I absolutely love any cake with a streusel crumb topping, but this lemon cake is a little bit special.
Something about combining a sweet crumb topping with the slightly bitter lemon flavor creates the perfect concoction.
A crumb cake is insanely close to a coffee cake, so the best thing about this recipe is that it can be made for breakfast or for dessert.
I personally love this blackberry lemon cake because of the mix of flavors. A lemon blueberry cake feels pretty typical to me and can be way to sweet, but this blackberry lemon cake is a perfect medley of sweet and sour flavors and feels fresh.
It’s compact and is easy to eat, so it goes great with tea! I absolutely love this recipe for an afternoon gathering or garden party. Is there anything more elegant?
You can easily make this lemon crumb cake recipe in a square pan as well if you wanted lemon crumb cake squares for easier eating.
I recommend pairing this lemon crumb cake with a spritzer or summer cocktail, or a yummy tea (or iced tea!).
Lemon Zest vs. Flavor
I absolutely think that you need real lemon zest for this recipe. You probably won’t need more than one lemon, so it’s worth it to grab a lemon and get the real flavor.
The hardest part of this recipe is the amount of lemon zest it requires. You’ll need about 4 larger sized lemons to get enough zest.
You’ll also want to use a fine zester so that you don’t get large chunks in the cake.
Blackberry Cake Filling
Most lemon crumb cake recipe descriptions call for blueberries, so I wanted to try something different and use blackberries instead.
I used fresh berries for this blackberry cake filling and I think it really makes a world of difference!
This blackberry cake filling is the easiest thing to make in the world. I only used one small packet of blackberries for the whole cake, but if you wanted to have a thicker layer, you could use two packets.
I combined the blackberries in a bowl with 1/4 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp powdered sugar. Using a spoon, I mashed it up until there were no big chunks left but it the filling wasn’t soupy. You want the blackberries to be decently mashed so that there aren’t clumps in the cape, but I like leaving a little texture for a heartier filling.
The great thing about this cake is that it can be a little messy. I layered half of the cake batter into the pan then covered it with the blackberry filling, leaving some space around the edges.
I then covered the blackberry cake filling with the top half of the batter. Some of the blackberry cake filling runs through, but this is completely okay – there aren’t any specifics for this cake and it comes out just as tasty!
Making This Lemon Crumb Cake Recipe Ahead
This is one of my favorite recipes to make ahead of time. I had a few friends over for brunch three weeks ago and made this lemon crumb cake recipe a few days before. It tasted just as delicious on Sunday morning!
The filling is super soft so this lemon crumb cake doesn’t harden up much over time.