Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New York Style Crumb Cake

Food is incredibly nostalgic for me. Whether it be the taste, smell, or even just a picture or thought of a specific food, it can bring back a whole variety of memories.  Sometimes the memories will come in the form of a particular day or certain time of year but more often than not, food will make me think about the person I most associate with that food item.  Food is about so much more than just nourishment to me.  Of course, we all have to eat to survive but I believe that food and food traditions have an incredible emotional and cultural impact on life.  When I cook or bake something to share with others, especially for a special occasion, I put a lot of thought and love into what I am preparing and I hope that what I create brings happiness to the people enjoying it.   I think many people can relate to this feeling and no matter whether you are the one sharing or the one receiving, it can really make a lasting impression.

I made this crumb cake because when I was walking through the grocery store, I happened to notice a Entenmann's pastry display with a huge "buy 1, get 1 free" advertisement.  I briefly thought about buying some for memory sake because when I was a child and we visited my Nanny I remember she always seemed to have an Entenmann's crumb cake.  Usually it was the original version but occasionally she had the "Ultimate" crumb cake which was my favorite because it has more crumb topping than cake. The memory of the crumb cake brought back many other food memories that I have of her.  She made delicious meringues, jam thumbprints, and party mix just to name a few. She always had tins of cookies stashed in the pantry and a bags of party mix in the freezer to share with visitors.  

After my Nanny passed away, my aunt began making a lot of Nanny's traditional recipes for holiday parties and get-togethers, along with many of her own wonderful recipes.  Lately, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on these memories, along with many others, because unfortunately my aunt passed away last week.  Her specialty was chocolate covered peanut butter balls.  I can only imagine the amount of time she spent every year making gigantic batches of peanut butter balls; rolling out tiny balls of dough and hand dipping them all in melted chocolate.   She always made sure that no one left her holiday party without a tupperware full of peanut butter balls and a baggie of party mix too.  Her love of sharing her homemade treats with family and friends was just one of her so many amazing qualities.  The world has lost a truly generous, wonderful woman and she will always hold a special place in my heart and my memories.  May she rest in peace.    

Since I decided against buying the pre-made pastries, yet the memories of crumb cake stuck with me, I found this great homemade version to make instead.  This crumb cake has the perfect 50/50 crumb to cake ratio and tastes absolutely wonderful.  The vanilla cake layer is dense and moist and the topping is perfectly sweet and crumbly with a lovely hint of cinnamon.  The combination of textures work so well together and make this cake a delicious breakfast snack or a fantastic brunch item.   Give this recipe a try next time you want to make an easy sweet for your family or friends that will definitely leave them feeling happy. 

New York Style Crumb Cake

1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
8 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, whisk the white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon together and then stir in the melted butter. Add the flour and mix with a spatula (or your fingers) until combined.  Set this mixture aside while you make the cake batter.

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, cubed and slightly softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk or milk
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8x8 inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on each side so that you can lift the cake out after baking. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, briefly mix together the cake flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Turn the mixer onto low speed and gradually add the butter cubes, continuing to beat until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is well distributed through the dry ingredients.  Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk and beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until the batter is well combined, light, and fluffy.     

Pour the batter into the baking pan and then sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over top of the cake batter.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until the topping is lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan and then remove using the foil overhang.  Dust the cake with powdered sugar, if desired and cut into squares to serve. For best results storing the cake, do not pre-cut squares and wrap the cake in a layer of plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. 


Inspired by Spoonful of Flour


  1. I made this and it was delicious! I found that it didn't keep so well in the fridge, BUT I made a little buttermilk/butter/powdered sugar glaze to adorn it. When you microwaved a slice the glaze melted right into it and it was fantastic. Strongly suggested!