A Guide to Making New York-Style Crumb Cake

As a lover of all things sweet, I have always been a huge fan of crumb cake. There’s something about the combination of a moist cake and a buttery crumb topping that makes my taste buds dance with joy. And when it comes to crumb cake, no one does it better than New York. In this guide, I will take you through everything you need to know about making a delicious New York-style crumb cake from scratch.

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New York-style crumb cake is a classic American dessert that originated in the 19th century. It is a dense, moist cake that is topped with a thick layer of buttery crumb topping. The crumb topping is the star of the show, with its crispy texture and rich flavor. The cake itself is typically flavored with vanilla and has a tender, cakey texture that pairs perfectly with the crumb topping.

Ingredients needed for New York-style crumb cake

To make a New York-style crumb cake, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the crumb topping, you will need:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted

Tools you need to make New York-style crumb cake

To make a New York-style crumb cake, you will need the following tools:

  • A 9×13-inch baking dish
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Whisk
  • Rubber spatula
  • Pastry cutter or fork

Step-by-step instructions on how to make New York-style crumb cake

Now that you have all your ingredients and tools ready, it’s time to make the cake. Follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C) and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  3. In another mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until creamy using a whisk or an electric mixer.
  4. Add in the sour cream, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top with a rubber spatula.
  7. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the crumb topping.
  8. Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and mix with a pastry cutter or fork until large crumbs form.
  9. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the cake batter, covering it evenly.
  10. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tips for making the perfect crumb topping

The crumb topping is what makes a New York-style crumb cake so special, so it’s important to get it right. Here are some tips for making the perfect crumb topping:

  • Use melted butter: Melted butter will help the crumb topping hold together better and create larger crumbs.
  • Use light brown sugar: Light brown sugar has a higher moisture content than dark brown sugar, which will help the crumb topping stay moist and tender.
  • Mix the dry ingredients first: Mixing the dry ingredients before adding the melted butter will help ensure that the crumb topping is evenly distributed.
  • Don’t overmix: Overmixing the crumb topping will result in smaller crumbs and a denser texture.

Variations to try with your crumb cake recipe

While a classic New York-style crumb cake is delicious on its own, there are many variations you can try to switch things up. Here are some ideas:

  • Add fruit: Try adding fresh berries, sliced peaches, or chopped apples to the cake batter before baking.
  • Add nuts: Add chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds to the crumb topping for a crunchy texture.
  • Add spices: Add a pinch of nutmeg or cloves to the cake batter for a warm, cozy flavor.
  • Make it chocolate: Add cocoa powder to the cake batter and use chocolate chips in the crumb topping for a decadent twist.

Serving suggestions for your crumb cake

A New York-style crumb cake is delicious on its own, but it’s also great served with a few accompaniments. Here are some serving suggestions:

  • Whipped cream: Top the cake with a dollop of whipped cream for a little extra indulgence.
  • Ice cream: Serve the cake warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a classic dessert pairing.
  • Coffee: A slice of crumb cake is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea.
  • Fruit: Serve the cake with a side of fresh fruit for a lighter dessert option.

How to store and reheat crumb cake

If you have any leftover crumb cake, you can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply microwave a slice for 15-20 seconds or place it in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.

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Frequently asked questions about crumb cake

Here are some frequently asked questions about making New York-style crumb cake:

What is the best flour to use for crumb cake?

All-purpose flour is the best flour to use for crumb cake as it provides the right amount of structure and tenderness to the cake.

Can I freeze crumb cake?

Yes, you can freeze crumb cake. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, let it sit at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Can I make crumb cake ahead of time?

Yes, you can make crumb cake ahead of time. Prepare the cake and crumb topping as directed, but do not bake. Cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and bake as directed.


Making a New York-style crumb cake from scratch may seem daunting, but with the right ingredients and tools, it’s actually quite simple. Follow these step-by-step instructions and tips to make a delicious crumb cake that will impress all your friends and family. And don’t forget to try out some of the variations and serving suggestions to make it your own!

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