My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

German Crumb Cake, Brooklyn Style

"For a really good crumb cake, you need to have yeast dough."
~Carla (

Almost every week growing up, we would have an Entenmann's crumb cake.  I loved those things, and it wouldn't last long in our house.  We made sour cream coffee cake all the time, but it's not the same (although I love that, too!).   Well, years ago, while reading a women's magazine in a doctor's office, there it was.  A crumb cake recipe of German origin, typically made by emigrants in the Brooklyn section of New York.  And guess what?  That little baked-good company my family helped keep in business was a German bakery opened in yes, Brooklyn N.Y. in 1898.  I found what I was searching for!  A couple years ago, I couldn't locate the clipping, and had to do some research to duplicate it, because, although I could remember the ingredients and procedure, I could not remember the exact amounts.   Cook's Illustrated had a recipe that was close, I just had to change an ingredient and tweak the procedure.  
When you read through the recipe, don't be thwarted by using the lemon juice to curdle the buttermilk, that is the magic element that gives it that distinct flavor.  Don't worry, it doesn't end up tasting like lemon or sour or anything like that.  It is just fabulously delicious, moist, buttery and perfectly crumbed.  The cake I made this morning is already gone, except for the one piece I hid for myself for tomorrow morning (don't judge me).  
Also, although it is a yeast dough, it requires no kneading and is just as easy as any sour cream coffee cake, it simply needs time to raise.  Conveniently enough, you can do the second rising in the fridge overnight, and bake it fresh in the morning.  That's what I did!

German Crumb Cake 
Adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature (this is very important)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted

Crumb Topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

In a small saucepan, heat buttermilk until warm to the touch.  Be careful not to let it boil, or get too hot (over 115 degrees) or it will kill the yeast.  Stir in sugar and yeast.  Set aside for about 5 minutes to proof the yeast. It should start to get foamy, which means the yeast is working.

Add lemon juice to yeast mixture and let stand until curdled, about 1 minute.  In a large bowl, add 3 3/4 cups of flour and salt.  Add yeast mixture, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat with electric mixer on low until just combined, then continue beating on medium until dough is silky and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Dough will be very sticky.  Leave dough in bowl and sprinkle with two tablespoons flour.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
 Pulse together topping ingredients in a a food processor until many large clumps form.  Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, until ready to use.  
Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.  Stir down dough, then spread evenly in the prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle dough with half the crumb mixture, then cover dish with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft free place at warm room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  (OR place in the fridge to do this second rising overnight.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle remaining topping evenly over the cake and bake 50-60 minutes, until topping is golden brown.  Cool cake in pan on a rack until barely warm, then dust lightly with confectioner's sugar and cut into squares.  


Anne said...

This is the part where I tell you I love you. No, seriously, I LOVED their crumb coffee cake growing up and have been trying to find a recipe to match that one for a long time. Thank you! Thank you~

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Anne: YES!!! You're welcome, you made my day. I only share recipes I'm excited about and I love when readers like them!

Tina said...

I never see Entenemanns anymore, but I do remember their lovely crumb cake. Great to find a recipe that can duplicate that awesome flavor at home. Glad you posted this!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Thanks Tina! If you get a chance to try it, let me know what you think!

Di said...

We used to -love- eating Entenmann's crumb cake on Sunday mornings when I was a kid! I love crumb cake made with yeast dough, and I'll be trying this one as soon as possible. I made a really decadent version recently with brioche dough. =) (pics on my blog today for Wordless Wednesday)

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Di: Ha! What are the odds? I just checked it out...looks delicious!

Russell at Chasing Delicious said...

What a scrumptious looking crumb cake! They are one of my favorite baked goods. I grew up on the entenemanns variety so I am loving the idea of a homemade version.

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Same here, Russell! Crumb cake and coffee is the best way to start the day!

Anne@frommysweetheart said...

I have always loved Entenmann's growing up! This cake sounds unique with the yeast dough and the lemon to curdle the sourcream...but it's those special steps that sometimes make a recipe so good! The cake looks like it has such a beautiful crumb! So glad you were able to track down and adapt the recipe!

Ruth said...

This looks like a brilliant recipe to try. I've lived in Germany in the past, but believe it or not I've never attempted this cake. I'll have to try it!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Anne: Thanks, and yes, there was a taste I could never quite put my finger on, but loved! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to let me know!

@Ruth: It's my new favorite...I hope you get a chance to try it! Thanks for popping by!

Lizzy said...

Oh, I love that this is a yeast coffee cake! My father-in-law would go nuts for this...I'll have to make it next time he visits :)

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Lizzy: Thanks for visiting! I hope you get a chance to make won't be disappointed!

bakery birthday cakes brooklyn said...

Looks good and yummy! Want to stick a fork in it right now! :)