Cranberry Sauce Crumb Cake


for the cake:

1/2 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, at room temperature
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch salt
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (I used this apple-cranberry sauce)

for the crumb topping:

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly


Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour an 8×8 inch pan. Set aside.

for the cake:

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. With the mixer on low add the flour and milk alternately to the butter mixture, stopping with flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth with the back of a spoon to form an even layer. Spread the cranberry sauce over the batter in an even layer. Set aside.

for the crumb topping:

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugars, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and flour. Pour in the butter and use a fork to coat the mixture in butter, leaving large crumbs unbroken. Sprinkle evenly over the cake. You may have some crumb mixture leftover. Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

My thoughts:
My husband is from NYC where crumb topped cakes rule supreme. The more crumbs the better! Crumb cakes and coffee cakes are closely related but aren’t always the same thing. Crumb cake always has a crumb topping while coffee cakes (cakes made to eat with coffee, not coffee-flavored cakes) may or may have a crumb topping. Don’t confuse them with New Jersey crumb buns (which we see in bakeries around Baltimore too) which have a crumb topping but a yeast based cake base.

 The best New York-style crumb cake has a tender cake but very crunchy topping. This cake has both and a surprise ingredient: cranberry sauce! My husband is also a big fan of cranberry sauce and we make it a fair amount when cranberries are in season but since we are only two people, we end up with a bunch leftover. Why not combine the two?

For this recipe, I created a sweet, vanilla-based cake then topped it with cinnamon apple-cranberry sauce and a spiced crumb topping. It really takes a classic crumb cake to a new holiday-worthy level. This would be amazing served on Christmas morning. Or the day after to use up some cranberry sauce! 

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