Buttermilk-Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake

I have had this crumb cake bookmarked for quite some time; as soon as I saw it sitting in my Google Reader it drew me in. I have developed a great preference for cakes, quick breads, and muffins/scones that use buttermilk – it definitely seems to bring out all of the other flavors and provides a richness that most other ingredients can’t accomplish.

I was trying to pinpoint the smell and flavor for the longest time and couldn’t figure out, and then I realized that it tastes like a donut! I’m not sure what contributes to that flavoring, but it definitely takes on the smell and taste of a donut. It goes without saying then that this is a fabulous cake and the crumb topping makes it absolutely delectable.

Buttermilk-Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


Butter Crumb topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp vanilla extract

1¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cake flour
1 stick butter
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk
1½ eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup mini bitter-sweet chocolate chips, for sprinkling on top of the cake
Powdered sugar, for sifting on top of the cake


1) Preheat oven to 375°F.
2) Lightly grease a 9x4 inch loaf pan, and line the inside of the pan with parchment paper or foil, and then grease it as well.

To make the topping:
3) Thoroughly mix the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Drop in chunks of butter, using a table knife, cut the butter into the flour until it reduces to the size of large pearls. Sprinkle vanilla extract over, working with fingertips, knead the mixture together until moist, clumpy lumps are formed. DO NOT overmix.

Mix the batter:
4) Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. Then toss the chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of the sifted mixture in a small bowl.
5) Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 3 minutes.
6) Add in the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added.
7) Add in egg and beat for 45 seconds.
8) Mix in the vanilla extract.
9) Alternately add in the sifted mixture in 3 additions with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure even mixing.
10) Stir in chocolate chips.
11) Spoon the batter into the baking pan, and spread evenly, smooth the top with rubber spatula.
12) Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly on the cake batter, make sure that the whole surface is covered.
13) Bake the cake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake turns out clean. The baked cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.
14) Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly on top of the baked cake immediately.
15) Let the cake cool completely. Use the parchment or foil to lift the cake out of the pan, then sift some powered sugar on top of the cake. Serve.

(Adapted from Piggy's Cooking Journal)


64 Responses to “Buttermilk-Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake”

  1. Stephanie on October 28, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Looks absoulutely divine! Love that it has donut like qualities! This is a must make for me:)


  2. bethany on October 28, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    This looks amazing. I love, love, love using buttermilk in baked goods!


  3. tara on October 28, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    oh my! this looks fantastic!

    thank you, thank you.


  4. Tonia on October 28, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    That looks amazing! I’m bookmarking this one! :0)


  5. Jenn's Baking Chamber on October 28, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Wow! that looks sooo good! I love buttermilk in cakes, especially when chocolate is involved!!! Cant wait to try the recipe


  6. Kate on October 28, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    I find a lot of crumb cakes taste like doughnuts. Or is it doughnuts that taste like crumb cake?


  7. Hannah on October 28, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Now that looks incredible! Those pictures alone are enough to make you hungry.


  8. Katie on October 29, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Wow! That looks almost HEAVENLY! mmmmm!!


  9. Maria on October 29, 2008 at 8:28 am

    A cake that tastes like donuts…heaven!! Looks great!


  10. colleen on October 29, 2008 at 10:01 am

    This looks fantastic! I love using buttermilk in recipes too – makes everything so much creamier! I love it in mashed potatoes as well.


  11. Heather on October 29, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Yum! this looks great! I agree about buttermilk… it adds so much flavor to ingredients! this looks lovely 🙂


  12. Piggy on October 29, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Hey, love your version of this cake, looks good! I didn’t realise that it tastes like doughnuts though. 🙂


  13. Bunny on October 29, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Chocolate chips as far as the eye can see…Great recipe!


  14. Megan on October 30, 2008 at 11:12 am

    This looks fabulous. I would love to incorporate some banana in this one!


  15. MarthaAndMe on November 3, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Just printed this and can’t wait to try it, especially after two pretty bad Martha Stewart dessert recipes I’ve made in the past week.


  16. Top Chef on November 13, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    This bread recipe looks delicious and moist. I’m always looking for something to go with a cup of hot tea.


  17. Ashley on November 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    A cake that tastes like donuts?? I am totally making this.


  18. Ashley on December 4, 2008 at 2:33 am

    I made this cake last weekend after your description of it tasting like a donut! Unfortunately for me it didn’t. 🙁 And I mistakenly put the chocolate chips on top of the batter – I think I would’ve enjoyed the top part more if I hadn’t because the chocolate melted in with everything.


  19. sandra on July 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    i made this cake this week and it was a disaster, not by any fault of the recipe or you, i mistakenly put it in the wrong sized pan. but i am going to attempt it again in a few days. i really cant wait to taste it. i was so sad when it didnt turn out. i will let you know if i get it right this time =)


    • Mattie on July 29th, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      This recipe was a disaster. It went into the garbage can. First of all, the pan dimensions are incorrect. There is no such thing as a 9×4. It’s either a 9×5 or 8×4 pan. I also agree with other reviewers that I believe listed ingredients are wrong, 3/4 C. Butter does seem like a lot for the topping. Probably should be only 3/4 of a stick or 6 tablespoons. Finally, against my better judgement, I put it in a 375 oven. It came out burned to a crisp. So, if you’re willing to waste some expensive ingredients, I suggest baking in a 9×5 pan, reducing butter in topping to 6T., and lastly but more importantly, bake at 350. Good luck.


      • Kelly on March 21st, 2016 at 9:06 am

        I’m sorry to say I have to agree with you. When I was making the crumbs I thought 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup) was way too much for only 3/4 cup of flour but because the recipes on this site are always so good I went with it. Once out of the oven and cooled off, when I cut the cake there was a blob of raw crumb mix halfway down the cake. they had all sunk!. next time I will way less butter. The cake part of this recipe was very good.


  20. Michelle on July 16, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Sandra – I’m so sorry this didn’t turn out for you the first time around, but I hope you will give it another shot and let me know what you think!


  21. denise fletcher on January 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Oh Lordy!!! I feel faint just looking at that coffeecake. I wish I lived next door to you!


  22. shirley on June 9, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Buttermilk choc chip crumb cake:
    The directions don’t mention anything about sprinkling 1/2 the chips on top of batter. I went back twice to look at the recipe & picture and figured that’s what you did, but would be helpful to include it in the instructions.
    It’s baking now…hope it’s DELISH!


    • Michelle on June 18th, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      Hi Shirley, It’s actually step #14 in the recipe. I hope you enjoyed the cake!


  23. BETSY WILSON on July 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm




    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      I crack 3 eggs into a measuring cup and beat them lightly with a fork, and then I pour out half of the volume.


  24. Shirley on July 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    This is a MUST for anyone loving chocolate/crumb cake/deliciousness!
    I coulkd not stop eating it. The streusel topping forms this amazing “crust” on the top of the cake…my mouth is watering just talking about it.


  25. Karen Smith on October 15, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Hi, I have this cake baking now in the oven. The topping crumbs are all melting together and looking very buttery/watery. Might there be too much butter in the listing of crumb topping ingredients? Perhaps it should be 3/4 of a stick of butter, not 3/4 cup?

    I am waiting to see how it comes out in a half hour, but there is a pool of butter in the center of the cake and I’m not very optimistic. Please let me know if you’ve run into this yourself and what changes you made.

    Thanks very much!


    • Michelle on October 18th, 2010 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Karen, The recipe amount is correct with the 3/4 cup of butter. How did this end up turning out for you?


      • Karen on November 9th, 2010 at 6:38 am

        Hi Michelle,

        Thanks for your reply. The crumbs sank into the cake batter adding a delicious buttery layer. Everyone who tasted the cake loved it! I had envisioned a New York-style crumb topping and that’s where my concern was, because the topping melted together. It tasted delicious, just didn’t look crumb-topped as I expected.

        I enjoy your site; thanks for all the recipes and tips!


        • Michelle on November 10th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

          Oh I’m so glad you ended up loving it! Yay!


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  27. Sri on January 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm


    I love this coffeecake so much! I baked it several times already. But, these last couple times, the crumb topping were not crumbly like yours, it was more like too soft; so, it melted together with the batter during baking. I don’t know why.
    Should I refrigerate the crumb topping after making it? (so it won’t turn too soft), or should I reduce the amount of butter? (like1 stick of butter, instead of 3/4 cups?)

    Thank you for the info and help :-)!



    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      If you find that the crumb topping is getting too soft, I think your solution for refrigerating it prior to using it would be the perfect thing to try!


  28. nicole on March 2, 2011 at 6:39 am

    INCREDIBLE!!!!! (as always…) Thank you for your amazing site. You are my go-to person when I want to bake!!


  29. julieA on April 15, 2012 at 1:04 am

    YUM! I had printed this recipe out quite a while ago but just made it tonight. It is definitely a keeper recipe for me!! I can’t use too much sugar, so I used a stevia-sugar blend in the batter, and I used Splenda Brown in the topping. I was worried about the stevia taste, but it worked out really well! Also, I had extra large eggs on hand so I only used one and the cake was fine. I still have quite a bit of buttermilk so I am thinking of tripling the recipe to make a large bundt cake to take to work with me next week. Thanks for the great recipe!


  30. Amy Mahnken on April 25, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Hi! I’m thinking of making this for my co-workers tomorrow but I’m wondering if I can make them into muffins?

    Thanks for all the wonderful recipes! Can’t wait to try this one 🙂


    • Michelle on April 26th, 2012 at 12:12 am

      Hi Amy, I’ve never made them into muffins, but I’d definitely give it a shot! Enjoy!


  31. Sara on June 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Can this be made in a 8×8 pan?


    • Michelle on June 4th, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      Hi Sara, Yes, you can make this in an 8×8 pan – it has the same capacity as a 9-inch loaf pan. You may just need to decrease the baking time, I would start checking at half the estimated time above. Enjoy!


  32. gene on March 3, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Hi just made the cake. Did you add all the crumb recipe? I did and the cake is butter soaked. Almost dripping to the point of butter covered fingers. Trying to figure what went wrong


    • Michelle on March 4th, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Gene, Yes, I use all of the crumb topping. I’m thinking your butter may not have been cold enough or got warm from working with it. In the future, pop the topping in the refrigerator while you prepare the cake.


  33. Carla on March 25, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Love your site and recipes…however I had the same problem as some of the other bakers. The topping melted into the batter and wound up an uncooked med underneath the cake. Will try again minus the topping.


  34. Kaitlyn on June 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I made this today!! It’s in the oven now with five minutes left! I know it’s going to be amazing because it smells just divine! Thanks for the beautiful recipe!


    • Kaitlyn on June 12th, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      P.S. I would suggest adding a teaspoon of salt. You should always add a little sugar to savory dishes and salt to sweets. Cheers!


  35. Jen on September 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Wow, a disaster is right!! I only used 1/2 cup of butter on the top and it was TOO MUCH!!

    The photo looked yummy…. But the measurements are all wrong!!


  36. Julie Caldwell on October 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    I loved the tast of the cake but will change up the topping a bit. The top was really hard by the time the cake was done in fact I took it out a bit too early because the top was getting hard and the middle of the cake wasn’t baked quite through. I will use only 1/2 cup of butter next time.


  37. Judy on October 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I could tell by reading the recipe it might be a bit off. The amount of butter in the topping is pretty insane. I cut back on the butter in the topping which seems to have helped, but like most have said, 375 doesn’t work. The topping is getting burned around the edges and the inside is still not cooked with the amount of time that the recipe calls for. Stinks because it looked so good! I was making it for a friend for her birthday but will be stopping to pick something else up from the grocery store in the morning.


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  39. Steph on January 20, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Like others, my crumb topping has sunk to the bottom of my cake. I cut the butter back to 1 stick (1/2 cup) because the consistency was already sticky & not crumbly like the recipe says. It’s still in the oven, I hope it turns out!


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  41. Kris Robinson on June 17, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Just pulled mine out the iven, smells wonderful. I’m curious about no salt being called for in the recipe…is it in there enough in the butter? Also, I wound up doing 3/4 stick of butter in the topping and it seems fine. Not very crumbly, it isnall one solid layer, but we’ll see! My kids are circling the kitchen like sharks 🙂


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  43. fran on October 5, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Have to agree, about topping for this recipe. I think the butter should be 3/4 stick not cup and there is way way to much topping for the cake itself. No way looking at the picture did you use that whole quantity of topping, it would be overload. Hoping it comes out good though, it is in oven and I hate wasting food


  44. Susan on October 12, 2014 at 1:24 am

    BEB is my favorite go to site for baked goods, everything I’ve done of hers has come out to raves. That said, I too was suspicious handling the crumb topping that it might be so much butter. I don’t have time to fail as I’m making this for a church event in the morning. I went and scooped of some of the crumb mix 10 mins in, making it a bit thinner atop the loaf. My husband says I should lower the temp since so many others had issues with 375, but I’m torn as I trust BEB. So for now I’m going with 375 for the first 30 mins and depending on how it looks then I may take it lower or just watch very carefully. Will let ya’ll know how it went.


  45. Lindsay on January 28, 2015 at 11:56 am

    When a baking recipe calsl for butter like yours, how do you know salted or unsalted, LOL is it obvious?
    and baking pan size, out of these two options, what should I use?
    1 lb. pan: 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ high.
    1.5 lb. pan: 10″ x 5″ x 3″ high.

    Thank you,
    new to the baking world 🙂


    • Michelle on February 5th, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Lindsay, Sorry it should be noted in the recipe, for this you should use salted butter. If you see salt listed as an ingredient in the recipe, you should use unsalted. If there is no salt in the recipe, then use salted butter. As for the pan, I would probably go with the larger size just so you don’t have any batter spilling over. Enjoy!


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  47. c gibson on August 16, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    just made this bread. delicious. but it wouldn’t get done in the middle. so the outside is too hard. but the rest is so so good! I used two eggs instead. i will cover it next time for awhile. And i will make this again!!


  48. jodi on May 5, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    I too, had a problem with the crumb topping. so odd. I cut the butter into the flour mix and it did make crumbs. kept it in the fridge while I made the cake. but it melted right away and sunk to the bottom of the cake.
    ended up having to cut the bottom inch off the cake (it was total paste mush), but the remaining top 2/3 was very delicious. I baked at 350 and it did fine.
    I looked at a struesel cake recipe that I make often and the proportions are very different. to similar portions of dry: 3/4 c. light brown sugar, and
    1/2 c. all-purpose flour it calls for 3 TBS of cold butter. this recipe used 12 TBS.
    I always like to try a recipe as it is written, the first time – but next time I will bake the cake with the other recipe for butter crumb topping.


  49. J Rich on June 26, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I have to agree with the others. 375 is just too hot. i checked my oven at 50 minutes, and it was crisp around the edges. I hope the choc chips on top will disguise it.

    I have arthritis, so put the ingredients together over several days. When mixing it, i forgot that i had floured some choc chips. I hope these dont sink.

    Thanks, I am taking this to someone’s house later. Hope it is good.


    • J Rich on June 27th, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      no, I was very dissappointed. The struesel became a glob of top. And then the mini chocolate chips made another layer of chocolate on top. Much too sweet, also. It didn’t look anything like yours.


  50. Melissa on August 23, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    A “fussy” recipe for me what with all of the “3/4” measurements and 1 1/2 eggs but the directions were very clear and although it was more well done than expected as mentioned by some other readers, I did not have any problems with the topping and it came out lovely. Thank you!


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