New York-Style Crumb Cake

This is mega buttery and moist New York-style crumb cake with EXTRA brown sugar cinnamon crumb topping. Yes, the crumb topping is just as thick as the cake layer! The topping is soft, not crunchy, and the cake is perfectly sweet. If you’re looking for a classic go-to crumb cake recipe, this one’s mine. You’ll fall in love too.

I’ve published a plethora of crumb cake/coffee cake/breakfast cake recipes on my website. One of my forever favorites has been (and will always be!) my apple crumb cake. Usually prepared a few times during the fall months, this tall towering beauty is buttery, moist, and absolutely LOADED with a soft crumb topping. Readers have loved this breakfast cake too.

My sour cream crumb cake recipe is similar—soft and cakey—though smaller and comes with fewer crumbs on top. Last month, I decided to combine both recipes to make a “plain” crumb cake that’s just as irresistible as my apple version and still boasts those delicious brown sugar cinnamon flavors.

That’s where we land on my New York-style crumb cake recipe.

Perfect New York-Style Crumb Cake

When I asked bakers for their opinion on what makes crumb cake “New York style”, most said the description means extra crumb topping with a soft and buttery tight-crumbed (but not dense) cake underneath. Today’s recipe checks all those boxes. Some highlights:

  • Soft, yet sturdy cake layer
  • Same ingredients used in both layers
  • Crumb topping as thick as the cake itself
  • Topped with a dusting of powdered sugar
  • Crumb topping is soft (not hard or crunchy) It’s perfect.

Ingredients for Crumb Cake

This is a butter and sour cream based cake (two powerhouse ingredients in my classic coffee cake recipe as well), so you already know it’s going to be flavorful, tender, and moist. The ingredients in the cake and crumb topping are mostly the same, which is extra convenient—especially since you’re likely making this before you’ve had your morning coffee. Good morning!

  • Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of this cake. It’s sturdy enough to support the thick wet ingredients and crumb layer on top.
  • Baking Soda + Baking Powder: Baking soda and baking powder help the cake rise.
  • Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the cake.
  • Butter: Butter adds flavor and provides structure in the creaming process.
  • Sour Cream: Sour cream is the star of the show. It helps us achieve texture bliss—this cake is a little heavier than fluffy white cake. It has tight crumbs like pound cake, but it’s not quite as dense. Somewhere in between both cakes!
  • Eggs: Three eggs add moisture and bind the cake together.
  • Salt + Vanilla Extract: Use both for flavor.
  • Cinnamon: We can’t have crumb cake topping without cinnamon!
  • Brown Sugar: Brown sugar promises a soft, moist, sweet, and flavorful crumb topping layer.

Overview: How to Make New York-Style Crumb Cake

  1. Make the crumb topping. I like to make the crumb first so it’s ready to go as soon as the cake batter is done.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla, and beat until combined. The mixture may look curdled—that’s OK and simply a result of varying textures/temperatures trying to emulsify.
  4. Combine wet & dry ingredients. The batter will be thick and creamy.
  5. Spread batter into pan. A 9×13 inch pan is best for this volume of batter.
  6. Add crumb topping to the top of the cake. Press it down so it sticks.
  7. Bake. If you find the top and/or edges of the cake are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover the cake with aluminum foil. This is a large cake, so it takes at least 45-50 minutes to bake through. Feel free to dust with confectioners’ sugar right before serving, too!

Soft (Not Crunchy) Crumb Topping

Now it’s time to chat about that luxurious crumb topping. Have you ever had crunchy streusel topping before? It’s good, but not quite what I’m delivering to you today. This crumb topping is thick and soft, as long as it’s not over-mixed or over-baked. Think of it like soft cookie crumbles on top of your breakfast cake. YES!

We use the same crumb topping, but scaled down, for cranberry Christmas cake and blackberry cream cheese crumb cake. Give those both a try!

3 Tricks to the Best Crumb Topping

  1. Follow the order of ingredients. First, mix brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt together. Stir in melted butter. Finally, use a fork to lightly mix in the flour. If you add the flour before the butter, the flour will absorb it all before the sugar can.
  2. Do not over-mix. You want a crumbly topping, so don’t over-mix the ingredients after you add the flour. If you mix everything too much, you’ll end up with paste instead of big crumbles. Yes, I’m literally telling you to do LESS!
  3. Press the topping into the cake. When you add the crumble topping on top of the cake batter, gently press it down into the cake layer so it sticks.

Cake for breakfast is always a good idea. This crumb layer is half of the entire cake and I haven’t heard any complaints about that! Nothing short of a dream.

Treat Yourself with These Breakfast Recipes

New York-Style Crumb Cake

Recipe by LailaCourse: Uncategorized
Servings

15

servings
Prep time

50

minutes
Cooking time

1

minute
Calories

300

kcal

This is my favorite recipe for classic New York-style crumb cake. The cake is buttery and moist and you’ll definitely enjoy the thick crumb topping!

Ingredients

  • Crumb Topping
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup (100ggranulated sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313gall-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)

  • Cake
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted buttersoftened to room temperature

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature*

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • optional: confectioners’ sugar for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper. You can use a glass, ceramic, or metal baking pan. The bake time is similar for each, but use a toothpick to test for doneness. Metal baking pans cook cakes faster. Set pan aside.
  • Make the crumb topping: Mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then gently mix the flour using a fork. Keep the mixture as large crumbles, do not over-mix. If over-mixed, this will turn into a thick paste. Set aside.
  • Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, sour cream, and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. The mixture may look curdled; that’s ok. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until smooth. Do not over-mix. The batter will be thick, creamy, and sticky.
  • Spread the batter evenly into prepared baking pan. Top with crumb topping. Using a rubber spatula or the back of a large spoon, press the crumb topping tightly down into the cake so it sticks.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours and begin checking at 45 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to slightly cool for at least 30-45 minutes before cutting. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing and serving. Use a sifter/fine mesh sieve.

Notes

  • Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare cake through step 7. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, add icing if desired, and serve.
  • Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer or Handheld Mixer | 9×13 Pan | Sifter/Fine Mesh Sieve 
  • Sour Cream: Sour cream is a key ingredient in this cake. I don’t suggest subbing the sour cream with a liquid– plain full-fat yogurt would work though. I don’t recommend removing fat from this cake by using a lower fat yogurt or sour cream alternative.
  • Room Temperature: All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information on room temperature ingredients.
  • Crumb Cake Muffins: Interested in making this cake into muffins? Standard size muffins (12 count muffin pan) or jumbo size muffins (6 count muffin pan) are best– I don’t recommend mini muffins because the crumbs are too large. Grease muffin cups or line muffin pan(s) with liners. Fill with batter to the near top of the muffin cup. Press crumbs tightly on top of the batter to help prevent them from falling off as the muffins rise. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and continue to bake for 15-17 for regular size muffins (20-22 minutes total) or another 22-23 minutes for jumbo size muffins (27-28 minutes total). Yields at least 2 dozen standard muffins and 10 jumbo muffins.

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about the author:
Author Name
Sally McKenney is a professional food photographer, cookbook author, and baker. Her kitchen-tested recipes and thorough step-by-step tutorials give readers the knowledge and confidence to bake from scratch. Sally has been featured on Good Morning America, HuffPost, Taste of Home, People and more.
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