Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Crumb cake

It's a favorite book in our house, In the Night Kitchen. Thanks to Mickey, it seems, we have cake every morning, an intriguing concept.

Of course, that's not true. At least, not until this week.

I got the bug on Sunday. It was a rare day when I didn't have any work (as in, work for a client) to do. Naturally, not finding the usual work of rearing three boys and wifing one man sufficient, I suddenly felt this urge to bake something. Something...buttery. Crumbly. With a hint of cinnamon. And I'd make it for the boys to have for breakfast the coming week. Give the Viking a break in the morning, as he's the one who handles mornings around our house. What can I say? I need my beauty sleep.

What I had in mind sounded kind of like a crumb cake of some sort, so I turned to my trusty Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition for a crumb cake recipe that wouldn't take too long or overtax my limited cake-baking skills. Of course, as with all recipes, I made my own idiosyncratic adjustments with a health boost in mind.

The recipe can be found on pg. 630. (Warning: This is not for the faint of heart or the body on a diet). It calls for a 13-x-9-inch pan, and for some reason, all of mine are letter-sized. No matter. I sprayed my letter-sized Pyrex with organic cooking spray and floured it, and set the oven to 325 F.

Then, to make the morning cake. And yes, there was milk involved. I thought about calling out to one of my sons that we needed "Milk! Milk! Milk for the morning cake!" but decided against it as I thought full-bore nudity--a la the book--might ensue.

Onward. Whisk together the following:
1.5 c all-purpose flour. I used white wheat flour here.
0.5 c sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
I also added in about a half cup of wheat germ, which meant reducing the flour by about the same amount.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 large egg, 0.5 c milk (for the morning cake!), 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola), and 2 tsp vanilla.

With a rubber spatula, add the dry to the wet, mix to smoothness, and then drop in dollops into your greased, floured pan and spread until it's evenly covering the pan bottom. This was NOT easy to do, and I found that greasing the spatula every few spreading attempts helped a lot.

That was the cake part. The crumb part may give you a heart attack just reading it. Here we go.

Combine the following:
2.5 c. all-purpose flour
(You can also add in 0.5 c. nuts or coconut--I did not do this)
1 c. packed light brown sugar. Yes. That says one cup. I did 0.75 cups because I just couldn't stand it.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.

Now for the heart attack. Melt two sticks--complete sticks--of butter and pour it over the above mixture. Mix until it's like...well...crumbs. If it's not crumbly enough, add more flour, which is what I had to do.

Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the cake and bake for 30 minutes or until tester is clean. I ended up going for 40 minutes, the last 10 minutes with the oven jacked up to 350 F, probably because of the wheat flour and wheat germ.

The result is a buttery, crumbly (very crumbly) pretty sweet treat with a lot of fiber that's no worse than, say, a muffin or a scone for breakfast. My kids liked this a lot, and it was exciting to truly have cake for breakfast every morning. At least for this week.


  1. I love that book. We all do, in fact. Sweet Mickey.

    And the cake sounds delicious. I am not afraid of butter or sugar, as you may have guessed by now.

  2. Clearly, I have no fear of it, either. I use it in almost everything I make. Butter!

  3. Wait'll you see the cookie recipe I have for tomorrow. Butter city! (Apparently, we're all on a baking tear this week! Thank goodness for goodfountain's guac. Something green! ;-))

  4. I'm loving the butter, too! I mean, I am from Wisconsin. Great recipes, Ladies. Thanks.