New York Style Crumb Cake

By: Brady Evans

My husband travels to New York City pretty regularly for work.  It sounds glamorous, but it really isn’t.  He spends at least 12 hours in airports, works long days from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. in an office and then more in his hotel room, and has not a free moment to see the sites of the greatest city on earth.

He does, however, make it a point to swing by a bakery every morning to pick up a classic coffee cake with crumb topping.  It is his favorite splurge and there’s no where better to indulge in this than in a New York bakery.

Would you believe he brought a piece home to show me exactly what he’d like me to recreate for him?  He knows I love a challenge, so when he whipped out a stale square of coffee cake from his suitcase, I set off to find the perfect recipe.

The cake on the right was the one I had to beat.  I think we can safely say I did more than simply recreate his beloved coffee cake.  My results were perfect.  The cake was tender and the crumbs were sweet.  It was “cinnamony” and sweet and simply irresistible.  Maybe we can get my husband to telecommute for his NYC jobs, because now he won’t need his coffee cake fix.

New York Style Crumb Cake (adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated May 2007 via Smells Like Home)

Ingredients

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 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 but still warm
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour (7 ounces)

For the Cake:

  • 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 sour cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. To make the topping: Combine 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.
  2. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. To make the cake: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width.
  5. 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.
  6. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to.
  7. 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.
  8. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.
  9. Pour batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

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