Hubby doesn't request many sweets; I'm usually the instigator (and creator) of sweets in our household. However, the other day he simply and randomly requested a crumb cake, and a plain one at that. Having never seen him eat one in my life, I wasn't sure where this request came from but how could I resist a culinary challenge?
If you're going to splurge, you might as well go all out. I toyed with making a 'light' recipe, but wanting to create the best recipe, I went straight to the recipe experts: Cook's Illustrated. If you've never had the treat of enjoying their recipes, check out The New Best Recipe; it's literally a Cook's bible. The Cook's Illustrated recipe testers take a methodical and almost scientific approach to recipe testing, substituting ingredients and cooking methods until a recipe is perfected. Straight out of the oven, I knew America's Test Kitchen wasn't lying when they claimed this recipe had been perfected:
As much as I may drool over Entenmanns in the store, we agreed that this crumb cake is far superior and thankfully minus all the weird chemical ingredients. Using cake flour, this cake has a delicate and moist crumb unlike anything I've ever baked. The cinnamon brown sugar crumb topping piles up high, in almost a 50:50 ratio to the cake. Best of all, the cake is not overly sweet and would be perfect with a cup of coffee and as a very nutritious start to your day ;) I also spotted this recipe on Sugar & Spice where Chelley had cut these bad boys into little bite sized pieces and served them in cupcake liners - very cute!
Oh, and for all you Tastespotting lovers, a couple of sites have gone up in their honor. Go check 'em out:Cinnamon Crumb Cake
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
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 (I forgot this step!)
1. FOR THE TOPPING: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, cardamom, 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.
2. 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.
3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon 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.
4. 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.