ultimate coffee crumb cake


Who doesn’t love crumb cake?  Maybe it is a little old fashioned but that is what makes it even more wonderful and heartwarming.  The crumbly sugar, butter and cinnamon crust top sitting in a dense, not too sweet spongy cake….ah, just pure heaven.

My grandmother always had crumb cake on offer when anyone came to visit.  It was served for dessert during Sunday lunch but also in the afternoon with some coffee or tea for the adults, and milk for the grandchildren.  Though hers was store-bought, the cake never lacked eager takers.  And it was often eaten for breakfast.

I found this recipe in a cookbook called Sugar Rush by the NYC pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini.  When I bought the cookbook, I could not pass it by, I mean sugar rush?  I just laughed and thought about all the kids I know who fly around the room after a good dose of something sweet. 

I adapted the recipe slightly in order to make the cake a bit moister and less sweet.  After you bring the cake from the oven and let it cool, then settle in with a good cup of coffee and generous piece of this decadent creation.


1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup sugar

1 egg

¼ crème fraiche

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

Crumb topping

2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar, light is best

1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ pound melted unsalted butter


1.      Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

2.     Rub butter or cooking spray all over a 9- inch by 13-inch glass baking dish, and then add a few tablespoons of flour and cover all the butter.  You do not want any uncovered areas or the cake will stick.

3.     In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, add the buttermilk and whirl through the vanilla extract. Set aside.

4.     In another medium bowl, measure out flour, baking powder and salt and blend together with a whisk.  Set aside to use for cake batter.

5.     For the topping, in another large bowl, add all the flour, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.

6.     Using a spoon, mix the topping ingredients together.  It will be crumbly and you want to keep it that way.  Set aside for when cake batter is complete.

7.     In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes.

8.     Add the egg and crème fraiche to the butter and sugar mixing until all is incorporated.

9.     Put mixer on low speed and about one third of flour mixture (not the topping but mixture with just flour, baking powder and salt), add half of the buttermilk, blend.

10.  Add another one third of flour, the other half of the buttermilk, blend.

11.  Put in the final third of the flour mixture.  Scrape down sides of bowl as you alternate.  Do not overmix but just make sure all is well blended.

12.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.  It may be thick and use your fingers to push evenly to all sides.

13.  Take your topping and using fingers, crumble the topping all over the batter until you just see the lovely crumble, and hopefully no batter..

14.  Bake for 35 minutes in the center rack of oven.  The cake should spring back in center when it is done, if not leave for another 2-3 minutes or until done.