Blueberry Crumb Cake

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There’s nothing like a good crumb cake to make a brunch special.  Who doesn’t like crumb cake?  Apparently lots of folks.  It’s not that they don’t like crumb cake, it’s that they don’t really know what it is.  Turns out, crumb cake is a regional dish, particular to the East Coast / New England area.   Here’s a little blurb on it from The Food Maven.  It has roots in Northern and Central Europe, possibly Poland or Germany (it is a streusel topping, after all).  Plus when you think of a Dutch Apple Pie, you think about its streusel crumb topping.  The Dutch are from Northern Central Europe, right?

Getting back to the regional cuisine bit– remember your American history from high school?  The Germans and the Dutch had a lot of influence in the area (New Amsterdam was the name of New York before it became New York).  So when they came here, they brought their food traditions.  Although it’s weird that it remains a New England thing.  The Germans, Dutch, and Scandinavians did immigrate to other parts of the country, like the MidWest and Great Lakes region.  For example, there is a lot of Finnish culture in the upper peninsula of Michigan, which now makes me crave some Nisu (It’s a Finnish bread that’s flavored with cardamom and I was able to track some down on my last trip to Houghton-Hancock.  There’s also a great seafood restaurant up there, BTW.  Of course, I could just be a sucker for all-you-can-eat fish.).  But I digress…

I know right now you’re asking, “how is a crumb cake different from a coffee cake?”  Well, let me tell you.  It all has to deal with the amount of streusel on the top.  Coffee cakes might have just a little bit of the streusel.  But the topping could take up a majority of the cake in a crumb cake.  And the topping is the best part!  Well, the rest of the cake is tasty, too.

And that’s a whole bunch of Cultural Nuggets for ya!  A couple of notes before you start:  this recipe has both baking soda and baking powder.  The baking soda is there to help neutralize the acid in the sour cream.  This recipe also uses blueberries, but you can use any kind of berry.  I’ve also see recipes for rhubarb crumb cakes and apple crumb cakes.  There’s also some that just use jam.  And now for the recipe.  It should make one 10-inch cake.  Here’s what you’ll need:

For the topping:

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. galangal (if you don’t have it available, just omit or use a little bit of nutmeg)
  • 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick melted butter

Combine the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Pour the melted butter over the top and mix with a spoon to form large crumbles.  Set aside.

For the cake:

  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2/3 c. sour cream
  • 1 pt. fresh blueberries

1.  Preheat the oven to 350.   Spray the pan with cooking spray and line with a parchment round.  Set aside.  Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and honey.  Mix for about 5 minutes to make sure everything is well incorporated.  Add vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream.  Stir to combine.

3.  On low speed, gradually add flour and mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  Spoon batter into the pan and level it off.  Evenly top with the streusel.

4.  Bake for 45 -60 minutes until center is done.  Let cool completely.

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