Former Tri-State residents will appreciate this copycat Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake recipe, a fabulously classic New York treat!
‘A Yankees Bid At Southern Eats’ is my attempt at mastering American Southern cooking. There are times though when a Jersey Girl simply NEEDS her fix of food from home. Entenmann’s New York-style crumb cake is on that short list!
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The New York crumb cake famous since its invention in 1898 on Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn is known to millions of tri-staters as the perfect complement to a cup of coffee. The top of the cake is HEAVY with cinnamony topping which sinks into the batter as it’s added.
New Jersey Bakeries In The 1970s
As a kid, I remember practically all New Jersey bakeries having PILES of giant pre-wrapped crumb cake squares in the baskets as you walked through the door. Every baker had his version of the popular Entenmann’s crumb cakes right down to those delicate cinnamon crumbs.
At our local bakery in Bernardsville, Nardone’s, the smell of cinnamon sugar permeated the air. The space was noisy, ladies calling out their orders and quick serving bakery attendants stuffing the big white boxes that would soon be tied off with that familiar red and white bakery twine.
I get to recreate this treat from my childhood whenever I want now in my home kitchen. I bake this fabulous morning breakfast coffee cake up about every other week.
While Entenmann’s still produces their crumb cake, whether it makes its way to Charleston, South Carolina grocery shelves is another story. I think I’ve seen it locally a few times, but no more than that in the 20+ years I’ve lived here.
The copycat bake that emerges from my oven is laden with the aroma of warm cinnamon and is a beautiful golden brown in color. Cut into individual crumb buns and tantalizingly displayed beneath a glass cake dome, this family favorite has generations of fans.
Entenmann’s coffee cake was part of the Saturday afternoon grocery list for Sunday mornings in my household. No neighbor was caught without.
Seriously, Entenmann’s crumb cake with its heavy cinnamony topping was part of a necessary weekend cache. It went hand in hand with a hot cuppa joe and the Sunday newspaper.
How This Recipe Came About…
Brooklyn, New York in 1898 was home to a new bakery owned by William Entenmann, a German immigrant from Stuttgart who learned the baking trade from his father.
Home delivery was a substantial part of the bakery that Mr. Entenmann owned, eventually turning into 30 home delivery routes by the time his son, William Jr, took over the bakery.
While William Jr headed the bakery, it flourished, so much so that even Frank Sinatra was among the weekly customers.
Do You Have What’s Needed To Bake This Copycat Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake? Check The List!
- Brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar for serving
What’s The Difference Between Coffee Cake And Crumb Cake?
In my ever-growing tome of all the answers to every question in the universe (like that?), my definition of coffee cake is essentially any pastry that goes well with a cup of coffee. But what about a crumb cake?
Like all great recipes, Entenmann’s coffee cakes, and in particular Entenmanns crumb cake, boast a feature which other bakeries can’t lay claim to inventing. In this case, a higher percentage of crumb topping to moist cake.
So, just as the name indicates, crumb cake is any cake with a buttery cinnamon crumb topping. Sometimes a crumb cake is almost ALL CRUMB, as is the case with a classic crumb cake recipe like-Entenmann’s crumb cake.
Don’t Have Buttermilk? Make Your Own In Just A Few Minutes Time!
In as few as 10 minutes, you can have tangy and tasty doppelganger to cultured buttermilk for use in recipes.
- For every 1 liquid measure (1 cup) of 2% or whole milk, add either a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar or a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (no pulp).
- Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.
- During this time, the acid will curdle the milk slightly.
- Scale these ratios up or down depending on how much buttermilk you need for your recipe. For this recipe, use 1 1/4 cups whole milk with 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar.
What Equipment Do I Need To Bake A Copycat Entenmann’s Classic Crumb Coffee Cake?
To make your own crumb cake is silly easy. The only thing there is no compromising on is a 13 x 9-inch cake pan …as in you have to have one.
This is a good recipe…an easy recipe…a great copycat recipe…but it requires that 13-inch pan for absolute sure to yield the best end product. Anything smaller will result in cake batter overflowing the bake.
If you have a large heavy-duty stand mixer, I encourage you to use it for the batter. It just makes life easier.
If you have a food processor, I encourage you to use it for the crumb topping. Again, who doesn’t love life made easier?
Beyond these three kitchen appliances/equipment, have both a large mixing bowl on hand as well as a medium bowl. Depending on your preference, also grab a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon for scraping down the sides of the bowls.
If you haven’t a stand mixer and haven’t a food processor, fear not. Neither did William Entenmann but he still managed to invent this crumb coffee cake that we are still talking about over 100 years later!
A handheld electric mixer, a large bowl, and a small bowl will also work to assemble this cake just fine. The large bowl will be used to mix the cake batter, and the small bowl to assemble and combine the streusel ingredients.
How To Make This Copycat Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe?
Again, this is silly easy, so follow me. Begin by melting two sticks of unsalted butter slowly in a saucepan. I use a silicone pastry brush to paint the bottom and all four sides of the cake pan with the butter as it melts.
I set the prepared pan in my refrigerator while I’m preparing the cake. This isn’t a ‘MUST’ but I want that butter to set, and refrigeration does the job before the butter has a chance to drip down from the sides of the pan.
In a small bowl, combine some brown sugar, light or dark, heaps of cinnamon, and a full teaspoon of Kosher salt and stir well breaking up any and all lumps. Add that melted butter and give the whole thing a good stir.
To this sugar and melted butter mixture, add three cups of all-purpose flour. You can either employ a food processor or the tines of a fork to incorporate the flour.
I go food processor and give the mixture about 6 to 8 pulses. You want the flour until it is just moistened and there is no visible dryness.
And yes, there are going to be a whole lot of LUMPS! Big lumps and small lumps and this is PERFECT!
I preheat the oven and in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, I drop in a stick and a half of softened unsalted butter. I first beat the butter until it’s light, then add in granulated sugar and beat until I achieve light and fluffy.
While the stand mixer is getting the butter where it needs to be, I combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I give it a good stir and set it aside.
Back to the action in my stand mixer. One at a time go in two eggs and a good blending after each one.
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Buttermilk and vanilla extract are added and blended until just combined, followed by that flour mixture in two additions. Out from the fridge comes the prepared cake pan in time for me to transfer the batter.
A quick mention regarding the batter – it’s going to be super thick. It’s supposed to be this way. Just use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread the batter into the four corners and smooth out the top.
Use your hands to squeeze handfuls of the topping together. If the topping does not easily clump and hold, add a little more melted butter and stir until you’re at that point.
Scatter the lumpy topping, both big lumps and small lumps, over the top of the cake. If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll strategically locate multi-sized lumps in each corner and along each side and right in the middle BEFORE covering with a thick layer of whatever topping crumbs are left. Use it all!
The cake bakes for 45 minutes to 1 hour. I make certain the oven temp is 350°F before I place my ready-to-be-baked crumb cake inside. I almost never have to test for doneness, but I recommend you do at least the first time you bake this cake.
Insert a cake tester (ye old toothpick driven right down in the middle…) and if it comes out clean, you’re baked! The second time you bake this up, you’ll just know.
Cool the cake atop a wire cooling rack in the cake pan. I cut it into squares before dusting with powdered sugar, then lift each square individually to either serve or to wrap in plastic film to keep from going stale.
Want a bigger or smaller serving size? Hover over the serving size and move the bar until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
- 9 x 13-inch cake pan
- silicon pastry brush
- stand mixer or handheld electric mixer and mixing bowls
- food processor
- rubber spatula or wooden spoon
ingredients for Copycat Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake (Classic New York Recipe)
for the cinnamon sugar streusel topping
- 2 cups brown sugar light or dark, packed
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter melted; may require additional if your streusel isn't clumping
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
for the buttermilk cake
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
optional for serving
- powdered sugar for dusting
make the cinnamon sugar streusel topping
- Begin by melting two sticks of unsalted butter in a saucepan. Use a silicone pastry brush to grease the bottom and sides of the cake pan with a bit of the butter as it melts. Place the prepared pan into the refrigerator while preparing the remaining parts of the cake.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and Kosher salt. Stir well breaking up all lumps. Scrape into the barrel of a food processor. Add melted butter. Pulse until mixed, about 3 to 5 pulses. Add the flour and pulse until large clumps form, about 5 to 8 pulses. The flour should just be moistened and have no visible dryness. Spill the cinnamon sugar clumps out into a bowl and use your hands to squeeze some of the mixture together. The mixture should immediately hold together. If yours does not, add additional melted butter in 1-tablespoon increments.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the prepared cake pan from the refrigerator. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
make the buttermilk cake
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add softened unsalted butter and whip until it's light. Add in granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Add buttermilk and vanilla extract and blend until just incorporated, followed by flour mixture in two separate additions. Again, beat just until incorporated but no more.
assemble for baking
- Transfer cake batter to prepared baking pan spreading it into the corners and from side to side, end to end. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon.
- The streusel topping is considered the pinnacle of this bake, so it's important to evenly distribute so that each cut square will have a few lumps. Add large lumps of the streusel topping in each corner and along all the sides and in the middle. Follow with medium sized and small lumps the same way. Finally, spread all remaining cinnamon sugar crumbs atop the cake.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the insertion and removal of a toothpick comes out clean. The streusel topping will be golden brown and slightly crunchy in spots.
- Cool the cake in the pan atop a wire cooling rack for 1 hour, longer if you prefer to eat it completely cooled. Cut into thirds lengthwise and into fifths from side to side to yield 15 'squares.' Use a fine mesh sieve to dust with powdered sugar once cut, then use a spatula to remove individual pieces from the cake pan.
- Plate individual squares and dust with additional powdered sugar to serve.
Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
How To Serve Copycat Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake?
As the name implies, with a big HOT cuppa joe! But seriously, serve slightly warm or serve completely cooled. I’m a rebel and prefer mine completely cooled on a plate with a huge glass of ice-cold milk.
I do recommend wrapping the squares individually with plastic film if you won’t be consuming all in one day. I like to display them, wrapped, beneath a glass cake dome on my counter just like I’d see them at Nardone’s Bakery back in Jersey.
Wrapping these preserves that freshness that is the cake, while maintaining the slight resistance the topping offers when you bite down. From a single 9 x 13-inch bake, I am able to cut 15 sizeable squares. They last wrapped for one full week at room temperature.
Can Crumb Cake Be Frozen?
Crumb cake freezes surprisingly well. Again, just wrap well (either individually OR the whole cake as one piece), slip inside a freezer safe plastic zipper bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
I have frozen both as individual squares and as a whole cake for which I use a big spatula to remove from the pan. I use the individually wrapped knockoff Entenmann’s crumb cakes as ‘grab-and-go’ snacks for the beach, and a whole cake for when I am planning company or a Brunch.
To thaw single squares, allow to come to room temperature for about an hour or a little longer. For a whole cake I defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
If You Like This Recipe…
…you might also like:
- Cinnamon Swirl Toasted Pecan Bundt Cake
- Grapefruit Sugar Pound Cake
- Huguenot Church Blueberry Brunch Cake
- Southern Cream Cheese Pound Cake – Old Fashioned Recipe!
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