New York Crumb Cake with Morello Cherry Filling

It’s winter and…I’m longing for summer.  What’s a girl to do when the cold, gray days seem like they will go on forever? Well, this girl finds a way to bake with fruit that reminds her of summer and the long, sunshine filled days ahead. For the most part, I stay away from blueberries, cherries and all stone fruits when they are not in season. They are flavorless with an unappealing texture. However, as I mentioned, it’s winter and…I need a little brightness in my life. Jarred or frozen fruit can be doctored up to trick you into thinking you’re eating a dessert with freshly picked summer fruit. That’s what I did with this recipe and I’m thrilled with the results.


I chose to use Morello cherries in the filling because they have been staring at me from a shelf in my cupboard for about a month now. I rarely purchase jarred fruit, in fact, this may have been the first time, but these cherries stood out and were irresistible for some reason.  They contained no artificial ingredients (a personal requirement) and I knew they would be useful for something. Please don’t neglect to make this recipe if you cannot locate morello cherries at your local market. frozen cherries or blueberries would also work equally well. Simply thaw the fruit and do not discard the juices released, you’ll need it for your reduction.


So, this crumb cake pairs perfectly with the cherry filling, but if you’re not up for that extra step, the cake, with a heavy layer of crumb, is still a winner. Have you ever had those prepackaged, totally bad for you, little coffee cakes? Well, you’ll never want one again after you try this coffee cake! The tender, buttery cake is balanced by the slightly tart cherry filling and thick, crumbly crumb. Personally, I love a good layer of crumb on top of a coffee cake. It may seem aggressive to some, but trust me, it sets it apart from other coffee cakes!


I made this coffee cake yesterday for a photoshoot this morning when the lighting is perfect. Oh, the willpower it takes not to dig in and have this cake with my coffee. But, I’m trying to be a good example for my little ones, so… no cake this morning. Maybe if they had slept in… no such luck. I would’ve been caught redhanded. Especially since my youngest was asking for cake as soon as his feet hit the floor. Needless to say, this cake was adored by everyone, young and old. It’s a classic with a little twist, what’s not to love. You know I’m all about caring for others through my cooking. A family with a new addition, a dish to pass gathering or a special treat for coworkers. So many great opportunities to show your love with this cake.


Serves: 9-12       Bake time: 60-70 minutes


Crumb Topping

  •  4 oz. or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  •  4 oz. or 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. 0r 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 7 oz. or 1 1/2 cups flour



  • 12 oz. (drained weight) Morello cherries (reserve canning juice) or substitute frozen cherries or blueberries  (thaw if using frozen fruit and reserve liquid)
  • 1/2 cup reserved liquid from jar
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Zest from one orange



  • 4 oz. butter (room temperature)
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8.5 oz. (2 cups) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. sour cream (1 cup) (room temperature)



Grease and flour a 9×9 square baking pan/glass 

Begin with making the filling since it will take 20-30 minutes to reduce. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. When reduction is complete, you should have about 1 tablespoon of liquid left in the pan. Allow the reduction to cool at room temperature. Everything will thicken upon cooling.

While the fruit filling is cooking, prepare the crumb topping.  In a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, and butter. mix well, then add flour, mixing until smooth. Set aside until ready to top the cake.

Now for the cake!  Preheat the oven to 350° 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Next, beat in the vanilla.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix just until combined. Next, add 1/2 of the sour cream, mixing again, just to combine. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour, mix, and the rest of the sour cream, mixing again just to combine. As the final step for the cake, fold in the remaining 1/3 of flour. All ingredients should be evenly combined, using caution not to overmix.

In the prepared baking dish (I used a glass 9×9), evenly spread half of the cake batter. Spead the cooled filling over the cake and top with the remaining cake batter. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. With your hands, crumble the topping over the top of the cake. You should have a mixture of large and small crumbles. Your pan will be quite full at this point. Press topping into the top of the cake to even out. Bake on center rack in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted into the center of the cake, comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. I also use an instant-read thermometer for testing. It will read around 210° when cooked.

**** Please note, if you are using a metal baking pan, the making time may be less than 60 minutes, be sure to check. In a glass baking dish, it definitely took 70 minutes for me.






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