Sunday, February 21, 2010

Crumb Cake

We used to go to this bakery that had DELICIOUS crumb cake. Then the bakery closed. Other bakeries have crumb cakes, and they are good, but I have not found one that was as good as that bakery's.

I may have come close today.

Both my husband and I spend a bit too much time on foodgawker, and there are fun times comparing what catches our eye. And then there are times when we both stop on the same picture. This was one of those times.

Several weeks ago, there was a posting for New York Style Crumb cake on this awesome blog. This weekend, my husband requested that I make this cake. I have been hoping for an opportunity to do so, so I absolutely said yes.

For the whole recipe, look here.

An interesting thing about this recipe is that it called for a couple of things that I don't normally stock in my kitchen - cake flour and buttermilk. Luckily, both of those ingredients are ones for which there are very simple substitutions. For cake flour, you can use all purpose flour, replacing two tablespoons per cup of flour with corn starch. Basically, measure a cup of all purpose flour, then measure out two tablespoons of that cup of flour. Then replace those two tablespoons with two tablespoons of corn starch. Super simple. For buttermilk, there are several things that you can do, all of which are pretty easy. You can use plain yogurt in equal measure, but I almost never do that. What I do is just "sour" some milk using either white vinegar or lemon juice. For each cup of buttermilk needed, just put one tablespoon of vinegar (or lemon juice) in your one-cup measure, and fill to the one cup line with milk. Then just let it sit for about five minutes. Instant buttermilk.

Substitutions ready, this cake came together really easily. The only difficulty I had was with the topping. For some reason, my topping dough came out drier than I am pretty sure it is supposed to. How do I know it was drier? Because I had a hard time forming the little pea-sized pieces. They didn't seem to want to hold their shape, even after I added a little extra melted butter. Though my helper certainly had a good time helping me try. We did the best we could, and piled the topping onto the cake dough. I was pretty sure it would be yummy anyway.

Another fun thing about this cake is that I could pass it off as a breakfast item. Which is great, because I wanted to share it with my family, many of whom have given up dessert for Lent. So when I brought this to share at our family dinner this evening, I made sure to remind everyone that this is just a breakfast item. That I am asking them to taste. After dinner. But it's not dessert.

Everyone was on board.

WOW. Yummy it was. Oh. My. Gosh. It tastes like real crumb cake! I know, a funny thing to say... but it was so close to bakery crumb cake... I was amazed it came from my kitchen. This will definitely be breakfast tomorrow morning. For most of the family, I think.

New York Style Crumb Cake

For crumb topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and set oven rack to the middle position. Spray an 8 inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and line it with a strip of parchment paper or foil that is just narrower than the width of the pan, yet long enough to overhang the sides of the pan. Spray the parchment or foil with cooking spray also.

In a medium bowl, stir together the crumb topping ingredients until they form a smooth dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes as you prepare the cake batter.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. With the mixer running on low, add chunks of the butter one at a time, allowing each one to incorporate into the dry ingredients before adding another. Once all the butter has been added, and when the mixture resembles even, moist crumbs, add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk, and increase the mixer's speed to medium. Beat batter until it is light and fluffy, about two minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans.

Break apart the crumb topping into large, pea-shaped pieces, rolling them slightly in between your fingertips to get them to hold their shape. Spread the crumbs in an even layer over the batter.

Bake the cake until the crumbs are golden and a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool the cake, in the pan, on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Use the parchment or foil handles to lift the cake from the pan. Dust the cake with confectioners sugar before serving, if desired.


  1. I've wondered about cake flour! I never can find it at the store and have stumbled across it in a few recipes! LOL at souring your milk ;) The crumb cake sounds nice of you to make sure it's a breakfast food instead dessert!


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