Polish Apple Crumb Cake (reduced sugar)

Ohhhh mama, how I love you so, for making this.

Apple Crumb Cake (reduced sugar)Man, this apple cake recipe was the BOMB diggity. As you can tell by all of the previous recipes that have been posted, they all contained apples in some form. I blame this on the Traditional Szarlotka (Apple Pie) I made a few weeks ago. My mom’s craving for apples has been going wild ever since and she got really into making apple-based desserts (she started with her own take on the Apple Pie… the rest is history…)

This Apple Crumb Cake appeared on our Easter table alongside the Poppy Seed Apple Cake. Both were amazing, both totally different. I couldn’t even tell that the Poppy Seed cake contained apples at first, whereas this one has a prominent apple flavor – clearly, since it has a delicious apple filling. It was prepared similarly to how we prepared the filling for our Traditional Polish Apple Pie and it was soo good but still with no sugar added! It was the perfect combination of sweet and tart, it was truly ideal!

Apple Crumb Cake (reduced sugar)

There is a strange ingredient here you might not recognize, unless you’re Eastern European. It’s called Kisiel (powder). Wikipedia says that:

Kissel (kisiel) is a fruit soup, popular as a dessert. It consists of sweetened juice, thickened with arrowroot, cornstarch or potato starch, and sometimes red wine or fresh or dried fruits are added.

That’s the traditional preparation of kisiel. Before it becomes a “soup”, it’s a powder in a package. The purpose of it here is to add a thin pink foamy layer to the cake. You can see it on the photos, it’s right above the apple filling layer. You can’t really taste it and the only purpose kisiel serves as an ingredient in this recipe is that it is red and it is a thickener. You can experiment with your own version by adding a bit of thickener of choice, like potato or corn starch, and a bit of red coloring. I have not tried it with this way but my mom says it should work.

Polish Apple Crumb Cake (reduced sugar)

Polish Apple Crumb Cake (reduced sugar)


  • 2-1/2 cups All Purpose flour (ultragrain)
  • 2 sticks butter, cold
  • 2 packages vanilla pudding
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp plain lowfat yogurt
  • 6 large apples, Granny Smith, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cherry kisiel (see substitution notes in full post)


    For cake
  • Put flour, baking powder, sugar, yolks, yogurt, and chilled butter onto a flat surface.
  • Chop the butter with a knife quickly while combining all the ingredients together (see notes here).
  • Quickly, combine the mixture with your hands to form dough
  • Divide the dough into two parts: one should be bigger than the other.
  • Wrap the dough parts in plastic wrap, separately
  • Stick the dough into the fridge for at least 3 hours
  • For Apple Filling
  • Grate 5 apples on the large grater
  • Chop 1 apple into small chunks
  • Put the chopped and grated apples into a saucepan, add cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice if you like, and cook until cooked through on small-medium heat, about 20 minutes or so (similarly to our traditional Szarlotka recipe)
  • Fill a glass halfway full with water, add pudding to it and mix.
  • Once the apples are cooked through, add the pudding mixture and mix vigorously and cook for only one more minute or so, and take off heat.
  • Let cool
  • Making the cake
  • Preheat 430F.
  • Take out the bigger dough piece and roll it out to make it into a bottom of the cake
  • Put parchment paper onto a 9×13” cake pan and form the dough onto the bottom of it
  • Poke the dough with a fork, all over
  • Put the cooled apple filling on top of the dough
  • Beat egg whites with sugar until stiff.
  • Add kisiel and beat some more.
  • Put this mixture on the top of the apple filling part of the cake.
  • Now, take the other dough from the fridge and tear it up and put it on top of the cake (small pieces, to cover the top fully). (more notes on this in the full post) – you can also roll this part out and cut it into long pieces to cover the top, you can form the top part any way you like, as long as it looks nice.
  • Bake at 430F for 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes are done, turn the oven down to 330F and bake for 25 more minutes.
  • Let cool. Enjoy.

Kammie wants to know:

  • Have you ever heard of kisiel?
  • Do you ever get in a “funk” of using one certain main ingredient in baking/cooking over and over again, like my mom has with apples?

Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. says

    This sounds and looks amazing! I have never heard of kisiel and after reading the description am still not sure what it is. I guess I just need to see it or use it in a recipe to understand.

    My whole menu is one big funk! LOL!

    • Kammie says

      I think I’ll make a video next time I’m at my parents how about it so you can know what it is. It’s like a jelly but it’s not a solid, it’s more watery, that’s why they call it a soup. And the flavors are just like jelly flavors, so any fruit you can think of – there are tons of flavors to choose from. It’s really just a sort of thickener with coloring + flavoring but probably less thickener than there is with a jelly