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.
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.
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?
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.
Nine Years Ago: Sweet Potato Cheddar Muffins, Sweet Potato Pancakes
Eight Years Ago: Orange & Sesame Tofu Stir Fry, Homemade Nutella, Lentil Burgers
Seven Years Ago: Crispy Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, French Onion Tart, Chocolate Buttermilk Doughnuts
Six Years Ago: Everyday Banana Bread, A Kiss to Build a Dream
Five Years Ago: That Girl, Eternal Flame
Four Years Ago: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cinnamon Buns, Moroccan Mint Tea, Crispy Oven Fries
Three Years Ago: Irish Soda Bread, Blood Orange Sour Mix, How to Make Brown Butter
Two Years Ago: Pork Milanese, Homemade Vegetable Egg Rolls, Lemon Poppy Pancakes, Slow Roasted Chicken Soup
One Year Ago: Homemade Saltines, Buckwheat Soda Bread, Micheline’s Cucumber Salad, Lemon Honey Chess Pie
Lemon Crumb Cake
- For the crumb topping
- Scant ½ 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.
- Try this Sweet Cherry Coffee Cake