I am both bold and proud to say that this is the only Streuselkuchen (crumb cake) recipe you need because it is easy, quick, and delicious.
Whether with a nice cup of coffee or any time, this German crumb cake is always a big hit!
Summer is the perfect time to make fruit cakes. While I sometimes like to make something more elaborate, I just love to have an easy recipe in my back pocket: enter the German streusel cake.
What exactly is a German crumb cake?
You can find this kind of cake that is called Streuselkuchen in German, in pretty much all the bakeries there. You see, “Streusel” is the German word for “crumb”.
Most German crumb cake recipes will be for a yeast dough bottom, a streusel topping, and some fruit in the middle of the cake.
How is this recipe different from most German crumb cake recipes?
As I said above, most recipes will call for a yeast dough. That means you need to make it and let the dough rise in a warm spot.
This recipe on the other hand uses a simple batter for both the bottom and the crumb topping. You can even make it all in one large bowl! It couldn’t be simpler than that!
Also, this recipe is that it is very versatile. For this recipe, I am using blueberries but you could make it with almost any fruit. Stone fruit is particularly well-suited for this recipe. Below, I am sharing some simple adaptions to this recipe depending on what kind of fruit you are using.
This Streuselkuchen is made with ingredients that I am sure you already have at home.
- Flour: Regular all-purpose flour is great.
- Sugar: Most of the time, I use organic granulated sugar. If you don’t mind a darker color of the cake and the crumb topping, you could also use coconut sugar.
- Vanilla: I like to make my own vanilla sugar and vanilla extract. You can use either one in this recipe.
- Sea Salt: Even though this Streuselkuchen recipe isn’t very sweet, salt highlights the sweetness and makes the cake tastes less flat – you know what I mean.
- Butter: Unfortunately, I don’t often have enough of my own butter so I use store-bought. I always recommend you use the highest quality ingredients you can afford. The Kerry Gold brand is my favorite.
- Hazelnuts: These or filberts are the ‘secret’ ingredient in this recipe. Both add a nutty and deeper flavor to this German crumb cake as well as extra crunchiness. If you don’t have a way to grind the hazelnuts or you can’t find them, you can substitute them with almond meal. Or omit them entirely, if you’re avoiding nuts.
Helpful tools and equipment:
While you don’t even really need any special equipment, I recommend these tools:
- Food processor: I prefer making this recipe in my Kitchen Aid food processor. I use it to grind the nuts first and then add the remaining ingredients. You could also use a coffee grinder to grind the nuts – or simply buy hazelnut or almond meal.
- Pastry blender: A pastry cutter is great for this recipe. But you can make this in your stand mixer – or simply use a dinner fork.
- Baking dish: You can bake this either in a springform pan or a glass baking dish.
- Parchment paper: Lining the bottom of your pan or dish with parchment paper makes it very easy to transfer the cake. Also, that way clean-up is a cinch.
What fruit to use for this cake:
Here are some types of fruit ideal for this recipe:
- Apples: You can make a German apple streusel (Apfelstreuselkuchen) cake with a simple apple filling. Tart apples like granny smith are always good but you can also add some lemon juice to the filling.
- Cherries: Many German cookbooks will have recipes for Kirschstreuselkuchen. The traditional fruit is sour cherries but if you can only find sweet cherries, again, just add some lemon juice.
- Plums: A traditional German recipe of Pflaumenstreuselkuchen will use prunes but you can also use regular plums.
- Other fruit: You can also use rhubarb, peaches, or apricots.
Substitutions and variations:
There are a lot of ways you can adapt and change this great crumb cake recipe:
- Flour: I often use spelt flour or Einkorn flour. But you can use any flour you have. If you like a deeper, nuttier flavor, you can even use a whole-grain flour of wheat, spelt, or Einkorn. Bonus if you mill your own grains.
- Spices: depending on the type of fruit you’re using, you could add cinnamon or lemon zest.
- Sugar: White sugar gives you lighter crumbs but using brown sugar makes them darker and more flavorful. I don’t recommend honey, maple syrup, or agave for this recipe.
- Yeast dough: If you would like to make a classic German plum crumble cake, you can use a basic yeast cake dough and then just cut the crumble dough in half.
How to eat:
Germans love to have their “Kaffee und Kuchen”. This simply means “coffee and cake” in the afternoon. Streuselkuchen always makes the perfect coffee cake! Or if you are like my husband you will like it for breakfast, too.
No matter what time of day, this cake is delicious on its own, with a good dollop of whipped cream, or some vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
How to make the German crumb cake:
- Grind the hazelnuts in the food processor. I like it when there are still some chunkier nut pieces but you can also grind them into a finer flour. You might have to scrape the sides of the bowl if you want a finer grind.
- Next, add the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar or extract, and salt. I’ll pulse this flour mixture a few times to mix it up.
- Remove the butter from the refrigerator, cut it into chunks, and add them to the dry ingredients in the food processor. Either pulsing or on low speed, gently mix the dough.
- The dough should be crumbly but not completely uniform. In other words, you should see small pieces. If the dough is too dry, you can add a tiny bit of very cold water until it just comes together.
- Line your springform pan with parchment paper. If you’re not using that, grease your dish with some extra butter or avocado oil.
- Transfer about one-half of this dough for the bottom crust into your prepared pan and gently press it in evenly.
- Put about 1 pound of fruit on top. Crumble the remaining crumb mixture on top of the fruit.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes at 350˚F (180˚C) or until the crumbs are golden brown.
- Let it cool on a wire rack. Enjoy warm or the next day.
Frequently asked questions:
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes, you can very easily make the streusel dough ahead of time. Simply keep it in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Why did my streusel topping turn out too wet or too dry?
Depending on your ingredients, you might have to adjust the amounts a little bit. If your crumb topping is too dry, simply add a bit more butter. If it’s too wet, add more flour. Ideally, you want the streusels to be moist enough to stick but not so wet that they form a uniform dough.
Why is my crumb topping so dense?
This can happen for various reasons. Either you might have overmixed the crumb topping, used butter at room temperature, or used too much flour.
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Streuselkuchen (German crumb cake) recipe
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, cold
- 1 cup hazelnuts/filberts or use almond meal or omit
- ½ whole lemon, juiced optional
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder optional
- 1 pound fruit, washed, cleaned, and pitted (if necessary)
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor, either coarsly or fine, depending on preference
- Add flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt and pulse a few times to mix.
- Cut butter in chunks and add to dry ingredients in food processor. Mix until combined. If the dough is too dry, add a bit of ice cold water.
- Line a springform pan or glass baking dish with parchment paper. Alternatively, grease springform pan or glass baking dish with some oil or butter.
- Add about ½ of the dough to the baking dish and gently press down evenly.
- Add the fruit.
- Crumble the remaining dough on top of the fruit.
- Bake for 40-55 mins or until topping is golden brown.
- For best results, the crumb topping should just barely stick together. If the dough is too wet, add a bit more flour; if it’s too dry, you can add a tiny amount of cold water.
- You can use a variety of different fruits: apples, plums, rhubarb, cherries, peaches, or apricots.