Saturday, June 6, 2009

Crumb Cake Saga

Today was not a good baking day. I wanted to make a coffee cake for our out-of-towner brunch after the engagement party, so I began with my recipe for crumb topped chocolate chip poundcake ( see < I thought that if I made it in 4 mini-loaf pans with more crumbs, it wouldn't rise as high and then I could cut it into squares instead of slices. For some reason I thought this would be nicer than slicing the cake. What happened was that the weight of the extra crumbs ( which I actually pushed down some into the batter) prevented the cake from rising very much so that the cake was too dense and didn't cook very well. I thought that it tested done, but after the cake cooled and I cut one open, I could see that the bottom wasn't well cooked.

For the second try, I started with a different recipe - one of mine from Amazing Dairy-free Desserts, that is similar to the poundcake recipe above, but which contains more leavening. It also has a ribbon of chocolate, nuts, sugar and flour, but I didn't plan on using that. The original of this recipe was also made in a loaf pan, but I increased the batter by 1/3 and made it in an 9x13 - again thinking that squares would be nicer than slices. This cake was better, but was still not as light as I would have liked it to be. In addition, the crumbs were a bit too hard. They might soften up when I freeze the cake, but I thought that since I was going to make it again anyway, I might try changing the crumbs.

For the 3rd try, I again used the the second recipe above, but to get a more airy cake, I decided to use bleached flour instead of cake flour. Intuitively, you might think that cake flour would yield a lighter cake, but because the flour is so fine, the cake is actually more compact than one made with bleached all-purpose flour. Also to lighten it a little, instead of mixing the sugar, butter, flour, etc. all together, I thought I would use the more traditional method of beating the butter and sugar until light, and then beating in the eggs and finally adding the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream. To get the crumbs softer, I not only used more butter, but instead of melting the butter, I used cold butter and cut it into the sugar/flour mixture until it looked like meal. Then I used my hands to form the lumps and scatter them on the cake. I'm waiting for it to cool for me to see if it is the way I want it. I guess I'll post that later today. One thing that was very noticeable - it took much longer to cook -43 minutes instead of the 35 that the 2nd attempt took. That one really has me baffled - the cake made with cake flour was denser, so I thought it would need the least amount of time. I've just cut the cake and it is much lighter than the original cake, but it was also kind of greasy. I think that a lot of the fat that I used in the crumbs seeped out and into the cake, making it too oily. The crumbs were nice though - a little crunchy on the outside yielding to a tender middle - and lots and lots of crumbs.

It's amazing how many variations for a cake like this you see out there. My original crumb recipe called for 20 tablespoons of melted butter, Martha Stewart's calls for 28 tablespoons of soft butter, Dorie Greenspan's calls for 24 tablespoons soft butter and Cook's Illustrated calls for cake flour instead of all-purpose, and 14 tablespoons melted butter, but handled differently than I did.

So, I can see that I need to bake at least one more cake. Maybe the cake that worked out well and either Cook's crumbs or Dorie Greenspan's.


deepa said...

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avagdro said...

Thanks a lot Penny Wantuck for such a delicious cake dish.Wish you all the best.

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