Blackberry-Thyme Crumb Cake

Cake thyme.[Photograph: María del Mar Sacasa]

Blackberry preserves get an unexpected exclamation point with fresh thyme and lemon zest in this crumbly, buttery cake that's a cinch to make.

About the author: María del Mar Sacasa is a food stylist, recipe developer, and author of the food blogs High Heels & Frijoles and Cookin' and Shootin'.
Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite. See her constant stream of food images on Instagram: mdmsacasa

Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!

Blackberry-Thyme Crumb Cake

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 12
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:2 hours
Special equipment:13- by 9-inch cake pan, parchment paper or heavy-duty foil, microwave, electric mixer, rubber spatula, cooling racks
This recipe appears in: Let Them Eat: Blackberry-Thyme Crumb Cake


  • For the Topping
  • 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest from about 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus additional for garnish
  • For the Cake
  • Baking spray
  • 2 cups (about 10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (about 7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice from about 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (about 12 ounces) blackberry preserves


  1. 1

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 13- by 9-inch cake pan with baking spray. Line pan with parchment paper or heavy-duty foil lengthwise with one sheet, then crosswise with a second sheet to create a sling; spray once again with baking spray.

  2. 2

    For the Topping: Rub lemon zest into brown sugar with fingertips until no zest strands remain. Add flour and combine in medium bowl. Using two dinner knives, cut in butter until mixture is resembles wet sand. Stir in nuts and thyme; set aside.

  3. 3

    For the Cake: Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add butter and beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute (mixture will be crumbly).

  4. 4

    In small bowl, beat together eggs, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla. With mixer on medium-low speed, add egg mixture in slow steady stream. Beat just until combined. Pause mixer, scrape sides and bottom of bowl, then beat mixture on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

  5. 5

    Scrape batter into prepared baking pan. Place 12 spoonfuls of preserves on top of batter. Run a knife through cake batter to create a marble swirl. Sprinkle evenly with sugar-walnut mixture.

  6. 6

    Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool in pan 10 minutes. Pull cake out onto a cooling rack using the parchment sling and cool completely, about 1 hour. Sprinkle cake with additional thyme leaves, if desired. Serve.


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