As a little kid growing up in New York, I remember spending almost every Sunday visiting with my grandparents. Whether it was them coming to our house or our family going to theirs, we were always getting together. Often during these visits, my Aunt and cousins would join us as well. We would usually have cake and coffee together and would trade off every once in a while with either bakery cakes or pre-made Entenmann’s cakes. For those of you who don’t know Entenmann’s (you’re missing out), they make a variety of delicious cakes, donuts, pies, muffins, cookies, etc. and they usually sold in supermarkets. One of our family favorites was their crumb cake. I remember my cousin, Merinda, always loving them. It was never a complete family visit without her picking the big crumbs off the top of the cake! One thing she always used to say about them was that they had a thin cake layer and LOTS of crumbs on top and that’s what she liked most about them.
One of the things I love to do is bake. As I grew older it truly became my passion and I even went to Culinary School for it. I learned lots of great recipes including a classic sponge cake – which reminded me of the cake bottom of the Entenmanns crumb cake! Hmmmm, now if I could only find a great crumb topping for it!!! Well, I did. In one of my culinary books, I found a great Cinnamon Streusel Topping and it was perfect for a homemade crumb cake.
So, combining the two – I made a delicious crumb cake that reminded me of our Sunday afternoon family get togethers. It’s a bit of work, but so worth it once it’s done!
For the Cinnamon Streusel Topping (make this first)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups All Purpose flour (plus extra if needed)
1) In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla extract. Combine well.
2) On low speed, slowly add the flour until the mixture becomes crumbly. You may need to add more or less to achieve the right consistency. It should resemble large crumbs, and not be too wet or too dry.
For the Sponge Cake
6 Tbsp. cake flour, sifted
3/4 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1) Line the bottom of a half sheet pan with parchment. (Here’s a little trick – spray the bottom of the sheet pan with a little bit of non-stick spray to get the parchment to stay in place.)
2) Sift the flour and half of the sugar together. Set aside.
3) Separate the eggs placing the yolks and whites in separate mixing bowls. Whip the egg yolks in high speed in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat for about 7-8 minutes until the yolks are thick and pale and doubled in volume. The yolks should be whipped until ribbons form (when the batter falls back on itself resembling ribbons).
4) In a separate bowl in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or a hand mixer), beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and 1 Tbsp. of sugar. Whip at medium speed until the whites are glossy and stiff. Be careful not to overmix.
5) Pour the egg yolks onto the whipped whites. Quickly fold the two mixtures together using a large spatula, taking care not to deflate the egg whites. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the mixture and fold in lightly.
6) Sprinkle one-third of the sifted flour over the batter and gently fold in. Repeat the procedure until all of the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix, fold until just incorporated.
7) Pour the batter into the prepared half sheet pn smoothing the surface as needed. Bake immediately at 375 degrees F for 6-8 minutes – until the batter is just starting to rise.
8) Remove the cake from the oven. Sprinkle the cake with the Cinnamon Streusel Topping covering the entire cake with the topping.
9) Return the pan to the oven and finish baking for about 20 minutes and the topping has begun to slightly brown.
10) Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Sponge Cake recipe from “On Baking”
Cinnamon Streusel Topping adapted from Bo Friberg “The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef”