Brown Butter Sour Cream Crumb Cake

As someone who bakes a lot, I’m certainly no stranger to butter. It, along with cream cheese, has its very own little shelf in my refrigerator. But, put that butter in a saucepan and brown it, and I am utterly fascinated by its rich, nutty flavor.

Add to that a crumb topping, and I’m so there. This particular crumb topping is a bit on the salty side, and that’s just how I like it. If you are less of a fan of sweet and salty, then just dial back the salt in the crumb a bit. But, really, that saltiness is pretty tough to beat.

This Brown Butter Sour Cream Crumb Cake combines delicate cake, brown butter, and a crumb topping for a delicious cake to take you from brunch to dessert! - Bake or Break

I’ve made several recipes with browned butter, but this was my first time freezing the butter to re-solidify it. Now, that may seem like a strange step, but it serves a purpose. You can’t cream melted butter. But, firmer butter works just as it should. So, don’t skip that step. It’s not difficult, and those few minutes of freezer time give you a chance to clean up your baking-in-progress kitchen or just step away from the kitchen for a bit.

On first read, this may seem like a fussy recipe, but there’s really nothing unnecessary in it. My one bit of advice concerns the step of pressing the crumb mixture into clumps. I spent 5 or so minutes pressing and clumping, but that’s about it. You don’t have to be obsessive about it, unless you just like that sort of thing. Crumb is crumb, whether it’s perfectly clumped or not.

Brown Butter Sour Cream Coffee Cake is an absolutely lovely cake. I just love that crumb topping! - Bake or Break

This is an absolutely lovely cake. I just love everything about it, from the sour cream cake to the brown butter to that wonderfully salty crumb. Serve this one up for a weekend brunch treat, an afternoon snack, an after-dinner dessert, or just sneak a little slice to enjoy when no one’s looking.

Brown Butter Sour Cream Crumb Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Brown Butter Sour Cream Crumb Cake


    For the crumb:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


To make the crumb:

Place the butter, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture forms small crumbs.

Transfer crumbs to a plate or shallow pan. Press mixture into 1/2-inch clumps.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To make the cake:

Place the butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter has melted.

Continue cooking, whisking often to prevent burning. Butter will begin to foam. Brown specks will begin to form at the bottom of the pan, and the butter will have a nutty aroma.

Remove from heat and pour butter and browned solids into a shallow bowl. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, or until butter is firm but not hard.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Scrape the browned butter into a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until smooth.

Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of sour cream. Mix just until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the batter.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake completely before removing the sides of the pan. Transfer to a serving plate, removing the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.


Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.

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  1. Stephanie @ Plain Chicken October 28, 2013 Reply

    This looks SO good! I love a good crumb cake. I bet it tastes amazing with the browned butter.

  2. Isn’t it crazy how much flavour you can add, just by browning butter? Not to mention it makes your house smell wonderful!

  3. JEP October 28, 2013 Reply

    I have yet to bake with browned butter. This cake looks like it has the perfect texture and use

  4. JEP October 28, 2013 Reply

    The cake use

  5. JEP October 28, 2013 Reply

    Sorry for all the incomplete comments…..I am so making this cake!

  6. Tracy | Pale Yellow October 28, 2013 Reply

    I have often wondered about how to incorporate the flavor of brown butter with the texture of creamed butter, thanks for solving the mystery! A little freezer time is all that is required! This crumb cake looks simply perfect!

  7. I love this simple cake! Looks awesome!

  8. Joanne October 28, 2013 Reply

    I’ve never heard of re-solidifying brown butter either but whoa does that sound awesome! Perfect for cake making where melted butter often doesn’t do the trick.

  9. Ruthy @ Omeletta October 28, 2013 Reply

    Along with cream cheese and butter on my own little fridge shelf, I’ve also got sour cream :) I love the stuff! And browned butter is like a gift from the butter gods. This cake looks incredible.

  10. I love crumb cake to begin with but…add brown butter and….oh sweet heavens….<3!!!

  11. Becca @ Crumbs October 29, 2013 Reply

    Ooh I love recipes calling for sour cream, you always know its going to turn out lovely and moist!

  12. Linda October 29, 2013 Reply

    JEP, you have to try baking with browned butter–you will get addicted to using it! This recipe does sound amazing and I also haven’t heard of re-solidifying the browned butter but it sounds like a great idea (and something to keep around in the fridge for other recipes that go with softened or firm butter…and keep a few spare sticks already browned and solidified for the use! Great idea!!

  13. Bethany October 29, 2013 Reply

    I’m making this and then eating it for BREAKFAST.

  14. Dina October 29, 2013 Reply

    it looks delicious!

  15. movita beaucoup October 30, 2013 Reply

    Sweet Pete! Loving the salty sweet combination! And brown butter? DON’T GET ME STARTED.

  16. Lol – I have a butter shelf too!! Look at the crumb on this cake — YUM!

  17. Archana March 4, 2015 Reply

    Most amazing cake !! Tried it today and it turned out so yumm.
    The crumb is simply wow!

  18. Archana July 23, 2015 Reply

    Can i make cupcakes using this recipe?

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry July 23, 2015 Reply

      Sure. You’ll likely need to take a few minutes off the baking time.

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