Lemon Crumb Cake

Lemon Crumb Cake | In Jennie's Kitchen

My love of coffee cake runs deep. Perhaps as deep as my confusion over whether to call it coffee cake or crumb cake, a term I use interchangeably to mean the same thing. We’ve kind of had this conversation before when talking about this danish, which incidentally a lot of people call coffee cake (I’ve yet to meet anyone from Brooklyn who calls it anything but a danish…).  Regardless of what category you think this Lemon Crumb Cake rests, one bite, and I’m sure we’ll all agree on how perfect it pairs with coffee or tea.

Jump straight to the recipe for Lemon Crumb Cake

I’ve this habit of overbuying certain ingredients with no rhyme or reason except for my forgetfulness. It goes something like I think we need peanut butter, think I’ve forgotten to buy it, and for the next three trips to the grocery store add a couple of jars to my cart only to get home and realize we’ve now enough peanut butter to survive the zombie apocalypse. Once the fact that we no longer have a peanut butter shortage sticks, my mind moves onto another ingredient. This has become an ongoing joke with the kids, as rigatoni, oats, honey, and so forth become the new peanut butter habit (you get the idea, yes?).

And so, last week, it was lemons. Every time I stopped at the food co-op or health food store I couldn’t remember if I’d bought some or not. I’ve been making an herbal tea of sliced up lemon, fresh ginger, and dried mint from last year’s garden, plus I’d been meaning to make lemon curd. Three days later, we had a windfall of citrus thanks to my spotty memory, but not at all a bad situation to be in.

Lemon Crumb Cake | In Jennie's Kitchen

While out running errands I asked Virginia if she wanted something from the local bakery in town. She asked for crumb cake, which they don’t sell there but I told her not to worry, and that I’d make some when I got home. “Really mommy? Wow, I love you!,”  was her reply.

This kid takes her crumb cake seriously, so I asked permission before springifying it (how’s that for a new word?) with a dose of lemon. I’m not sure why this never occurred to me before, but better late than never is how the saying goes, right?

Lemon Crumb Cake | In Jennie's Kitchen

The other wonderful thing about this cake, if you’ve got a small family like mine, or just need enough coffee cake to satisfy a craving but not so much that you’re swimming in leftovers—this Lemon Crumb Cake is a small batch recipe, and makes enough for four generous servings, or six if you’re feeling generous enough to share. Ours stretched to six servings, as we enjoyed a wedge that afternoon with tea, and then the remaining for breakfast the next day.

Lemon Crumb Cake | In Jennie's Kitchen

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Lemon Crumb Cake | In Jennie's Kitchen

Lemon Crumb Cake

4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 4 to 6


  • For the crumb topping
  • Scant 1/2 cup 60 grams flour
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon 40 grams granulated natural cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon 1 gram sea salt
  • As much cinnamon as you like I err on the side of a generous pinch
  • 3 tablespoons 42 grams butter, melted
  • For the cake batter
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon 150 grams flour
  • ¼ cup 50 grams granulated natural sugar
  • ¼ teapsoon 1 gram sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons 8 grams baking powder
  • Freshly grated zest of 2 lemons
  • ½ cup 237 ml milk
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon 2 tablespoons / 35ml
  • 2 tablespoons 28 grams butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon 5 ml vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar to finish (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Generously grease the sides and bottom of a 6-inch round pan. Add a bit of flour, and tip the pan from side to side until it’s well coated. Tap the pan to remove any excess flour.
  • Prepare the crumb topping first. Add the flour, sugars, salt, and cinnamon to a deep bowl; whisk to combine. Using a fork, stir in the melted butter, making sure there are no dry bits of flour.
  • To make the crumb cake batter, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest to a clean deep bowl. Whisk to blend.
  • Add the milk, egg, lemon juice, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir with a fork just until combined.
  • Spoon into the prepared cake tin. Evenly sprinkle the crumb topping over the top, pressing it in gently so it sticks.
  • Bake until golden brown, and a metal skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven. Set the tray on a wire rack, and allow cake to cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Sift some confectioners’ sugar over the top before serving, if desired.






  • Jennifer

    I have been hoping this would appear here since you posted a picture on your instagram. Excited to try it!

  • Maria

    YAY, thanks for a little coffee cake. I love my 6 inch pans because it’s just enough for my small family.

  • DamselflyDiary

    5 stars
    I made this today only as cupcakes. I had pretty pink silicone cupcake “tins” and it made 6 perfect (albeit a bit over-sized) cupcakes. I am serving them at my Easter dinner tomorrow along with some lemon curd I made yesterday.

    I bought a bag of lemons at Costco and then realized how many lemons that get you so I had to start cooking lemon recipes. I will probably have lemon pasta with salmon later this week. Anyway, the cupcakes turns out nicely even though I used gluten free flour (King Arthur). They are dense — almost like a pound cake or biscuit consistency. But with a dollop of lemon curd, you really want something a little more sturdy.

    How do I know these turned out good? My hubby already ate one — he volunteered to test one to make sure they were edible. Wasn’t that generous of him?!

  • Betsy Payne Watson

    4 stars
    Made this crumb cake earlier this month after seeing your post. Sorry for the delay in letting you know how fabulous this cake was. I elected for a little more lemon and added some zest to the crumb mixture and omitted the cinnamon. I also made in the afternoon before serving it for Sunday brunch so that the flavors had time to come together. It was fabulous! Sure brighten the day since it has taken forever for spring to come to Michigan.

  • Jennie

    So glad you enjoyed this cake, Betsy. It’s one of my most favorite recent recipes, too! xo-Jennie