NY Crumb Cake

corner slice1

There are crumble-topped pies, cobblers, muffins, tarts, crisps, casseroles, coffeecakes…and so on and so on.

And did I just use several different names for the same dessert?


After having delved into much available research regarding the difference between crisps, cobblers and crumbles, the only thing I could definitively conclude was that all the plums for my future crisp, cobbler or crumble had gone MIA. Official review of the evidence (my purple stained fingers) stirred vague memories of a surge of insanity an hour into my research after stumbling upon the word “buckle”…the aftermath proves hazy.  I plum lost it.  Ba-dum-ching!

Luckily, today I’m simply celebrating the cream of the crop of all crumble and not defining any dubious dessert titles- nor spelling out any more drum sounds.  This brown sugar cake-topper of a NY-style crumble is so famous, it typically gets as much pan space as its adjoining cake layer.

Tall and sweet, it’s composed of boulders of sugary cinnamon that weigh far less than they might look.

Such a coveted crumb topping found on so many store bought cakes is finally revealed to all in this wonderful recipe.  Would you believe that the topping starts as a dough?  Yeah, me either.

But there it is-  a beautiful rounded, scented dough ball of cinnamon that when cooled, gets pieces pinched off to form individual crumbs.  When piled high upon a beautiful vanilla cake, that highly sought after breakfast treat emerges.

And make sure you are using cake flour to get that light texture or it may result in any angry mob of New Yorkers picketing your front lawn.

This is how to make yum cake, NY-style:

Ball it.  Spread it.  Pluck it.  Drop it.

crumble collage

My dream confetti.  Please throw at me on my wedding day.

all topping1

Cut yourself a square the size of a NY city block.  Dive in!

pieces vertical2

NY Crumb Cake

Soft and light, this tall cake is born to be a breakfast delight.  Half piled cinnamon crumbs and half sweet vanilla cake, there’s no need to hop a flight when you can bring this traditional New York cake into your home.

Recipe from Smells Like Home via Cooks Illustrated May 2007



  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C dark browns sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 C butter, melted and still slightly warm
  • 1 3/4 C cake flour


  • 1 1/4 C cake flour
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 6 T butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/3 C buttermilk, well shaken


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter and then line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper.  It’s helpful to have the parchment overflow on the sides so that releasing the cake at the end becomes simpler.
  2. To prepare the topping, whisk together the sugars, melted butter, salt and cinnamon.  Then stir in the flour until it becomes a scented dough.  Allow it too cool before topping the cake portion.
  3. For the cake, whisk together the dry ingredients until combined.  Continue to mix dry mixture while slowly adding one tablespoon of softened butter at time.  Once all the butter is incorporated, you should have a crumb-like dough.  Now mix in the wet items:  yolk, egg, buttermilk and vanilla.  Mix until uniform- about a minute.  Pour this mixture into your prepared pan and spread evenly.
  4. Take the cooled crumb mixture and tear off pea-sized balls and place them on the surface of the batter.  Start with the outside and work inward until entire mixture is gone.  Do not push topping into cake batter.
  5. Bake cake in the oven for 35 minutes, until a toothpick just comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Allow cake to cool for a half an hour before using the excess parchment to lift it out of the pan.  Let cool completely now before cutting and serving- enjoy!
This entry was posted in cake, cinnamon, recipe and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to NY Crumb Cake

  1. Baker Boonce says:

    So many synonyms for “crumbled-topped pies!!” Keep on educating the world with your plethora of words and baking secrets!

    Lookin’ good like always, HG!!

  2. Medeja says:

    That crumb topping really looks so good and makes this cake look so tempting!

  3. hungrygems says:

    It’s all about the crumble! =)

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