Crumb Cake

I was all set to tell you about soup today but then I went and baked this crumb cake yesterday and the plan changed.  The cake was so good I didn’t want to wait another day to share it so it promptly jumped ahead in line.  But let’s back up for just a minute… Over the weekend I stopped in at Border’s with one of those oh so dangerous 40% off coupons they email me weekly.  I tried to exercise restraint, and I guess I sort of did since I only walked out with one book :)  I picked up Baked Explorations, the follow-up to Baked – the book that introduced the famous Baked brownie that is loved by so many.  A friend stopped by the day after I bought the book and as she was sitting on my couch flipping through it, she highlighted this crumb cake.  Honestly, I would have completely skipped over the recipe in favor of something with chocolate or citrus had she not pointed it out to me.  I flagged the page, and when Kayte, Jeannette and I decided to bake something together yesterday, I suggested the crumb cake.  They indulged me and we got to work! 

Cake

I think that for most people the crumb topping on the crumb cake is the real draw, and if you fall into that group, you won’t be disappointed in this recipe.  The authors described the topping as “outrageously thick” and they weren’t kidding.  Not only is the crumb layer substantial, but even more critically, it emerges from the oven the same way it went in – with large chunks of crumbs that hold their shape rather than melt into the cake during the baking process.  I sampled the cake batter once (or twice or three times) before I transferred it to the pan so I already knew it would be delicious, but the texture of the cake turned out great too – incredibly tender and moist.  As Kayte said, it almost melts in your mouth.  I had my first piece about 30 minutes after I pulled the cake from the oven and I knew my second, third and fourth wouldn’t be far behind if I didn’t get this out of the house quickly.  My mom was happy to take half of the cake (she loved it too!) and I’ll be sharing the other half with my dear friend who definitely knows how to pick a recipe :)

Cake

New York-Style Crumb Cake
from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renalto Poliafito

Crumb Topping
 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (and still warm)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.  A glass pan is recommended, but metal works too – your edges may be a little more crispy if you bake in metal.

To make the crumb topping: Whisk the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and whisk to combine.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour – you’ll have to use a little elbow grease to work in the final bits.

To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, letting the first incorporate fully before adding the second.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for an additional 30 seconds.  Add the sour cream and vanilla to the mixer and beat until just incorporated.  Finally, add the flour mixture in thirds, beating just until combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan.  The batter will be thick – just use a spatula to spread it evenly.  Pick up the crumb topping by handfuls, and break off chunks, scattering them over the top of the batter.  Use all of the topping – it will be a very thick layer! 

Bake for 45-55 minutes (rotating the pan at 15 minute intervals), or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before serving.