Wednesday, February 3, 2010

big crumb coffee cake

Do you like to pick the crumbs off coffee cakes, doughnuts and other crumbly-topped baked goods? Yes? Why, me too! Well, look no further, this is the coffee cake for people like us. (Even if you're not the crumb-picking type, you'll still probably like this cake.)

I first saw the recipe for this big crumb coffee cake over at Smitten Kitchen. The topping looked so buttery, so delicious, so crumbly, I almost pawed at my monitor. Like many other recipes, I bookmarked it for a later date. And forgot about it.

And then a brunch date rolled around and it was the first thing that came to mind. What could be homier than a slice of coffee cake in the morning? With big crumbs you can chase around the plate with your fingers?

The original recipe calls for rhubarb, but Deb suggests blueberries, sour cherries, or raspberries in other seasons. None of these things seemed right for January, so I decided to skip the fruit and go with pure, unadulterated cake. The end result was a fine basic coffee cake: moist from sour cream with a nice vanilla flavor. But the cake really isn't the point. This recipe is all about the topping: golden, bite-sized boulders of butter and sugar spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Heavenly.

Big crumb coffee cake
Check out the original recipe (from The New York Times via Smitten Kitchen) for the version with rhubarb. I'd like to try it with blueberries next time.
(makes 6 to 8 slices)

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I also added 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz.) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups all-purpose, or cake flour

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose, or cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. To make the crumbs, place sugars, spices and salt in a large bowl and whisk in melted butter until smooth. Add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

To prepare the cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.


Anonymous said...

They should serve this cake in Boulder, Colorado!

Dan said...

I just pawed at MY screen. UM!

Unknown said...

That is one amazing cake. The more crumbs the better.

Daniel said...

Big crumbs are easier to spot on the rug the next day. Doing something once you spot them is another matter.

Lisa said...

Tender Branson: I wholeheartedly agree.

Daniel: I didn't leave crumbs on the rug! Or did I?

Francie said...

My crumbs sank to the bottom of the cake and it seemed to brown very quickly. I am a fairly experienced baker and I've made this twice now with the same results. Any ideas of what I might have done wrong? I want this cake!

Lisa said...

Francie: Hmm...I wish I knew what went wrong. Do you have an oven thermometer? Maybe your oven temperature is a bit hotter than it reads. Or maybe you're using extra large eggs, which might make the batter a little runnier. You might want to try baking the cake halfway, and then adding the crumbs on top, then baking it until done. Might work?

Francie said...

I appreciate your answer! Well of course my family devoured the cake, sunken crumbs and all. And of course I will bake this thing until I get it right. Did you use a Pyrex pan or metal? If metal, dark or shiny? The devil is in the details...

Lisa said...

Of course! I'm glad the cake still got eaten up. :) I'm pretty sure I used a shiny metal pan. I have a feeling that baking the cake halfway, then adding the crumbs might work. Let me know what happens! Another idea is to chill the crumb mixture in the refrigerator before breaking it up and sprinkling it over the cake. Might work?


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