Classic Crumb Cake

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My nephew Jordan is the very talented chef at Rocky Mountain Ranch- an historic family ranch nestled in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.  He has the freedom to plan creative menus from scratch, using local ingredients and assembling theme dinners, etc.  Last spring he contacted me to see if I had a great, classic crumb coffee cake recipe for him to use.  I checked my website and found that I really didn’t have anything fitting that description.  So he came up with one on his own, and I didn’t think much about it after that.  But when Christmas rolled around this year, I thought about that conversation I had with Jordan and figured it was high time I added a Classic Crumb Coffee Cake to the collection.

Classic Crumb Cake Recipe

This recipe comes directly from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  And I must say… it’s an awfully good one.

Classic Crumb Cake Recipe

The texture of the base batter is very thick.  It spreads rather thin (I thought…), but it rises up a fair amount to create a nice cake layer.

Classic Crumb Cake Recipe

Here’s the shocking part… are you ready for this?  I’m seriously embarrassed to even admit that I made this, and I was totally freaked out and grossed out at the same time.  The crumb topping has 3 1/2 sticks of butter in it.   !!!!!!!!  EEK.  I decided that Martha Stewart probably knows what she’s doing and just went for it anyways.  I was also super surprised that the crumb layer was a good 1/2-inch thick.  It kind of seems like you don’t need that much crumb when you’re making the cake, but it really does turn out perfect in the end.

Classic Crumb Cake Recipe - from
Classic Crumb Cake Recipe - from

Martha calls this a “foolproof cake – perfect for beginners.”  I’d say that she’s right.  It was so easy to prepare, and it turned out exactly as I was hoping it would.  It was a big hit on Christmas morning with my relatives.  I tried to warn them how much butter was in the cake, but no one seemed to care.  Everyone went back for seconds anyways!  As for my nephew and his ranch, I must say… Martha’s Crumb Cake might be a nice addition to the Ranch’s breakfast offerings!  By the way, I hope to visit the ranch this summer, since my son quite enamored with fly fishing and outdoor boy stuff.  If the chef adds this crumb cake to his menu, we just might have to seriously consider making a reservation 😉

Martha's Classic Crumb Cake

Yield: One 13x9-inch cake (10 to 12 servings)

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes



  • butter for greasing the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • additional butter, for greasing the pan


  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I used Kosher)
  • 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 13x9-inch baking pan (I used a metal pan- but a pyrex would probably work out okay too).
  2. Prepare the cake layer: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (scrape sides of bowl during mixing to incorporate all of the ingredients). Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, then the sour cream. Beat just until combined.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and use a rubber spatula to spread it into an even layer.
  5. Prepare the crumb layer: In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt; cut in the butter using a pastry blender, until large, moist clumps form. (I used a food processor to combine the butter and the other ingredients, pulsing until crumbs formed. The crumbs were smaller than large, moist clumps as described by Martha, but they worked perfectly fine in the recipe anyways).
  6. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly onto the batter. Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. The center of the cake should feel slightly firm to the touch and not soft and soggy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slice and eat!
SOURCE: (Adapted barely from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

Other good-lookin’ coffee cake recipes on the blogs:
Mom’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake by Shutterbean
Coffee Cake Cupcakes by The Shiksa 
Cinnamon- Cream Cheese Coffee Cake by Bake or Break 
Lemon Pull- Apart Coffee Cake by Leite’s Culinaria 
Gluten- Free Pumpkin Coffee Cake Muffins by Jeanette’s Healthy Living

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  • Brenda @ a farmgirl’s dabbles wrote:

    Ooooooo…that cinnamon-y topping!!!!

  • Tamara wrote:

    I really want to caution people NOT to make this cake. I never use “all purpose” flour, because I grind my own grains, but I can tell that, no matter what flour I would use, this cake would just taste like lightly sweet flour. Nothing more. I am so sad I wasted (and I mean WASTED) so much organic butter on this cake. :’~( Not to mention time. I’m not blaming the blogger. Some people like bland things. There is a somewhat rich undertone of butter, of course. But, the flavor is lightly sweetened flour. Now, I will say, the cake part might taste okay, if you add a REGULAR crumble topping to the top, with more sugar, less flour, oats and so forth…

    Just a warning to the wise. Do NOT make this cake.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      This is a recipe that comes from Martha Stewart’s Baking Book, so no offense taken. Though I served it at a large brunch and everyone loved it- it was gobbled up quickly!

  • Katy wrote:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’m a fan of Martha’s, but I don’t have her baking book. I ran across a similar recipe on her website, but it only had 1/2 baking soda and no baking powder, which didn’t sound like it would raise very well. I went on the search and found this recipe. I live in Germany and the flour here is different somehow and the butter higher in fat, so not all American recipes work, but this one did, very well! I had hope, since I have a similar coffee cake recipe that uses sour cream. I had been reading too many crumb cake recipes where the butter is melted for the streusel and I didn’t pay attention that it wasn’t in this one. It worked even with melted butter, but I didn’t need as much to get the flour moist and crumbly. So, next time I will see if there is a difference if I don’ melt it. I also added a layer of sour cherry jam between the cake and streusel. Great addition! (I used one cup.)
    Happy baking from Germany.

  • Kathy wrote:

    I made this 2 days ago for a get together yesterday. I should have went with my instincts. Everyone is afraid of the butter amount; no mention of how much flour and “lack” of sugar. It looked beautiful, but my daughter & I each took one bite. . . .rest of cake went in the trash. The cake is not real sweet and the amount of flour to sugar is over the top. The topping is basically “flour and butter”. Why?????? I want the topping to be a SWEET, crumbly topping. That’s what I’ll be looking for as I search for a GOOD crumb cake. Sorry, but this was a CRUMBY cake.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      It’s Martha Stewart’s recipe! Though I must admit… my family enjoyed it very much.

  • Jennie wrote:

    VERY DISSIPOINTED! Very Bland! the “crumb topping” tastes like buttery flour, the cake just has no flavor at all…i made sure i read and re-read this recipe multiple times while i was making it but it looks to me like a few ingreedients were left out of this recipe…i thought something was weird about a crumb topping with more flour than anything else…sad, for all the money i put into this its just going in the trash…

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Bummer you didn’t care for it- we actually loved it. Guess you can blame Martha Stewart, since it’s her recipe 🙁

  • Kat wrote:

    Found the cake to be extremely blan. Perhaps using some bust of dried fruit would help. Very expensive cake to make, I believe it’s to much butter for one recipe 🙁

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Bland? So strange… we had 8 people eating it Christmas morning and it was totally devoured. Moist and tender with a sugary crumb!

  • Alison wrote:

    But wait…don’t stop just stating how much butter is in the crumb topping. The whole recipe calls for 4 3/4 sticks of butter! There’s 1 1/4 sticks of butter in the cake plus 3 1/2 sticks of butter in the crumb layer. Yikes. Sounds like an expensive cake to me…though most likely delicious.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Yep, lots of butter in the whole thing!

  • naomi wrote:

    OMG- I love this!! I’m going to so make this. 3.5 stick of butter and all.

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious wrote:

    I’m totally loving the crumb to cake ratio on this! Now if only I can have a slice of this for breakfast tomorrow…