Cardamom Crumb Cake

New York Style Crumb Cake

cardamom crumb cake

I grew up in a suburb just outside New York City, and I have a pretty good dose of German heritage on my dad’s side.  If you put those two things together in a hat and shake them up real good, you’ll come up with, among other things…crumb cake.  Crumb cake is as New York as New York pizza, and it seemed like it was always sitting on the counter in our kitchen, sometimes homemade, mostly store bought, and always accompanied by a glass of orange juice that was puckeringly sour when it followed a bite of that sweet cake.  Now that I’m grown up I’ve replaced the orange juice with lots of hot coffee, and it’s pure heaven.

moist buttery cardamom crumb cake

Crumb cake was brought over to New York by German immigrants, and along with all those foods that have become American classics like hot dogs, hamburgers, and beer, they also brought over a kind of bakery culture and a love of all things ‘cake’.  It’s rare to find a New Yorker who doesn’t love crumb cake, but it’s possible that if you live on the West coast, you might never have heard of it.  It’s a very simple, unassuming but very buttery and moist cake topped with lots and lots of crumbs.  And it makes the perfect mid-winter breakfast.

cardamom coffee cake

There are lots of ways to make it —  sometimes the crumbs are like little boulders all over the top, and other times it’s more like a streusel topping.  This one is the latter.   The crumbs are made from a bit of reserved cake mixture, so it’s super easy.  It’s spiced with warm, fragrant cardamom, which is not traditional, but really wonderful.  Cardamom is more subtle than cinnamon, and if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you do.  Switching out cinnamon for cardamom is a tiny little change that can freshen up a lot of your favorite recipes.

Cardamom Crumb Cake

Cardamom Crumb Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cardamom
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (12 Tbsp.)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Spray a 9x9 square baking pan and line with parchment paper if you want to be able to lift it out for cutting. That part is optional.
  3. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cardamom in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine, You can also do this by hand in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Cut the butter in small pieces and add it to the bowl. Pulse to combine, maybe about 20 pulses. The mixture should be crumbly with the butter well distributed and in very small pieces.. You can also do this by hand with a pastry cutter.
  5. Measure out 1 cup of the mixture and set aside.
  6. Whisk together the wet ingredients and mix with the dry, just until combined. Spread the batter into the pan, and top with the reserved crumbs.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Notes

recipe just slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/cardamom-crumb-cake/

cardamom crumb cake, New York style

45 Comments

  • Reply
    Kari
    May 21, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Hi, Sue. I just made this today, and it was delicious (or as Mary Berry is fond of saying “scrummy”). I came back to this page because I wanted to check the comments to see other ways people may have played with the recipe flavor. I would love an orange cake, and I loved the texture of this cake immensely. Imagine my surprise when someone mentioned sour cream! “What sour cream?!” I said to myself. Back to the recipe I went, and lo and behold, I missed both the sour cream and the vanilla. Let me tell you, it was still “scrummy” without those ingredients. I may try it again the “right” way, but the texture of the cake was sublime. Thanks for a great recipe! I’m thinking about tweaking this into an orange cake, too. Just some subtle flavor. Best wishes to you.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Oh now you’ve got me dreaming of an orange crumb cake, Kari! I’m planning a banana version, in fact I just stocked up on the bananas yesterday for that. That’s amazing that you left out the sour cream and it was still good!! Let me know the results of your orange experiment :)

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    February 19, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Not sure what happened, but this cake was still pure liquid at 40 minutes. Very good flavor, I love cardamom.

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 19, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      It sounds like your oven is not heating to the proper temperature, Jennifer. I’ve found that every oven I’ve ever had is off in some way or another, I highly recommend getting an inexpensive oven thermometer so you can check.

  • Reply
    Julie
    September 23, 2016 at 12:26 am

    any recommendation on scaling down to use 8×8 pan? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Teresa Davis
    June 30, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I made this to take into my physical therapist. Keep hoping bribes will work. They don’t; they still hurt me. So maybe I should just give it to my dearest friends. Or maybe I’ll just keep it all to myself. Ha yes that’s the answer! This is one of the most fabulous cakes ever. I’ve been wanting to try cardamom and I am in love with it. The cake is so easy to make. Love love love.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 1, 2016 at 9:09 am

      I’m thrilled you loved this Teresa, and so sorry it didn’t help with the pain ;) I’m also thrilled you’ve discovered cardamom, you’ll see lots more of it here!

  • Reply
    Kristin
    May 14, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Hi! What would be a good substitute for the sour cream in this recipe?

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 14, 2016 at 8:04 am

      Generally if I don’t have sour cream I use yogurt, Kristin. I like Greek yogurt, and whole milk will work best, but it won’t be quite as lovely as the sour cream. Creme fraiche or thick buttermilk will also work. Good luck!

      • Reply
        Kristin
        May 23, 2016 at 6:15 am

        I used the sour cream and this turned out just as pictured above! So yummy, thanks!

        • Reply
          Sue
          May 23, 2016 at 7:12 am

          I’m so glad, thanks for letting me know Kristin :)

  • Reply
    Gluten and Dairy Free Cardamom Crumb Cake
    March 7, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    […] are really pretty, so it checks all my boxes! A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe on there for Cardamom Crumb Cake, so I decided to try and make it gluten free and I’m happy to report it turned out really […]

  • Reply
    Jennifer Sagar
    February 20, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    This post appeared just at the right moment in time. My fiance and I had a houseful of guests for the weekend (12 people for brunch on Sunday!) and this cake was just the perfect thing. It was a breeze to make and I set it out for people to help themselves to along with coffee or tea as they meandered into the kitchen at their own pace on Sunday morning. The texture/crumb of the actual cake part was phenomenal – superb recipe. Many thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      You’re so welcome, it sounds like it was a wonderful day!

  • Reply
    Kate
    February 19, 2015 at 3:51 am

    Yum! This looks so good. Cardamom rolls are one of my favorite things on earth so I know I would love this.

  • Reply
    Sara
    February 16, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I didn’t realize that crumb cake was a German food. It explains why Opa’s favorite coffee cake is a crumb cake ( my family’s recipe and what we actually call it )

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 16, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Now you can enlighten the rest of the family ;)

  • Reply
    Liz
    February 13, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Made this just this morning for my Friday treat… I made 1/2 of the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 5 bread pan which worked fine. I used less sugar 2/3 cup plus 1 T (1/2 the recipe would have been 1 cup) as I don’t like things too sweet. This turned out perfect for my taste as in just sweet enough :) !

    I looked at Martha Stewart’s recipe and noted she used some lemon zest. I might try that next round as it sounds wonderful to me, but this version is very good and so quick to put together. It was in the oven before my coffee was ready!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 13, 2015 at 6:18 am

      A bread pan sounds like a nice variation, and good to know about the less sugar option, Liz!

  • Reply
    Susan
    February 12, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    This sounds so delicious and my kind of cake without a lot of frills. Give me a crumb topping any day and cardamom – oh yeah!

  • Reply
    PurpleQueen
    February 12, 2015 at 10:30 am

    This was such a fun post, and so personal for me, as I am a native New Yorker. I also grew up in the suburbs of NY. My Father is of German desent, crumb cake is essential! We used to go to the bakery and get Crumb Boards, lots of streusel topping with a flaky pastry underneath, absolute heaven! Thanks for a trip down Memory Lane, I know what I will be baking this weekend!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 12, 2015 at 11:33 am

      I’ve never heard of a crumb board — now I’m so curious!

  • Reply
    Sheena @ Tea and Biscuits
    February 12, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Sue, your cake looks fabulous and your photos are fantastic as usual! We eat a lot of Indian food (very popular cuisine back in Scotland) in our house and so I always have cardamom pods in the pantry but I would never have thought to use them in baking, what a neat idea! I might try to gluten-freeify your recipe, I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 12, 2015 at 7:26 am

      Definitely let me know about the gluten free version Sheena. As for the pods, I usually use the pre-ground cardamom from the supermarket in baking, but whenever I’ve taken the trouble to grind the seeds myself, I’ve been blown away by the extra flavor.

  • Reply
    Penny
    February 12, 2015 at 3:53 am

    I love simple cakes like this and am always looking for an excuse to use cardamom. I bet if I made this for our neighbors, formally from NY, they would love it.

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    February 11, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    i love crumb cakes and i have never had one with cardamom before. It moist and a great flavor of sweetness.

  • Reply
    John@Kitchen+Riffs
    February 11, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    We lived in the NYC area for a time. And had more than our share of crumb cake. Haven’t had it for years. But I will. ;-) Thanks.

  • Reply
    Karen S in Michigan
    February 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    This brings back wonderful memories. I too am of German descent and lived outside New York City in NJ. Most Sunday mornings we would go to the bakery in our town to get crumb cakes, onion rolls and caraway-salt stick rolls. Do you know what those are? Crumb cake was my favorite–especially the “bubbles” on top. I love cardamom, so this will definitely be a recipe I make very soon. Thanks for the memories.

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 11, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      I didn’t know about caraway-salt stick rolls, but they sound really good, I’m going to look them up, thanks Karen!

      • Reply
        Karen S in Michigan
        February 11, 2015 at 2:59 pm

        They’re kind of like a croissant only not quite so light and airy…more substantial like a soft “eggy” yeast roll with a crisp crust sprinkled with caraway seeds and coarse salt. They were shaped like a fat, rolled cigar. So good!

        • Reply
          Sue
          February 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm

          yum!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    February 11, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Yes please to lots and lots of crumbs! I could go for a nice square of this cake now as a post-lunch treat! Love the cardamom too, for a bit more depth than just cinnamon.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    February 11, 2015 at 11:48 am

    The texture of this cake looks like heaven – with a cup of coffee? I think I would absolutely moan out loud! Love cardamom so this is right up my alley~! I LOVE the back story and never knew this about New York. Awesome post!

  • Reply
    SallyBR
    February 11, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Cardamon is a favorite of mine, and I find it so much more interesting than cinnamon!

    your crumb cake would be welcome at my home anytime!

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 11, 2015 at 10:36 am

      I really agree, cinnamon can be harsh and overpowering. Thanks for stopping by Sally.

  • Reply
    Sippitysup
    February 11, 2015 at 9:46 am

    This is why I come to this blog! You take something so simple and transport it. I know this is heaven on the palate. I can just tell. GREG

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 11, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Awww…shucks…

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    February 11, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Cardamom is a spice I don’t use nearly often enough! Love this and I am always a sucker for anything with crumb on top :)

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 11, 2015 at 8:24 am

      I just pretty much substitute it for cinnamon all the time now, just to change things up.

  • Reply
    grace
    February 11, 2015 at 8:07 am

    soft, fluffy innards and a crumbly, buttery topping are characteristics i appreciate in a cake. i guess i haven’t been giving new york enough credit. :)

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Bring Back Delicious
    February 11, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Im a sucker for anything with a streusel topping. At the kitchen I used to work at, we had a 5 gallon bucket full of just streusel to use as needed. A bucket of love…and if you eat enough, love handles haha #worthit

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 11, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Oh my God I bet you streusel’d everything :)

  • Reply
    Melynda@OurSundayCafe
    February 11, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I love cardamom! Can’t wait to make this, maybe this weekend…….

    • Reply
      Sue
      February 11, 2015 at 7:45 am

      It’s the perfect thing to make on a February Sunday, enjoy!

  • Reply
    Monique
    February 11, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I am sure I would love this..cardamom and a crumb cake..Of course I would..More thana Victoria sponge cake that I made yesterday..I don’t seem to need buttercream :)

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