Fresh Cranberries–or virtually any fruit you choose–make this Crumb Cake perfect for Holiday Baking.
We have a lot of affection for Saveur Magazine. It was, after all, the first publication my food writing appeared in. It’s also our kind of food magazine where there’s a story or a history told when it presents a recipe. This great recipe for crumb cake—one that features fresh cranberries under a layer of the all-important sweet crumb—came with praise for Crumb Cake itself from some prominent American bakers. It included a little history along with its instructions for both the crumb and the cake.
America’s love for Crumb Cake is shared by some of her best bakers.
America’s love affair with crumb cake started early in the lives of Rose Levy Beranbaum and Michelle Polzine of San Francisco’s 20th Century Café (198 Gough St, San Francisco Tel: 415 621 2380). Both were smitten with commercial crumb cakes at any early age: For Ms. Polzine it was Hostess with its thick square covered in powdered sugar. Ms. Beranbaum, the author of 14 baking books, discovered Drake’s Cakes when she was at the University of Vermont. She then became enamored of Entenmann’s. Dorie Greenspan is also a fan. “You can control the sweetness, pile the crumb inches high and flavor it with whatever you like,” says the author of “Everyday Dorie”.
Germany’s “Streuselkuchen” made easier to bake in this superb recipe for Crumb Cake.
The first crumb cake may have been baked in Germany where it is called “Streuselkuchen”. In Germany, Streuselkuchen is eaten as an afternoon snack. Ours was served at breakfast, after lunch, with tea, as dessert at dinner and for a midnight snack. What it shares in common with today’s recipe is a layer of fruit beneath the streusel. And you don’t have to limit yourself to cranberries. You can also use apples, pears, cherries, apricots. The key is to use the fruit sparingly and cut into smaller pieces so that the fruit moistens the cake but doesn’t make it soggy. Streuselkuchen uses a yeasted batter. Our Crumb Cake is a New York-style which adds the richness of sour cream and gets its lift from baking soda and baking powder—not from yeast which it doesn’t use at all. Aside from varying the fruit used, you can use any nut you like. “Walnuts work well with apples, pistachios with apricots” says 20th Century’s Michelle Polzine. Our passion is always for almonds.
Here is the recipe and after it some other coffee cakes you may want to bake for the holidays.
Cranberry Crumb Cake with Oats and Almonds
A great take on a New York-style Crumb Cake--this one featuring a jam-like layer of cranberries -- or any other fruit you fancy.
- Large Bowl
- Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment
- 9 x 13 Cake Pan
- Cake Tester
- Medium Bowl
- Small Bowl
- For the crumb:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (245 g)
- 3⁄4 cup rolled oats (75 g)
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (200 g)
- 1⁄4 cup cane sugar (48 g)
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. (2¼ sticks or 9 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, then left out to soften slightly
- 2⁄3 cup sliced almonds
- For the cake:
- 2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour (275 g)
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
- 3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
- 1 1⁄2 cups (290 g) plus 1 Tbsp. cane sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp. plus ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract, divided
- 1 tsp. pure almond extract
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream
- 10 oz. fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (about 3 cups plus 2 Tbsp.), drained well in a strainer
- For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Step 1 Make the crumb: In a large bowl, add the flour, oats, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Stir. Add the butter. Mix it in with your fingers and by squeezing the mixture with your palms until saturated and chunky, 3–4 minutes. Refrigerate until firm, at least 25 minutes, or until ready to bake the cake.
- Step 2 Mix the cake: In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir briefly to combine. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1½ cups sugar at medium-high speed, scraping down the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and the almond extract, and beat at medium-low speed, scraping down the bowl as needed, until incorporated. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture (in three batches) and the sour cream (in two batches), beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and beating until just incorporated.
- Step 3 Preheat the oven to 350°F and set a rack in the center. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan or baking dish with butter. Add the batter, and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly into a thin layer, filling the corners.
- Step 4 In a medium bowl, stir the drained cranberries, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla.
- Step 5 Retrieve the crumb topping. Add the almonds, and mix briefly with your hands to combine.
- Step 6 Sprinkle the cranberries evenly over the batter, leaving behind any moisture. Crumble the topping evenly over the fruit in pebble-size pieces. Bake until the crumbs are lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
- Step 7 Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon water, the lemon juice, and salt. Stir well until smooth. Drizzle on the cake to taste, then slice and serve.