Saturday, January 18, 2014

How to Say Welcome - Crumb Cake

We recently welcomed a new music librarian at the university where I work.  I used to be the music librarian but had moved into a new position, and found it difficult impossible to do both jobs, particularly since it involved two buildings and two offices.  I am very excited about the librarian we hired! 

In my work culture, we have a time each day where many of the staff members and maybe a few of the librarians gather for break in the main library.  On days of celebration, we have "official" breaks - welcome breaks, goodbye and good luck breaks, birthday breaks, anniversary breaks - we love to have parties and bring food in that we've made. 

In trying to decide what to make for the welcome break, I couldn't get a crumb cake picture out of my head that I'd come across on the Cakespy blog.  I decided that a crumb cake was the way I was going to say "Welcome!"  This is a great recipe, highly recommended.  The only tip I'll add is not to mound too many big crumbs in the center, because I had a harder time getting that part to bake through.

Crumb Cake

Recipe from Jessie Oleson Moore from Cakespy on Craftsy, adapted from The Food Maven.
Link to Craftsy includes photos of almost every step.

Makes one 9″ by 13″ cake


For the topping

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar for dusting the top (optional)

For the cake

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

  1. Prepare the topping. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix with the brown sugar. Set this to the side. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once melted, pour on top of the dry mixture. Add the vanilla. Stir with a fork until the mixture comes together to form small crumbs (if you clump it in your hand, it should easily form crumbs). Set the crumb mixture aside in a bowl.
  3. It’s time to make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9″ by 13″ pan. Place a rack in the middle position of your oven.
  4. In a large bowl,  whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set to the side.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer,) cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, and continue mixing until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed using a rubber spatula.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, pausing to scrape the sides of the bowl with each addition. The mixture may look somewhat curdled. That is OK. Blend in the vanilla.
  7. Reduce the mixing speed to low. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternately with the sour cream. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Continue scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Blend only until combined and uniform in appearance. This batter will be thick.
  8. Spoon the batter into the well-greased pan and smooth with a flat rubber spatula.
  9. Grab a handful of the crumbs and break on top of the spreaded cake. Continue, making crumbs of your desired sizes all across the surface of the cake. You need to cover all of the surface with crumbs, or the cake may bubble over the crumb mixture. Gently pat the crumbs into the batter with your hand or a wooden spoon, but don’t press too hard.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top and begins to shrink from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool. If desired, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Once cool or just lightly warm, slice into squares (or slabs, depending on your mood and appetite.)
Store leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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