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September 2017

Old Fashioned Coffee Cake Thick Crumb Topping

Crumb cake piece 

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.


Crumb Topping


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.


Crumb cake prebake


Crumb cake baked  

Fresh Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake 

This is a great alternative to the traditional pineapple version, and a perfect recipe to try during peak peach season. I found this recipe in Cook’s Country magazine(Aug/Sep 2016) and they developed the cake recipe using a little toasted cornmeal which adds both flavor and texture to the dessert, and compliments the peaches perfectly. Serve warm with a little ice cream of a dollop or cream.

Download Fresh Peach Upside Down Cornmeal Cake recipe

Serves 8

½ cup (2 1/2 ounces) cornmeal

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 6 tablespoons melted and cooled

⅓ cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar, plus 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces)

½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch

1-pound fresh peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into 3/4-inch wedges

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

⅛ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup whole milk

2 teaspoons grated orange zest plus 1/4 cup juice

1 large egg plus 1 large yolk 


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toast cornmeal in oven safe 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to large bowl and let cool slightly. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup sugar and pinch of salt and cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is melted, smooth, and deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Mixture may look broken but will come together.)
  4. Off heat, carefully arrange peaches cut side down in tight pinwheel around edge of skillet. Arrange remaining peaches in center of skillet. 
  5. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into cornmeal.
  6. In separate bowl, whisk milk, orange zest and juice, egg and yolk, melted butter, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined. Pour batter over peaches and spread into even layer.
  7. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 28 to 33 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through baking. Let cake cool in skillet on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run knife around edge of skillet to loosen cake. Place large, flat serving platter over skillet. Using potholders and holding platter tightly, invert skillet and platter together; lift off skillet (if any peaches stick to skillet, remove and position on top of cake). Let cake cool completely, about 1 hour. Serve.