The Most Delicious Crumb Cake

It disappears quickly.

You know that you’ve hit upon your go-to recipe when people email you to ask if you can bring it with you to every event, from a late morning brunch to an evening book club. This is that recipe, and it’s going to be perfect for your Easter brunch.

The best part of this recipe? The cake is delicious. Oh, sure, the crumb topping is awesome (you can’t go wrong with cinnamon sugar crumb, can you?), but finding a cake that can stand on its own? That’s good stuff. If you don’t feel like messing with the crumb, just whip up a batch of cake and serve it with berries and whipped cream. Or simply steal one small slice after another from the pan until your family wonders where it all went. I won’t tell if you don’t.

If you’re baking this, double the recipe and bake two. You’ll find takers. Trust me. Give some to your neighbors and become their very best friend.

The original recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated, but you can find it reposted in dozens of places around the Internet. I’ve even seen versions that incorporate chocolate, but I can’t imagine this ever being any better than it already is.


Crumb Topping

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp table salt
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour (7 ounces)


  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces) — You MUST use cake flour, not all-purpose
  • 1/2cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Crumb 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.


Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

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. This will allow you to lift the cake out of the pan without disturbing the beautiful crumb.

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.

Adding the Crumb

Break apart crumb topping into chickpea-sized lumps; it may look a little better if you roll the crumbs into careful little balls, but it will make you crazy in the process. Irregular lumps are fine.


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're feeling ambitious, you could crank this out on a weeknight and take it to work the next day.


I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love this crumb cake. The Tiny Kitchen Assistant could eat an entire pan of it if I let him. I wouldn’t. I’d fight him for it.

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