Sunday, February 21, 2010

New York Style Crumb Cake

"Piece of cake. Piece of crumb cake."  -  ???

Anybody?  For some reason, I've always remembered the movie Casper (with Christina Ricci) with this line spoken by the priest/exorcist who attempts to empty the house of the friendly ghosts.

But besides clever writing, crumb cake reminds me of the trips my family used to take to a resort/lodge in Pennsylvania every Columbus Day Weekend. Each morning, breakfast in the enormous dining hall would start with a fresh-baked crumb cake brought straight to the table as we sat down. Seeing this recipe's photo on Tastespotting (an awesome site if you feel like window shopping for recipes) took me right back to those brisk October mornings where the smell of wood burning in the fireplace gave way to that of butter and cinnamon wafting up from the still warm dish sitting on our table. ...So as you can tell... I needed a piece of crumb cake. Luckily, being home for the weekend, I had  most of the ingredients on hand, even the cake flour, and was ready to get to work.

First, many thanks to Shauna from Piece of Cake for posting the recipe with such great pics. They definitely caught my eye and inspired me to make this.

New York-Style Crumb Cake
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Serves 12 (in a perfect world this would say 1)

For the crumb topping:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour Love the Swan's Down~

For the cake:

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature I substituted low-fat milk +white  vinegar (Put 1 tsp. vinegar  in a measure cup, then fill with milk to 1/3 cup. It's that easy.)

Set an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and line it with a strip of parchment paper or aluminum foil that is just shy of the width of the dish and long enough to overhang the sides of the dish. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray as well.

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

In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the cake flour, sugar, baking soda and salt at low speed. With the mixer running on low, add the butter chunks one at a time, letting each one incorporate into the dry ingredients before adding another. When the mixture resembles even, moist crumbs, add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk, and increase the speed to medium. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Break apart the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces, rolling them slightly in between your fingertips to get them to hold their shape. I needed to recruit the help of my brother... so many pieces.

Spread the crumbs in even layer over the batter. Bake until the crumbs are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment handles. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving. I needed lots of willpower to not devour this before taking pictures....


Shauna from Piece of Cake said...

Hi Matt!

Great site, and well done on the crumb cake. Looks fabulous!

Emily said...

I am so happy I found your blog!
I'm a college student too, and while I've always enjoyed cooking and baking, since I moved to Budapest for a study exchange I've found myself cooking more and more. Preparing recipes that remind me of home help me to overcome the inevitable waves of homesickness and de-stress.
I look forward to trying out some of your recipes, and I admire your unapologetic use of puns.

All the best!

Matt from AEPie said...

Shauna, thanks for sharing that great recipe!

Emily- Thanks for commenting all the way from Budapest. Hope you're enjoying the city. Have you found any kuglóf in the bakeries? Café Gerbeaud (Vörösmarty tér, I think?) always has great stuff.

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