I am always on the hunt for a great crumb cake recipe and since crumb cake is a pretty big thing to this [former] New York girl, finding just the right recipe is really important to me. See, I watched many a crumb cake pass through the hands of family and friends while I grew up. It was the dessert of choice to bring to someone’s house when you were going for coffee and usually it was an Entemann’s cake. When Entemann’s came out with their “Ultimate Crumb Cake” years ago, it was the best thing since sliced bread – loads of big crumbs with a fresh and soft yellow cake underneath is what has driven people crazy for years and I’m thrilled to say that I’ve found a recipe that meets my high expectations.
Cook’s Illustrated has pulled together a super easy and fantastic recipe for this beloved cake and I’m so excited to share it with you today! The use of cake flour instead of all-purpose flour yields a beautifully soft cake that puffs up underneath the always sought-after cinnamon crumb topping. And about those all-important crumbs…I’ve made plenty of crumb cakes where I’ve needed to increase the amount of topping the recipe calls for (as I’m making the recipe which is so frustrating!) because well, shouldn’t the topping fully cover the batter? With this recipe, there are plenty of crumbs to go around for everyone and the recipe perfectly balances the amount of crumbs with the amount of cake underneath. It’s these types of things that make finding a great crumb cake recipe so critical and when you found the right one, you know it. This one is definitely worthy of a pot of coffee.
Make sure you use cake flour for this recipe - all-purpose flour will yield a dry and tough cake. A few people have commented that their crumbs have sunken into the cake - the key to keeping the crumbs on top is to gently lay them out on top of the batter - do not push them down. This recipe yields an 8x8-inch crumb cake but you can easily double the recipe using a 9x13-inch pan.
- 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
- To make 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.
- To make the cake: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325° F. 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. Break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces between your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers 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.
source: Cook's Illustrated May 2007