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Tillie’s Ginger Crumb Cake

This recipe goes back at least as far as my grandmother, who was born in the early 1900s. Our sons and I enjoy eating it in a bowl with milk poured on it—much to the dismay of my husband, who prefers it plain! —Kathy Nienow Clark, Byron, Michigan
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Bake: 35 min.
  • Makes
    16 servings


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • Confectioners' sugar, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 2 cups. Combine remaining crumb mixture with the remaining ingredients.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup of the reserved crumbs into a greased 12-in. cast-iron skillet or 13x9-in. baking dish. Pour batter over crumbs and sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.
Nutrition Facts
1 piece: 330 calories, 13g fat (8g saturated fat), 54mg cholesterol, 232mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate (26g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.

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  • Wayne
    Oct 27, 2020

    This is what I like to call nice "canvas cake". Great by itself or substitute ingredients for variety. This time of year I use eggnog instead of buttermilk. Add toasted nuts. Other times I top with cream cheese frosting. Thank you for posting this recipe.

  • Suellen
    Jun 28, 2020

    This recipe was handed down from my great grandmother who was born in the 1880's but we always called it Grandma Keller cake. Whenever friends or family dropped in my mom always threw it together and everyone loved it. Just reading the recipe brought back so many happy memories.

  • Punchnjd16
    Jun 21, 2020

    So easy and really delicious. Great for dessert and as a coffee cake.

  • eatin44languages
    Jun 19, 2020

    Made 1/2 recipe in a 9" round baker. I kept the spices (except for cloves) at the amounts listed for the full recipe (13x9-in. baker). I reduced the cloves to 1/8 teaspoon (just a pinch). Adjusted baking time as needed for my finicky gas oven. 5-star rating - I love spice cakes - this is now my go-to-cake for any occasion. I cut a slice for breakfast topped with milk -- goodbye commercial cereal. Thank you, Ms Clark of Byron, Michigan.

  • Penny
    Jul 21, 2019

    Hi I think there is too much flour for the amount of butter. I had to mix the top layer into the cake otherwise it'd just burn. I therefore had to lower the heat so the middle would bake and so the top may burn. Good cake just need to make a few adjustments.

  • lisa53202
    May 9, 2017

    This is very similar to a recipe handed down from my great-grandmother who was born in the late 1800's. My grandpa and I loved this cake (our recipe included raisins)--very good with a cup of coffee!