I was at an airport in Jacksonville, Fla., one recent morning, and I was hungry. So I went to Starbucks to grab a newspaper, some orange juice and a snack. That snack ended up being crumb cake. And that crumb cake CHANGED MY LIFE.
Well, maybe that’s overstating the situation just a little. It didn’t exactly CHANGE MY LIFE. But it definitely INSPIRED THIS BLOG POST.
Now, I don’t drink coffee, so I generally only ever go to Starbucks when someone I’m with says, “Let’s go to Starbucks.” And I usually just get water or juice.
The only thing I’ve ever really eaten there is the lemon loaf. I’ve only ever eaten the lemon loaf because it’s so delicious I don’t want to bother with anything that’s not the lemon loaf. So I always order the lemon loaf. I looooove the lemon loaf.
But this particular Starbucks in the Jacksonville airport did not have the lemon loaf.
I couldn’t have imagined a greater tragedy.
I looked over the myriad muffins, pastries and scones on display, searching for an alternative, but none of them looked very appetizing. After several tense moments of indecision, I decided to go with the cake-iest thing they had: crumb cake.
And guess what? It was unbelievable! Sweet and cinnamon-y, with a layer of streusel as thick as the layer of cake beneath, topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. I scarfed it down, and then shamelessly went back to buy another slice. Yes, it was that good.
And I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Obviously, I had to try to make it myself.
So I looked around the Internet and found a tasty-sounding coffee cake recipe from Ina Garten. I figured I’d just double the amount of streusel and voilà! Awe-inspiring crumb cake.
Except what I failed to consider was that her recipe calls for a tube pan, which has a lot less surface area to cover with streusel than the 9-by-13-inch pan I was using, and a lot more room for cake. So doubling the streusel recipe didn’t give me my desired cake-to-crumb ratio. Which meant the cake I made wasn’t crumb cake at all; it was coffee cake with streusel on top.
Not that I was disappointed, though — the cake turned out great! Before I’d even taken it out of the oven, it had filled my apartment with the most amazing cinnamon-y smell. So I knew, even before tasting it, that there was no way this cake was going to be a bad idea. And after I tasted it, I knew I had been right.
Like I said, I strayed from Ina’s recipe by using a different pan and changing the amount of streusel. I actually added three times as much sugar to the streusel, and used both light and dark brown sugar. I also added an entire stick of butter to the streusel, because more butter is more better, am I right? Then, instead of glaze, I dusted the cake with confectioners’ sugar. How delicious does that sound?
Even though this coffee cake was super tasty, I still want to try again to make a true crumb cake. OOH, I just now got another idea for a super delicious coffee cake variation, and I’m really excited about it, so I’m going to have to make that, too.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all this cinnamon streusel-topped cake I’m about to make, because it can’t possibly all fit in my belly. Although that won’t stop me from trying.
Recipe: Sour cream coffee cake
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa via FoodNetwork.com
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups sour cream
- 2½ cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the streusel
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 4 to 5 minutes, until light in color. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition, then mix in the vanilla and sour cream.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the last four cake ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, pour the flour mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Finish stirring the batter by hand. Don’t overmix!
- To make the streusel, stir together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Add the butter chunks, and combine by using a pastry blender or pinching with your fingers until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
- Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle ¾ cup streusel over the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter over the streusel, carefully spread it out, and pour the rest of the streusel on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cake. Then eat!
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