A crumb cake that’s worth digging into

Brown butter cinnamon crumb cake
Brown butter warms up a generous amount of ground cinnamon for the crunchy topping in this spin on a classic crumb cake.
(Hanna Carter / For The Times)

With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So, we’re here to get you started.

Each day we’re going to post a new skill here and go in detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.

A series of simple tutorials for making some basic recipes at home.

March 26, 2020


Lesson 35: Crumb Cake
I’m a sweets-for-breakfast guy. When I need grab-and-go food, these blueberry muffins are what I make. When I have time to wake up and bake, these buttermilk biscuits with jam hit the spot.

When I want to procrastinate a Thursday morning away, I make crumb cake, the old-school Jewish/German/New York kind with an avalanche of rocky shortbread crumbles on top. It’s a totally reasonable thing to eat when you wake up that is also a cake.

I turn the volume up by amplifying the best part about the cake: the topping. I create boulder-sized crumbs, which are really what we all want.

And instead of a gentle perfume of spice, I pack the crumbs with spoonfuls of really good cinnamon that’s been warmed in brown butter. My favorite cinnamon is the Vietnam-sourced Royal Cinnamon from Burlap & Barrel, a company that sells exceptional and responsibly sourced fair-trade spices.

To balance all the intensity up top, I leave the cake batter below relatively plain — a buttery yellow cake scented with vanilla.

The cake keeps for a week and it only gets better and better the further I get from the day I had to put in the work to bake it.


You know who else loves eating things they didn’t make? Your mom. So make this for her tomorrow and serve it for her when she wakes up on Sunday.

Brown Butter-Cinnamon Crumb Cake

Time2 hours, largely unattended
YieldsServes 12