Both a breakfast and dessert, my Crumb Cake stands out from the foil-lined, premade version you can buy at the grocery store. Perfectly dense, moist, and piled high with crumb topping, this simple recipe comes together quickly, and it’s big enough to feed a crowd! How-to video included in the recipe!
While some people confuse crumb cake for coffee cake, there’s actually a pretty big difference between the two. Traditionally, coffee cake is topped with a layer of crumbly streusel, while crumb cake is essentially half crumb, half cake. Both are worthy bakes, but today, we’re all about the crumb!
The key to getting the perfect, melt-in-your-mouth cake is a technique I’ve covered before called reverse creaming. While it may sound complicated, it’s actually very simple and yields a soft texture that lasts for days. Plus, unlike the traditional creaming method, you don’t have to worry about over-mixing.
What You Need
Here are some of the key ingredients in this simple recipe.
- Sugar. In addition to white sugar, we use both types of brown sugar in this recipe. The combination of white and light brown sugar in the batter helps keep things moist, and the dark brown sugar in the crumb adds that deeper, molasses flavor. Don’t have brown sugar on hand? See my tutorial on how to make brown sugar at home.
- Butter. Softened butter in the batter is reverse creamed to nail down that plush texture we all love, while melted butter in the crumb gives us that crumbly (buttery!), textured top that’s essential to crumb cake.
- Sour Cream. Sour cream is a secret weapon for keeping baked goods tender, plus it adds a subtle tang that balances sweetness. If you don’t have sour cream on hand, you can substitute plain, full-fat yogurt.
- Egg Yolk. You’ll notice that there is an extra egg yolk in this recipe. This adds to the tenderness of the crumb. We eliminate the extra white (which could actually dry out the crumb, we already have enough egg whites!) and just add an extra yolk which keeps the cake moist, soft, and melt-in-your-mouth.
- Cinnamon. I say this is optional, but you really should add it! Cinnamon provides warmth and sweetness, and it’s what makes the crumb so delicious. If you really must skip it, a pinch or two of nutmeg would also work.
SAM’S TIP: Make sure to use unsalted butter in both the cake and the crumb topping. We can better control the amount of salt in this recipe by adding it in ourselves.
Remember, this is just an overview of some of the key ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Crumb Cake
As I mentioned above, the reverse creaming method is what gives this crumb cake its tight, plush texture. Don’t be intimidated by the name; reverse creaming is actually a very simple technique where, instead of first creaming together the butter and sugar, you gradually add the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a sandy mixture.
After that, things move pretty quickly from batter to crumb topping, which lucky for you, doesn’t even require a pastry blender.
- Combine dry ingredients and sugar in a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using either your stand mixer or an electric mixer, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Be sure to only add the next tablespoon when previous one has been fully incorporated. Once all of the butter has been added, the mixture will resemble coarse, sandy crumbs.
- Separately, whisk the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract until well-combined. Add this mixture your batter and stir until completely combined and silky. Pour that into your prepared pan while you make the crumb topping.
- Whisk together flour, sugars, salt, and cinnamon. Once combined, drizzle melted butter over the flour mixture and use a fork to toss the ingredients together until you have a clumpy crumble topping.
- Scatter crumb topping evenly over the batter in your pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
SAM’S TIP: I always prefer to see a few moist crumbs rather than a clean toothpick. A clean toothpick means the cake is done, but it may be over-baked and as it cools it could become over-done and dry. Moist crumbs mean the cake is ever-so-slightly under-done and will finish baking as it cools, resulting in a super moist, soft cake.
Frequently Asked Questions
Crumb cake has a thicker layer of crumb. You can try my Cinnamon Coffee Cake to see which you prefer!
You can, but all-purpose flour works just fine. Keep in mind that if you choose to use cake flour you will need to substitute it properly.
Yes! Because we use the reverse creaming method, this crumb cake stays soft longer than most. It’s the perfect recipe to make for overnight guests!
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Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
For the Cake
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour (220g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar firmly packed (66g)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened and cut into 8 pieces (113g
- 1 cup sour cream (240g)
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 9×9 baking pan
For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and grease and flour a 9×9” (23x23cm) pan or spray with baking spray.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until completely combined.
- Using an electric mixer, add butter just 1 tablespoon at a time, not adding the next tablespoon until the previous has been completely incorporated. Once all butter has been added, mixture will resemble coarse sandy crumbs.
- In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract until well-combined.
- Turn mixer speed to low and slowly add sour cream mixture into batter, stirring until completely combined. Be sure to pause and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Once finished, the batter should be smooth and silky.
- Spread into prepared pan and set aside while you prepare the crumb topping.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, salt, and cinnamon.
- Drizzle melted butter over the flour mixture and use a fork to toss the ingredients together until you have a clumpy crumble topping.
- Scatter crumb topping evenly over the batter in your pan.
- Transfer to 350F (175C) oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.