Moist chocolate coffee cake with big fudgy crumbs ~ breakfast doesn’t get any better!
chocolate crumb cake’s pedigree
Crumb cake is believed to have originated in Germany in the 1700s as streuselkuchen, which translates to ‘streusel cake’ (derived from the German word streuen meaning to scatter.) German immigrants brought crumb cake to America in the 1900s and the Pennsylvania Dutch popularized the recipe, especially among the Amish. The cake is easy to make and keeps well, so It eventually spread throughout the Northeast, where it remains a beloved breakfast treat. I grew up eating crumb cake every weekend with my German grandparents, and I’ve made several renditions here on the site. Transitioning from the traditional yellow cake to devil’s food chocolate seems like a no-brainer. This chocolate crumb cake is a must bake!
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what you’ll need for chocolate crumb cake
- baking powder, baking soda, salt
- vegetable oil
- granulated sugar
- powdered sugar
- brewed coffee
to pick up
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- I use a combination of natural cocoa powder and Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder for a deep dark chocolate vibe in this cake.
- sour cream
cocoa powder gives this crumb cake its chocolatey flavor
Cocoa powder is made by grinding up cocoa beans, with the cocoa butter removed. There are several main types of cocoa powder: natural, Dutched, and black or dark. I keep all types of cocoa in my pantry and for this chocolate crumb cake I used a combination of natural and Dutched cocoa.
1. Dutch Process Cocoa Powder: Dutch process cocoa powder is made by treating natural cocoa with alkali. The alkalizing process removes some of the acidity, making it milder and darker than natural cocoa powder. It has a slightly bitter, deep chocolate flavor, and is used in recipes with baking powder. Dutch process cocoa is commonly used in European recipes.
2. Natural Cocoa Powder: it’s the most common type of cocoa powder. This powder is reddish-brown and acidic in taste, often used in conjunction with baking soda. Natural cocoa powder is commonly used in American recipes.
3. Dark or Black Cocoa Powder: Dark cocoa powder is made with the highest percentage of cocoa solids, meaning it contains more cocoa than either Dutch process or natural cocoa powder. It has a bitter, intense chocolate flavor and is quite dark in color.
what to expect from this chocolate crumb cake
The cake bakes up a bit unevenly, rising more on the edges as the crumbs weigh it down in sections. This makes for an appealing rugged top, especially when you accent the texture with powdered sugar.
The cake itself is moist and almost brownie-like. The crumble is drier and has a hint of crunch, so the combination is super nice.
The cake slices easily from the pan and works both warm and room temperature.
Despite being super chocolatey, this is definitely a morning/afternoon type treat, serve with coffee, tea, or milk.
This crumb cake is large and will feed a crowd. Feel free to halve the recipe and bake in a 9×9 baking pan.
storing and freezing suggestions
Keep the chocolate crumb cake covered in foil or plastic on the counter. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
To freeze crumb cake, cut it into slices and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Place them into a ziplock freezer bag and force out any extra air before zipping closed. Be sure to wrap well to prevent freezer burn which will dry the cake out. When ready to enjoy, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for an hour or two before serving.
more dessert for breakfast
Chocolate Crumb Cake
- 9×13 baking pan
dry ingredients for cake
wet ingredients for cake
for dusting the finished cake
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray your pan with nonstick baking spray.
make the crumb topping
- In a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa and salt together, and then drizzle in the melted butter. Stir, and then get in with your hands to toss and combine well to create a large crumb texture. It will seem gooey at first but will dry out as you blend everything. Set aside.
to make the cake
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk the sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth. (Don't add the coffee yet.)
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then stir in the hot coffee and mix until everything is well combined, but don't over-beat.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out the surface.
- Top evenly with the crumble mixture. Note: scatter the crumbs evenly and all the way to the edges of the cake, don't mound them in the center. This will help the cake bake more evenly.
- Bake the cake in the center rack of your preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until done in the middle. The center should not be wobbly. You can check with a toothpick, but be aware that this is a brownie-like cake so your toothpick may come out with fudgy crumbs. Don't over-bake.
- Let cool for about 10-15 minutes, the shower generously with powdered sugar through a seive.