Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Cake


I love lemon. Love it. When I saw this, lemon and cream cheese, I had to try it, no matter how complicated it looked. It turns out, it's a lot simpler than it looks!

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumb Cake

I found this recipe on Crunchy Creamy Sweet

This is very much a coffee cake. The streusel crumbs, the moist cake, the cream cheese middle. It's not overly sweet, so it's a nice morning treat.

This has a bunch of steps, and requires a bunch of bowls (reuse seems to be fine), but it comes together pretty easily. The middle layer is a bit delicate, but don't worry too much about it.

It can be hard to see "golden" crumb when it's inside the oven. Take care the cream cheese filling doesn't get too dark.


Cake (Bottom layer)

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest (altogether you'll need about 1 lemon)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Cream Cheese (middle layer)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg

Streusel Topping (top layer)

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c flour


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13x9 baking pan and set aside. Melt the butter for the streusel, and zest and juice the lemon.

First the cake batter: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (all the dry ingredients). In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, vanilla, oil, eggs, zest, and juice (all the web ingredients). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and combine. Spread in bottom of baking pan.

Next, the cream cheese: In a mixer, whip the cream cheese until creamy. Add the sugar, vanilla, and zest, and mix until combined. Add the egg and mix well, then spread gently over the top of the cake batter.

Finally, the streusel topping: In a bowl, combine sugar, salt, and flour. Add melted butter, and mix together with a fork until crumbly. Spread crumbs all over the top of the cream cheese.

Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are browned. Let cool completely in the pan before serving.



The beauty of this is it's mostly baking staples. If you don't have buttermilk on-hand, regular milk and lemon juice or vinegar can be used to substitute.

Melt the butter

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.

Prep the lemon

To prep a lemon, we need to get the juice from the inside and the zest from the outside. The zest has the oil that has the real lemon flavor.

Break it down

To make the lemon easier to juice, first roll it around to crush all the inner bits.

Zest it off

To zest a lemon, run a microplane over it until the yellow parts are gone, and only white bits (the pith) remains. The white bits are bitter, so don't get them in your zest.

The white and the yellow

The white bits on the bottom are done, and the yellow bits on the top still need some zesting.

Zestfully clean

Here's the lemon, fully zested.

And then juice

And now we can juice it.

Slice in half

Slice the lemon in half

Squeeze the lemon

Squeeze out the juice into a container. If you're smart, put a strainer on top of the container to catch the seeds.

Remove the seeds

Or just pick out the seeds later.

The setup

Now that we're prepped, we can start mixing.

Cake dry ingredients

First, for the cake batter, combine the cake's dry ingredients.

Dry ingredients mixed

Mix them together well.

Wet ingredients

Next, combine the wet ingredients.

Add lemon!

Adding the lemon zest and juice.

Whisk together

And whisking them together.

Combine wet and dry ingredients

Combine the wet and dry ingredients in the mixer.

Mix it good

Mix them together.

Cake batter done

And then the cake batter is done.

Spread batter in pan

Spread the cake batter in the bottom of the pan.

Cream cheese in mixer

For the cream cheese middle, put the cream cheese in the mixer.

Whip it good

Whip the cream cheese until creamy.

Add sugar and lemon

Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Add an egg

Finally, add the egg.

Cheese mixed together

Mix it together until smooth.

Add cheese to cake batter

And then gently layer the cheese on the cake batter.

Dry streusel ingredients

Finally, for the streusel, combine the sugar, salt, and flour in a bowl.

Add the butter

Add the melted butter, and mix it together with a fork.

Streusel done

When it's done, it'll look crumbly, like this.

Spread streusel on top

Spread the streusel on top of everything, and then bake for 35 minutes.

It's done!

It's done when the edges are golden brown, and the streusel is slightly golden. Let cool completely, and enjoy!

Glamour shot