Crumb Cake

I have memories of eating mini crumb coffee cakes wrapped in plastic – two to a pack – in my elementary school cafeteria. The topping was basically cinnamon and brown sugar crumbs with one or two nut bits thrown in for good measure. I imagine they had a shelf life of about 10 years, right up there with Twinkies.

This crumb cake recipe is about as far you can get from the crumb coffee cake of my youth. It’s a “New York-style” crumb cake, whatever that means. But it’s more of a dessert or snack than breakfast (although delish then as well). The cake is moist and not too sweet – the star is the crumb topping – huge chunks of brown sugar, cinnamon and buttery goodness.


For the crumb topping:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch x 13-inch pan.

Make the crumb topping: In a medium size bowl, stir both the sugars, salt and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and whisk until well combined. Fold in the flour until absorbed and set aside.

Make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl. With an electric mixer, cream the butter until completely smooth. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 30 seconds. Add the sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, scraping down the bowl after each addition, beating until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. For the topping, use your hand to grab handfuls of the topping and make a fist. Break off chunks and drop them over cake (you want big chunks, not crumbs). The topping layer will look just about as thick as the cake layer – that is correct.

Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Store tightly covered at room temperature, up to 3 days.

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