Grandpa is back on a crumb cake kick. Not that he was ever off but the Philly Fluff distracted him for a bit. It turns out the Philly Fluff bakery is under new ownership. Young owners. With new cake recipes. He’s told me before how “young people these days don’t know how to pick up a broom or shovel snow.” Well, add bake a cake to the list. Damned young people.
He said they were nice, so he let them know that the flavor was right, but the texture was off. I can only imagine how that played out. But I can tell you how it ended. He’s not eating Philly Fluff anymore. So, crumb cake it is. And this crumb cake is it.
According to Grandpa there are two critical measures to gauging good crumb cake. First and foremost, the crumbs should be large and the topping should easily fall apart when cut. It shouldn’t be “mud,” as he calls it, when it’s too wet and thick. The second being the powdered sugar. Not too much. Too much means they’re covering something up. Powdered sugar is like cake make-up. Less is more.
This crumb cake is definitely up to Grandpa’s standards. The cake is a light and fluffy yellow cake that is the perfect base for what really matters here…the crumb. The buttery crumbles firm up nicely after baking and add a hint of cinnamon to the cake. A light dusting of powdered sugar is the essential finishing touch.
My sister and I are actually in NY this weekend. We had plans to help him with a few things to expedite the move. But he had different plans. Plans that involved banana cream pie, pignolis, almond cookies, and of course, crumb cake. I would love to sit here and tell you all about it. But I can’t. Do you know what happens when you eat banana cream pie, pignolis, almond cookies and crumb cake? Your brain shuts down. I am in a sugar-induced state of unconsciousness. My fingers can’t type. Words don’t make sense. So just trust me when I tell you to make this. Just this. No pies. No cookies. Just crumb cake.
NY Crumb Cake (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
For the crumb:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick- I used salted), melted and still warm
1¼ cups cake flour
For the cake:
1¼ cups cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons butter (I used salted), cut into 6 pieces, softened at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Posted on May 14, 2011