Monday, June 6, 2011

New York Style Crumb Cake

I adore crumb cake. The kind that has the deliciously thick, chunky crumb atop an incredibly moist cake. Yeah... that kind. Not the kind that you pick up at the grocery store or convenience store in a cardboard carton with a plastic window. Yuck! So dry compared to the homemade thing. Seriously. Make your own. You'll never buy crumb cake again. Sometimes you can buy some decent stuff preprepared... crumb cake really isn't one of them. You probably don't even realize how much you love crumb cake because you have only ever had the store bought version. Do yourself a favor- introduce yourself to real crumb cake.

I actually have quite a handful of crumb cake recipe's that I like and they are all just a bit different enough to be differentiated by taste. Not like pancakes. I find a lot of pancake recipes taste the same. This is not one of those cases. This particular crumb cake recipe I enjoy because it makes a small pan. Since I only bake for myself in most cases, this is perfect. Not much waste (or none in this case hehe tackled the whole cake in like 4 days...) Plus the method of preparation is quite unique which makes for a very unique and superior texture. Usually for cakes, you'll either melt the butter and put it with the wet ingredients or cream it with the sugars. This recipe makes crumbs by beating the semi-cold butter with the dry ingredients, then you fluff up the mixture by beating in the wet ingredients until a light and creamy consistency is reached. I actually almost messed this up... I am so used to stopping the mixer as soon as the everything is moistened that I didn't let the ingredients fluff up for a minute. I poured the batter into the pan, re-read the instructions and then realized my mistake. I ended up pouring the batter back in the mixer and finishing the fluff. It totally made a different in consistency, so don't be like me and forget to let the batter fluff for a minute! They use cake flour for this exact reason- to let the batter fluff nice without the chance of gluten development from a high protein flour. 
Just please be aware that crumb cake is amazing and you should make this. 
Thank you. 

New York-Style Crumb Cake
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, May 2007
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

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.
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.
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.
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.

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