Saturday, March 26, 2011

New York Style Crumbcake

Every once in awhile, when my father wanted to treat us, he would drive us after church to a bakery called "Entenmans" off the side of the highway. I remember walking in and just looked at the boxes and boxes of pound cakes, chocolate donuts, cream cheese danishes and chocolate chip cookies. I would look through them excitedly, not straying far from my father. He would smile at me and say, "pick one thing you want", while picking out some things for himself and the rest of the family. My eyes would get wide with excitement, and I would stand there, stuck with a choice that as a child seemed so absolutely life-threatening. If I got the chocolate chip cookies, I wouldn't have any orange pound cake. But if I got the pound cake, then I wouldn't get any chocolate chip cookies. I remember always standing there anxiously, thinking hard.

But there was one item that they sold there that I was honestly addicted to. One of the best things I had ever eaten: New York Style Crumbcake. It had a brilliant small crumb on top, moist cake underneath and powdered sugar all around. If I ever came to a fork in the road about what I wanted, my hands immediately went for the crumb cake. I would constantly sneak into the kitchen, grabbing another slice, until my father would ask who was eating all of the crumb cake and I'd keep my mouth closed and grin to myself sheepishly.

Unfortunately the bakery near me closed down, and now we can only buy some in packages at the super market, which never tasted exactly like the ones that came from the place we went to. And no matter how hard I've tried, I've never been able to completely mimic the taste in a recipe. But I've come damn close with this cake. Infact, I am perfectly fine with settling for this if I cannot get the best, because aside from a bit of dryness at the cake part underneath, this crumb cake was 100% DELICIOUS. And if you are a fan of the crumb cake, then you will like this. I do recommend using something to keep the cake moister or richer... Maybe more butter, or perhaps sour cream in place of buttermilk. Either way, it's an awesome way to treat yourself or just eat something new. Just makes sure you poor some powdered sugar all over these... It's just not right without it.

New York-Style Crumb Cake
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

For the crumb topping:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour

For the cake:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Set an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and line it with a strip of parchment paper or aluminum foil that is just shy of the width of the dish and long enough to overhang the sides of the dish. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray as well.

In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the crumb topping until they form a smooth dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the cake.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the cake flour, sugar, baking soda and salt at low speed. With the mixer running on low, add the butter chunks one at a time, letting each one incorporate into the dry ingredients before adding another. When the mixture resembles even, moist crumbs, add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk, and increase the speed to medium. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Break apart the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces, rolling them slightly in between your fingertips to get them to hold their shape. Spread the crumbs in even layer over the batter. Bake until the crumbs are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment handles. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dulce De Leches Cheesecake

For some reason, gossip never seems to go out of style no matter how old you are. You could be 40 years old and still stuck in a inferno of twisted stories. Sure, they may start off innocent. One person telling another person that they saw some hot golfer guy that lives down the street from them helping Crazy Old Lady Tooters with her groceries. Then the person you told says something about it to someone else, then that someone else says it to someone, and suddenly it turns into:

"Did you hear about what's going on with Crazy Old Lady Tooters that lives down the street?! I heard she's having an affair with the hot golfer guy that's married to that one chick that works at Kmart... I even heard that he got her pregnant! I know she's like 5038 years old but oh, my, GOD!"

Then someone decides it would be a good idea to actually ask the people in question what's going on instead of assuming something. Nine out of ten times they hear something completely different than what their peers said. What was thought to be an affair actually turns into Crazy Old Lady Tooters needing help putting away her groceries because she was too weak to put them up in her cabinets, and hot golfer guy was just being a good ol' gentlemen. No affair. No pregnancy. No bomb conspiracies. No wife who works at kmart being cheated on.

Rumors. They can get sticky pretty fast.

Unfortunately, no matter where you go in life, rumors will eventually find their way to you. I'm currently stuck in one that has been blown so much out of logic that at this point all I can do is laugh that anyone could even come up with stuff. It really is ridiculous. I like a good story now and then, but life isn't a Jerry Springer Show. When it comes to gossiping, I try to keep my mouth shut. I've always lived by the philosophy that whatever people tell me, I won't go blabbing to someone else unless I want to know the truth. And in that case, why not just ask that person straight up? This is one of my favorite bible verses concerning this:

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13

I try to live by this verse when it concerns gossip. Afterall, no one needs to know eachothers private lives.

Now, if you're going to spread rumors about me... At least have it to do something with my baking. Good rumors. Like, "hey, I heard Alex bakes a mean dulce de leches cheesecake"... that, I can live with. Totally. Absolutely. Go right ahead and say stuff about me if you're gonna be saying that.

While you're at it, mention that my dulce de leches has a spiced graham cracker and almond crust. And that it's got a sour-cream dulce de leches swirl on top. Tell them it's absolutely splendid, not too sweet not too bitter... A beautiful medium.

And tell them that I will totally make one for them, too.

Dulce De Leches Cheesecake


1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted and still warm (not scorching hot) to the touch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cups almonds

3 8oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (can replace with vanilla extract)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup homemade or store bought dulce de leches (from a 14 oz. can)

2 cups full-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (I added more sugar to this cause I like the topping more sweet, but add more to your own preference)
1/2 cup or whatever remains of the dulce de leches
1/4 cup slivered almonds (to decorate)


1. Preheat your oven to 320 degrees. Spray a 9in springform pan with non-stick baking spray.

2. To make the crust, take all of the crust ingredients and pulse together in a food processor or blender until fully combined. Press into the springform pan, moving up the sides about an inch or two. Put the crust into the oven for about 10 minutes or until slightly brownish. Take out and let cool while you make the cheesecake filling.

3. Using an electric mixer or handmixer, on a low speed combine the cream cheese with the sugar, extracts, and flour until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, making sure to mix each egg in completely before adding another. Be careful not to overmix. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cheesecake and set to the side.

4. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Pour the 1/2 cup of dulce de leches into the reserved 1/2 cup of the cheesecake filling. Whisk together, then drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake dulce de leches filling into the regular cheesecake filling. Swirl together with a butter knife.

5. Bake cheesecake for about an hour or until the cheesecake wiggles only slightly in the middle and the outside of the cheesecake is set.

6. Run a knife around the side of the cheesecake to loosen. Let cool at room temperature for another hour, then pop into the fridge for 5 hours or overnight.

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