While no one can prove where crumb cake started, all Jerseyans worth their streusel will tell you the best comes from the Garden State. Coffee cakes with streusel topping originated in Germany (streusel in German means “scattered” or “strewn”), so it’s generally accepted that German immigrants brought the original to America. Somewhere along the way, a clever baker realized that buttery streusel was so good, it was worth doubling, even tripling, the amount—and Jersey crumb cake was born.
The pale-yellow cake topped with boulders of dense streusel covered in a blizzard of confectioners’ sugar can be found in bakeries up and down the state. Perhaps you are a classicist who insists on a yeast-risen cake, less sweet and a little chewier than a moist butter cake leavened just with baking powder. Maybe you don’t care, as long as there is an avalanche of crumb topping. Here are our top picks:
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Style: Classic • Ask for a piece of crumb cake at this old-fashioned bakery (cash only!) and the friendly staff gently indicate that a piece is a 7-by-9-inch slab. B&W (Boehringer & Wiener, opened in the early 1940s) makes traditional crumb cake, with a 1.5-to-1 ratio of crunchy, crumbly streusel over not-too-sweet yeasted cake.
614 Main Street, 201-342-5577
Style: Variations • Owner Leo Sciancalepore favors crumb lovers with a 2-to-1 ratio of streusel to cake. Just Crumb offers more than 10 flavors of butter cake beyond the vanilla-rich standard, including a chocolate version made with chocolate cake, chocolate ganache and chocolate chip crumbs. The stunner is the rainbow-cookie crumb cake, which looks and tastes exactly like the multi-layered cookie, but topped with crumb and drizzled chocolate.
176 Kinderkamack Road, 201-391-6300
Style: Maximum Streusel • When Mueller’s opened in 1890, it immediately began selling crumb cake and has maintained a high standard ever since. With Mueller’s version, the half-inch of cake acts as an edible plate for a feast of rich crumb, piled on in a 2-to-1 ratio.
80 Bridge Avenue, 732-892-0442