Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Colossal Crumb Cake

I don't think there is a person on the planet who would say they do not like crumb cake.  I prefer crumb cake over any doughnut, danish, or cinnamon roll for breakfast - it is my absolute favorite.  I have tried Martha Stewart's recipe a couple times but had to stop making it because I could not stop eating it!  But when I saw this recipe on Serious Eats, I could not resist.  I HAD to try it.  Anticipating that I would be able to give some away to family, I decided to make it this weekend.  Luckily, it freezes well, so hopefully I can show some restraint and put the rest of what I have in the freezer for later consumption.

First let's start with the most important component: the crumbs!
I am not sure if this picture gives the crumbs justice.  This is the biggest bowl I own.  The utensil in the picture is a big serving fork (not regular size), so hopefully that will help you to understand just how much of the cake is made up of this delicious crumb topping.

Now for the cut-out corner shot: to say that getting this piece out was easy is a lie.  To say that I did not enjoy eating all the bits of crumbs that fell off the top is another lie.

And finally, the piece de resistance: the cross-section.

Now, this is a particularly big piece... I would not recommend eating all of this in one sitting; while your tastebuds would be very happy, your stomach would not be later on.  Plus, you would probably not be able to move for a while.

So, as long as you stick to smaller-sized pieces and/or have a good crowd of people share this with, I recommend you make this.  It is unbelievably good.

Colossal Crumb Cake
adapted from Arthur Schwartz
serves a small army

For the crumb topping:
3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar (I used half light/half dark)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 tablespoons cinnamon

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup superfine or strained sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

1. Make the topping: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low flame.  Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes, but do not allow butter to become cold. Transfer butter to a very large mixing bowl.
2. Add the flour, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and cinnamon.  Stir together until mixture forms small crumbs.  Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 with the rack in the lower third of the oven.
4. Butter a 9x13 inch pan.  Dust lightly with flour.
5. Make the cake: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl and whisk together.
6. Add butter to a large bowl of a stand up mixer.  Cream butter until soft. 
7. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until well combined. Scrape sides of bowl occasionally.
8. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping sides as necessary. Add vanilla.
9. Reduce mixer speed to low.  Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, dividing the flour mixture into 3 parts and the sour cream into 2 parts, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix just until incorporated after each addition.  Scrape sides down and mix for another 10 seconds. 
10. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a rubber spatula.
11. Pour crumb mixture over the cake in the pan.  Make sure to gently press down crumbs on top of batter. Try to make sure the whole surface is covered well (this should not be a problem).  
12. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cake is golden brown and begins to come away from the sides of the pan.  
*Just a note - my cake needed a little more than 30 minutes for the middle portion of the cake to be cooked through, but ovens may vary so be sure to keep an eye on it!
 Nothing but crumbs!

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