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Martha’s Classic Crumb Cake

slice of crumb cake on a white plate
Classic Crumb Cake is a classic baking recipe for a reason. Its flavor and texture are timeless and always a hit!

Recently, I came into possession of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. There are so many things in this book that I want to try. I hardly know where to start. I like to mark recipes-to-be-tried with small post-its, but with this book I didn’t even bother. I want to make them all. After gazing at its pages for weeks, I finally present my first offering. And a worthy one it turned out to be.

The cake is extremely moist. And the crumb topping is so, so good. Don’t be frightened by the amount of butter in that topping. Your portion of that will be very small. I used another of my new Penzey’s cinnamons – Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon. This is apparently the strongest cinnamon money can buy. Penzey’s recommends only using 2/3 the amount of cinnamon called for in the recipe. I snubbed that suggestion. It’s quite the strong cinnamon, but it was well suited to this cake. Not too strong at all.

The book describes this cake as “foolproof.” I would pretty much agree. No part of making it was difficult, but there are several steps involved. My only regret was that I used a dark cake pan, so the bottom and sides were a bit more done than I would have preferred. I chose that pan, though, because of its super-straight sides, which seemed perfect for this cake. Besides that, this cake was exceptionally good.

Martha’s Classic Crumb Cake

Yield 24 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
slice of crumb cake on a white plate


For the crumb topping:

  • 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (396g) unsalted butter, softened

For the cake:

  • 10 tablespoons (141g) butter, softened
  • 2 & 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/4 cups (282g) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the crumb topping:

  1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add the butter, and mix with a pastry blender or a fork. When well mixed, the mixture should form large, moist clumps. Place in the refrigerator while you make the cake.

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ x 13″ x 2" pan and set aside. Alternatively, line the pan with parchment paper, and butter the paper and any exposed parts of the pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after adding each one. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture and the sour cream. Mix just until blended.
  5. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the top of the batter.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. If you like, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar when serving.


Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

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    24 Comments on “Martha’s Classic Crumb Cake”

  1. i love crumb cake, but mine never turn out well…

    maybe because i eat all the ‘crumb’ before i can bake the cake.


  2. I always use the Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzeys and never reduce the amount. I dont think it has overpowered anything yet – and I go through bags of the stuff!

  3. Connie, I couldn’t blame you. That’s the best part of the cake!

    Joe, thanks for your input about the cinnamon. I’m definitely getting a bigger container next time.

  4. oh my goodness! i just started reading your blog recently and you have some amazing looking stuff on here. but how do you and your hubby consume it all?! hahahaha…

  5. Your crumb cake looks awesome. Much better than the Hostess kind I used to beg my mom to buy me.

  6. Makes me want a hunk of that and a big mug of coffee!

    Oy. I’m so in love with the “idea” of that woman it’s sad. I’m not sure that I’d like her all that much person to person, though. As for her recipes? My experience is totally hit or miss. I never know. I’m writing a blog about one of her pasta dishes I tried last week that was great. But I really, really disliked the gingerbread recipe of hers that I once tried.

  7. Lindsay, the short answer is that we don’t. I usually give most of this stuff away. This cake, for instance, we ate Sunday and Monday, and then I gave the rest away. If we ate all of this, we’d be in BIG trouble.

  8. I have Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook as well – and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about the crumb cake recipe! I’ll definitely have to give it a try now!

  9. Yum. I love crumb cake – the crumb more so than the cake! Like you, I have mixed feelings about MS but got the book anyway. This looks like a “must” for this weekend’s baking! Thanks!

  10. Oh wow, I just used the Vietnamese cinnamon for the first time a while back and it *is* strong! I prefer the Chinese, but it’s so fun to experiment with them all! Your crumb cake looks delish!

  11. Oh Joy! I just followed the link to your site, and what a find! I love it, and can’t wait to explore!

    As for Martha’s Baking Handbook – I have made several things out of it now, and they’ve been wonderful. You’re right, Martha is sort of weird, but her recipes are fabulous. I’ve had my eye on this crumbcake, but yes, I was hesitant to see how much butter it called for…I’m waiting until there’s a reason to bake it and share it, or my husband and I would have no choice but to slowly consume the cake, day by day, until we’d eaten A POUND of butter!!


  12. I was attempting to make this wonderful cake when the directions said to add the sour cream but it isn’t listed in the ingredients. Am I to assume it’s a cup? Help!

  13. Oops! There are 1 & 1/4 cups of sour cream in the recipe. I’ve fixed it in the recipe. Thanks for pointing this out!

  14. How do you measure your sour cream? That’s one ingredient that always stumps me. I’m never sure whether I should measure it in a dry measuring cup, a liquid measuring cup or by weight.

  15. Good question, Gigi. I measure sour cream with a dry ingredient measurer. Weight is a bit tricky with things like that because it is usually measured in fluid ounces instead of by weight. So, I use the dry measurer for this and things like peanut butter and yogurt. Hope that helps!

  16. I’m just about to make this crumb cake but I’m a little hesitant about using that much butter. Did you use 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) of butter or 3 1/2 sticks
    (1 3/4) cup butter for the topping?

  17. Elsa, it is indeed 3 & 1/2 sticks of butter. Trust me, it’s delicious. Good luck!

  18. Wow, what a quick response! Thank you so much. I really appreciat that! You’ve made my night. I’m sure this will be delicious in the morning.
    Thanks again!

  19. Thanks Jennifer!

  20. I’m a Penzey’s fan, too. And I love all the choices. I usually use the Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon in the batter where & the milder Ceylon Cinnamon in the strusel toppings where the taste is not so bitey. I even put a few of the Cinnamon Chunks in the brew basket of the coffee maker for a wonderful cinnamon coffee!

    Just found your blog, BTW.

  21. I’m confused by the recipe instructions of Martha’s Classic Crumb Cake; is the crumb topping baked on the cake. The recipe reads like you finish off the cake with dusting confectioner’s sugar. Then you mix up the crumb topping, but the instructions end with a bowl of really buttery crumbs. I figured something may have been deleted from this recipe but I’d love to make it correctly & this leaves too much information out.

  22. Disregard my question about finishing the Martha’s Classic Crumb Cake. I went back & reread it a couple times. Yep the crumb mix goes on before baking. I think I even caught turning the pan 1/2 way through baking but the most important part of crumb cake just escaped my brain. My confusion is that the instructions for the crumb topping came after a finished g cooling product.

  23. I made this recipe also with Penzey’s cinnamon. I used the full tablespoon. Loved it. I agree my dark pan also made edges of cake dark. Your tips and thoughts were exactly what I was thinking. I made this at the request of my husband! Delicious!

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