This cream cheese crumb cake is the perfect coffee cake with a buttery cake on the bottom, a cream cheese layer and crumb streusel topping.
This cake is perfect for breakfast, holidays or any time you want a warm comforting dessert.
This cake has several layers and is baked in a 13×9 inch cake pan. I love these types of cakes as you don’t have to worry about decorating them. You can just serve them in their pans.
You’ll also want to serve this cake warm. You can always cut a piece and warm it in the microwave and enjoy.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
Now, I’m using the terms crumb cake and coffee cake, interchangeably as they’re really the same thing. And just a quick note, a coffee cake doesn’t have coffee in it, it’s just a cake you can eat with coffee for a snack or breakfast.
This crumb cake can be eaten for breakfast a snack or a dessert. There are no cake rules here, so feel free to eat it anytime!
Now let’s go through just a few of the important ingredients in this cake. (The full list of ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
Brown sugar: You’ll add this to the crumb mixture. You can use light brown or dark brown sugar, but I used light brown.
Cinnamon: Adding cinnamon to the streusel mixture adds the perfect amount of flavor.
Unsalted butter: You’ll use this for both the crumb topping and the cake. Unsalted butter is best here as salted butter could end up adding too much salt. To see more information on the difference between unsalted and salted butter and when to use which, see this post link: Unsalted vs Salted Butter
Cream cheese: You can’t have a cream cheese crumb cake without cream cheese, right? I find that the full-fat version gives the best flavor
Buttermilk: You’ll use this in the cake and it’s really best if you can get real buttermilk instead of using a substitute. It just adds so much flavor, but it will NOT make your cake taste like buttermilk…promise.
If you absolutely can’t get buttermilk, then I go into a substitute you can use down in the FAQ and Tips section of this post.
Don’t forget, the full list of ingredients is in the recipe card below.
Mixing Method Notes:
Let’s talk a little about the mixing method. (The exact instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Mixing up the crumb topping can get a little messy. I suggest either using food-safe gloves to help mush up the cold butter or placing your hand inside of a sandwich bag and using that in place of a glove. (You can see what I mean in the video at the bottom of this post.)
It’s also helpful to use a mixer to break everything up.
The cream cheese mixture will mix up quick and easy. Just make sure to mix it until it’s smooth and creamy.
For the cake, you’ll use the reverse creaming method. Don’t worry, I explain each step in the recipe card below, but it’s really pretty easy.
You’ll add the liquid ingredients to one bowl and the dry to another. Then you’ll take the almost room temperature butter and add it (in chunks) to the dry ingredients to coat them.
Once coated, you’ll add the liquid mixture in two steps. Mixing cakes like this helps keep the gluten from over-developing, which would, in turn, cause a dense cake. This mixing method will give you a soft, velvety crumb.
To get more information on different mixing methods and why they’re used, visit this post link on the blog: Mixing Methods
Don’t forget, the full instructions will be in the recipe card below.
Tips & FAQs:
You can use either light brown or dark brown sugar. I used light brown for this cake.
Unsalted butter is best for this recipe as you have more control over how much salt is added. If you can’t get access to it, you can use salted butter, but omit any salt that the recipe calls for.
For the crumble, it needs to be cold so that it crumbles better and doesn’t form a paste when you mix it. For the cake, you want it almost room temperature, so it will coat the dry ingredients better.
You don’t want to microwave the butter to get it warm though as that will heat it too much or unevenly. Just set it out about an hour or so before you plan to start baking.
Cold cream cheese is hard to mix with a mixer. You want it to mix well with the butter and become very smooth. Make sure to set it out early so it can warm up a bit before you use it.
It’s really best to use real buttermilk in this recipe as it will give moisture and enhance the taste the best.
If you really can’t get it, then you can substitute it with sour milk, which can be made by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then adding regular milk up to the 1 cup line. Stir and let it sit for about five minutes before using. This isn’t the same as buttermilk but will work in a pinch.
Mixing scratch cake batter too long will cause a cake to be very dense. You only want to mix until the ingredients are well combined.
About 10 minutes before the baking time is up, if the top is browning too much but the cake needs to bake for a little longer, just lay a piece of foil over the top for the rest of the baking time and this will keep the top from over-browning.
Store this cake in the refrigerator well covered for about 5-6 days.
While this cake is best served fresh, it can be made in advance. It’s best served warm though, so you may want to heat it a bit before eating it.
Yes, but if you use a dark non-stick coated pan, you’ll need to lower the temperature to 325 and bake it for a bit longer. Times will vary, but the top should be browned and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out with a few crumbs, but not raw batter.
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Ok, let’s get to the recipe!
Note About Recipe Measurements: I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are more familiar with and I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated when baking. For metric/weight measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card below. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s just a best guess. I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results, since I test recipes using volume measurements.
Cream Cheese Crumb Cake
For the crumb topping
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks (1 stick)
For the cream cheese mixture
- 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
For the cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 ½ sticks)
For the crumb topping
- Add the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk well. Pull out any brown sugar chunks. Add the cold butter, in chunks, and mix with a fork, a pastry blender or your fingers. Once all the chunks of butter are broken up and mostly incorporated, you can use an electric mixer to mix it just until the mixture is crumbly.
- If using a mixer, be careful not to mix too long, or it will form a paste. Stop mixing once the mixture looks crumbly.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill while you make the cream cheese mixture and cake batter.
For the cream cheese mixture
- Mix the cream cheese, sugar and egg together until smooth. Set aside while you make the cake batter. Don’t chill the cream cheese mixture if you’ll be making the cake batter soon after.
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spray or grease a 9×13 inch pan. (I used a glass pan). If you're using a dark coated pan, the bottom may over-brown a bit, so just be aware and lower the temperature to 325 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar. Whisk well and set aside.
- In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk well and set aside.
- Make sure the butter is just slightly cooler than room temperature, but not cold. Add the butter (in chunks) slowly to the dry ingredients. (You can turn a stand mixer on low and leave it on while adding the butter chunks a bit at a time, or a hand mixer can be used.)
- Once all the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to medium/high and mix until all the flour is coated with the butter and the mixture is crumbly. It will have a sand-like texture. (Watch the video to see what this looks like if you need a visual.)
- Pour in about half of the liquid mixture. Mix on medium for about one minute.
- Pour the last of the liquid mixture and mix again but only until combined. Don't over-mix the batter at this point. Mixing it for longer than about 30 seconds is too long. Once all the ingredients are incorporated well, stop mixing.
- Use a rubber spatula and scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix again for only about 10 seconds to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Drop the cream cheese mixture by teaspoonful over the top of the cake batter. Gently swirl through with a knife. Try not to touch the bottom of the pan with the knife.
- Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter.
- Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes. If using a glass pan, you can set a cookie sheet on the rack below the cake to keep the bottom from over-browning. You can also set a sheet of foil over the top of the cake during the last 10 minutes if the cake looks like it’s beginning to over-brown, but is not done baking. When done, the top will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out either clean or with a few moist crumbs. (If you use a dark non-stick coated pan, you'll need to lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake it for a bit longer. Times will vary, but the top should be browned and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out with a few crumbs, but not raw batter.)
- Set on wire rack to cool for at least an hour. This cake is best served warm.
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