New York crumb cake: Your search for the perfect crumb cake is over. THIS is the only recipe you’ll ever need! With big crumbs and soft, buttery cake, this crumb cake will become an old family favorite in no time.
I am always on the hunt for a great crumb cake recipe and since crumb cake is a pretty big thing to this [former] New York girl, finding just the right recipe is really important to me (see these blueberry and chocolate chip versions for other delicious attempts).
See, I watched many a crumb cake pass through the hands of family and friends while I grew up.
It was the dessert of choice to bring to someone’s house when you were going for coffee and usually it was an Entemann’s cake. When Entemann’s came out with their “Ultimate Crumb Cake” years ago (now in 2019, it’s called “NY-style crumb cake”, oddly enough), it was the best thing since sliced bread.
People almost literally went bonkers over this cake.
That cake, with its LOADS of big crumbs with a fresh and soft yellow cake underneath has driven people crazy for years and I’m thrilled to say that I’ve found a recipe that meets my high expectations.
And I’m FULLY certain it will meet yours!
Cook’s Illustrated has pulled together a super easy and fantastic recipe for this beloved cake and I’m so excited to share it with you today! The use of cake flour instead of all-purpose flour yields a beautifully soft cake that puffs up underneath the always sought-after cinnamon big crumb topping.
It’s all about the big crumbs
And about those all-important crumbs! I’ve made plenty of crumb cakes where I’ve needed to increase the amount of topping the recipe calls for as I’m making the recipe which is so frustrating!
I mean, shouldn’t the topping fully cover the batter?
With this crumb cake recipe, there are plenty of crumbs to go around for everyone and the recipe perfectly balances the amount of crumbs with the amount of cake underneath.
It’s these types of things that make finding a great crumb cake recipe so critical. And when you’ve found the right one, you know it, don’t you?
How to Make Crumb Cake
There’s no big secret to making a great crumb cake, especially if you’ve baked other cakes from scratch.
BUT!! There’s a little trick I want to share about how to create the perfect crumb topping, like you see here in my photos.
To make this cake, you’ll start by making the crumb topping. Once you mix the crumb topping together, it’s going to look a bit dry. This is how it should look so don’t be tempted to add any more butter.
Then you’ll mix up the batter of butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and liquid buttermilk. The cake flour is necessary here instead of all-purpose flour to make the cake super soft and tender.
What if You Don’t Have Cake Flour?
If you don’t have cake flour, you can remove 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour in the recipe. Then add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift them together 5 times before mixing with the other dry ingredients.
For this recipe, you need a total of 3 cups of cake flour for the crumb topping and the cake. So, make the cake flour first and then divide it up for the called-for amounts in the crumb topping and cake recipes.
I found this method on Joy the Baker many, many years ago and have been using it successfully ever since.
OK, here’s the trick for the crumbs!
Once you’ve got the batter in the baking pan, you’ll start to crumble the crumb mixture on top. Gradually work your way around the edges and make your way to finish with the last of the crumbs in the center.
This trick will prevent the heavy crumbs from sinking into the light cake when the cake bakes. It will also ensure that the crumbs are evenly distributed across the top of the cake.
It works EVERY time!!
Keeping Crumb Cake Fresh
As you can expect, any cake made without artificial preservatives will go stale fairly quickly. Preservatives extend shelf life of food, so most mass-produced crumb cake you can find in the grocery store will last weeks on the shelf before going stale.
When you make a crumb cake at home, your window for keeping the cake fresh is MUCH shorter. I’m talking just a couple of days here, people!
The only preservative in this New York crumb cake is salt and there’s definitely not enough in the recipe for it to even be considered a preservative; it’s only there to enhance flavor and balance the sweetness in the cake and crumbs.
So to keep this crumb cake fresh, you’ll want to keep any leftovers – if there even are any! – in an airtight container at room temperature. The cake will keep fresh and soft this way for about 2 days before it starts to dry out. Keep in mind that the crumbs will become soft because of the moisture in the container but this doesn’t affect their taste in the least.
This New York crumb cake is definitely worthy of a pot of coffee or an iced or hot latte and I can pretty much guarantee that it will quickly become your family’s favorite crumb cake, just like it has been my family’s for many years.
If you love this New York Crumb cake, you’ll love these other crumb and coffee cakes too!
For the crumb topping:
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (2 ⅔ oz)
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar (2 ⅔ oz)
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp table salt
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick or 4 oz), melted and still warm
- 1 ¾ cups cake flour (7 oz) (see Note #1 below)
For the cake:
- 1 ¼ cups cake flour (5 oz)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (3 ½ oz)
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp table salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter (¾ stick or 3 oz), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup liquid buttermilk (not dried buttermilk powder)
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- To make the topping: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
- To make the cake: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325° F. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish.
- In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.
- Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer. Break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces between your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center.
- Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
- If you don't have cake flour, you can make your own. You'll need a total of 3 cups of cake flour for the crumb topping and the cake. So, make the cake flour first and then divide it up for the called-for amounts in the crumb topping and cake recipes. To do this, remove 9 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and replace it with 9 tablespoons of cornstarch. Then, sift it together 5 times before dividing it up.
- It's important to take your time when adding the crumb topping to the top of the batter. Start at the edges and work your way towards the center. This will help prevent the crumbs from sinking into the cake since the heaviest part of the batter (the center) will have some lift by the time you get there. And whatever you do, don't pat the crumbs down - you'll push the air out of the batter and prevent the cake from rising.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, May 2007
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375