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Friday, April 8, 2011

new york crumb cake.

It's my 100th post!

I didn't choose to make a crumb cake specially for the 100th, but it so happens to coincide with it. And it so happens to be a heck of a delicious piece of cake.

This cake does not consist of a layer of cake then a layer of crumbs. Its a layer of cake and a layer of crumbs and a layer of crumbs. When I scattered the crumbs over, I was thinking there is no way I can even see the cake under all these. Turns out that the cake has a strong defiance to being squashed under a valley of crumbs, and has pretty much evened out the ratio.

When we think crumb cake, usually the crumbs take the cake, and the cake layer is nothing more than ordinary at best.

Not with this cake.

This recipe has a unique way of making the cake batter- whisking the dry ingredients together, then dropping in the butter pieces one by one to make some sort of streusel-like mixture. Then, the eggs and vanilla are mixed in, then the buttermilk. This technique results in a tender cake since the fats from the butter coat the proteins in the flour, ensuring that there would be no overworking of the gluten. Or something like that.

Although this cake doesn't have a buttery fragrance like a yellow cake, there is a faint appealing scent of vanilla and is no way meant to be just a carrier for the crumbs.

If you ever feel like throwing the bowl of crumb mixture onto the cake, and send it on its merry way into the oven out of frustration, I won't blame you. To make those little nuggets of sandy-brown deliciousness, I spent close to half an hour shaping them. Yes, just shaping. And I did a half recipe. Good luck to you. But all the effort is worthwhile when you get to tuck in into big crunchy crumbs instead of little scattered ones that are more suited for the birds.

I made a batch yesterday. And its already gone.

New York-Style Crumb Cake
Source: Cook’s Illustrated, May 2007 (although I took the recipe from America's Test Kitchen, the recipes are the same)
Serves 8 to 10
Don’t be tempted to substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour, as doing so will make a dry, tough cake. If you can’t find buttermilk, you can substitute an equal amount of plain, low-fat yogurt. When topping the cake, take care to not push the crumbs into the batter. This recipe can be easily doubled and baked in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. If doubling, increase the baking time to about 45 minutes. Cooled leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Crumb Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour (7 ounces)
1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
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.

This post is linked to Sweets for a Saturday.


  1. This sounds delicious!! You can never go wrong with America's Test Kitchen.

  2. Happy 100! Great recipe to celebrate with.

    I'd love to have you share this recipe on my weekly linky, Sweet Tooth Friday. I hope to see you there! http://alli-n-son.com/2011/04/07/jelly-bean-cookies/

  3. Happy 100th post! This crumb cake looks delicious - I love the sound of that high crumb to cake ratio :)