when served plain for breakfast, or drizzled with caramel sauce or a homemade dulce de leche sauce as an afternoon treat.  Traditionally, no caramel or dulce de leche sauce is applied to cuca de maçã— but since this is a very mild-flavored cake and I have a big sweet tooth, that is the way that I serve mine.

I am making apple crumb cake (cuca de maçã) to celebrate the upcoming season, Fall, my absolutely favorite!  If you would like to try other apple goodies as well, I’d like to recommend to you these two fabulous treats:  Caramel Apple-Brownie Cheesecake and Caramel Apple Streusel Cake.  And no, this last cake is not the same as our cuca de maçã/apple crumb cake!

Now if you will please excuse me, I have some serious eats to get busy on, accompanied by a good cup of coffee.  See ya!


Apple Crumb Cake

(Cuca de Maçã)

Yield: About 9 squares

Segment: Brazilian Cuisine


Apple Crumb Cake (Cuca de Maçã) -- A 'sweep me off my feet' coffee cake!


Cake Batter:

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
A dash of salt
1 tablespoon shortening, melted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
About 3 medium baking tart apples (e.g. Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8 slices

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Garnish (optional):

1/4 – 1/3 cup store-bought caramel sauce or homemade dulce de leche sauce


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (about 177° C).  Grease bottom and side of a 8 x 8-inch baking pan.  Set aside.

2. First, make the streusel topping. Combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; cut in butter with a fork until obtaining fine crumbs.  Add heavy cream and vanilla, mixing well with a fork until crumbs form (the cream will add moisture to the streusel). Set aside at room temperature so that the vanilla will infuse the streusel with flavor.

3. In a medium bowl, combine together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Pour in and then mix both the melted shortening and butter with a fork until obtaining fine crumbs.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, cream, and vanilla. Add to crumb mixture, tossing gently with a fork or by hand until mixture forms a ball.  Press dough in an even layer into the prepared baking pan.  Arrange apple slices on top of crust and then sprinkle the reserved streusel evenly over apple slices.

5. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on a rack and slice into squares. Serve apple crumb cake or cuca de maçã plain (the traditional manner), or warm and drizzled with either caramel sauce or dulce de leche sauce and accompanied by a scoop of ice cream if desired (my favorite way).

Apple Crumb Cake (Cuca de Maçã) -- A 'sweep me off my feet' coffee cake!


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54 Responses to Cuca de Maçã com Doce de Leite (Apple Crumb Cake with Dulce de Leche)

  1. sallybr September 13, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Nossa, que maravilha de bolo! Perfeito para abrir o outono!


    • Denise Browning September 13, 2013 at 9:23 am #

      Obg, Sally! Pois é…Algo para celebrar minha estação favorita!

  2. Ash-foodfashionparty September 13, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    I can’t wait for the festive season too. The colors, the weather, the festivities and of course all the wonderful dessert like yours. This looks really good Denise.

  3. Shashi @ September 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Oh my! This cake looks so so good! Thank you for the history lesson and sharing this recipe – I had no idea apple crumb cake orginated in Portugal.
    Hope you have a great weekend

    • Denise Browning September 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Shashi! This cake originated in Germany and it was brought to Brazil by German immigrants.

  4. Deb September 14, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    The final swirl of caramel is just genius! What a scrumptious Apple Cake just in time to welcome fall!

    • Denise Browning September 14, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Thanks, Deb! I had to welcome the upcoming season in style… 🙂

  5. cquek September 14, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    Please can i have it on my plate.

  6. A Taste of Brazil September 14, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    Looks delicious. It brings the smells of fall all the way to Brazil.

  7. Mi Vida en un Dulce September 14, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    Wow Denise, looks very delicious, I can smell the apples being cooked in the oven…!!!

  8. The Café Sucre Farine September 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Hi Denise, I grew up in Wisconsin in a very German-American community. My mom didn’t speak English till she went to grammar school. I grew up on wonderful kuchens and streusels. This looks wonderful and very authentic! 🙂

    • Denise Browning September 15, 2013 at 12:55 am #

      Thanks, Chris! I did not know this detail about your Mom…Well, this cake was brought to Brazil by Germans and more than one century later, we still enjoy it!

  9. Kiran @ September 15, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    I can’t seem to let go summer just yet, but I get the enthusiasm for fall baking. Can’t wait to jump into the bandwagon soon!

    This is so delish, Denise. I love the decadent toppings!!

  10. Raymund September 15, 2013 at 3:02 am #

    Ohh my look at that dripping caramel, it makes that crumb cake even more delicious.

  11. Coffee and Crumpets September 15, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    We’ll be totally ready for the autumn season with delicious cakes like this! Love the crumb topping!


  12. [email protected] September 15, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Such a nice cake! Apples are just starting to arrive in the grocery in quantity – one of my favorite times of the year! Good stuff – thanks.

    • Denise Browning September 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Thanks, John! I am looking forward to making many apple baked goodies.

  13. Julia | September 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Denise, this cake looks amazing! I’ve been baking a lot with apples too – love apple desserts! My mother-in-law just sent me a whole bag of apples right from her apple tree! And, I also prefer dulce de leche to caramel sauce. Pinned!

    • Denise Browning September 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      Thanks, Julia! Luck you that got many apples to make delicious treats…

  14. [email protected] is How I Cook September 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    Love apple desserts. And the caramel topping puts this very high on my list!

  15. Daniela September 16, 2013 at 4:02 am #

    I love apple crumble cake and this version looks sooo good,mmh.
    Can you believe that in this very moment I’m in one of the wonderful Viennese Cafés, having a Melange (Capuccino) and would love to have a bite of your applecake, Denise 🙂

    • Denise Browning September 16, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      Thank you, Daniela! I wish I could send some to you. Enjoy your time in Austria!

  16. Dina September 16, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    sounds delish!

  17. Asmita September 16, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Amazing!!! Would love this anytime!

  18. Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania September 17, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    Holy Cow! What a delicious cake to celebrate your favourite season! I was simply looking at this gorgeous cake for sometime…I am going to make this cake for sure as it has apples in it, which I love to add in my baking. Wonderful crumb cake recipe…I am confident that my family would love this. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  19. Nami | Just One Cookbook September 17, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    You started baking using fall ingredients. Beautiful and delicious cake. Lately I introduced your blog to my Brazilian neighbor and she said she enjoys reading your blog. I should ask her to bake this together. 😀 Looks yum!

    • Denise Browning September 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      Thanks, Nami! I hope you and your Brazilian neighbor bake it together. This is an excellent coffee cake.

  20. Sugar et al September 17, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    Goodness me…this is stunning! Apple, cinnamon, dulce de leche…somehow can magic at any time of the year. I am going to dive into the screen now:-)

    • Denise Browning September 18, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Sonali, dear! Thank you so much for such a nice comment. I am so glad that you enjoy seeing my cake on the screen.

  21. Juliana September 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Delicious looking cake Denise…I never heard of “cuca” when living in Brazil…always learning…I would love my slice with the dulce de leche sauce…
    Thanks for this recipe and hope you are having a lovely week 😀

  22. simi September 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    These look amazing, I love the way they pop from the screen

  23. Sowmya October 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    That looks so delicious … so tempting for the season.. Crumb cake are my all time fav.. 🙂

  24. Little Cooking Tips February 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Denise this looks so delicious!!! It would be perfect with a cup of tea! 🙂

  25. AcesHigh November 11, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    At least here in southern Brazil this would never be considered a cake. More like a sweet bread. Imho, the dough is more similar to that of a bread than that of a cake.

    • Denise Browning November 11, 2015 at 9:31 am #

      There are 2 types of Apfel Streuselkuchen (or cuca de maçã). The traditional, made from yeast dough, which is technically a bread. And a “modern” version, made from a shortening-based dough (my recipe), which is more a coffee cake (there is no yeast involved or a leavening process, only baking powder and uses the same process as for a cake). One cannot blame people for looking at both versions and think they are cake because they look like a ‘flat cake’ although one of the versions is technically a bread. Even the original designation fails to categorize the original yeast dough-based apfel streuselkutchen as a bread because they called it kuchen (which it means cake in German). In Brazil, as in Germany and the rest of the world, there are 2 types of apfel streuselkutchen or cuca de maçã and mine is definitely the “modern” version. I don’t know whether you did read my article but I do explain the difference between the 2 versions and tell which type mine is.

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