Super Crumb Coffee Cake

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs!

slice of super crumb coffee cake on a wood board

Because the crumb part… is the best part.

If you’re anything like me, you pick off the crumb topping from your coffee cake. Or you take the piece with the most crumb topping on it. If I could make a meal out of crumb topping… believe me, I would.

This is a cinnamon, sugary, buttery crumb-topped coffee cake. Heavy on the crumb.

super crumb coffee cake on a white cake stand with a slice removed

Today’s coffee cake is an easy-to-follow recipe. This homemade version of the classic is a far cry from any of those overly-sweet, fake-tasting store bought versions you may be used to. It’s buttery, moist, soft, and pairs well with a morning cup of coffee. Let’s face it, this coffee cake will pair well with an afternoon cup o’ joe too. Actually, the coffee is optional. You’ll love this cake no matter what you’re drinking with it.

I got the recipe from my favorite cookbook. The bible of baking, I like to call it. A 1,000+ page book of kitchen-tested recipes, tutorials, and baking tips. My Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe – trust me, you need this cookbook.

The cookbook doesn’t call this cake “super-crumb.” I do. I baked the crumb cake in a smaller pan than what the recipe states, making the crumb layer in my version thicker for each piece.

slice of super crumb coffee cake on a wood board with a fork

What makes this coffee cake so easy is that the crumb-topping and cake batter all start in the same bowl. The crumb topping’s ingredients (butter, flour, & sugar) is essentially the cake’s ingredients without any liquid. A recipe deriving both cake and crumb topping from the same mixture was a selling point for me.

Simply combine your flour, sugar, salt, and cut in the butter. I used a whisk to cut the butter in and a large fork to mix everything around until the mixture resembled course crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the crumb mixture and continue with the rest of the cake batter ingredients.

The cup you set aside is your crumb topping. How easy is that?

overhead image of super crumb coffee cake on a white cake stand with a few slices removed

super crumb coffee cake on a white cake stand

The original recipe called for nuts, but I chose to leave them out. I increased the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and brown sugar as well.

In some bites, the crumb layer was thicker than the cake layer! Amazing.

slice of super crumb coffee cake on a wood board

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slice of super crumb coffee cake on a wood board

Super-Crumb Coffee Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs!


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, for coating the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons (1 and 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, firm and cold
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Generously spray a 9-inch springform pan* with cooking spray or grease with butter. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with 1 Tablespoon of flour and tap out the excess.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl until combined. Cut in the butter in very small pieces using a pastry blender or mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Place 1 cup of the butter/flour mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use in step 4.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the baking powder and baking soda into the remaining flour mixture. Add the room temperature buttermilk, egg, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. The batter is very thick. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan, smoothing the top.
  4. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the reserved flour mixture. Toss with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter, pressingly lightly so they stick.
  5. Bake the cake until the center is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Baking time varies, so begin checking at 45 minutes and don’t be alarmed if your cake takes longer. Mine usually takes the full 55 minutes.
  6. Cool cake for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan. For neat slices and best flavor, cool cake completely at room temperature before serving.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cake tastes best on day 1 or day 2. The cake may be made 1 day in advance. Store covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Cake can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. To do so, simply add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup and enough whole or 2% milk to reach 3/4 cup. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes, then use in the recipe. Lower fat or nondairy milks work in a pinch, but the cake won’t taste as rich and moist.
  3. Update: Crumbs are likely to sink to the bottom of the cake if your butter is not firm enough, therefore making a crumb too soft to stay put on top. You can try using frozen butter and cutting that into the mixture with your pastry blender.
  4. Pan: Don’t have a springform pan? Use a 9-inch (not 8-inch) square baking dish.
  5. Adapted from Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe.

Keywords: coffee cake, crumb coffee cake

After one bite of this coffee cake, breakfast will seem like a real treat.

2 images of super crumb coffee cake

68 Comments

  1. Keith Fullerton says:

    I made this yesterday and it was easy and delicious. If you follow the recipe exactly, it won’t disappoint you. I did, however add a tsp of cardamom powder to the topping, something I’ve been doing lately to enhance my baked goods. I also used my less strong cinnamon but next time will use my stronger Vietnamese cinnamon. I have two recommendations, first, I didn’t overmix the batter and left the little pieces of butter showing like biscuit dough. I think that this makes the cake more tender and tastier. Secondly, a general recommendation, buy some precut parchment circles for the bottom of your spring form pan. Saves so much hassle. You don’t even need to butter and flour the bottom.

  2. I would have given this 5-stars had the recipe said to bake 30-40 mins at 350 degrees instead of 50-55 mins. It definitely looked done at 30 mins. Should have followed my baker’s instinct. Instead I cooked the full 50 mins. WAY overcooked. Luckily not burnt. Was still good. Will definitely make again and check it after 30 mins. Then it will no doubt be a 5-star recipe. WATCH YOU BAKE TIME FOLKS. CHECK AFTER 30 MINS. Also I made it vegan by substituting 1tbs white vinegar and 1 teaspoon baking soda for the egg. Its a great trick for making most baked goods vegan.

    1. Agreed!! I always take this cake out at 35-40 minutes.

  3. Excellent! The cake crumb was superb in texture and consistency and the topping was the perfect balance. I used a food processor for the first part and finished the batter in the stand mixer. The cake was baked for 55 minutes in a vintage 1953 gas oven using an 8″ spring form pan. The only modification was to add 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder to the topping (which I borrowed from another coffee cake.) I will definitely make this coffee cake again.

  4. Hubby and I made this last night so we could wake up to coffee and cake and it was so delicious! Followed the instructions to a T minus pressing in the topping and it was great! Thanks!

  5. Yummy! I will definitely make this again!!!

  6. I’d recommend this recipe but will mention I was was a little disappointed at first and I’m not a baking novice. I’ve tried a lot of coffee cake recipes so I maybe a bit snobby as I want perfection. During baking the top stayed like a powder while most of the butter fell to the bottom. I did use really cold butter. I even had it in the freezer. Perhaps it was too warm of a day. The centre also didn’t cook while the remainder of the cake did and I had to cover it because it got too brown on the sides by only 26 minutes in the oven. So 50-55 min would’ve burnt it to a crisp. Please check on it throughout the process (but when would you not?!). I covered it in tin foil and added butter several times to the top to fix the “powder“ situation. Then it was delicious! So I managed to save it after all! And actually the butter melting into the batter layered it really nicely like a marble cake. Only having to Cut the butter once definitely saved time as well.

  7. Would I be able to make this coffee cake into muffins? If so, any advice for preparing the mixture for muffins? Thank you

    1. Absolutely. I recommend filling muffin liners about 3/4 full, then pressing the crumb topping mixture into the tops. Use the same baking temperatures and time as my apple crumb muffins.

  8. This is the best crumb cake we’ve ever had. And we used to frequent NYC bakeries tasting the best of the best! Wife is extraordinarily happy we found this one. We’ll make it again for Mother’s Day. Followed the recipe to the letter. Thanks Sally.

  9. Emily Bresin says:

    This was delicious! My 4 year old loved it so much she asked for me to make it again for her birthday cake!

  10. Hi sally could one add maple favour to this cake?

    1. Hi Harper, You can use a maple extract if you wish or just add a maple glaze on top.

  11. So good! There is so much crumble on top and I am not complaining about it. 😛

  12. Matthew Cronin says:

    Omg this turned out so well thank you sally.
    Crumble to the MAX

  13. Malavika Mohanan says:

    Loved the recipe. It’s much more simpler and easier to follow than others I found online. I’m planning on making it later in the day.

    I don’t have a 9 inch pan. I have 6 inch, 7 inch and 8 inch pan. Should I make changes to the measurement of ingredients or can I just use 8 inch pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Malavika, Is your 8 inch pan a springform pan? If so you should be able to use it however your cake will be slightly thicker and may take an extra minute or two to bake. If you don’t have a springform pan use a 9-inch (not 8-inch) square baking dish.

  14. I made it, but it rose a lot compared to the pictures you have, which show the cake remaining pretty flat, even sunken in a bit. It tastes reasonably good and I keep eating it, and your recommendation of letting it cool all the way helps to solidify the crumb topping, but how would I keep it from rising like your photos? I just followed the recipe at the bottom. Can an oven that runs too hot cause excessive rising?

    1. Hi Daniel, thank you for trying this recipe. Did you use a different size pan? That could be why your cake rose so much. It shouldn’t be the oven temperature, but if you find that your oven runs hot, use an oven thermometer and adjust your oven settings. (The one I use and love is explained right here— #7)

  15. Ruth Cardoso says:

    How can I get more of a crumble top next time? The cake was moist and delicious. The topping was delicious but instead of a crumble seemed to lay flat and melted over the top. I measured everything specifically but didn’t get that crumble effect. Nice recipe though and I’ll try it again for sure.

    1. Hi Ruth, I’m so glad you enjoyed this cake. The colder you keep the butter/flour mixture for the topping, the less it will melt down into the cake batter itself. You could even try mixing a little extra flour into the topping (perhaps 2 Tbsp) so it’s a bit more stable, too.

  16. I tried out a cake with the above recipe. The cake was very soft and tasty. Thank you.

  17. I saw a reviewer ask if this recipe can be made into muffins and I thought, what a great idea! I was wrong. The recipe is delish and the muffins came out fantastic, BUT I ended up with way more crumb topping that my little tins could handle. Next time, I’ll just bake as a cake. Yes, there will be a next time!

  18. Rebekah Rittenberg says:

    Could this be made in a bundt pan?

    1. Hi Rebekah, there isn’t enough batter for a Bundt pan. This crumb cake would have enough batter though. I’m unsure of the best bake time.

  19. Cake itself was good, but my crumble was more fine and powdery than the pictures. What did I do wrong? Over mix? Any suggestions for next time?

    1. Hi Katie! Thanks for trying this cake recipe. Was the crumb topping more powdery before baking? I wonder if you cut the butter in too much? And did you make any changes to the recipe? If you try the recipe again– for larger chunks, you can take a small handful of the crumble topping and mold into larger chunks with your hands. Sounds silly, but forming larger chunks with your hands (like forming a cookie dough ball) works.

      1. Hi Sally,
        Thank you for your reply. I did not make any changes to the recipe and the crumb topping was more powdery before baking. I think I simply over crumbled the crumb topping. Next time I’ll try molding the crumble topping with my hands or adding a little more cold butter. Thanks for the tips!

        PS. I don’t have a 9inx9in pan, so I used my 8inx8in pan and made two muffins on the side to use up all the batter. Everything was delicious and we enjoyed the cake this past week for breakfast. 🙂

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