Blog Flog: Berry Crumb Cake

At this time of year, I’m typically working through my stash of frozen rhubarb as the new crown starts to unfurl again in the back yard. I’ve already used it up during the past month, but managed to squirrel away bags of frozen raspberries and blueberries before grocery shopping became a Big Thing.

I’ve been making this crumb cake, or something like it, for decades—it has become my go-to when I want a buttery, not-to-sweet sort of a cake, layered with whatever fruit happens to be in season (or in the freezer). It’s perfect with rhubarb in the spring, berries in early summer, stone fruit (peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines) in late summer, and apples or pears in the fall. You can mix up the fruit, play around with citrus zest or spices in the batter or crumble, and make use of the last of the yogurt or sour cream. It’s the sort of cake you’ll get to know from memory and mix up whenever you need one, which is quite regularly for me. It’s altogether the epitome of a useful recipe.

Besides its utility, I love the contrasting textures of cake, fruit and crumble, and that I don’t have to decorate it, and that it’s as reasonable to eat with coffee for breakfast as with ice cream for dessert. It’s a weekend brunch cake and an afternoon working in the garden cake, a portable cake (if you happen to be going somewhere), and the kind of cake you leave in the pan on the counter and trim off a nibble of every time you pass by. Since we’re all in baking mode, but aren’t running out to the farmers’ market or grocery store as much as we used to, this is a solid recipe to have in your repertoire.

We’re lucky to have some of the best wheat (and thus flour) in the world here in Canada, particularly on the prairies. I love that everyone is baking together in a way, warming up their houses with the smell of bread in the oven, learning the art of sourdough and pastry, feeding and comforting each other in such a basic way. These skills, learned or honed, will stick around for a lifetime.

Crumb Cake

The Alberta Wheat Commission is running a contest right now – you could win a stand mixer, and some Canadian wheat flour to bake with! To enter, share your baking photo by tagging #LifesSimpleIngredient. The contest is open until May 21. You can find all the contest details here!

Crumb Cake


May 19, 2020



1/3 cup butter, softened

2 Tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2-3 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) berries, or sliced peaches or plums


1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 tsp salt


1Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugar for a couple minutes, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

2In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add about half to the butter mixture and stir by hand or on low speed just until blended. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and then the rest of the flour, stirring just until combined. Spread into a buttered or parchment-lined 9-inch round or square pan or baking dish. Spread the fruit overtop.

3In the same bowl, blend the brown sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon and salt and mix with a fork or rub between your fingers until well blended. Scatter over the berries, squeezing the mixture as you go to create larger crumbs.

4Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until the visible cake is golden and springy to the touch - it may seem soft in the middle, but should firm up as it cools. Serves 8-12.


About Julie

4 comments on “Blog Flog: Berry Crumb Cake

  1. Anonymous
    May 19, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    I’m a long-time follower, Julie. Love your Canadian recipes. Just made two Crumb Cakes and had to remove them from the oven just after 60 minutes….. the bottom was burning. Is the baking time of 75 – 90 minutes correct?

  2. M
    May 20, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Do you need to add any sugar ti fruit if using rhubarb? Also how much cinnamon in the crumb as I don’t see in ingredients but do in the instructions.

    Thanks. M

  3. Brier
    May 20, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    I just made mine with frozen berries, middle of the oven, and it took approximately 80 minutes. I also used a glass dish so I could check for browning!

  4. Corrine Lung
    May 29, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Cinnamon in the crumb portion? Is it typed as salt but ahpuld be cinnamon?

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