Indulge in the bliss of Nana’s New York Crumb Cake: tender cake topped with a generous layer of irresistible, soft cinnamon-scented crumbs.
There’s just something about a big slice of New York crumb cake that takes me back to my childhood.
Maybe it’s the memories of Polish Easter Sundays with Nana. See, crumb cake was always part of our traditional Polish Easter breakfast, along with ham, kielbasa, boiled eggs, butter, salt, and all of the other things we were supposed to be giving up for Lent (which, growing up Catholic, she actually did in her time.)
Her family would take a basket full of those foods to Easter morning mass and have them blessed by the priest…and then devour them after church. As I grew up, we ate the same breakfast, but the crumb cake was always store-bought.
I found this recipe in Nana’s Cookbook, and was surprised that she even had one, considering.
That meant that her mother used to make this beauty every year for her family. And then Nana did the same for her children, but when the blue and white boxed version came out (you know the brand), it made her lazy.
Completely understandable. I also partake in the lazy way, since there’s nothing wrong with it at all…except this one is approximately 17,568 times better.
This page includes step by step instructions, as well as tips and notes. If you’d like to skip all that, feel free to scroll down to the full, printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
New York crumb cake vs. coffee cake
Crumb cake is a classic dessert that originated in Europe, then became the dessert it is today in the Big Apple, capturing the hearts (and taste buds) of people all around the world. It’s a heavenly combination of light, buttery cake and a generous layer of big, irresistible, cinnamon-scented crumbs.
While they share some similarities, New York crumb cake and coffee cake are not the same. Coffee cake typically has a moist, sponge-like texture, often accompanied by a streusel topping. Crumb cake, on the other hand, is pretty basic: slightly dry vanilla cake topped with moist, buttery, sugary crumble.
And New York crumb cake takes that to a whole other level, mainly because a requirement is having the crumb layer be taller than the cake.
This leads to some pretty amazing crumble action. And who doesn’t love crumbs? They work so well on blueberry sour cream coffee cake, my apple butterscotch crumb cake, and you can even sprinkle some on this caramel banana coffee cake for extra texture.
Shopping for this crumb cake recipe? Start in your pantry!
- All-purpose flour – or cake flour; you can also make this recipe gluten free by using a 1:1 gluten free flour.
- Granulated sugar – to sweeten the cake.
- Brown sugar – to sweeten the crumb.
- Baking powder
- Large egg
- Milk – cow, plant-based, or buttermilk
- Sour cream – or Greek yogurt
- Unsalted butter – I always use unsalted butter because I like to have control of my salt levels, but use what you have.
- Vanilla extract – almond extract is also amazing in this recipe.
- Cinnamon – for the crumb topping.
- Powdered sugar – optional, and just for looks.
How to make New York crumb cake
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly brush a 9-inch square baking pan with butter and dust with flour, or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine the dry. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Combine the wet. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, sour cream, butter, and vanilla.
- Make the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into wet mixture.
- Par-bake it. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and par-bake for 10 minutes.
- Crumbs! In a clean bowl, whisk together some flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the melted butter over the flour mixture, then toss the mixture with a fork or rubber spatula until large crumbs form.
- Second bake. After the 10 minutes is up, remove the cake from the oven and spread the crumb topping evenly on its surface. Return the crumb cake to the oven and continue to bake it for 20-25 additional minutes, or until the cake is firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
- Devour. Cool the crumb cake completely, dust it with powdered sugar as desired, and enjoy it with a latte!
Can I freeze New York Crumb Cake?
Yes, you can! If you find yourself with leftovers (although it’s hard to imagine any), wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer. When you’re ready to indulge again, thaw it at room temperature or reheat individual slices in the microwave for a warm, crumbly treat.
More sweet breakfast recipes to try!
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Nana’s New York Crumb Cake
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or cake flour or 1:1 gluten-free flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk or buttermilk
- ¼ cup sour cream or Greek Yogurt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup light-brown sugar firmly packed
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly brush a 9″ square baking pan with butter and dust with flour. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, sour cream, butter, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into wet mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and bake for 10 minutes.
- While cake is par-baking, make crumb topping. In a bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the melted butter over the flour mixture, then toss with a fork or rubber spatula until large crumbs form.
- After 10 minutes, remove cake from over and top evenly with crumb topping. Return to oven and continue to bake for 20-25 additional minutes until cake is firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar as desired.