Cardamom Crumb Cake

December 16, 2012
18 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Makes 8 servings
Author Notes

This recipe comes from Baking: From My Home to Yours. —Dorie Greenspan

What You'll Need
  • For the crumbs:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
  • For the cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the butter in a bowl and toss them together with a spatula just to blend. Add the butter and, using your fingers or the spatula, mix everything together until you’ve got crumbs of different sizes. It’s nice to have a few big pieces, so don’t overdo it. Set the crumbs aside. (The crumbs can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.)
  3. To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Turn the dry ingredients out onto a sheet of wax paper, and put the sugar and zest in the bowl. Rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong, then return the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk to blend.
  4. Put the remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk them to blend. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir – don’t beat – to mix. Stir only until you’ve got an evenly moistened batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and top with a thick, even layer of the crumbs. Pat the crumbs ever so gently into the batter.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake has risen (it will crown), the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool in the pan before serving warm or at room temperature.
  6. You can unmold the cake if you want to, but you’ll lose some of the crumbs when you turn it over. I prefer to cut the cake in the pan, taking care not to nick the surface of the pan with my knife. (This is a good job for a plastic or silicone pie server.)
  7. Serving: Cut the cake into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
  8. Storing: This cake is best served the day it is made. It can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; once it defrosts, it benefits from a quick warm-up in a 350-degree-F oven.
  9. Playing Around: I often make just the crumbs and use them to top ice cream and desserts like Chocolate Pudding (page 383), Coffee Caramel Pots de Crème (page 389) or Lemon Cup Custard (page 387). Make the crumbs as directed and refrigerate them for 2 hours. Crumble up the mixture, spread the crumbs out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake in a 350-degree-F oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and baked through. Let cool. The crumbs can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Gina Hemmings
    Gina Hemmings
  • Baci
  • Michelle de Lima
    Michelle de Lima
  • Two Trays Kitchen
    Two Trays Kitchen
  • CH-4500
With the publication her 14th book, Baking with Dorie, New York Times bestselling author Dorie Greenspan marks her thirtieth anniversary as a cookbook author. She has won five James Beard Awards for her cookbooks and journalism and was inducted into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. A columnist for the New York Times Magazine and the author of the xoxoDorie newsletter on Bulletin, Dorie was recently awarded an Order of Agricultural Merit from the French government for her outstanding writing on the foods of that country. She lives in New York City, Westbrook, Connecticut, and Paris. You can find Dorie on Instagram, Facebook, Bulletin and her website,

24 Reviews

Pam June 6, 2023
I’ve made this several times, it’s my very favorite coffee cake for a special breakfast! Made it again this morning. Absolutely delicious! Followed the recipe as is, wouldn’t change a thing. Many thanks to Dorie Greenspan for sharing this recipe with us on Food52. Dorie is one of the greats and has such insight into baking. Using your fingers to mix the orange zest with the sugar is a wonderful idea, great for the senses and you can really taste the orange in the cake. The flavor combination of espresso with cardamom and orange zest is out of this world! ❤️
Damyna August 8, 2022
Loved this cake. I did not have expresso and oranges so i subsituted with lime instead and it turned out great.
skfoodie77 October 6, 2021
We loved this cake! I did not use the expresso or coffee and substituted lemon zest for the orange zest. It would be great with lime zest as another option.
Thom June 6, 2021
This is a really good recipe. I’ve made it many times. As with a lot of cakes, I find the flavor to be much better the next day. Therefore, I make it the night before the day I plan to serve it.

About half the time I make the cake as written and it’s perfect as is. However I also make a modified version — one I created when I discovered at the last minute that I didn’t have instant espresso. For the modified version, I leave out the espresso and brewed coffee and sub a 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice from the zested oranges. I also reduce the baking powder by a 1/2 teaspoon and sub in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (because of the orange juice). This variation also works really well.

Another note. I always make this cake with fresh ground cardamom. Break out the mortar and pestle. Fresh ground is so much better than the pre-ground stuff.

Gina H. December 24, 2019
I've made this a few times for an annual Christmas Eve breakfast and it's fantastic. Be prepared to have about 3-4 oranges for the orange zest, it adds so much flavor to the recipe. Don't skimp on this step. Also be sure to pull the crumb together with your fingers to get different sized bits.
Baci August 6, 2018
I made this Cardamom Crumb Cake yesterday for a mini impromptu tea party and it was a hit! The cake itself is more dense than it is light and airy. It baked for about 38-40 minutes (toothpick wasn't coming out clean after 35 min). I used 2 teaspoons cardamom in the cake batter instead of 1.5 teaspoon for the flavor to be more pronounced and didn't have enough orange zest for 2 tablespoons, so I zested 1 orange and 1 lemon. Also, I used 1/2 cup cold brew coffee. Turned out perfect - not overly sweet and has a perfectly crunchy top. Try this recipe. You won't regret it. Cardamom + Orange + Espresso = Amazing.
Michelle D. December 24, 2017
Has anyone increased the recipe and baked in a bigger pan? I'm thinking 1.5x recipe in a 9x13 for Christmas brunch.
kaitlin September 23, 2016
I just made this and it turned out delicious! Thank you for this recipe!
Two T. January 17, 2016
Made this as a half recipe in a 6 inch pan and blogged about it. What a nice turnout for a considerable less amount of richness like in most crumb cakes! Loved. Added pinch salt to the topping, baked a few minutes longer as needed.
CH-4500 May 11, 2015
I have to weigh my butter as I live overseas so it comes in grams.
FYI 120g is too much (David lebovitz conversion).
amie M. March 5, 2015
i think the lack of salt makes this cake taste blah. i would either substitute salted butter in place of the unsalted butter or i would add a 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt next time.
ayana C. April 22, 2014
I have chopped hazelnuts that are leftover from another recipe. Do you think this would be a good substitute for the walnuts
DAVILCHICK January 5, 2014
So I made this for our Xmas Day Dinner dessert but after I put it in the oven my husband confessed that when I asked him to hand me the cardamom he handed me the ground coriander instead. DUH DUH DUH....Turned out magnificently! However, I was dying to make it again only THIS time with the actual CARDAMOM. So for last night's dinner party I did, in fact, make it correctly and it was also very yum. The Coriander Crumb Cake was more citrus-y flavored and with the Cardamom (original) version we could taste a little more of the coffee. Total yum either way but lesson learned - never ask my husband to hand me a spice. :)
EmilyNunn November 18, 2013
I'm going to make this tonight. Citrus + coffee = love.
Golab October 16, 2013
I wanted to make this tonight but had a question for you! In "1", what do you mean by " Put the pan on a baking sheet."? o_O
PMarie February 11, 2013
Love cardomom, orange zest and ginger with it, coffee TOO WEIRD, spoils it all.
Davis B. January 14, 2013
LOVE cardamom! Can't wait to try this. Made your rugelach again last night & added cardamom to the filling.
phoebe's P. December 29, 2012
in love! easy and the scent while baking divine. i substituted 1/2c applesauce for the eggs and still perfect texture.
Audrey December 29, 2012
Oh my gosh, I love this crumb cake. My best friend's mother has made it a handful of times and I've been totally enamored-- so glad I have the recipe now, thank you Dorie for publishing it on Food52!
Windtryst December 19, 2012
I made this yesterday for a Christmas treat at work, I was a bit nervous about the coffee,but followed the recipe to a "T" as I firmly believe you should if you are going to comment on it.
This was a " 10" so good! Everyone loved it,I was proud :) moist & flavorful, you must make this for a gift or Christmas morning. Note, I made this in a larger pan and it was perfect. 12.5x10 .