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Lots of Crumb Cake

Crumb cakes differ from coffee cakes, though both often have streusel or crumbs component, because a crumb cake is mostly crumb. Sure, coffee cakes will have some on top or swirled throughout, but the bulk of the batter is cake. In this instance, the bulk of the “batter” was crumb.

The cake was a Martha Stewart recipe that I picked mainly on looks. Crumbs on top of a cake always look extremely appealing and promise to be buttery and sweet, crunchy and cake-like all at once. This one didn’t disappoint in any way. The cake was moist and tender and the crumb topping was crunchy and sweet, though not sugary, with a melt-in-your-mouth butteriness. The amount of cinnamon was just right.

That said, I did have a few small challenges when making the recipe. While mixing both the batter and the crumb mixture was very easy, the batter did not spread into the pan well at all! In fact, it only barely covered the bottom and I had such difficulty spreading it that I had to grease my silicone spatula to push it around. I still couldn’t get it into the corners, though the batter does spread and rise as it bakes, so this turned out not to be a problem in the finished cake. The main difference from the published recipe was that the cake took longer to bake than specified. Marth’s directions called for 20 minutes of baking time, while mine wasn’t done for about 28 minutes. Not that that is a big deal, since I used a cake tester to check it if was done, but a flaw nevertheless.

The cake can be served while still slightly warm, but it can also be cooled completely and stored, wrapped, for 2 days.

New York Crumb Cake
(from Martha Stewart)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup milk (lowfat is fine)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325F and grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and spread into pan (you might want to grease your spatula). Set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk together remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon (and allspice, if using). Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and stir with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Spread evenly over batter in pan.
Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes, rotating once, until a tester comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before serving in large pieces.
Makes 12 servings.

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  • Clare Eats
    April 18, 2006

    Oh that looks good!

  • Randi
    April 18, 2006

    Yum, that reminds of the entemans ny crumb cake. I used to love those.

  • Amy
    April 18, 2006

    Yummy! The topping is the best part!

  • Diane
    April 18, 2006

    The first recipe I made out of Martha Stewart Baking was the Pullman bread, and the baking time on that one is completely screwy as well — it’s at least twice as long as any bread recipe I’ve ever used. (I pulled it out of the oven at the regular time and the bread was fine.) Is this a constant problem with Stewart? I’ve never used one of her books before and now I’m a little wary.

    That said: boy, does that crumb cake look good. I think I know what I’m making this weekend.

  • Miss Tenacity
    April 18, 2006

    I’m thinking of just making up a batch of “crumbs” because they would be a FAB-YOO-LOUS addition to some homemade ice cream!


  • Anonymous
    April 18, 2006

    I make this crumb cake at least once a month. My family loves it and it always comes out well. The cake batter really doesn’t look like enough and is very hard to spread in a floured pan but it doesn’t affect the finished product. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading your posts and have tried many of your recipes.

  • Ivonne
    April 19, 2006

    Hi Nic,

    The cake looks gorgeous. Crumb cake has to be one of my favourites.

    I found your post interesting in terms of the whole Martha Stewart recipe thing. I often find that I have some problems with her recipes. It’s not that they don’t turn out exactly, but I find that they’ll be a bit off.

    Your version looks terrific!

  • Lori
    April 19, 2006

    Omigod, omigod Nic, I LOVE crumb cake — it may just be my most favorite cake in the world, and yes, because of the crumbs. I’ve also tried this recipe and had the same problem with the batter. But it’s a good cake nevertheless.

    I’ve found that the best crumb cakes are the ones that use sour cream. Elinor Klivans is also a crumb fan and has many crumb cake variations in her books.

  • Yael
    November 25, 2008

    This is the absolute BEST crumb cake I have ever made – honestly. It’s my favorite kind of cake. Thanks so much for sharing it. Your tweaks make it perfect. This blog is a keeper!

  • Stacy
    May 1, 2009

    Would it be possible to make these into little muffins?

  • beverly
    February 11, 2010

    have you ever halved this recipe? If so what size pan would you bake it in?

  • Liz
    May 3, 2010

    I love crumb cakes, but was very disappointed in this one. It had lots of crumbs but neither the cake nor the crumbs had much taste. It was buttery, but that by itself does nothing for me.

  • LisAway
    May 10, 2010

    I made this this morning and here’s what I thought. You were exactly right about spreading it and how it cooks up just fine (not a thick cake, though). I substituted much of the milk with buttermilk because I had a little I needed to use up. The cake was very light. Mine was quite dry, but that may be in part due to over-leavening because of the buttermilk. I only used half of the crumb called for and still really liked it! (didn’t want to use that much butter today. Another day I probably will)

    I will definitely try this again using regular milk just to see if there is a difference. Not a bad breakfast cake for sure!

  • Betsy
    October 7, 2011

    I found if you add 3 tablespoons of milk to the 1/2 cup it makes the cake easier to spread in pan and comes out moister, also I do not cook it over 25 minutes
    great crumb cake!

  • Net
    August 15, 2012

    I can not and will not lie about this recipe, the cake is more like BREAD. It’s dense sort of and not very sweet. I was looking for more of a cake texture so maybe this is more my fault than anything. I didn’t use the crumb part, it is way to thick of a crumb mixture for me but I did use one of my own. I will say it hit the spot though because we hadn’t had anything sweet after dinner for weeks. Next time, if I try this (because I still have hope) I will try using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour just maybe that will make a difference.

  • Sue Donahue
    February 13, 2014

    I found the easiest way to spread the batter was to flour my hands and pat the batter evenly.

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