Crumb Cake

I'm not a big breakfast person, but there are two things that always make me want more in the name of the most important meal of the day: bacon egg and cheese on a croissant (no-go here) and Boston Coffee Cake. If you never had it (and at this point unless you're a friend/family of someone with Celiac or gluten intolerance you just can't) I am so sorry. This is a - I know we all hate this word but there isn't another! - moist, soft, marbled cake that is miraculously made for the mornings.

Growing up, these cakes would be the special treat for holiday breakfast, and during college our mom might buy one on a morning you came home. That's how you know you're loved. My only qualm with them in the past was the inclusion of walnuts in their cinnamon coffee cake, ensuring that if I reeeeally wanted a bite I'd have to risk bloated itchy lips (and maybe anaphylaxis...), but luckily the chocolate chip marble cake was usually the family go-to.

Since our Celiac discovery, sadly those red and yellow striped boxes are out of our lives (unless and until they can come up with a gluten-free alternative?!). America's Test Kitchen has a Gluten Free cookbook though, and in Volume 2 I was excited to find a recipe for crumb cake that didn't look very difficult. My KitchenAid mixer had just come in the mail and I was itching (in a non-walnut way) to test it out, so I adapted the recipe below to try to find a version close to what I'm used to.

I was looking for a dense, soft cake with a lot of cinnamon flavor and a solid cinnamon sugar crumb topping that melds slightly into the cake. I would say this recipe was a big success, with two caveats. First, I accidentally made WAY too much topping, which ended up being a bit aggressive, even for this sugar addict. Second, and this is more something to keep in mind: although this tastes like an almost-perfect crumb cake, including gluten-full versions, there will still be a tiny little gummy taste at the end. But only once you think about it! I've sort of resigned myself to that fact though - no gluten-free cake is going to taste exactly like the gluten-full version - and as long as you do that you are in for a real treat! Thanks to ATK for their Gluten Free Cookbook Vol. 2,  I'm a big fan of the explanations of why certain techniques and products work best in different g-free recipes, and will definitely be testing out some more recipes (especially the new ones I scoped out online).

So if you're looking for the perfect post-holiday breakfast treat, look no further: here's my version of ATK's Crumb Cake. Full story: I originally misread the topping since it was in ounces and cups and made WAY too much, so I only included cups in the ingredients below, and I like this very cinnamon-ey. For the true ATK recipe check out their cookbook!

Serves: 10-12

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours



  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and warm
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (really I just did a little sprinkle)
  • 1 1/3 cups ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (in their cookbook)


  • 1 1/3 cups ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 6 tablespoons butter (it says unsalted but I only have/use salted so why not), but into pieces and softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Confectioners' sugar for serving - ATK recommends this but honestly with the extra cinnamon and topping I made I skipped it!



  1. Start with the topping: Whisk butter, sugars, egg yolk, cinnamon in salt to combine. Add flour blend after using a rubber spatula until it looks like a thick dough. The rubber spatula makes a big difference here, although after a few minutes I just used my hands! Keep in mind I made 1 1/3 cups of sugars each instead of the 1/3 cup so yours will look smaller than mine (thank God).
  2. Start the cake: Heat oven to 325F with oven rack in the upper middle position. Cut parchment paper and fold to fit your pan - ATK recommends you use an 8 inch pan - then spray parchment with vegetable oil spray, letting extra parchment hand over the pan to pull the cake out later.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle or an insane amount of human strength, mix the flour blend, sugar, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum on low speed to combine (note: be careful with the xanthan gum! One dab of that on the table and even a hint of moisture and it's Gum City for you, buddy). Add butter one piece at a time and mix until you have a crumb-like mixture with no visible butter. Add sour cream, eggs and yolk, vanilla and cinnamon (exclude if you want the ATK version but why wouldn't you want more cinnamon??), increase mixer or your incredibly strong arms to medium-high, and beat until batter is light and fluffy.
  4. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Add the topping in pieces - what I did here was form small pieces with my hands and drop the pea-size (or slightly larger) pieces on the cake. After adding about half of the topping, I used my fingertips to create tiny wells in the topping to try to push pieces of it into the cake for that classic topping-cake fusion. Then add the rest of your topping chunks (ew! gross word I get it!) to the top of your cake, avoiding the growing OCD telling you that the amounts/heights aren't even. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer (I use toothpicks) in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes, then pull from pan using parchment and add to plate. Serve with a confectioners' sugar dusting or just big glasses of milk! 

You can store this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days - if it lasts past the first serving that is!