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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Coffee Cake, Crumb Cake, What's the Difference?

Does anyone know the difference between Coffee Cake and Crumb Cake? Is there even a difference or are they basically the same depending on what part of the country you live in, or perhaps the world.

Coffee Cake
I ask because tomorrow is National Coffee Cake Day and although I have attempted to explain the absence of the ingredient coffee in most coffee cakes, I have not been able to put my finger on a notable difference between Crumb Cake and Coffee Cake. Help!!!

I was looking for a coffee cake (aka crumb cake) recipe to share today and I thought it would be interesting to step back a few years for more of a “retro” type Crumb Cake (aka Coffee Cake:) to share.

My first stop was The American Woman’s Cook Book edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, director of the Culinary Arts Institute, and revised in 1947. In it I found two interesting recipes for Coffee Cake. The first recipe was included in the Yeast Bread chapter and the other in the Quick Bread chapter. It seems, at some point in time, a breakfast including Coffee Cake on the menu was most likely leavened with yeast.

Coffee Cake Recipe | American Woman's Cookbook
To really confuse things, I also happened upon a Rich Coffee Cake recipe in The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer. (1925 edition; Cora Perkins) The thing is, the Rich Coffee Cake recipe includes coffee as an ingredient!!! (So much for my theory on where’s the coffee in coffee cake)
Rich Coffee Cake | Boston Cooking School Cookbook

By most accounts, there are two types of cakes: butter cakes which are made with shortening; and sponge cakes, in which no shortening is used.

Kinds of Cakes | Home Baking for Profit
Confused yet? I surely am. As a matter of fact, you’ll notice my Pinterest board for National Coffee Cake Day, is a bit unsettling too. If the title of the recipe doesn’t include the word Coffee Cake in some form or another, I haven’t been pinning it.
Coffee Cake Pinterest Board

Well today, dear visitors, that is going to change. You see, I baked a cake for you today.

New York Style Crumb Cake

It’s a New York Style Crumb Cake recipe that I found on the Bon Appétit website. I chose this particular recipe because it reminds me of the kind of crumb cakes that I grew up with in New York. (makes sense to me, I’ve been missing New York a lot lately. Well mostly the food actually:)

New York Style Crumb Cake
I can not tell you how much Marion and I enjoyed this cake. Indescribably delicious! You see, for us, it’s all about the crumbs! And boy oh boy, is this cake crummy! And beneath that thick layer of crumbly cinnamon crumbs is a moist, dense layer of buttery cake. Perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea but Marion and I actually had ours with a huge glass of milk! There was just one problem with this hit the spot Coffee Cake Crumb Cake, I probably should have halved the recipe. I thought about freezing it but I didn’t want to take a chance that I may ruin it. (yes I’m pretty proud of this one folks!) So, I cut it in half, packaged it up, and brought half the cake down to Harry’s. (Harry’s is the local place where I go for breakfast every morning:) I wasn’t there when Harry got his “delivery,” but I heard that he not only had a piece for lunch, he and his wife had New York Style Crumb Cake for dessert that night. When I went into the diner the next morning, the girls in the diner told me Harry wouldn’t share with them. However, after he finished his breakfast that morning, and another piece of cake, he took a piece for the road and told the girls they could have the crumbs, lol…(You really need to “meet” Harry one of these days. He a hoot:)

If you have any feelings on the Coffee Cake vs Crumb Cake dilemma, I’d love to hear it. As for me, I’ll be slowly nibbling on my last piece of New York Style Crumb Cake right down to the very last crumb! Oh, just in case you’re a stickler for recipes with Coffee Cake in the title, here’s the recipe for the French Chocolate Coffee Cake pictured at top. It was harvested from the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen Favorites cookbook published in 2003.

French Chocolate Cake Recipe | Better Home & Garden

85 comments:

  1. Lovely post Louise, the photos of the coffeecakes looks very delectable! Coffee cakes or crumb cakes, it doesn't matter as long as both taste equally good:D

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    1. I totally agree, Jeannie. It's all about the crumbs and deliciousness!!!

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  2. Dear Louise, I have to say that this post is fantastic!...I am still confused about "Coffee Cake". but each one of them you posted sounds wonderful. I am a lover of coffee cake. I feel as you do coming from New York that the NY style is the best. I grew up with that type of cake as well. I agree the crumber the better. I remember when I was young, my mom would make a coffee cake and the family would fight over who had the piece with the biggest crumb on top. I must, must try your recipe and I enjoyed reading about the difference between them all. To me no matter what type and there are many recipes out there, I love them all. I am a recipe for one made with sour cream and raisins. Makes me want a piece right now with a cup of tea. Thanks for sharing your recipes and your always entertaining posts. Have a wonderful and blessed Sunday! Dottie :)

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    1. HI Dottie,
      While I was writinging this post, Dottie, I remembered all the coffee cakes/crumb cakes I baked as a kid when company was coming:) That was before my mother found out that Entemann's sold half priced baked goods. We use to fill up the freezer with all kinds of Entemann's especially the crumb cakes. Too bad Entemann's is just not the same anymore...

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  3. Oh wow, Louise, what a gorgeous coffee cake with crumbs! Wish I had a slice for tea right away!

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    1. Thank you Mich. It taste so yummy!

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  4. Louise , in my opinion , coffee cake should have coffee in it lol I think I've seen a yeasted coffee cake recipe in Baking Illustrated book .... Anyway , your crumb cake looks really good , I love how thick the crumb topping is ! The contrast between the moist buttery cake and the crumbly topping sounds wonderful !

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    1. It does seem like coffee cake should have coffee in it, Anne but I must say, it sure is a perfect go to with a nice cup of hot coffee too, lol...It's all about the crumbs in my book:)

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  5. Oh I will probably have to miss a national coffee cake day.. but your cakes looks great! Thanks for baking it for us!

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    1. Hi Medeja and welcome!
      Not to worry, there are plenty of other cake days on the calendar this year, none as crummy but all delicious! Thank YOU so much for visiting. Please drop by any time:)

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  6. theory - coffee cake tastes best with a cup of coffee so it does not have to have coffee as an ingredient.
    theory - it is like soda - parts of the country call it pop - others call it soda, even though it is the same thing.

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    1. I'm liking your theories, Brenda:)

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  7. I had hoped you might answer this question but seems like I will need to give my very biased and uninformed opinion instead - crumb cake is the name where it tells you what is in the cake and coffee cake is likely to make coffee-haters like me feel wary just in case there is coffee in it :-) Your cake looks delicious - I am sure it would have frozen well - I sometimes freeze cake in slices and just take out and thaw a slice in the microwave when I fancy a piece - it is great to have it there but not feel obliged to eat it quickly.

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    1. Hi Johanna,
      Marion has requested the French Chocolate Coffee Cake. If I were to bake it, I would definitely consider freezing half or only baking half. The microwave is a GREAT idea for heating it up from the freezer. Thanks:)

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  8. oh yes wish i have a slice right now too...

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  9. I've always thought that coffee cake is just any normal cake with coffee flavour, but crumb cake would probably have crumbs! Hahaha! I'm quite an idiot when it comes to such stuff, but this post is fun & interesting, Louise!

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    1. As a rule, Shirley, Coffee Cake doesn't usually include coffee. I've read that it is so named because it goes well with coffee or tea for that matter. Now I'm wondering about tea cakes, lol...

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  10. Tom-AY-to, to-MAH-to? I'm not fond of these... drier, crumblier cakes, not that I'm a huge cake fan to begin with, but the Knight sure is.

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    1. The Knight would love this cake, Channon. You should bake it for him:)

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  11. Hi Louise,
    Coffee cakes to me, sounds like ANY cakes that goes well with a cup of coffee, and crumb cakes are cakes with some sort of streusel or crumbs over the top, which to me falls in the category of Coffee Cakes! LOL! Not quite sure, but as long as I enjoyed a slice or two with either coffee or tea, I'm happy!
    And that cake looks good! I have always enjoyed the crumbs more when I have cakes like this! haha!
    And the story of Harry is really funny! He really enjoyed your cake! I would too, it looks really good, Louise! With moist, tender crumbs, my kinda cake!
    Hope you have a lovely week ahead!

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    1. My thoughts exactly, Joyce:) Harry is quite the character. He and his wife eat out every single day. His wife told me once that she hasn't cooked in over 20 years. They are both almost 90 years young!

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  12. Really interesting post! Although when I think "coffee cake" the first thing I think of is "crumb cake," my impression is that coffee cake is also a class of cake -- something sweet that can be serve as, well, coffee cake! Thus a Danish might qualify (and I've heard people refer to Danish as coffee cake). But this is all top-of-my head thinking -- I guess the actual answer is I don't know! Fun post. And darn nice coffee/crumb cake!

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    1. Oh I love a good Danish too John and I wouldn't definitely put them into the coffee cake category even if they don't usually include crumbs!

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  13. Cake / and or Coffee Cake with coffee is a weakness of mine. I have it most mornings for breakfast. Coffee cake is so dry and crumbly.... that's why I always lay it in a bed of real cream for moisture.(that's what I tell myself) My hips don't like it but my mouth sure does. Love your posts like always Louise :)

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    1. Hi Pam!
      Long time no "see." What a nice surprise! Crumb Cake in a bed of real cream? Oh my word, Pam, that is dreamy, lol...

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  14. I'm not sure what the difference is either, but I am always a fan of the result! I love coffee cake of any kind and yours look so good - love those big NY style crumbs on top! -Donalyn of http://thecreeksidecook.com

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    1. Hi Donalyn:)
      Here it is National Coffee Cake Day and I still haven't discerned the difference, lol..Who cares! I love Coffee/Crumb Cake too, especially with huge crumbs!

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  15. Hi Louise , never knew or thought about the difference , I love them all , ;-D I will have to make the NY style coffee cake , never had one with those ingredients and just looking at the crumb / coffee cake makes me want to grab a bite or hunk .
    You had a lot of information as usual , I know you and Marion enjoyed the cake , boy do it look deliciously good . Thanks so much for sharing :)

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    1. Oh my Nee, the kids would LOVE this crummy crumb cake. Not only is it delicious, it is so much fun to eat too!!! It's like two desserts in one! Please let me know if you bake it:)

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  16. Hi ~~Louise~~......
    What I need to know is......where is your crummy recipe? Ha!
    I make one with sour cream.......delish!
    Enjoy your week.....
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Hi Linda!
      Well it wasn't "my" recipe. The "crummy" recipe came from the Bon Appétit website. And yes, it does include sour cream and an over abundance of butter!!!

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  17. I always thought that crumb cake was one variety out of several types of coffee cake. At least one of these others can be made in a bundt pan or tube pan and has a glaze or drizzled icing. Also some stollens (made from yeast dough, filled with fruit or cheese, long and flat, may or may not include crumbs) are sometimes called coffee cake -- Entenmann's as you said, made some of these. However, I have never before your post seen a recipe for coffee cake that actually had coffee in the recipe!

    They all sound really delicious!

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    1. I did a post about the absence of coffee in coffee cake a while back Mae and in that post I hadn't found a recipe for coffee cake that actually included coffee. Belive it or not, I just stumbled upon the Rich Coffee Cake recipe while researching for this post. It is the first time I have ever seen a recipe for coffee cake that includes coffee!

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  18. I never asked the question about why there isn't coffee in coffee cake before. But ages ago, I used to eat crumb cakes that Hostess made--went right past the Twinkies and Susie-Q's to get to them, they were so good. Yours looks just like a big version of them--mmm, making my mouth water!

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    1. I was a Drake's Cake "gal" myself, Inger. Boy were they a welcome surprise in my lunch box:) You would LOVE this cake!

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  19. Wow, i am thinking that I will need to make coffee cake tomorrow. Funny because I've recently inherited tons of old linens trimmed with lace, crocheting and tatting and they will make the perfect backdrop for a good, old-fashioned coffee cake, the kind my mother used to make. I've been craving one for years! Thanks, Louise - this is a yummy post.

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    1. Go for it, Mimi! The lace would make a perfect back drop to all those crumbs! Please share when you do:)

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  20. Hi Louise, I love coffee cake and enjoy every bite of it whether crumbs or not :D

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  21. I don't know the difference between coffee cake, crumb cake, or buckle (maybe more crumb topping on a "buckle", which is supposed to buckle from the weight of the topping)...yours looks delish!

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    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one Joyti. I suppose any way you slice it as long as it's crumbly and delicious it's yummy!

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  22. Howdy louise ! So, National Coffee Cake Day is on the 7th April. I wish to find out which recipe did you used ?
    Hope you're having a great week ahead dear.
    Blessings, Kristy

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    1. Howdy Kristy! How nice to "see" you:) Happy Coffee Cake Day! I used the recipe from the Bon Appétit website. Here's the link. Enjoy:)

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  23. The only "coffee cake" I make has sour cream in it, but no coffee and no crumbs. When I was young, there was a company in Detroit that made the best coffeecake I've ever tasted...it was called an Almond Tea Ring. They also made a pecan one...those are the coffeecakes I remember best. No crumb or coffee in either. The company was Sanders. I practically went into mourning when they closed. Think you can still buy their hot fudge sauces here and there.

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    1. You are NOT going to believe this Barbara but, I have actually heard of Sanders and their loyal following. I think there may be a book available online that tells the history of the company. I've heard people use to line up outside the door just to be able to get a nibble. I fondly remember those types of coffee cakes too:)

      The "coffee cake" I baked for today has sour cream in it and NO coffee. It was harvested from Bon Appetit.

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  24. I am a big fan of crumb cakes. Your New York crumb cake looks really delicious. Lucky visitors.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  25. Oh this looks fabulous Louise! I love these types of cakes and especially with a good cup of coffee. The topping looks very inviting and crumbly! Love it love it !! Baci.

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    1. Thank you Alida. It sure was yummy!

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  26. Hmmm .. I never gave it a second thoughts on crumb cakes n coffee cakes. Now you got me thinking. Cud it be that coffee cakes can be a quick loaf cake or any dense n heavy cake and crumb cakes has the sandy texture which is great to eat with coffee or tea? Well, I love them both!

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    1. That pretty much sums it up, Jenn...Deliciousness, crumbs and a good cup of coffee, or tea! I love them all too!!!

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  27. Hi Louise, I love any cakes with coffee flavor. Yummy especially go with a cup of coffee too! Thanks for sharing dear and warmest regards :)

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    1. Hi Ivy!
      Coffee Cake is delightful with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, Ivy. Oh so yummy:)

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  28. It is so funny that you mention about "coffee cake" because when I just moved to US and saw coffee cake for the first time I was wondering about the coffee in it...and then I thought "maybe this cake is good with coffee..."
    The recipes look great and your New York Style Crumb Cake looks delicious, I love the texture! Now you got me in the mood of crumb cake...
    Have a wonderful week Louise :D

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    1. Yes, Juliana it sure can be confusing. I'm guessing the words coffee cake stuck because this type of buttery cake is definitely good with a hot cup of coffee or even tea! Thank you so much for stopping by. Enjoy your week also:)

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  29. I so agree about the crumbs! It looks delicious and I want to try it. I'm wondering if the difference is mainly regional or just that coffee cake doesn't have a crumbly topping??? All yours needs is a cup of coffee!

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    1. Oh Pam!
      I am so bad at taking "photo shoots," lol...A cup of coffee next to that cake would have been a nice touch. Thanks Pam:)

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  30. What ever the similarities and differences are, they both taste amazing.

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  31. There's yeast raised coffee cake, baking powder raised coffee cake, and then crumb cake, which I think is a powder-raised coffee cake with crumbly goodness atop it.

    I have worked out a recipe for an apple filled coffee cake which has no cholesterol and reduced sugar, which my dearly beloved has been eating by the boatload. I'm so happy that I devised something he loves, and it's turned around the weight-loss tide for him! But I'll be stopping by for some of your crumb cake...or maybe not, since it's pouring outside.

    Happy Monday, Louise!

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    1. Oh Marjie! That's wonderful! I knew you would figure out a way to make a delicious and healthy dessert for hubby. He must be thrilled!!! You just let me know when you're coming and I bake a brand new New York Style Crumb Cake just for you!!!

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  32. Louise - Another informative post, as usual, & I'm so excited you found a recipe with coffee in it :) By the way, you should stop by my other site (FoodFotoGallery.com) and submit your gorgeous coffee cake. I'd love to share it with all my foodie friends!

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    1. Aw gee, thanks C.J! And thank you for inviting me to share. I'm not sure if I'm quite up to it though. The foods on your Food Foto Gallery are way out of my league:)

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  33. El pastel de café es lo más exquisito su textura se ve muy suave y seguro aromático,abrazos

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    1. Muchas gracias Rosita. Ojalá pudieras probarlo :)

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  34. Until today, I have never seen a coffee cake with real coffee in it. You certainly pose some interesting questions and you always have the answers, Louise. Another great post.

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    1. That recipe was a chance find, Debra but thanks. I found it quite intriguing also:)

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  35. Since I am a big fan of cakes of all kinds, I really enjoyed your post! Indeed it was confusing for me why all these cakes were called coffee ones but then I thought that it was perhaps they were served with coffee, silly? Anyway, your cake looks absolutely mouthwatering, I just printed the recipe to try it! Thanks again for all this info you give us! Have a great week!

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    1. Not silly, Katerina. They do go GREAT with coffee, or tea for that matter:) I'm so happy to hear you printed the recipe. Please let us know when you bake a coffee cake and how you like it!

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  36. I am not sure what the difference is between crumb & coffee cake. All I know, is I love them both!

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  37. I have no idea what the difference is between and crumb cake and a coffee cake. I know that I love a good crumb topping on a cake.

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    1. Hi Dawn and welcome! If you like brummy toppings, this is the cake for you. It's like eating two desserts in one. Dee..li..cious! Thank you so much for visiting. Drop by anytime:)

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  38. Your NY style crumb cake looks fabulous! Crumb cake or coffee cake - I will take it either way. Here, we don't really have either - we would call it tea cake, to make it even more confusing.

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    1. Hi Cakelaw:)
      Crumb Cake, Coffee Cake, Tea Cake, oh my it is all so deliciously confusing:)

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  39. my theory is that a coffee cake doesn't necessarily have crumbs, but if it does, it's a crumb cake. either way, DELICIOUS.

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    1. Sounds like a GREAT theory to me, Grace! Thanks:)

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  40. hi louise, long ago when i chanced upon a coffee cake recipe, i was a little puzzled why is there no coffee as ingredient in the recipe..then later i find out that what it means it is a cake that is good to go with a cup of coffee! here, a coffee cake means there's coffee in it..haha..quite bizarre to note the difference! now what is a crumb cake? LOL!

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  41. Dear Louise, I love coffee cake, crumb cake whatever it is called I love it. I think I might just have to make one. The Fannie Farmer recipe looks real good as does the rich coffee cake.
    Well, I hope all is well. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

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  42. To me, a crumb cake has crumb topping, and lots of it, whereas a coffee cake has either streusel topping or a glaze.

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  43. The heck with labels! I'll take your New York Style Crumb Cake, with a large pot of coffee and that's that!

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    1. Here, here, T.W! Harry asked me to bake another today. I just may. The coffee is a MUST!

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  44. Great post Louise, I always enjoy all the research that goes into your writing. The cake you baked would certainly please my husband. He grew up in New York and that is the kind of cake he likes and he calls it a crumb cake. :)

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  45. Of course, New York coffee cake is the best. It has the heaviest topping. All these photos are making me want to bake.

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise