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LA School District’s Old Fashioned Crumb Cake

LA School District’s Old Fashioned Crumb Cake

Here it is, a month into summer vacation, and your kids are knee-deep in surf camp, fort building, chapter books, and all manner of gleeful lollygagging — they don’t want to hear about school. But they might countenance a few words about this popular LAUSD crumb cake. In fact, they might even be pumped to help you make it.

Apparently, this very recipe has been rocking local cafeteria trays since 1954, so if you went to public school here, you probably have fond memories of it. We get it: we do too!

Thanks to a combination of vegetable oil, buttermilk, and egg, the cake has a super moist, fluffy crumb. Add a bunch of brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon to that, and its flavor is highly reminiscent (in the very best way) of a classic boxed spice cake. We love its simple, cozy warmth and light, crumbly streusel topping, and it’s kind of a dessert for all meals, from brunch to dinner. Afternoon snack? Yes.

Crumb cake comes together with a handful of steps and a little bit of dumping and whisking, so it really is a fun project to do with the kids. Our professional advice would be to exercise caution on step five, when you fold in the buttermilk. If you’re too gung ho with the whisk, the cake will get a wee bit rubbery. Oh yes, and definitely pair this one with a great big glass of milk.

Servings: 12

Cooking spray

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp Gelson’s ground nutmeg

¾ cup vegetable oil

2 tsp Gelson’s ground cinnamon, divided

1 tsp baking soda

1 large Gelson’s egg

1 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a 9x13” baking pan with cooking spray.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, kosher salt, and nutmeg until smooth. Fold in the vegetable oil to create an evenly hydrated, crumbly mixture.

  3. Transfer a packed ½ cup of the cake mixture to a small bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and set aside for the topping.

  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, egg, and buttermilk, and blend well.

  5. Fold the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just until smooth. Be careful to not overmix.

  6. Transfer the batter to the baking pan. Evenly sprinkle the reserved topping over the cake. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe source: Los Angeles Times

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