Super Crumb Coffee Cake

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

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

 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.

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

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. They are the culinary geniuses behind my Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies.

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.  Kevin had a slice and asked if there was more crumb topping leftover. Even the “super crumb” wasn’t enough for him. I knew I was marrying this man for a reason. 😉

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

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?

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

The recipe calls for buttermilk.  There are no substitutions for buttermilk here.  I tried.  Since I no longer work in the office, I had the spare minute to test this recipe a couple of times.  Buttermilk is one of the culprits for how moist the cake’s crumb is.  Trust me, you can’t leave it out!  It’s required for this recipe – the lactic acid present is what will allow the baking soda to react and leaven the cake. If you buy a carton of buttermilk, you can use the extra in my Triple Chocolate Layer Cake.

You can always make your own buttermilk at home using regular milk + lemon juice.  Here’s how I’ve done it before: Measure 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup.  Then, add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 3/4 cup.  Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes.  The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.

Another requirement? Room temperature egg.  Don’t worry, I have a shortcut for that too: Place the egg in a bowl of warm/hot water for 5-10 minutes as you get your other ingredients ready. Easy!

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

This cake is a wonderful option to make ahead the night before brunch or even a holiday breakfast, like Mother’s Day coming soon. If busy mornings are the norm in your house, make this coffee cake ahead of time.  That’s exactly what I did. I made it on Saturday morning and on Sunday, it still tasted incredibly fresh. The crumbs were piled high, the cake hidden underneath was moist and tender, and the taste?  Oh so cinnamon-buttery.

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

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

Old-fashioned crumb coffeecake at its finest, my friends.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

More breakfast treats to enjoy:

Print

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. Set aside 1 cup of the butter/flour mixture.
  3. Mix the baking powder and baking soda into the remaining flour mixture. Add the room temperature buttermilk, egg, and vanilla – you may want to do this with a mixer. The batter is very, very thick. Vigorously mix everything together until the batter is smooth, fluffy, and resembles frosting – about 2 full minutes. 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. Bake the cake until the center is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean – 50-58 minutes. Mine took 55 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan and allow cake to cool completely before serving (about 2 hours).

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. 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.
  3. Buttermilk: See note in the post about buttermilk substitution.
  4. Egg: See note in the post about bring egg to room temperature quickly.
  5. Pan: Don’t have a springform pan? Use a 9x9x2 (not 8-inch) square baking dish.
  6. 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.

A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

403 Comments

  1. Oh wow, the crumb is absolutely the best part, and coffeecakes never seem to have enough! I love this recipe…I’d like to try adding some blueberries or raspberries to the cake layer too. Have you ever made crumb cookies? You just make a crumb topping, bake it for a little so it doesn’t fall apart, then add it to cookie dough like you would with chocolate chips or whatever. SO good! You are doing great with your new camera…you really captured the crumbs and they look so incredibly moist and texture-y! 😉

  2. Girl. We are twins. I made a crumb cake. Not for my blog though. But I was researching crumb cakes for oh, about, 6 mos. Finally, about 3 weeks ago I decided on what to do. The leftovers got passed out to near-strangers at the park. I had a woman find me via FB and tell me she loved it. So I guess it all worked out. Lol But I couldn’t make this stuff up 🙂

    Anyway..the CI recipe. Yes, great jumping off place. I didnt follow it closely but studied it. Good to know that for a straight up crumb cake, it works. Their stuff is usually pretty foolproof. I can’t believe you tested this, with and without buttermilk! You must have had some leftovers! Beautiful job on it!

    1. CI recipes are foolproof indeed – this book is a recipe goldmine. You told me to buy it and that I’d cherish it forever. So true. 🙂

  3. My lands Sally…this STUNS. I am fearful that I would just “scooch” over the entire crumb affair to MY slice and leave the rest of family with naked coffee cake. Grin. The crumb is ALL .imho….Loving this and slated for this weekend’s brunch!

    1. I picked off extra crumbs and put them on my slice too. 😉 Yep, exactly what I did. Hope you make it and love it Donna!

  4. Yum!!! The crumble is my absolute favorite part of anycl crumb cake and yes, I often find myself only eating that part of the cake 🙂 the more crumby goodness the better!

  5. You have caused me a dilemma. For Mothers Day, I was going to make your Raspberry Swirl Rolls because I liked the Cake Batter ones so much. Now? I. DON’T. KNOW. This looks SOOO good!

    I want to pin your entire blog, by the way. It’s like you get me, in the baked goods sense. 🙂

    1. The choice between this and those rolls – is a tough one! Let me know what you try, Amanda! And thanks for the pins!

  6. This is the best-looking coffee cake I’ve ever seen! I made a coffee cake for maybe the second time ever after Hurricane Sandy and it reminded me of how good they can be. You are so right – the crumb topping is the best part and I love how you loaded it up here! This looks incredibly moist and delicious. I’m craving a slice right now.

  7. Oh my word. You read my mind. I’ve needed a coffee cake recipe and wow this is it. I like that for extra crumb I don’t have to make more streusel or mess with different layers. Easy yet homemade and a sure winner? Not only do you read my mind, you talk my language. That picture (I think it’s the third one from the top) is just gorgeous! Oh I must make this pronto!

  8. Crumb- yes! I love that the crumb topping is so thick! Crumb cakes from the grocery store are never too great, you’re right. Its really only worth it to pick off the crumb. Although on yours I’d eat the cake too 😉

  9. This looks amazing! Im going to make it this weekend. King Arthur brand makes powdered buttermilk…just mix with water. It has saved my life many times, as it doesnt go bad in my cabinet. 🙂

  10. This cake looks so good! I love coffee cakes, and I am one of those people who guilty of picking the crumbs off crumb cakes to eat first. Love the ratio of crumb to cake here, and the shortcut of starting the crumb and cake batter with the same mixture. I’m such a lazy baker, so any shortcut is a win for me!

  11. Yum, this cake looks beautiful, Sally! I love the crumb topping too and I also love the fact that it’s derived from the cake’s dry ingredients. Can’t wait to try this soon 🙂

      1. Snow! On May 1st. That makes me frustrated! It doesn’t feel like spring yet in Maryland. I can’t wait for warm weather!

  12. Sally, you are so right about the taste of cakes in the store…makes me wonder what and how they make them to have that strange after-taste. My bro-in-law LOVES homemade coffee cake, so I’m going to bake this one up for him this weekend. Love the topping on this btw!

    1. I hate the strange aftertaste – it all just tastes too sweet and chalky to me. Homemade always wins!

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