Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Growing up in NY one of the staple foods that we ate was crumb cake, fresh from the bakery up the block.  We’d enjoy these thin little slivers of cake piled high with crumbs. It was probably one of my favorite desserts growing up. 

After we moved to NC, it was apparent that baked goods here are quite different than NY. And not just the bagels and cannoli’s, but the cookies and cakes too. I had been on a search for a long time for a good NY Style Crumb Cake that was really so much more crumb than cake. I found that perfect recipe and adapted it into a rich pumpkin crumb cake. 

The first step is the crumb topping. 

A little bit of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon…and lots and lots and lots of butter.

Looking for a healthy crumb cake?  Not it.

We could stop right here and I’d be totally cool with it. 

But we must go on…

Now there’s two ways that I make this cake.  The original recipe calls for a 12×17″ jelly pan, where you spread the pumpkin batter out really thin and then pile on the crumbs.

That’s a very acceptable way to make a traditional NY Style Crumb Cake, but I wanted to be a little different this time. So instead I got out a 9×13″ baking pan and poured half the batter in.

Then half the crumbs went on top of that.

Then more batter.  This part can be a little tricky cause it looks like you won’t have enough batter, but keep going. Eventually you’ll get most of the crumbs covered.

Then the last of the crumbs are piled up on top. This is packed almost to the top of the pan and weighs about 10 lbs. 

Bake in a 325 degree pre-heated oven for about 60 minutes. If you go with the traditional style, only bake for 35-40 minutes.  

When the cake is done, the crumbs will have a nice golden brown color. I think I overbaked this one by about 5 minutes because the crumbs were a little on the hard side, so be sure to keep checking with a toothpick around the 50 minute mark. 

I loved the different textures here with the layered version. The crumbs and then the cake with softer crumb middle.  The pumpkin makes the cake a bit more moist which is different than a traditional crumb cake. 

Even Frosty enjoyed it….though he only got a little piece. I’m sure he would have been quite happy with all of it.

For the topping

  • 5cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (I like a lot of spice flavor so feel free to adjust to your liking)


For the topping:
combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl and stir to blend well. The batter should be somewhat crumbly. Stir in the butter and set aside.

For the cake

  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and lightly flour a 12 by 17 by 1-inch jelly roll pan
  3. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Combine eggs, pumpkin, water, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk until well blended
  5. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not overmix.
  6. Spread the cake batter evenly in the bottom of the jelly roll pan and set aside. The batter will barely cover the bottom of the pan. It should look sparse.
  7. Sprinkle all the crumb topping evenly over the dough and press lightly into the batter.
  8. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake rises and the topping bakes into the dough.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the pan.


In the one that I did, I used a 9×13 inch baking pan and layered the cake batter, then half the crumbs, then more cake batter and the rest of the crumbs on top (baked longer for about 60 minutes) for a bit of a different take. You could do it this way, or as described in the recipe above.  I like to experiment so a lot of times you’ll see that I don’t follow the recipe exactly and I’ll make those notations here.  For the classic NY Style Crumb Cake, follow the directions above and ignore me!

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