This recipe for "New York-Style Crumb Cake" from Cook's Illustrated reminded me of my years in NYC where you could find big squares of thick crumb coffee cake in nearly every corner deli. It's also reminiscent of Drake's Coffee Cakes - a primarily east coast product made even more famous by a Seinfeld episode. Cook's Illustrated makes it clear not to be tempted to use all-purpose flour in this recipe, the cake flour is essential to producing a fine tender crumb. If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute an equal amount of plain, low-fat yogurt. When topping the cake, take care to not push the crumbs into the batter. This recipe can be easily doubled and baked in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. If doubling, increase the baking time to about 45-50 minutes. Cooled leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour (7 ounces)
1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3.5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
1. FOR THE TOPPING: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish.
3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.
4. Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer. Using both hands, break apart the crumb dough, rolling the broken dough between your thumb and forefinger to form crumbs about the size of large peas. Continue until all the dough has been broken down into crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over the cake batter, breaking apart any larger chunks, beginning with edges and then working toward center. Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.