Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake is a mile high coffee cake with a delicate fresh lemon flavor, it’s made with my special lemon infused sugar ~ an easy technique for punching up the citrus flavor in your favorite recipes!
Lemon crumb cake is a classic New York style coffee cake
I made this for the family and realized it was too good not to share with you guys. It bakes up nice and tall, and it’s fluffy on the inside with a nice thick nubbly crumb crust on the top. But best of all it’s laced with the most delicate lemon flavor ~ that’s because the flavor is infused into the sugar that then bakes into the cake. The kitchen smells incredible, and everybody lunges for the first piece.
My easy lemon sugar technique infuses this breakfast cake with citrus flavor
You know I adore lemon, and I’m constantly on a crusade to figure out new and better ways to get lemon flavor into my food. This is a favorite technique of mine, you first saw it when I made my buttery Lemon Sugar Shortbread. That stuff is divine, by the way.
I knew the I could make an incredible lemony sugar by processing the zest of lemon with the sugar. The zest becomes a part of the sugar and flavors everything it touches with aromatic citrus. You see those little circles in the zest above? Each little bubble contains that aromatic citrus oil ready to burst into your sugar.
My Cuisinart food processor is the perfect tool for making lemon sugar
All I do is process the clean peel (minus any bitter white pith) with the sugar and it becomes a fragrant citrus sugar in seconds! This is a simple cake because the same dough is used for both the cake and the crumb topping, and everything can be made right in a full sized food processor. Since you’re using it to make your lemon sugar, there’s no need to dirty another bowl or mixer.
I patterned this recipe after one of my favorite coffee cakes on the blog, my Cardamom Crumb Cake.
I had intended to replace some of the liquid with lemon juice, but guess what? I forgot. And after tasting the finished cake I’ve decided that there’s no need for any lemon juice, the lemon flavor is just perfect as is. The flavor is subtle but fresh and natural tasting. This lemon sugar crumb cake is lovely, I hope you try it!
Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 lemon well washed and dried
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter cut in small pieces
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- preheat oven to 350F
- Spray a 9×9 square baking pan and line with parchment paper if you want to be able to lift it out for cutting. This is optional.
- Use a serrated vegetable peeler to carefully peel away the zest from the lemon. You want only the yellow, not any of the bitter white pith.
- Put the sugar into the bowl of a food processor, along with the zest. Process, scraping down the sides if necessary, for about a minute or so, until the zest is completely incorporated into the sugar.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt into the processor and pulse to combine everything.
- Add the butter 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.
- Measure out 1 cup of the mixture and set aside.
- 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. Note: I use my fingertips to make some larger, chunkier crumbs to create a nice texture on the top. Just compress the dry mixture a little between your fingers to make any size crumb you like.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
- I like to use organic lemons when I know I’ll be using the peel, and I wash them really well.
- If you don’t have a food processor you can do this by hand. Grate the lemon zest and mix with the sugar. I would use the zest of 2 lemons if you are doing it by hand.