I have made this crumb cake 4 times in one week. Three of the times were with 8×8 square pans and the last time was with a 13×9. Two of them went to my parent’s house, and my parent’s didn’t get to try either of them because my siblings demolished it before it could be seen. The second time that happened, I had even left a huge note next to it saying,”For Dad: DO NOT EAT.” It was actually much more elaborate than that, but I won’t expose my paranoid antics. In the car the next night on the way to a party, with another crumb cake on my lap, I asked my dad if he tried the crumb cake.
“No, I saw the note and lifted up the tin foil to see an empty plate.“
My younger sister, sitting next to me, was smiling. She’s 17, but by looking at her you might guess 13. When I was 18 and walking her into elementary school, I was told to get to class. She has it the same way now. She’s also a kid at heart, innocent, and pure. Most of the time. Her smile turned into pursed lips and she explained,”I had some for breakfast.“
“What did you do with the rest?“, I asked, knowing that this is my little sister, who might be one of the pickiest eaters and neverrarely finishes anything she eats. (Incase she is reading: Love you T!)
“I ate half of the other piece.”
“What happened to the first piece? You never eat a whole piece of anything.“
She just smiled at me again. I kept staring at her, with a very questioning look…waiting to hear her explanation.
“I went downstairs and saw it there and ate it and I didn’t see the note until afterwards.“
“You ate the whole piece?“
I wasn’t mad at her, and she knew that. I was just surprised. And before you think I’m mean, I left the rest of the crumb care there for her and my brother to eat. I had just reserved two pieces for my dad because everything disappears before he gets to try it. The note was on a piece of paper towel, and it had very clear instructions. I wrote a note to my mom on the bottom of it,”Don’t worry, I’m bringing another one to the party tomorrow night so you can try some too.” My dad decided to go at the last minute, so he too was able to finally try some.
Later in the night my sister said,”Don’t ever make that crumb cake again, the crumbs on top were so good. OH MY GOD, they’re like little balls of heavenly deliciousness. Err!” The “err” was an interesting addition, but I sensed what she was trying to say. It was frustratingly yummy? My sister will usually comment on the most delicious of food with,”It was good.” I’ve given her Nutella before, demanding she try it. She squinted while tasting it like a baby given a wedge of lemon, and said,”Eh….it’s ok.” So I knew this crumb cake was a hit..at least with her, my brother, boyfriend, and myself, up to that point.
Not only did she love it, but the other two aforementioned crumb cakes went to my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. The double batch (13×9) was brought over there last night for a party, and my cousin Jon told me it was the best crumb cake he had ever had. Too bad I wasn’t the person who created the recipe, just baked it. I also brought meringue cookies, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies (all also recipes from America’s Test Kitchen….thank God for those people), but the crumb cake did not go forgotten about. I found little things I didn’t like about all of the things I baked, but everyone assured me it all tasted good–and that’s all that mattered. Nothing went disastrously wrong. Phew! Thank you America’s Test Kitchen!
Wait. That was a lie. Small disaster–silly me used the same 35 minute baking time when I doubled the recipe, and of course, there were some parts still uncooked. If doubling the recipe, increase to about 45 minutes..
The first time I made this, I was looking at a recipe on Smitten Kitchen for crumb cake, and it was (with the exception of the rhubarb) almost identical to the America’s Test Kitchen’s New York Style Crumb Cake recipe. Since I didn’t have buttermilk but I did have sour cream, I went with the recipe on her blog. That and because I love her and her blog, so anything she raves about I usually take her advice. It was delicious, except I didn’t particularly like the baking soda with the baking powder. For some reason, the cake would rise too much and sometimes crept up above the crumbs. Other people complained about the crumbs sinking completely into the cake–that didn’t happen to me, but it did rise enough to make the crumbs look sad in comparison to the height of the cake. Looks aside, it tasted great. I just decided to try out the omission of baking powder in America’s Test Kitchen recipe. Now here’s where it gets confusing, I was simultaneously looking at two recipes for the same thing, but the one on Laura Rececca’s Kitchen’s blog was doubled and I totally didn’t pay attention to that. So the first time (as seen in pictures below) when I thought I used too little baking soda, I had actually used the right amount. But alas, using twice the amount actually produced the result in the second picture above, so I will stick with that.
*It was actually the correct amount*
*I’m a noob, but it worked out to my advantage!*
I prefered doubling the baking soda to 1/2 tsp. The first amount of 1/4 tsp made my cake barely noticeable, but it could for some reason be my inability to properly bake a crumb cake because Laura Rececca’s Kitchen’s crumb cake came out just fine.
Other changes I made that were less technical and more about yumminess was I added more cinnamon to the crumbs, and decreased the flour in it, as the crumbs were a bit too floury and hard. The flour could be cut down even more to make them softer and easier bite into. I realized that once it seems like there’s enough flour, there probably is. As long as the crumbs have structure, it will be fine. I stuck to using 1/3rd of a cup of sour cream instead of buttermilk too because A. we always have sour cream and B. it’s delicious and needs not to be changed.
Note: You can make your own cake flour if you don’t have any on hand, as I did. To do this, for every 1 cup of cake flour called for the recipe, use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift together well or use a whisk and make sure you incorporate a lot of air into and fully mix. So, for 1/2 cup of cake flour, you would use 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour (total of 7 tablespoons) and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. For 1/4 cup, you’d use 1/4 cup minus 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour (total of 3 1/2 tablespoons) with 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch.
New York Style Coffee Crumb Cake – Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen recipe
For one 8×8
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
- 1 large egg (I brought my eggs to room temperature)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sour cream (not low-fat)
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. FOR THE TOPPING: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish.
3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.
4. Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer. Following photos below, break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center. Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.