The other item I made for Mother’s Day was a Cardamom Crumb Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking From my home to yours. My mother specifically asked me to make a coffee cake that was not “wet”. That is an easy enough request. This cake was perfect. I made it over two days because I wanted it totally fresh for our 11am Sunday brunch.
The first day, I made the crumb topping and mixed the dry cake ingredients. I refrigerated the crumb topping and covered the dry ingredients bowl. The next morning I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, poured into a pan, put the crumb topping on top, and baked the cake.
It was very, very good. I actually made two 8″ square pans, doubling the recipe, because I wanted to make sure I had enough. Each pan make about 12 pieces.
The crumb topping was my favorite, but I think that is everyone’s favorite part of a coffee cake. This cake was definitely a winner. The funny thing though is later that night, when I looked at the recipe, I saw that I had forgotten to add the 1 stick of melted butter to the recipe. Yet, the cake was great. It might have helped that instead of using 1/2 cup of whole milk, I used 1/4 cup of skim milk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream for each recipe. Otherwise, I really have no idea why this cake worked so well without the additional fat.
So try it with or without the butter added to the cake. But if you go without the butter, make sure to substitute 1/4 skim and 1/4 heavy cream for the whole milk.
Cardamom Crumb Cake, from Baking From my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan
For the crumbs:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp instant espresso powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp finely grated orange zest
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled (I used decaf)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. (I sprayed with Baker’s Joy instead of doing all that). Put the pan on a baking sheet.
To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the butter in a bowl and toss them together with a spatula just to blend. Add the butter and, using your fingers or the spatula, mix everything together until you’ve got crumbs of different sizes. It’s nice to have a few big pieces, so don’t overdo it. Set the crumbs aside. (The crumbs can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.)
To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Turn the dry ingredients out onto a sheet of wax paper, and put the sugar and zest in the bowl. Rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong, then return the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk to blend.
Put the remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk them to blend. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir – don’t beat – to mix. Stir only until you’ve got an evenly moistened batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and top with a thick, even layer of the crumbs. Pat the crumbs ever so gently into the batter.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake has risen (it will crown), the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool in the pan before serving warm or at room temperature.
You can unfold the cake if you want to, but you’ll lose some of the crumbs when you turn it over. Instead, cut the cake in the pan, taking care not to nick the surface of the pan with your knife. (This is a good job for a plastic or silicone pie server).