Our Crumb Cake Recipe

I have fond memories of baking with my grandma Thomas. We made cinnamon jumbles, cookies, and this crumb cake. The recipe cards always say “Olive Crumb Cake”, but it is supposed to read “Olive’s Crumb Cake.” As I understand it, Olive was one of my grandmother’s friends, and this was her recipe.
The cake is nice, moist and spongy. The cake sort of crumbles, but it is the crumbs on the top that give it its name. It is a wonderful breakfast cake as well as a snack cake.
Ari and I made this the other day, and I thought I would share it.


  • 1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening (I recommend butter flavored stuff… I’ve used butter itself as well, but the recipe says Shortening so I’ll repeat what it says).
  • 2 Cups Flower
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Sour Milk (to make Sour Milk, pour 1 cup milk into a bowl, add 1 Tablespoon Vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda


In its own small bowl make sour milk mixture. This should give it time enough to sour for use.
Set oven for 350 degrees.
Rub brown sugar, shortening, and flour together. The end result should be an even crumby mixture. Set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture in a separate bowl for topping.
Mix eggs, sour milk, baking soda, and cinnamon together.
Combine the two mixtures (leave the topping bowl to the side) and pour into a 9 x 13 cake pan.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until done.
About 10 minutes into the bake, when the cakes has firmed a bit sprinkle the 3/4 cup topping mixture over the cake top and let it finish baking. This delay in adding the topping is my own invention, as originally taught and per the card, we used to do it before you put it in the oven, but at the start, the cake is too wet and the topping just sinks in. Letting it firm up while baking in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes lets the topping stay on the top better. Don’t wait too long or the topping won’t cook properly though, 5 to 10 minutes should suffice.
Let cool, cut, eat and enjoy.