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.


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