This post has been updated since its original publication in 2017 for recipe, content and photographs.
This is an amazing lemon strawberry crumb cake. Not just because the lemon crumble cake has such a soft fluffy texture or because there’s a ribbon of fresh strawberries in every tantalizing bite. It’s not even because this cake effortlessly transitions to a quick and easy lemon strawberry coffee cake for weekend brunching or as the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee. The amazing thing about THIS confection is the method. It’s made in the food processor in about 15 minutes — and that cinnamon-walnut crumble topping is made from the SAME butter, flour sugar mixture as the cake batter. This buttery lemon-scented crumb cake is absolutely worth every stinkin’ calorie.
The inspiration for lemon strawberry crumb cake
I adapted this strawberry lemon coffee cake from another lemon crumble cake recipe. My friend, Sue, founder of the blog, The View From Great Island, makes beautiful, mouthwatering cakes and you can really count on her recipes. I made a few changes to her recipe, not because there was anything wrong with the original, but because, my 7-cup food processor (an old Cuisinart original) couldn’t handle the amount of batter this recipe makes. So I scaled it back and added some strawberries — (because they were starting to go bad in my fruit drawer). The result is a buttery, light confection with a jammy fruit center and irresistible crumb topping. Trust me, you’re gonna want this at your Easter brunch, Mother’s Day celebration and pretty much every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The genius behind this lemon strawberry coffee cake recipe is definitely the way it comes together. Ingredients are added to the food processor in a specific order to achieve maximum flavor (lemon) and to perfectly cut the butter into the pastry for a no-fuss crumble topping. Here’s how it works. (Note: you need at least a 7-cup food processor for this, not a mini food processor).
The food processor makes it quick and easy
- In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar and lemon zest (Sue uses thin peels of the lemon, so that’s an option too.)
- Add the dry ingredients to the lemon sugar and pulse several times until well combined. Pro-Tip: When spinning flour in a food processor, no matter how tight the seal, little puffs and particles will fly out. To prevent this, or at least reduce the cloud-like spread, place a dishtowel over the food processor and then pulse the ingredients together.
- Add the cold diced butter to the dry ingredients and pulse again (use that dish towel) several times until the mixture is crumbly.
- Remove about 1 cup of the butter and flour mixture from the food processor and set aside. (This will become the crumb topping later).
Making crumb topping for strawberry lemon coffee cake
- Mix the one cup of reserved flour/butter mixture with cinnamon and oatmeal.
- Stir thoroughly to combine.
- Add the chopped walnuts and stir again, set aside.
I really appreciate this method for making the crumble topping for the lemon cake. Normally, you’d make the cake batter and then have to get out another bowl, measure the ingredients and then use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour. With this simple method, you skip those steps and just add the last few bits into the crumble topping. Easy peasy, without as much mess or effort.
For the lemon crumble cake batter
- Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl or 2 cup glass measuring cup and whisk to combine.
- Add the wet ingredients to the remaining flour mixture in the food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Use a spatula to run along the bottom and sides of the food processor to loosen up any dry bits that remain and incorporate them into the lemon cake batter. Pulse again until the batter is smooth.
In Sue’s original recipe, she uses a 9″ square baking pan, but I thought in order to make it easier to remove the lemon strawberry crumb cake from the pan while keeping every cinnamon-y morsel of crumb in tact, I used a 9″ springform pan.
Layering berries and baking strawberry crumb cake
- Add half of the cake batter to the prepared springform pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. (Note: you want to line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper to make it easier to transfer to a cake stand later.)
- Arrange the sliced berries over the batter, overlapping if needed, so that the entire surface is covered with strawberries.
- Spoon the remaining lemon coffee cake batter over the strawberries and gently smooth it over the surface. (Don’t worry if there are some spots that aren’t completely covered with batter.
- Liberally sprinkle the lemon strawberry cake batter with walnut crumb mixture.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
The toughest part to me is giving the strawberry lemon coffee cake a chance to cool before diving in, but patience pays.
The final flourish
- Let the cake rest until its at room temperature, then use a thin, sharp knife to run around the edges to make sure it comes cleanly out of the pan.
- Remove the collar.
- Transfer your lemon strawberry crumb cake to a cake stand or platter to serve. Decorate with additional strawberries for the top if desired.
What does strawberry lemon coffee cake taste like?
This cake is moist and buttery with a lovely lemon-scented crumb. The layer of fresh strawberries cooks into a jammy pink ribbon that swirls its way through the cake. It’s a little tartness that pairs beautifully with the lemon crumb cake. Also, be warned… the cinnamon walnut crumble is loose enough to actually crumble. Consequently, if you’re trying to sneak a piece by just lopping off a slice and stuffing it into your mouth, there will be evidence of your escapades (ask me how I know).
More crumb cake recipes:
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Lemon Strawberry Crumb Cake
FOR THE LEMON STRAWBERRY CAKE
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small dice
- 1 extra large egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup walnuts , finely chopped
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries sliced into 1/4" slices
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Spray the pan with vegetable spray and lay the parchment on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
- Add the sugar and lemon zest to the bowl of a large food processor (at least 7-cup capacity). Pulse until the lemon is completely integrated with the sugar (about a minute) and is very fragrant.
- Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the sugar. Secure the lid and rest a dish towel over the food processor (this is to prevent a puff of flour from escaping the sides (it will do that). Pulse 5-6 times until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Add the diced butter to the bowl and pulse to combine (about 20 pulses). Remove one cup of the mixture and set aside for the crumb topping.
- In a small bowl, combine the milk, eggs, sour cream and vanilla and whisk until blended. Make a slight well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Pulse until just combined. Batter will be smooth.
- Add the walnuts, oats and cinnamon to the reserved crumb mixture. Toss well to combine. Set aside.
- Spread half the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Cover the first layer of batter with the sliced berries, overlapping if you need to.
- Spoon the remainder of the batter over the strawberries and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature before removing the collar. When the cake is cooled, find an edge of the parchment paper beneath the cake and gently lift it an inch or so. Slip a few fingers under the parchment paper and as you push forward under the cake, spread your hand to its widest point to support the lemon crumb cake. Quickly transfer the cake to a stand or platter.
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