Crumb Bottom Lemon Cake

I’m a little obsessed with crumb cakes.  I’ve always loved them, but I think the obsession started after I made (what I’m calling) the Perfect Crumb Cake last year.  Ever since baking that NY style crumb cake, I constantly think about which cakes I can turn into a crumb fiesta.  Take Exhibit A Chocolate Crumb Cake and Exhibit B Crumb Carrot Cake.  (That’s the attorney coming out.)  I thought it was high time for a summery crumb cake and what better way to celebrate the flavors of summer but with lemon flavored crumb confection.  Have you noticed something different about this crumb cake?  The big crumbs are on the bottom!  What the what?  It actually happened by mistake and I’ll explain what happened below.

This lemon cake has a thick crumb bottom and is topped with a lemony glaze.

05Lemon Crumb Cake

Crumb Bottom Lemon Cake Recipe
(About 12 to 16 servings)

Ingredients for Crumb:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, cold (equivalent to 1 and 1/2 sticks)

Ingredients for Lemon Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Ingredients for Lemon Cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour Measure your flour correctly!
  • 2 cups white sugar, divided per the directions
  • 1/4 cup lemon zest (this could easily take 2 to 4 large lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature), divided yolks and whites per the directions
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons lemon  juice (equivalent to about 2 lemons)

Directions for Crumb:

  1. Mix together the flour, brown sugar, and salt.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers and cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it forms small clumps.
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it until you are ready to use.

Directions for Lemon Glaze:

  1. Mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until you have a smooth consistency.  (Note:  Wait to make this until the cake is out of the oven and has cooled.)

Directions for Lemon Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lay parchment paper on the bottom of a 12 cup bundt pan and grease the entire pan.  Set it aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, lemon zest, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set the dry ingredients aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, oil, butter, and vanilla extract.  Set the wet ingredients aside.
  5. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on Low speed until the mixture looks foamy.  (About 1 minute.)
  6. Increase the mixer to High speed and beat the mixture until it is extra foamy and puffy.  (About another 1 minute.)
  7. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.
  8. Continue to beat the mixture until the egg whites look shiny and form stiff peaks.  (About 3 to 5 more minutes.)  Set the egg white mixture aside.
  9. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix everything together.
  10. Stir in the lemon juice.
  11. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the batter, using a spatula.
  12. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  13. Sprinkle the crumb mixture onto the top of the batter.  (Yes, the top!  I told you this was weird.)
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
  15. Let the cooked cake cool in the pan for about 1 hour then flip it onto a plate.  Flip it right back over on a wire rack to cool completely.
  16. Once the cake has cooled, prepare the lemon glaze and drizzle it over the top of the cake.

Lemon Cake slightly adapted: The America’s Test Kitchen: Family Baking Book

Crumb Bottom Lemon Cake source:  Tina’s Chic Corner


My favorite crumb topping recipe of all time is from the Perfect Crumb Cake (of course) so I used it as my inspiration here.  This crumb topping looks more crumby because you’re working with cold instead of melted butter and it doesn’t contain cinnamon.  Quite frankly, I was not up to rolling little balls of crumbs so I needed to come up with another alternative.

01Lemon Crumb Cake

Cakes are generally easy to make and this is no exception.  However, you do need to give a little more love and attention to the eggs here.  In order to get this cake’s light and airy texture, you need to beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and some of the sugar until you get stiff peaks.  The photo below is what your egg white mixture will look like after a minute or so of beating.  You have to be patient for these steps and it does take quite a while.  My husband issues his standard warning of “if you get even the tiniest amount of yolk in your whites, start over, they will NEVER whip properly.”

02Lemon Crumb Cake

The photo below is what your aiming for.  The egg white mixture should be an opaque white and shiny and form a peak.  You are essentially making a meringue here, but instead of topping a pie with it, you are folding it into the cake.  (Please try to ignore the mess going on in the background.)

03Lemon Crumb Cake

Once you’ve combined all of the cake ingredients together, you will have a lovely yellow cake batter.  It’s yellow from all that lemony goodness, of course.  There’s still crap-o-la in the background but it’s all stuff related to the cake, so it’s okay.  I like to place the bundt pan on top of a baking sheet because I find that it’s easier to handle.  In this case I’m not really worried about it spilling over because my bundt pan is plenty deep but for some reason a bundt is awkward to handle for me.

04Lemon Crumb Cake

Remember how I mentioned that this crumb cake was a mistake, all be it a happy one?  Hold on to  your butts!  I had this bright idea to take a delicious lemon bundt cake and add some big crumbs on top.  Sounds fab, right?  Well, I also simultaneously got super lazy and didn’t want to devote the time to making hand rolled chunks.  When I popped the cake into the oven the crumb mixture was on top.

I checked on the cake about 15 minutes into the cooking process and noticed that the crumb topping had mysteriously disappeared.  It had sunk into the cake batter leaving only an amusing ring on the top to indicate where it once was.  I figured the crumb mixture had only sunk a little, or perhaps half way.  When I cut into it I discovered where it had actually gone and I almost threw it away as a disaster, unworthy of blogging.

10Lemon Crumb Cake

My husband initially said this cake was a failure too, but when we dug into it with our forks and couldn’t stop eating it, I knew that it was NOT a failure but instead was an unplanned success.  I think this turned out more wonderful because I created something that I’d never seen before.  Crumbs belong on the top of a cake… Sometimes!

08Lemon Crumb Cake

Can you see the lemon zest in the photos?  It’s certainly prominent in person.  Baking Tip.   When zesting a lemon, zest only the yellow skin of the lemon.  The white part (the pith) is bitter and you don’t want to pass on those bitter flavors to your goodie.

Hello you lovely lemon thing!  Sometimes I talk to my food.  What, that’s not normal?  I’m in love with this lemony crumby creation.

13Lemon Crumb Cake

This lemon bundt cake is super moist  and the lemon flavor in this cake is phenomenal.  The cake is so delicious that you could skip the crumbs entirely.  I don’t know why you would, but since the cake is flavorful enough to stand on its own, you certainly can.

This crumb bottom is soft but fortunately holds its shape instead of collapsing under the weight of a freshly cut slice.  Yup, it almost makes a form of “crust.”  The sugary crumb layer tastes amazingly delicious with the lemon flavored cake.

I wanted to add more luscious lemon to the party so I drizzled some lemon glaze on top of the cake.  It also gives it a nice finishing touch.  (You know how I’m all about pretty presentations.)

15Lemon Crumb Cake

My family adores this crumb lemon cake (actually they’re big fans of crumb cakes in general).  They got a kick out of the crumb topping being on the bottom.  I couldn’t have planned it better myself.     😉

If you make this crumb bottom lemon cake, please follow the recipe directions.  I suppose you could try to place the crumb mixture directly in the pan instead of on top of the batter.  Be warned though that by sinking on its own, the crumbs are protected from direct contact with the pan on all possible sides.  There is a real potential for it completely gluing the cake into the pan if you don’t do it this way.

14Lemon Crumb Cake

Are you obsessed with a certain baked goodie?



5 Hats


If your’re obsessed with crumb cake as much as me (or simply enjoy a nice piece) then you’ll love these.

The Perfect Crumb Cake

05Crumb Cake_1024x768

Chocolate Crumb Cake

06=1Chocolate Crumb Cake

Crumb Carrot Cake

07Carrot Cake Crumb Cake



  1. Looks great. Is it a breakfast or dessert? oh heck, I will have it for both!

    1. Tina says:

      We’ve enjoyed it for breakfast, brunch, snack and dessert! So yes, pretty much any hour of the day will work. 😉

  2. Yum! I love lemon, it screams summer to me. And crumb is EVERYTHING. I’ve only had crumb topping, so I’ve gotta try out this crumb bottom 🙂

    1. Tina says:

      Yes, crumb is everything! 🙂

  3. I love that the crumb is on the bottom. Yum!

    1. Tina says:

      Thanks Norma! 🙂

  4. That looks amazing! I love lemon desserts, so this sounds divine! 🙂

    1. Tina says:

      If you love lemon, you’ll adore this. 🙂

  5. This ended up such a pretty cake, Tina. Love the lemony drizzly icing on the top, in particular. So perfect for a sunny summer afternoon – with a nice English cup of tea, of course! 😉

    1. Tina says:

      Crumb cake and tea sounds like perfection. 🙂

  6. Mary Frances says:

    “That’s the attorney” – haha, that made my morning Tina! I’ve become obsessed with crumb cakes too because yours always look incredible. You always make them so moist, so tender, and so finger licking amazing! I would love to have a slice this morning – biting into this would transport you to a little bit of foodie heaven!
    Oh, and I talk to food too sometimes 😉

    1. Tina says:

      You are so sweet! 🙂

  7. dina says:

    i’d love to have this for breakfast! i love crumb cakes of all kinds!

    1. Tina says:


  8. I love crumb cakes too – and this looks delicious!

    1. Tina says:

      Oh yeah! 🙂

  9. Oh my gosh Tina!! I am DYING over this lemon crumb cake! It looks amazing!! 🙂

    1. Tina says:

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  10. The only thing better than a crumb cake is a glazed crumb cake which also tastes like lemon. Oh wow this one is brilliant Tina! I’d absolutely adore a big slice for breakfast tomorrow 😉

    1. Tina says:

      Totally agree!

  11. Kelly says:

    This cake looks amazing Tina! I love crumb cakes and lemon anything is my absolute favorite so this would definitely not last long at our house:)

    1. Tina says:

      Thanks so much Kelly!

  12. I don’t think I have ever made a crumb cake, do they have other names? And is the main ingredient in a crumb cake the lemon? HA… Im a crumb cake novice. 🙂 Hmmm…. My fav baked good is a caramel slice, or a vegemite and cheese scroll. Delish!

    1. Tina says:

      Ah, a newbie! Once you try, you’ll be hooked. It’s kind of like a coffee cake but I’ve not heard it referred to as something else (at least not here in the US). Every crumb cake is different so the crumb to cake ratio varies. Here it’s mostly lemon cake. 🙂
      Ooh, caramel slice sounds fab!

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