If you ever lived in Northern N.J., you most likely know about B&W Bakery and their infamous crumb cake. And if you aren’t familiar with it, well, you are missing out. No, really. It’s THAT GOOD! Google it…you’ll see what I mean!
Ever since I moved away from the area I have been on the hunt for a crumb cake similar to B&W’s. I’ve been searching for 10 years and nothing has come close. NOTHING! So when my daughter tried a piece of crumb cake at a local farmers market and loved it, I explained to her that although it tasted good, it didn’t come close to what I considered to be “real” crumb cake. She then asked me, “Well Mom, then why don’t you make some?” I didn’t have an answer…honestly I never thought about it…so started the testing of recipe after recipe and made modification after modification until I came up with an amazingly close replication of my all time favorite crumb cake!
OK, enough of my praising….let’s move on to the details.
TIP: You will want a stand mixer for this recipe, while it’s not necessary, the dough hook will make your life much, much easier!
For the Cake
Mix butter, flour, sugar and salt until it forms a mealy texture.
Pour the yeast mixture into the mixer bowl of flour/sugar/butter and zest. Mix with a spatula until a dough starts to form. Using the dough hook of your stand mixer, mix this for about 3-5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board (the dough will be sticky).
So now you are going to be faced with a tough decision….Do you want to have a thin layer of cake (just like B&W makes it – the crumb layer will be twice the thickness of the cake layer), or do you want a thicker, more substantial layer of cake(more equal to the crumb topping)? While I prefer the thin layer, my hubby begs me to make the thicker version, so that is what I did here…
If you want a THIN layer of cake (about 1/2″ thick), cut your dough in half. Only use one half for your cake. You can either toss the other half (not recommended), or butter up another pan and make a second cake to freeze or give away. NOTE: If you decide to do this, you will want to DOUBLE the crumb top quantity.
If you want a THICK layer of cake (1/2″-3/4″ thick), use the entire dough ball. This is what is photographed in this post.
WARNING: This crumb topping requires the use of butter…and a lot of it! Yeah, yeah, I know…we’re all trying to be more mindful and healthy about what we put in our bodies, but hey, unless you are eating this every day, there is no harm in treating yourself to some wonderful home-baked indulgences from time to time. Believe me, you are better eating real butter once in a while than that fake, chemical stuff that sorta tastes like butter all of the time. So stop feeling guilty, get over it and accept this justification. Ready now?
Pour the butter into the sugar and mix until the butter is distributed well. You will have a crumbly mixture like below… Here is where the magic happens. Take small handfuls of the crumble and form them into lumps. Place a bunch of these lumps all over the dough in the pan until 90% of the dough is covered. Sprinkle any remaining exposed dough with the leftover crumble (no need to make lumps). A good crumb cake has huge crumbs and tiny crumbs to satisfy the taste buds.
Gently press the crumbs down into the dough to set.
This is ready to bake at 350′ for 30 minutes…the longest 30 minutes ever, especially when the smell of crumb cake fills the kitchen! Your cake is finished when the tips of the crumbs get a golden color and the cake layer has risen.
Let the cake cool (try real hard not to pul a steaming hot crumb off the top of the cake – those crumbs are huge and people will notice!) Once cool you can top it off with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, or just cut it up and serve.
- 3⅓ cups All-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 6 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cups whole milk, warm
- 3 lg eggs, room temperature
- 3½ tsp instant or active dry yeast
- zest of ½ lemon (about 1 tsp)
- 2½ cups flour
- 1¼ cups Granulated sugar
- 1 cup (firmly packed) Dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
- Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Combine butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer and beat until the butter is distributed and the mixture looks mealy.
- In another bowl combine beaten eggs, luke-warm milk and yeast. Mix to combine and let rest while you zest your lemon (5 minutes should be fine)
- Add the milk mixture & zest to the flour/sugar mixture and stir with a spatula until it comes together loosely.
- Using a dough hook beat for 3-5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Put the dough out on a lightly floured board (the dough will be sticky).
- Generously butter a 9"x13" pan. Use real butter, no sprays!
- Roll out the dough to the size of the pan (use only ½ the dough if you prefer a thin layer of cake) If making a 2nd cake with the remaining ½ of dough, you will need to double the crumb topping quantities.)
- Place dough in pan.
- Place flour, granulated and brown sugar in a bowl with cinnamon. Mix to combine.
- Pour in melted butter and combine until crumbly.
- Use your hand to make small 1-2" crumb lumps and place on top of dough in pan. Cover the dough with lumps and sprinkle any remaining crumble on the areas of dough that are showing between the larger crumb lumps.
- Gently press the crumbs into the dough using the palm of your hand.
- Bake at 350' for 30 minutes.
- Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar (optional)