or many of its fans, crumb cake is a time machine back to childhood. A thick square—even a packaged one—dusted with powdered sugar was a treat you could ask for at any time of day. “That topping on the Hostess crumb cake—I’ve always been obsessed with it,” says Michelle Polzine, who re-created a similar golden crumb at her Central European–leaning 20th Century Cafe in San Francisco. Baker Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of Rose’s Baking Basics, gleefully recounts discovering Drake’s crumb cakes in college. “I still love crumb cake as one of my top cakes,” she says. My own first was Entenmann’s, in a windowed box through which I could see the buttery crumbs. “It’s easy to make your own ‘house’ version,” says Dorie Greenspan, baker and author of Everyday Dorie. You can control the sweetness, pile the crumb inches high, and flavor it with whatever you like. As Greenspan says, “Anything good should be allowed, right?” To Start: Master The Classic Crumb Cake Likely an offspring of Germany’s Streuselkuchen, New York–style crumb cake is easy to perfect “Although there is no written evidence that crumb cake was invented in Germany,” Alfons Schuhbeck, author of The German Cookbook, says, “its emergence is attributed to the cuisine of Silesia in the 19th century, which at that time was still [German].” There, where today the cake is eaten mostly as an afternoon snack, traditional Streuselkuchen, or streusel cake, features a yeasted batter and, occasionally, a second layer of streusel ribboned through the center. Get the Recipe for Classic New York–Style Crumb Cake » This New York–style variation—which gets both lift and added richness from a combination of sour cream, baking soda, and baking powder (but no yeast)—is easier to mix and bake. While the crumb is similar (streusel is mostly butter, flour, and sugar, with cinnamon and sometimes oats or nuts), usually there’s more of it on the New York version, and a hefty dose of powdered sugar.