Crumb Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes

A super-generous crumb topping and genius pastry chef trick make this the best crumb cake ever.

An extra-generous topping of big, buttery brown sugar clumps and a genius pastry chef trick make this the best crumb cake ever. The recipe comes from pastry chef Lisa Kolb Ruland of the blog Unpeeled. Lisa has worked in some of NYC’s best bake shops, and she has spectacular dessert recipes (her pecan shortbread cookies are an absolute must for the holidays!).

Lisa’s trick to making this cake over-the-top perfect? She uses two types of flour: delicate cake flour for the streusel crumb topping and sturdy all-purpose flour for the cake. The cake flour gives the streusel a lovely texture (crisp but not too crunchy), while the all-purpose flour gives the cake base enough structure to prop up the plentiful streusel as it bakes. This cake is wonderful with coffee any time of day. The only problem is that it’s impossible to resist picking off the crumb topping every time you pass by.

What You’ll Need To Make Crumb Cake

crumb cake ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Crumb Topping

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon in mixing bowl for crumb topping

Whisk until evenly combined.

whisked butter and sugar mixture

Using a spoon, stir in the cake flour one cup at a time.

gradually adding cake flour to mixture

The mixture forms a cohesive dough, like a very thick and clumpy cookie dough. As you add the last cup of flour, the mixture will be difficult to stir, so feel free to ditch the spoon and use your hands to mix it in. Set aside.

clumpy crumb coating in bowl

Step 2: Make the Cake Batter

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

whisked dry ingredients in mixing bowl

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed, scraping the bowl as necessary, until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

butter and sugar after beating

Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.

adding the eggs one at a time

Beat in the vanilla and scrape the bowl to make sure everything is evenly combined. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little curdled.

mixing in the vanilla

Mix in half of the flour mixture.

adding the flour to the batter

Followed by all of the sour cream.

adding the sour cream to the batter

Finally, mix in the remaining half of the flour mixture until the batter is evenly combined.

finished crumb cake batter in mixer

Step 3: Assemble and Bake the Crumb Cake

Spread the cake batter evenly in the cake pan (it will only come about 3/4 inch up the sides of the pan).

spreading the batter in cake pan

Top the batter with the streusel crumbs, using your fingers to break the mixture apart and form it into roughly 1/2-inch chunks.

adding the crumb topping on top of the batter

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool fully on a rack.

crumb cake cooling on rack

Dust with powdered sugar.

crumb cake dusted with confectioners sugar

Cut into squares to serve. Cover any leftover cake with aluminum foil and store at room temperature; it will keep nicely for up to 3 days. To keep the cake fresher longer, store it in the refrigerator, but bring it to room temperature before serving.

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Crumb Cake

A super-generous crumb topping and genius pastry chef trick make this the best crumb cake ever.

Servings: One 9x13-inch cake (12 squares)
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Crumb Topping

  • 2-1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups cake flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)

For the Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

Instructions

For the Crumb Topping

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a spoon, stir in the cake flour one cup at a time, until the mixture forms a cohesive dough, like a very thick and clumpy cookie dough. As you add the last cup of flour, the mixture will be difficult to stir, so feel free to ditch the spoon and use your hands to mix it in. Set aside.

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack to the middle position. Grease a 9 x 13-in cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed, scraping the bowl as necessary, until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition (don't worry if the batter looks a little curdled at this point). Beat in the vanilla and scrape the bowl to make sure everything is evenly combined. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream (half of the flour/all of the sour cream/then the remaining half of the flour), mixing on low speed with each addition, until just combined.
  4. Spread the cake batter evenly in the cake pan (it will only come about 3/4 inch up the sides of the pan). Top the batter with the streusel crumbs, using your fingers to break it apart and form it into roughly 1/2-inch chunks. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool fully on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares to serve. Cover the cake with aluminum foil and store at room temperature; it will keep nicely for up to 3 days. To keep the cake fresher longer, store it in the refrigerator but bring it to room temperature before serving.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (12 servings)
  • Calories: 708
  • Fat: 32 g
  • Saturated fat: 20 g
  • Carbohydrates: 97 g
  • Sugar: 45 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Sodium: 318 mg
  • Cholesterol: 128 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Hi Jenn,
    I made this cake yesterday and it was fabulous…like every other recipe of yours that I’ve made! However, the consensus from “the family” is that they would like it even better is there was less topping. Can I do this by just halving each of the topping ingredients? Thank you!

    • — Marilyn on January 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Marilyn – that’s fine. Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 8, 2022
      • Reply
  • Delicious Crumb Cake recipe! Easy to make with clear instructions from Jen. Reminds me of my grandmother who always had a crumb cake to serve guests.

    • — Leslie E on January 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    This crumb cake is absolutely fabulous! If we had a Food Olympics, this Crumb Cake would win 10 Gold Medals! It is OMG great!
    Thanks for another winner. If everyone in the entire world ate this every morning we would have World Peace.

    Sara D

    • — Sara D on January 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • What do you mean by cake flour?

    • — Susan on January 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Susan, Compared to all-purpose flour, cake flour is lower in protein and causes less gluten to form as you mix the batter together. This makes baked goods that have a softer, finer texture. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make your own. See how here.

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2022
      • Reply
      • I bought the cake flour and will be trying this recipe tomorrow. Thank you!

        • — Susan on January 6, 2022
        • Reply
        • 👍 Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on January 7, 2022
          • Reply
          • I made it and my family absolutely loved it! Thank you. I was wondering if I could have used an 8×8 cake pan?

            • — Susan on January 10, 2022
          • So glad you enjoyed it, Susan! If you use an 8-inch square, you’ll need to cut the ingredients in half (just use 2 eggs).

            • — Jenn on January 11, 2022
  • Can this be reduced to an 8 x 8 pan? If so, would you recommend halving the recipe?

    • — Marie on January 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Marie, Yes, I’ve tried halving the recipe for an 8-inch pan and it works very well (just use two eggs instead of 1-1/2). Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on January 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • Loved this! Looking for this type of recipe and so happy to find it as my husband says it is “amazing”

    • — Jennifer on January 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Thank you, Jenn! Yummy! Perfect recipe, perfect taste! Everyone loved it, so I made 3 more!

    • — Christine on December 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Would 1% low fat sour cream be ok?
    Thanks!

    • — Dara on December 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Dara, I do think it would work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • This cake is AMAZING! At first I thought 4 cups of flour seemed like a lot for the topping, but I went with it and boy was it good.

    • — Lynne on December 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for Christmas Eve and it was loved by all! Wonderful taste & perfect with coffee!

    • — Michelle R on December 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can this be prepared the night before and baked in the morning?

    • — Jeannie Jones on December 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jeannie, I would just bake it the night before – it keeps nicely for a few days.

      • — Jenn on December 24, 2021
      • Reply
      • Can this be baked in a glass pan?

        • — Angela Downs on December 24, 2021
        • Reply
        • Yep 🙂

          • — Jenn on December 24, 2021
          • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. I am a avid follower and love your recipes. Is this cake moist? I haven’t had great luck with crumb cakes they are somewhat dry. Thank you

    • — Ann Marie on December 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann Marie, I think you will find the cake to be quite moist. Like most cakes, it is best enjoyed soon after it is baked.

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Could you add some thin sliced or diced apples into the batter?

    • — Kathy Wood on December 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, Lisa adds 1 cup blueberries to her version, so I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it.

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi jenn, I have to make this this morning! Are there really 4 cups of flour in the topping?

    • — Noreen on December 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes – I know it seems like A LOT but it’s correct. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2021
      • Reply

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