Kick off your next birthday with a pretty little slice of birthday crumb cake! My recipe features two layers of sprinkle-infused streusel between moist, soft vanilla cake. Includes a how-to video!
Confetti Crumb Cake
Birthday desserts too cliche for you? How about a birthday breakfast instead? This fun and festive birthday crumb cake has been the birthday breakfast of choice in my household as of late, and I’m hoping your family loves it just as much 💜
Despite the crumb cake name (and crumbly topping), this recipe is actually based on my coffee cake. I jazzed it up with two layers of birthday cake crumbs and a sweet vanilla glaze (the glaze is totally optional; the cake is sweet enough without it). It’s unique, colorful, and the perfect way to start off a birthday celebration 🎉
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The cake is soft, dense, and super moist. I use a few carefully selected ingredients to achieve this; cream cheese, buttermilk, and cake flour to name a few.
- Has lovely vanilla flavor that’s not too sweet, even with the sprinkles and the glaze.
- With the texture of crumble ripple layer and the colorful sprinkles, it’s just so fun to eat!
- Freezes well, so you don’t have to worry about what you’ll do with any leftovers (if you have any, that is!).
What You Need
This recipe works best if all of your ingredients are at room temperature before starting. Here’s what you need.
- Buttermilk. I recommend using real buttermilk, but in a pinch my easy buttermilk substitute will work. This ingredient is key for an incredible flavor and moisture.
- Brown sugar. Just a bit of light brown sugar in the crumb topping pairs nicely with the vanilla and really rounds out the flavor. Dark brown sugar could also work, but just note it will have a stronger molasses flavor and will make your cake darker than pictured here.
- Cake flour. You can substitute all-purpose flour, but I really prefer cake flour for the flavor and texture it provides (it just seems more birthday cake-y!). If you need to use all-purpose flour instead, check the recipe notes for the proper substitution.
- Cream cheese. Another key ingredient for a super soft, melt-in-your-mouth crumb! Cream cheese is the secret ingredient in my coffee cake, and I use it here for the same reason. While you won’t be able to distinctly taste cream cheese, you’ll notice both how moist it makes the cake and the depth of flavor it adds.
- Sprinkles. This one’s a given. You can’t have birthday crumb cake without some rainbow sprinkles ✨.
SAM’S TIP: While you can use regular vanilla, clear vanilla has more of an artificial flavor and can taste more “birthday cake” like. Either tastes great, it just depends on your preference here!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Birthday Crumb Cake
Make the Crumb Topping
- Cream the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Stir in the vanilla until incorporated.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the butter. The mixture will look pretty dry and sandy–this is normal!
- Toss in the sprinkles and work them into the mixture with your hands. Pinch the crumbs together to make streusel-like clusters, then set them aside.
Make the Cake Batter
- Beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar together with your mixer until smooth and lump-free.
- Stir in the eggs and vanilla, then scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture. I like to start and end with the dry ingredients.
Assemble & Bake
- Add half of the batter to your prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.
- Evenly sprinkle half of the crumb topping over the batter.
- Add the remaining batter over the crumbs. I do this in dollops and then smooth with a spatula. It’s okay if some crumbs peek through; you may not get a completely even layer.
- Finish with the final crumb layer, pressing it into the batter slightly with your hands.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, then let cool completely.
- Top with the vanilla glaze if desired, then enjoy!
SAM’S TIP: Let the cake cool a bit before adding the glaze, or it will just melt right into the crumb topping.
Frequently Asked Questions
If a 9×13″ cake is too much for you, you can halve this recipe and make it in a 9×9″ pan. Your bake time will be different in this pan size (likely less time as the cake will be a bit thinner), so keep an eye on it.
Keep in mind this birthday crumb cake also freezes well, so you can always wrap and freeze any leftovers if you need to.
This birthday crumb cake has a nice vanilla flavor, but if you’d like to add something else, feel free. A small splash of almond extract or lemon extract could work nicely here. Or add a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg (this would give your cake a donut flavor!).
This crumb cake was carefully designed to be very moist, so you shouldn’t have any issues with dryness. If you do, you probably over-baked your cake. Unfortunately there’s no way to remedy this afterwards, so try your best to keep an eye on yours and pull it out when your toothpick still has moist crumbs.
Birthday Crumb Cake
- ½ cup (65 g) powdered sugar
- 1 – 1 ½ Tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease and flour the bottom and side of a 13”x9” baking dish. Set aside.
For the topping
- In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugars together until well creamed.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, 3 Tablespoons (38 g) light brown sugar
- Add vanilla extract and mix until combined.2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a separate medium sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.2 cups (225 g) cake flour, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, ⅛ heaping teaspoon table salt
- Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until just combined. Mixture will be dry and sandy.
- Add sprinkles and use your hands to evenly incorporate them into the mixture, pinching dough together to make clusters. Mixture should resemble streusel with varying size of clumps. Set aside while you prepare your cake.¼ cup (50 g) sprinkles
For the cake
- In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), use an electric mixer to beat together cream cheese, butter and sugar until light, creamy, and free of lumps.8 oz (226 g) cream cheese, ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- Add eggs and vanilla and stir well. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure to incorporate all ingredients into batter.2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.3 cups (335 g) cake flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- Gradually add flour mixture to the batter, alternating with the buttermilk, until all flour and buttermilk have been combined. I typically add the flour in 4 parts and the buttermilk in 3, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk
- Spread just under half of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Take half of the crumble topping and spread evenly over top of the batter. Dollop the rest of the batter over top of the crumbles and gently spread evenly over top. Sprinkle the remaining crumbles overtop, pressing gently into the surface of the batter.
- Bake in center rack of 350F (175C) oven for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Allow to cool before adding glaze (if using) and cutting and serving.
- To make the glaze: In a medium sized bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, 2 Tablespoons of milk, and vanilla extract. Add additional milk as needed until glaze is smooth and reaches desired consistency. Drizzle over completely cooled cake and enjoy!½ cup (65 g) powdered sugar, 1 – 1 ½ Tablespoons milk, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
FlourFor the topping: You may substitute 1 ¾ cup +1 Tablespoon (225g) of all-purpose flour for the cake flour called for in the topping. For the cake: You may substitute 2 ⅔ cup (335g) of all-purpose flour for the cake flour called for in the cake.
StoringStore covered or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Crumb cake may also be wrapped tightly and frozen for several months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.