Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake

Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake is a mile high crumb 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 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 Sugar Crumb Cake on a wooden board

lemon crumb cake is a classic New York style coffee cake

I patterned this recipe after one of my favorite coffee cakes on the blog, my Cardamom Crumb Cake. I made it 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.

“I made the cake today and it turned out great! Super delicious. Thanks so much. Already looking forward to making it again. I’m so happy to have a ‘go to’ source.”

Jeanette
a slice of lemon sugar crumb cake

my easy lemon sugar technique infuses this lemon crumb 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.

Making lemon sugar in a food processor

a 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.

Homemade lemon sugar in a jar with spoon

more cake for breakfast!

Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake is a mile high crumb 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!
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3.6 from 267 votes

Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake

Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake is a mile high coffee cake with a delicate fresh lemon flavor, made with my special lemon infused sugar!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 12 servings
Calories 380kcal
Author Sue Moran

Equipment

  • food processor
  • 9×9 baking pan

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon, organic preferred well washed and dried
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter cut in small pieces

wet ingredients

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • 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 add to the dry, mixing 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.

Cook’s notes

  • 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.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 122mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 456IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 2mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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86 Comments

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    Please rate this recipe!




  • Reply
    Annette Zack
    April 23, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Does it make a difference if you use regular lemons or Meyer lemons?

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 23, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      No, go with either.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Wisner
    April 5, 2020 at 9:24 am

    5 stars
    I have made this cake twice in the last week. The first time exactly as recipe is called for. Today I made it with orange instead of lemon. I love both ways. I squeezed some of the orange juice into batter. Delicious, thank you for a great recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 5, 2020 at 9:32 am

      You’ve tempted me Cheryl, we actually have some oranges right now and it sounds lovely!

  • Reply
    Maybe
    April 4, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    5 stars
    I made this today exactly as written. It s delicious, has a tender texture and makes the house smell wonderful ! Most recipes take a lot longer for prep than the author states, not this one. It really was in the oven in less than 15 minutes with less 10 minutes of cleanup. I’m going to be putting my house on the market soon. I’ll be baking this prior to showings that give me enough warning.

  • Reply
    Cindy Sutjiadi
    August 22, 2019 at 11:04 am

    5 stars
    Totally fell in love with this recipe. Since my oven is small, I made half recipe. It turned out sooo gewd! Moist with crunchy crumble on top. So so gewd!! Thank you for sharing the recipe. Definitely a keeper!

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 22, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Thanks Cindy, glad you loved this one 🙂

  • Reply
    Berta
    August 22, 2019 at 6:16 am

    I notice you don’t call for any of the juice from the lemon???

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 19, 2020 at 7:09 pm

      No, not in this recipe. Lemon juice is basically just sour ~ all the lemon flavor is in the zest.

      • Reply
        Kathleen
        May 17, 2020 at 12:29 pm

        5 stars
        I used the lemon juice, used it along with the milk to make 2/3 cup. It was delicious!

  • Reply
    Diane
    March 17, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Does this make a thick enough batter to fold in blueberries to the cake? Love lemon with blueberries.

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 18, 2019 at 6:14 am

      The batter is pretty thick, so go for it!

  • Reply
    Donna L.
    January 12, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Hi Sue! Love your blog. This lemon cake sounds heavenly, but I’m wondering if I can use less sugar in the recipe. Perhaps a combo of Splenda for baking and your homemade lemon sugar? My hubby and I are trying to cut back on sugar consumption, but this cake would be a wonderful treat. What do you think? Thank you.

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 12, 2019 at 9:14 am

      This is one of those cases where I think you just have to experiment, Donna. I’m sure you can cut back, I know the rule of thumb is you can usually cut down about 1/3 of the sugar in a baking recipe with reliable results. I don’t have a lot of experience with Splenda, but I think it’s definitely worth a try. Let us know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Wendy Cunningham
    October 2, 2018 at 3:13 am

    Hi my name is Wendy I have just joined please can you tell me what you mean by allpurpose flour is plain or self razing

    Xx

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 2, 2018 at 7:40 am

      When I say flour it’s always all plain flour, not self raising. Welcome in Wendy 🙂

  • Reply
    Vikki
    August 31, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Hi. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Did you sprinkle anything on top of the crumbs they look like it in picture

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 31, 2018 at 8:21 am

      No, that’s just the way the crumbs come out, you’ll see when you make it, it’s not the usual kind of crumbly topping, it’s lighter and less nubbly.

  • Reply
    Jeanette Waters
    August 3, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    5 stars
    I made the cake today and it turned out great! Super delicious. Thanks so much. Already looking forward to making it again.
    I’m so happy to have a ‘go to’ source.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      I’m so glad Jeanette!

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