Crumb Cake

piece of [crumb] cake

As a native east-coaster, I was exposed to crumb (a.k.a. coffee) cake at a young age. Whether by Drake’s or, later, Tastykake, once upon a time it was an occasional treat found in my school lunch box (not to mention one of the rare non-homemade baked goods ever to appear in our household).

To this day, I love having a piece of crumb cake with my morning coffee. And several of my Seattleite friends are now hooked, too — a feat (truth: it wasn’t that difficult) accomplished with the very recipe shared below.

Both east- and west-coasters alike will (and do — seriously, I performed an “extensive” study involving over fifteen, FIFTEEN, participants) find this breakfast cake difficult to resist. Part of the secret, as you can see in the above photo, is the ratio of crumb topping to cake — an ideal 50-50. While this is far more generous than most versions, it still manages to avoid being overly sweet or crisp. Additionally, once baked, it’s impossible to tell (both in taste and texture) that this fantastic cake is made with gluten free ingredients.

Crumb Cake

(heavily adapted from Bon Appétit, March 2002)

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Makes: 16 pieces


Cake Batter:

  • 46 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) Millet Flour
  • 46 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) Garbanzo Fava Flour
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp) Potato Starch
  • 24 grams (3 tbsp) Arrowroot Starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon Table Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 84 grams (6 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 144 grams (3/4 cup) Evaporated Cane Juice or Granulated White Sugar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 160 grams (2/3 cup) Sour Cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) Vanilla Extract


  • 54 grams (1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp) Millet Flour
  • 54 grams (1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp) Garbanzo Fava Flour
  • 72 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) Potato Starch
  • 32 grams (1/4 cup) Arrowroot Starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 1/8 teaspoon Table Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 96 grams (1/2 cup) Dark Brown Sugar
  • 48 grams (1/4 cup) Evaporated Cane Juice or Granulated White Sugar
  • 112 grams (8 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, melted and still warm


Prepare Cake:

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter a 9″ square metal baking pan and line with a sheet of parchment paper (do not trim overhang on the sides, this serves as a handle to lift cake out after it is baked — see this photo for additional clarification).

Whisk together millet flour through cinnamon into a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat room-temperature butter at medium speed (#4 on a KitchenAid) until smooth—about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beater; add sugar and beat (on medium speed) until well combined and fluffy — about 3 minutes, scrape down the bowl half way through. Add egg, beat on medium until well blended — about 1 minute. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and beat just until blended — about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl, turn the mixer on low and add flour — stir just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Transfer cake batter to prepared baking dish, spread evenly — an offset spatula is really helpful here.

Make topping and bake cake:

In a medium bowl, whisk together millet flour through cinnamon; set aside. In a separate, large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar). Whisk warm melted butter into the sugar mixture. Mix flour into the butter and sugar mixture; stir until well blended.

Squeeze small handfuls of topping together to form small clumps. Sprinkle clumps (breaking them up as necessary before placing) evenly over cake batter. Press crumbs down lightly to help them adhere to the cake layer.

Bake crumb cake for 1 hour, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake in its pan for 15 minutes. Using parchment overhang as handles, lift cake out of the pan onto a cooling rack. Once completely cool, gently remove parchment¹ and cut cake into 16 squares. If you don’t plan on serving the cake slices immediately, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place in a large storage bag.

Cake will keep well at room temperature for a few days, or you may freeze wrapped pieces for several months, remove from freezer several hours (the night before) before serving.


¹ The best way I’ve found to do this is to place the bottom of the pan used to bake the cake on top of the crumb part. Hold pan and cooling rack and quickly flip the cake over. Remove cooling rack, gently peel parchment off the bottom of the cake, and replace the cooling rack. Flip over, holding the rack and pan as before. Ta dah — minimal crumb loss and an unbroken cake!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 5:39 am

    This cake looks so delicious and moist! Buzzed this & am a new follower!!!
    – Jessica

  • Reply
    heather sage
    April 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Thank you Jessica!
    – Heather

  • Reply
    Free Spirit Eater
    April 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I love crumb cake! I was looking for it in the store yesterday and didn’t like my options, I’m so glad I ran into your recipe, I’m excited to try it, thanks so much for sharing! =]

  • Reply
    April 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    This cake looks delicious. Very well baked! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    April 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I struggle with Gluten free dishes, so this is so refreshing to see a nicely put together recipe! I’m going to get this one on the next dinner menu! Thank you for adding me as a foodie as well!

  • Reply
    heather sage
    April 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Free Spirit Eater: I hope you enjoy it. So hard to go back to any store bought kinds after you make it yourself!

    Eftychia: Thank you for reading and commenting!

    BMurphy724: All the recipes on this site are gluten free and tested multiple times (on many people–mostly gluten eaters and a few avoiders). I hope it’s a good resource for you!

  • Leave a Reply to heather sage Cancel Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.