new york crumb cake

Hasn’t it always been too long since your last slice of profoundly perfect crumb cake? You know, the kind that’s a hefty square with at least as much height from big brown sugar and cinnamon crumbs as from a golden, buttery, sour cream-enriched and vanilla-scented cake? Yes, me too. I didn’t expect to be back here so soon, though. I truly believed I’d finished my Crumb Cake Degree in 2021 with the still-perfect-in-every-way Big Apple Crumb Cake. But sometimes, perfection is a process.

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It turns out that the Big Apple Crumb Cake minus the apples, wasn’t exactly what I want in a New York crumb cake. This is. A few adjustments — more sour cream, a splash of water or milk, and (please, stay calm) a 25% thicker crumb layer yielded this dream square: almost comically top-heavy, the kind of thing you might gaze at in a bakery case and hope, for once, it tastes as good as it looks. I’ve tested it so many times, I’m pretty sure there’s not a family member, a teacher in my daughter’s school, or a friend on a group text chain [“Help, I made more crumb cake and someone to collect it!”] that hasn’t tried it. And now it’s your turn.

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Podcast! The third episode of my new podcast with J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, The Recipe with Kenji and Deb, is out and it’s all about — buttermilk pancakes, including these. You can listen to it anywhere you get your podcasts and I’ve set up a new podcast tab/page where you can keep up on it here, too. We will have new episodes every two Mondays. We’ve been working on this behind the scenes for the last year — I hope you enjoy listening along.


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1 year ago: Bean and Vegetable Burritos
2 years ago: Banana Cream Pie and Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup
3 years ago: Hummingbird Cake
4 years ago: Carrot and White Bean Burgers
5 years ago: Extra-Billowy Dutch Baby Pancake
6 years ago: Sweet Potato Tacos
7 years ago: Pujabi-Style Black Lentils and Easiest French Fries
8 years ago: Churros, Nolita-Style Avocado Toast and Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
9 years ago: Black-Bottom Oatmeal Pie and Potatoes with Soft Eggs and Bacon Vinaigrette
10 years ago: Broccoli, Cheddar, and Wild Rice Casserole and Double-Chocolate Banana Bread and Sizzling Chicken Fajitas
11 years ago: My Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits and Coconut Bread
12 years ago: Potato Knish, Two Ways
13 years ago: The Best Baked Spinach
14 years ago: Thick Chew Granola Bars, Arroz Con Leche, and Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs
15 years ago: Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
16 years ago: Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts, and Feta
17 years ago: Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

New York Crumb Cake

  • 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 2/3 cups (215 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Cake
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) water or milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cake
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven: To 350°F (175°C). Lightly coat an 8-inch square or 9-inch cake pan with butter or nonstick spray. For extra security, line it with parchment paper.

Make crumbs: Whisk butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt together until evenly mixed. Add flour and mix until it disappears. It’s going to be very thick; press it evenly into the bottom of the bowl and set it aside.

Make cake: Beat butter with sugar until lightened and fluffy. Add egg, water or milk, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Sprinkle surface of batter with with baking powder and salt, and beat well to combine. Add flour and mix only until it disappears.

Assemble: Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and smooth it flat. Use a spoon to loosen the crumbs from the bottom of the bowl where they’ve rested, breaking them up into big and small rubble. Sprinkle evenly over the batter.

Bake: Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake just below the crumbs comes out batter-free. Check in a few spots, in case it has baked unevenly.

Cool to lukewarm, if you can bear it, before dusting it generously with powdered sugar and cutting the cake into squares or wedges.

Do ahead: This cake keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, but I like it best in the first two.

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