New York Style Crumb Cake


Before I picked up the new “Baked Explorations” cookbook, coffee and crumb cakes meant the same thing to me and I order them faithfully at coffee shops. Color me surprised when I read that there is something called a New York Style Crumb Cake, and it must never, ever, be confused with coffee cake. Honestly, I thought the crumbs were just a matter of preference! Until, of course, I saw the recipe. For sure I thought it must be a joke that the crumb part had more than 2 cups of sugar. Who does that on purpose? During this time of the year when eating healthy seems to be at its height, whoa, I was on sugar death watch alert. But. I trusted the recipe. I gave the authors the benefit of the doubt and let them have it their way with their cake. The sacrificial lamb. And should this had been a failure, you will never hear of it from me because I will give away the book.

As you can tell, it ended well and the crumb cake survived the scrutiny of family and friends, again and again. The crumb was a toss for me — although it was delish, others thought the base cake itself was the true winner and they would have it any day — flavorful, filling and moist even after 3 days. It actually tastes like puto, the light brown steamed rice cake that we eat in the Philippines. I’ve made many variations of this crumb cake and even so far as ‘ruining’ the crumb, slashing it in half and playing with my own ingredients. In all its incarnations in the kitchen, it had withstood the test of many variations. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Because no matter what you prefer, this cake will work for you.

The recipe makes a large cake and begs to be packed on its merry way to a lot of willing bellies. Go ahead, don’t be shy! It’s a total charmer. In fact, yesterday, a soaking wet Vancouver day, I met up with a few friends and gave a few slices to each of them. They were heartily received and from the messages I’ve received today — they were all devoured and enjoyed to the fullest.

Go forth and bake and share! Have a great weekend!

If you’re looking for something beefy to cook this winter weekend: check out my Asian Style Beef Chili with Garlic Fried Rice! And get a chance to win $100 from Canadian Beef, too!



This indulgent and filling crumb cake should never be confused with coffee cake. Ever. This is what native NY-er and co-author Renato Poliafito said in the book, “Baked Explorations”. Only once I had baked this did I fully understand what he meant: It’s all about the crumb–death by addicting crumb after crumb. If you’re having a party, this would be enough to satisfy a couple of dozen guests, and fill a dozen, for dessert. It’s also a fantastic edible hostess present, and a perfect picker upper to someone who needs it. – Joy

This recipe was adapted from the book, “Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2010).

Yields: one 9” x 13” cake



  • ½ cup packed golden brown sugar *
  • ½ cup packed demerara sugar (also called turbinado or raw sugar) *
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour

For the CAKE base

  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and with the oven rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9”x13”x2.75” baking dish or pan (not sheet)**.
  2. For the TOPPING: Combine sugars, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter and whisk until combined, crushing any large lumps. Stir in flour until mixture is uniform.
  3. For the CAKE:
    • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (you can also use a large bowl and a powerful hand mixer), cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add sugar, and continue beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until just combined. Stir (setting in “Stir” or low) in the flour in thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl before each addition, until incorporated. Batter will be thick.
  4. Assemble the CAKE
    • Pour the batter into buttered pan, level with a spatula. Scoop a handful of the topping mix, make a fist, and crumble the topping over the batter. Repeat until all the topping is used.
    • Bake for 45-55 minutes in the oven, rotating the pan twice (use: 15, 15, and 15 minutes or so). The cake is baked when a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Once completely cooled, cake can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap (or your cake pan cover) and kept at room temperature for 3 days.


* The original recipe called for 1 cup dark brown sugar. I prefer my topping with a bit of crunch and coarseness, so I use demerara, and I balance it out with a lighter golden brown sugar.

** You can use either a glass baking pan or metal one. The cake bakes faster in a metal pan (about 45-50 mins), and is drier at the edges. In a glass metal pan, the cake tends to be tenderer, but will take a longer baking time.

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  • February 4, 2011 4:00 pm

    Oh yes. It is ALL about the crumb in crumb cakes. Yours looks delicious.

    • joy
      February 4, 2011 4:15 pm

      I need to make more crumb cakes, for sure! This is something relatively new to me. :) Thanks, Fran!

  • February 4, 2011 4:12 pm

    My husband and I were two of the lucky tastebuds that licked clean these crumbs! Truly delicious. Husband paused dramatically and closed his eyes after the first bite. When will I get that response from him with my own baking? ;)

    • joy
      February 4, 2011 4:17 pm

      LOL! I’m so glad you both loved it! Hun, the answer is just butter. :) I will have to share some really good Irish butter (when I get them again) for you to enjoy with your bread. That will be a revelation. :)

  • February 4, 2011 9:11 pm

    Mmmmm I love this kind of coffee cake…. er crumb cake. Looks so delicious and it really is the best thing to have with a cup of coffee. Also really delish with a layer of cooked apples between cake and crumb. xoxo

  • February 5, 2011 6:25 am

    Oh my, I just can’t get enough of that addictive, crumbly, topping! Looks fantastic. Great recipe!!

  • February 5, 2011 9:00 am

    Ahhh, so crumb cake and coffee cake are not the same? Never knew that! But thanks for clarifying. The texture of this cake does look dense and moist. Really tasty.

  • February 5, 2011 9:20 am

    I can`t stop looking at this! It`s absolutely divine and I want to try this…

    Have a great time,

  • February 6, 2011 5:29 am

    I think the crumb topping is the best part, the more the better, and this one looks like it’s got a nice thick layer!

  • Madfortulips
    February 6, 2011 3:47 pm

    Delish! Made Guinness Stew and this for dessert, a hit! Going to pack some off for my daughter at college:))

  • February 7, 2011 6:39 pm

    Oh my! Joy – why do you post things such as this when I am dieting?!!

  • February 7, 2011 7:57 pm

    Oh wow… this looks fantastic!

  • February 8, 2011 6:47 am

    This crumb cake looks amazing! Wish I had some this morning! :)

  • February 9, 2011 10:25 am

    Looks perfect!

  • February 9, 2011 10:48 am

    Yummy! We LOVE crumb cake over at dishfolio. We’d love for you to share your recipe at!

  • Rowena
    September 28, 2011 12:35 pm

    I made these for a bake sale and they sold out! Thanks so much for the recipe!!!

    • joy
      September 28, 2011 12:46 pm

      Aw, I’m so happy to hear that! You’re welcome. :)

  • Phoebe
    March 4, 2012 9:45 pm

    Looks absolutely divine, lovely pictures!

    • joy
      March 6, 2012 10:49 am

      Thanks, Phoebe!

  • DB
    May 30, 2012 5:25 am

    Cake is absolutely delicious!!

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